‘VelocityDC Dance Festival’ by Breena Siegel

VelocityDC Dance Festival kicked off this past Thursday at the Sidney Harman Hall at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Entering its fourth year, the festival provides an opportunity to experience dance in a very broad sense of the word. From modern, contemporary, classical ballet, African, Sri Lankan, Flamenco to American folk dance, there is a wide variety of local and regional talent.

Xuejuan Feng Snow Dancer Glenna Yu. Photo by John-G. Walter.

The four-day festival featured over twenty-five companies, the vast majority of which are from the tri-state area. The performances highlight a medley of companies and provide a taste of local work from troupes like Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, and Urban Artistry among visiting companies like Rasta Thomas Bad Boys of Dance.

It’s an eclectic mix. The Saturday afternoon matinee, hosted by choreographer Peter DiMuro, included live American traditional music in between dance pieces and breakdancing during intermission from Maryland-based troupe, Urban Artistry.

There was certainly enough variety in the program to ignite one’s individual taste. In the first half, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, the all male dance company, performed “These Hands (excerpts from Trigger),” a graceful, electric duet followed by two solo pieces from Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and Sydney Skybetter. The end of the first half concluded with a fiery output from DC-based Flamenco Aparicio in “Jaleos.”

The second half started off with a bang from Rasta Thomas Bad Boys of Dance performing music from Prince in open blazer jackets. The full movements were showy and alive complemented by flips, splits, and leaps. The troupe made their debut at the 75th anniversary of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2007.

Nate Bond and Erica Rebollar. Photo by Rachael Shane.

The contemporary dance contingent definitely made itself more known in the second half with pieces from local troupes Company E and Rebollar Dance. It was a mental leap as an audience member attempting to digest the more conceptual offerings from Company E and Rebollar Dance. This is part of the personality of the festival; dance is far-reaching and doesn’t fit into one genre. It shouldn’t, and Velocity does a strong job of reminding us of this. It was refreshing to experience futuristic, serious movements from Company E and the head-throbbing dizziness of Rebollar Dance.

After the contemporary pieces finished, The Washington Ballet Studio Company took the stage in bright hues of purple and orange. Their piece felt strong, lively and light. The closing act was African dance and drumming troupe Farafina Kan performing “The Sound of Africa.”

VelocityDC is produced in partnership between the Washington Performing Arts Society, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Dance/MetroDC. The festival is meant to connect audiences to local and regional dance that is being created here in Washington DC. It’s certainly a strong start to introducing audiences to the local dance talent, and as a dance supporter, I find there is always room to grow audiences and offer even more eclectic choices.

Running Time: Two hours with a 15-minute intermission

VedlocityDC Dance Festival took place on October 18-21, 2012 at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall – 450 7th Street, NW, in Washington, DC.

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