Friday, March 23, 2007

Inlet Dance 3/07

Inlet wows audience at DanceWorks 07

Bill Wade, the Artistic Director of Inlet Dance Theatre, which is performing as part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 07, is first and foremost a teacher. His long list of educational assignments centers on “impacting the lives of young people through educational programs.” He works with public school kids, often from school districts with limited financial means. This philosophy carries over into his dance company is composed of only four members. There also are three apprentices and eight trainees. Again, a stress on education.

Don’t get the idea that there is a lack of professionalism. The screaming, standing ovation that the company received in their Danceworks opening night performances, and the continued notes in my program which say, “wow,” “creative,” and “dynamic,” attest to the excitement and excellence of the program.

The evening opened with ‘SNOW,’ danced to the flowing and powerful music of Ryan Lott, the wunderkindt of local composers who creates for both Inlet and Groundworks Dancetheatre. As is the signature of Wade’s choreography, a strong gymnastic tone underlies the dancer’s movements. Beautifully costumed in unitards painted with nature scenes by Kristin Wade, the piece featured six dancers transforming their bodies into a series of snowflakes. Displaying strength, the flowing and powerful piece effectively paralleled movements to the music.

‘WINGED OPPOSITION’ was choreographed to surreal music and featured effective mechanical movements which were repeated over and over. Somewhat overlong, the format gave the illusion of choppiness, with the parts not always blending together.

‘A CLOSE SHAVE’ was totally delightful. Danced with muscular power by apprentice Joshua Brown and trainee Justin Stentz, Wade’s sense of humor flowed forth. It examines the concept of “a close call” which spanned the interaction between the dancers from mirroring each other as they shaved, to putting themselves into various risk areas intended to “clean up one’s image.” Brown and Wade were nothing short of amazing. The piece ended to screaming applause.

Stentz, who is exciting to watch on stage, and has to be ranked with the best male dancers in the area, used his gym-ripped muscular body to work with the equally proficient and powerful Leila Pelhan in ‘imPAIRed’ to create visual body intertwinings that were fascinating to watch. The dance is performed with both dancers blindfolded. It is the result of the company conducting residencies for visually impaired and blind students at the Cleveland Sight Center. It highlights sensitivity, caring and trust. This was a “WOW!’ experience.

‘IN, NOT OF,’ a company premiere, danced to another Lott piece, featured the company as well as the apprentices and trainees. The choreography is the result of Wade’s visit, as part of his participation in an international artist exchange program, to Easter Island. He used the island’s culture, images and philosophies to create a narrative work. The disciplined, flowing cast members used the company’s signature gymnastic movements to create an appealing piece.

Capsule judgement: Bill Wade is a fine choreographer who proficiently teaches his dancers his gymnastic and creative style of movements. The overall effect was a very enjoyable evening of dance.

Photo by Jim Ruthrauff (