Friday, July 27, 2007

Inlet Dance 7/07

Inlet delights audience at Cain Park

Bill Wade, founder and artistic director of the six year-old Inlet Dance Theatre must have been a happy man after the company’s recent (July 26) Cain Park performance. In spite of a rainy night, the Evans Theatre was packed.

Contrary to many local dance concerts, the enthusiastic audience was mostly young and racially integrated. They were treated to an eclectic program which featured not only Inlet’s company, apprentices and trainees, but students from the Summer Dance Intensive.

Inlet’s mission is “to create and perform innovative dance and movement theatre at a high level of artistry, speak creatively about human life issues, and bring about personal development in the lives of individuals through training and mentoring.”

Wade, a master teacher and motivator, believes that dance is a “vehicle for personal transformation.” With this in mind, he brings in 12 to 20 year-old students from all over the country to study with the company. They learn release work (The Erick Hawkins technique which is the basis for Inlet’s choreography), nontraditional partnering, the collaborative creative process (invented by Pilobolus Dance theatre), hip-hop and improvisation. The six-and-a-half week program culminates in the yearly Cain Park free program.

As has been the case in the past, both the students and the Inlet “regulars” displayed creativity, discipline and enthusiasm.

Though every section was interesting, highlights of the ten-segment program were: “For Margaret and Dan,” “RubeWreck,” “Performance Improvisation,” “A Close Shave,” and “BALListic.”

“For Margaret and Dan,” a duet piece, with music by Lifehouse, was performed as part of company member Margaret Ludlow’s wedding ceremony a week before the Cain Park concert, as a present from the company. The public debut was beautifully danced by Mikaela Clark and Justin Stentz (who I consider to be the area’s best young male dancer).

‘RubeWreck,” which was danced to music by Animusic and the Beastie Boys, featured the twelve males of the dance intensive and the company. A total delight, it portrayed a young video gamer, creating a vision complete with human Rube Goldberg contraption-like machines which morphed into the concept of the new film “Transformers.” The action brought many laughs from the audience.

“Performance Improvisation” demonstrated the ability of the dance intensive students to ad lib to music they had not previously heard. As a starting point, the corps was given two distinct gestures to use throughout the piece. The ability of the youngsters to stay in character while creating various stories and images was impressive.

A company staple, “A Close Shave, inspired by Patrick Morley’s “Man in the Mirror” featuring Joshua Brown and Justin Stentz, “centers on a man confronting and wrestling with the proverbial man staring back at him every morning when he shaves.” Brown and Stentz displayed both superb strength and consistency while performing the audience pleasing gymnastic piece.

“BALListic,” another staple in Inlet’s repertory, uses 1960’s pop art to probe into what happens when a group of dancers are given a number of huge red physio balls and let loose. With contemporary music by the very talented Ryan Lott (who has written for many local dance companies), the dancers slid over, cavorted under, and bounced around the stage with precision and energy. The Pilobolus-like piece was a fitting closing number for a well performed and creatively programmed evening of dance.

Capsule judgement: Bill Wade and his Inlet Dance Theatre are a unique company. They go outside the square by incorporating previously uninitiated dancers into company performances with positive results for both students and audience.
Side note: The company raises one-quarter of its funding from individual donor support. It deserves our support. Send a tax-deductible contribution to Inlet Dance Theatre, 3921 Mayfield Road, Suite 6, Cleveland Heights, OH 44121 so they can continue to be a community asset!