Review: Howard University’s Spring Dance Concert: ‘Unjust’

Every time I send a reviewer to Howard University to review a show they always have this reaction: “Oh My God!!” And there were many divine moments when I saw the final perfomance of Howard University’s Spring Dance Concert entitled Unjust, a collaboration between The College of Arts and Sciences Division of Fine Arts, and the Department of Theatre Arts. Even the School of Communication chimed in with the effective videos which were with vintage newsreels which included Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and numerous young men who were unjustly killed by White Policemen recently. The videos were powerful and heartwrenching, and educational.

A scene from Unjust. Photo courtesy of Howard University.

The videos set up the seven dances and the dance improv finale of Balante, (See below), that was one of the most joyous and exciting moments I have experienced in the theate or at a dance program, or concert, or performance. There was so much love and elation on that stage that I am still experiencing it two days later.

Choreographer Ella Rothschild spent the Fall 2016 working with the Dance Arts Students and her 12 Postdaded Checks, which part spoken and part dance was an attack on gentrification, and the effect it has on the economics and culture of the neighborhoods who they are trying to ‘replace.’ With music from by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra performing Romeo and Juliet’s Act I, Scene XIII’s Dance of the Knights, the piece was powerful.

The costumes were by Kendra Rai (except for Funnyhouse and Balante), and lighting was by TW Starnes and Fallon Williams (except for Power Goes , who provided the costumes for 5 dances and the lighting for 6 dances. And they appeared to use every color of the rainbow in their work and proved again why they are so well respected for their designs. Simply stunning!

Other Dance Performances were:

–Full Circle, with choreography by Chris and Ama Law, and music by Luis Salinas and Digital Planets by Melissa Harris Perrry.

–Incumbent, with choreography by multiple Tony Award-winning Hinton Battle, (Asisstant: Dionne D. Figgins), and music by Sang-o Park: Original by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Eine Andere Art von Liebe (A Different Kind of Love), with choreography by Royce Zackery, and music by Kodo Drummers, Javier Navarette, Aaron Nicolos, and Bram Stoker.

–Excerpts from Power Goes, with choreography by Carrie Hanson, with Barbara Jordan’s 1976 Democatic Convention speech, and music performed by Jimi Hendrix: “Purple Haze,” “Fire,” and “Star Spangled Banner.” Sound Design by Mikhail Fiksel, and Original Lighting by Julie Ballard.

— Funnyhouse, with choreography by Crystal Michelle, and music by Cassandra Wilson, with costumes by L’Amour.

Balante, with choreography by Assane Konte, and music by KanKouran West African Dance Company Drummers, with costumes by Assane Konte.

My favorites, besides Balante and 12 Postdated Checks?

–Incumbent with its classical ballet style – elegant, beautiful, full of passion – just like its choreographer Hinton Battle when I saw him perform on the stage.

and

Eine Andere Art von Liebe (A Different Kind of Love):

A story about guilt, loyalty, and choice…Torn between his duty as a countryman and the forbidden love of his life, he paints a picture that truly shows the weakness of human moral and condition. A war he wishes not to fight, nor a war he believes in…He experiences and inflicts “a different kind of love.”

Frightening, powerful, and energetic with incredible choreography with awesome performances by all the dancers, it shook me to my core and left me shaken and afraid.

Congrats to all the choreogaphers and the amazing guest artists Dayton Contemporary Dance Dance Company and Dionne D. Figgins and the amazing dancers:

Tamiea Anderson, Bryan Archibald, Jaelen A. Buxton-Punch, Alex Clark, Raechelle Ellison, Na’ilah Harris, Tiana Jackson, Craig Kirby, Jr., Rahni Lindsey, Breanna Makkonen, Andre McKamey, Jordan McKnight, Ta’Shayla Montgomery, Vicqueria K. Smith, andKevin Thorne II.

Unjust: 2017 Spring Dance Concert played on April 7-8, 2017, at Howard University’s Ira Aldridge Theater – 2400 Sixth, NW, in Washington, DC. For future productions, check their website.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.