Friday, July 20, 2012

Live! The Realest MC

Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham.In.Motion presented Live! The Realest MC at the Bates Dance Festival on Thursday evening. The above black and white picture is a great representation for the severity of the content that Mr. Abraham deals with. The evening length dance is a serious look at gender roles and norms that lead to bullying, nonacceptance and hatred.  And while the topic is severe this dance is beautiful, poignant, and important.

Abraham created a portrait of a man trying to fit in. He is different. He stands out. Even though he tries to be like the others in the group he isn't. The dance began with Abraham on the floor struggling to move. His hands and feet appeared to be crippled and distorted. He slowly stood and began to walk. The other dancers entered and they are street smart and urban. They moved with speed, power and style. The contrast was laid out at the start, the cool versus the underdog who barely stands a chance. The dance offered many scenes that depicted the ongoing separateness. The movement was subtle combining hip hop with contemporary. In one critical scene Abraham speaks and relives an encounter he had as a young boy. He is being taunted and he says "I didn't doing anything, we were holding hands" and then he cries and keeps repeating "they held me down, they held me down."

The soundtrack, costumes, set and lighting help set the mood. The soundtrack is mostly not music, it's industrial and noise, and it's dissonant and evokes what you hear in the city. The costumes all have sequins whether they are black athletic jackets and sweatpants, or shorts and tops. There was a wonderful backdrop made of sleek strips of fabric that extended from floor to ceiling. They changed colors and were used as a video screen as well, very striking. The lighting design by Dan Scully was gorgeous. And the very important prop used near the end of the dance was a microphone and stand that was placed onstage that the dancers approached and retreated from. No sound was heard from the mic. But they tested out their bravado at it. MC stands for both master of ceremonies and mic controller and is one of the four essential parts of Hip Hop. Live! The Realest MC ends with Abraham the downtrodden figure alone at the mic, his back turned, but he's got the spotlight.


Danced by- Brittanie Brown, Rena Butler, Chalvar Monterio, Rachelle Rafaiedes, Addison Sanford, Maleek Washington and Mr. Abraham.

Abraham.In.Motion at the Bates Dance Festival. Thursday July 19, 2012 in Lewiston, Maine

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rennie Harris Pure Dance Movement

Hip Hop Dance was in rare form at the Bates Dance Festival last weekend. Rennie Harris Pure Dance Movement showed the audience how the excitement of Hip Hop can be enhanced with skillful staging and choreography. Harris knows how to bring the level up to not only a fevered pitch, but he also has the skill to evoke subtle and quiet scenes that show off the full range of hip hop movement vocabulary. Oh yeah...also going for this troupe were eleven very exciting and strong dancers.

The evening consisted of eight dances choreographed from 1992 to 2010. Beginning with "Breath" we watch four b-girls moving in rhythmic and dramatic patterns. Each dancer brought a personalized style to the work. When they were working in unison doing the same steps, they each had a distinctive presence adding individual nuances to the steps. Harris showed the women's power in "Nina Pah-Tina's Troubled Man" where the guys just can't get an edge over the force of the b-girls. It's a light-hearted take on who gets an upper hand, and it's clearly the girls here as the strut and dance and over shadow the guys.

The second half of the show featured some of Harris ground breaking work. An excerpt form "Rome and Jewels" his modern day hip hop take on the Shakespeare classic, featured a performance by Rodney Mason who co-wrote the revised monologue with Harris. Using modern day phrases and words with a rapper personna he revisits Shakespeare and West Side Story using the world of Graffiti and MC's.

The show ended with the 1995 wow-er "Students of the Asphalt Jungle." Watching the six b-boys was breath-taking. Harris has crafted a dance that shows the sheer physical power of hip hop with brilliant staging and use of the intense music of The Good Men. The dancers show incredible strength and virtuosic dancing with tricks and moves that  had the audience cheering and clapping. You must watch some of this piece now from the YouTube clip.

Harris is a master craftsman and ingenious contemporary choreographer. Go see this company perform.

Rennie Harris Pure Dance Movement, Friday July 13 at The Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston Maine.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Allison Chase/Performance

An emotional response to the dance performance by Allison Chase/Performance included in the inauguration of the Portland Performing Arts Festival.

-Amazed.  Beautiful imagery that haunts because it is not quite familiar, yet very animalistic.

-Enchanted.  Can bodies really move that way? I want to do that to because it looks so wonderful.

-Aroused Within. Movement so physical on stage that envelopes the audience, we can't sit passively.

-Spellbound. Two dancers hang upside down from a rope. It's hauntingly frightful yet serene.

-Invigorated. Dancers are diving in mid-air and tumbling to the ground with abandonment and strength. Oh to join them and feel the joy of a body moving with sheer physicality and strength.

-Touched. The music, lighting, and staging take the breath away, it's powerful theater.

Dance is a physical art. Gymnastics is a physical sport.  Allison Chase has mastered how to combine dance with sport and make theater of the finest kind. Chase was the co-founder and artistic director of Pilobolus from 1973-2005. In 2008 she established her own company which is based in Brooksville, Maine. The outstandingly powerful dancers  were: Mark Fucik, Jessica Bendig, Stephanie Fungsang, Rachel Kreiling, Ricky Kuperman, Jenna Liberati, Kenneth Stephen Neil, Shane Rutkowki, Jake Szczypek and Rebecca Anderson Darling. She brings all the unusual physicality that Pilobolus pioneered and continues to astound and help audiences experience unique storytelling through dance and the amazing human body.

Allison Chase/Performance - Saturday June 30, 2012 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine.