Thursday, June 28, 2007

Groundworks 6/07

GROUNDWORKS continues to captivate in Cain Park performance

I took a friend, who had never seen Groundworks Dancetheatre to the company’s recent Cain Park concert. His reaction? “Wow, that was really something special!”

Yes, as has come to be expected from Groundworks, the choreography and dancing were something special!

The program opened with “U me U,’ choreographed by company member Amy Miller. Danced to music composed by and performed live by James Marron, there was perfect synchrony between the dancers and the guitarist. Miller’s creative choreography, a series of movements featuring interlocking bodies and flowing heads and arms, was enhanced by Dennis Dugan’s lighting, which created flowing shadows on the intimate Alma Theater’s back wall. Petite Felise Bagley and very tall Mark Otloski danced with disciplined control to create a sometimes sensual, sometimes joyous duet. This was a wonderful start to the program.

‘PROXIMAL,’ choreographed by KT Niehoff, was a crowd pleaser. The piece started out with a pounding sound coming from behind a steel garage door at the rear of the stage. One hand appeared underneath the door, then three more hands appeared as Amy Miller and Damien Highfield pried open the portal and crawled underneath to freedom. Giving each other verbal instructions regarding what moves they were going to perform, the duo, moving to no music, showed amazing athletic strength and abilities to manipulate each other’s bodies through lifts, drops and pushes. Their crawling back under the door at the conclusion of the piece was met with enthusiastic applause by the near sold-out house.

“JUXTA,’ Amy Miller’s choreographed offering introduced the audience to Sarah Perrett, the company’s newest member. Perrett fits well into Artistic Director David Shimotakahara’s dance philosophy. She displayed controlled movements, blending into the physical action and reaction of the choreography. She is an excellent addition to the Groundworks family. ‘JUXTA,’ which featured same and mixed sex couples working as a group, was danced to selections from Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint.” As exemplified by Miller herself, the choreography was gymnastic, controlled, and well defined. It fit the tone and intent of the music.

The evening concluded with the creative ‘KABILA’ (Tribe), based on “African Voices Song of Life.” Shimotakahara used numerous African dance forms to create an audience pleasing number. It featured wonderful costumes by Janet Bolick and fabric artist Esther Montgomery, inspired by the Dark Continent. The many moods and illusions of Africa were showcased in the dancing of Bagley, Miller, Perrett, Highfield and Otloski.

Capsule judgement: Groundworks Dancetheatre has to be listed as a Cleveland artistic treasure. It’s ninth consecutive performance at Cain Park, was, once again, a showcase of what well-conceived and executed audience-pleasing dance is all about! BRAVO!