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Friday, July 18, 2014

Danceworks DanceLAB Opens with ‘A Hip Hop Experience’

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Back for a second year and expanded to include 13 compositions and more than 50 performers, “Ignite: A Hip Hop Dance Experience” has a solid footing in the Danceworks DanceLAB summer series of concerts in which Milwaukee choreographers are given space and support to try new things. It would be valuable enough if it were just a showcase for the city’s best hip-hop artists, but the greater aim of DanceLAB is to bring new energy to the Milwaukee dance scene though a cross-fertilization of ideas and styles. By way of example, the Danceworks Performance Company included hip-hop in its major spring concert, “Plugged In,” through an improvised segment in which modern and hip-hop moves were compared and fused by dancers and choreographers trained in each form. It was more than a symbol of cultural integration; it was an example of it in all its awkwardness and beauty.

The choreographers from last summer’s show (1.) are back with new work. All 25 members of Richard Brasfield’s Remix Dance Company, renamed ReVamped, will dance his newest piece. Jeffrey Yang will perform with his HomeGrown Turnups colleagues. Rasheeda Paniell, whose work reconsiders formal aspects of modern and hip-hop styles, will present a new all-woman piece. Samantha Patrick, a member of ReVamped and one of the “Plugged In” dancers, will present a solo. The Boombox Babies—Mario Fregoso, Samantha Mesa, Tray Roundtree and Gabi Sustache—continue to experiment with dance, comedy and storytelling somewhere on the border between hip-hop and modern dance theater.

The passion and strength of women is the subject of a piece by Tina Coe, a UW-Milwaukee dance student. Kho Lor, who dances with Cedric Gardner’s Soul Matters, is a Hmong American addressing her community. DeMar Walker, a former dancer with Ko-Thi and trained in many styles, will dance a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance. The concert includes work by TraVon Haase (replaced on Sunday night by Morgan Williams), Erika Kristic and Charles “Buzzy” Braun, and the Take Notez Dance Crew.

“Ignite” is the baby of Danceworks artist Kim Johnson. “Opportunities are needed in the community,” she says, “to make the art scene more exciting. That’s what DanceLAB is about: allowing people to explore and to find their voices. Why would people be inspired to make work in Milwaukee if there’s no place to show it?”

The show takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, and at 2:30 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, at Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water St. Call 414-277-8480 ext. 6025 or visit www.danceworksmke.org.