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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Imbalanced Collaboration

Classical Review

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  The latest collaboration between Present Music and Danceworks was performed last weekend at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center. Six dances by five choreographers were performed to various works performed by the Present Music ensemble.

  Danceworks’ dancers vary in abilities and maturity. There was a general imbalance to the evening, with seasoned professional musicians playing evolved works for young dancers and choreographers not up to the level of the music making.

  Abstract, rather static music is a challenge to choreograph. Michael Torke’s The Yellow Pages is a briskly moving walk through various styles and subjects, generally cheerful in tone. Christal Wagner’s dance caught the bright mood of the piece at times, but was vague elsewhere. She missed the opportunity the music provided: quickly changing evolution.

  A dance choreographed by Kelly Anderson was also vague, possibly because the score on which it was based is not particularly suited to dance. Jason Seed’s Politiscapes (a premiere) combines light jazz, folk rock and contemporary melancholy. It is not at all uninteresting in its textures, but it rambles a bit. The musical performance was hindered by bad balance. From my seat near a corner of the room, an electric guitar part was blasting out over the rest of the large, acoustic ensemble.

  Blue Silence, with choreography by Simone Ferro, was danced to four pieces, one by Kevin Volans and three by Elena Kats-Chernin. I found the dance bland and unformed, its creator unable to tune into the mystical and meditative mood of the music.

  Luckily things picked up in the second half. David Lang’s piece Cheating, Lying, Stealing has vivid bite and attitude, and is stronger music for dancing. Choreographer Dani Kuepper effectively responded to its sharp angles and sudden stops. I would have liked to have seen a more evident connection to the undeniable title of the music.  Kim Johnson-Rockafellow choreographed and danced a solo to Kamran Ince’s To Wander With, finding a simplicity of sadness. Randall Woolf’s colorful score for Where the Wild Things Are, based on Maurice Sendak’s book, inspired Dani Kuepper to create fun storytelling in dance, helped by colorful costumes.

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