Monday, June 30, 2008

Groundworks--Cain Park 6/08

GROUNDWORKS adds a delightful dance to their repertoire and a new company member

Groundworks, David Shimotakahara’s innovative dance company, showcased its newest company member, Kelly Brunk, at their recent Cain Park performances. In addition, ‘LIGHTS UP,’ a creative humorous piece, was added to the group’s repertoire.

During the last two years Groundworks has gone through major changes in their composition. Damien Highfield and Sarah Perret joined the company last year. Kelly Brunk, who blended well with the rest of company, was impressive in his recent debut. Tall and thin, Brunk, who graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has danced in Austria, Vietnam and San Francisco. He has choreographed as well as performed. He displayed the necessary proficiency and discipline to meld into Groundworks’ controlled dance form.

‘LIGHTS UP’, the third number in the recent program, is a welcome addition to the repertoire, which often tends to be very serious. This piece, performed to live music composed and played by Gustavo Aguilar, Nathan Douds and Howie Smith, was both humorous and creative. Shimotakahara’s choreography, which was a collaborative work created by the entire company, centers on interesting combinations of duets and trios. It was fresh, happy and joyful. It contained an excellent jazz segment performed by Sarah Perrett. As always, Amy Miller and Felise Bagley sparkled.

The program also included ‘ANNIE REDUX,’ choreographed by David Parker, which used music from Irving Berlin’s ‘ANNIE GET YOUR GUN.’ The songs were recorded for the 1950 MGM film adaptation of the Broadway show which was to star Judy Garland and Howard Keel. Before the movie was completed, Garland had to withdraw, but her vocal renditions had been recorded. Though it was exciting to hear Garland’s versions of the song, Parker’s choreography is lacking. As a friend, who had not seen the piece before commented, “The words and the movements didn’t match.” I had stated this the first time I reviewed the piece. The movements were creative, with the use of interesting angles, arm lifts, freezes and poses. The quality of the dancing was excellent. However, the lack of parallelism between meaning and actions was distracting.

‘MIGRATION,’ the program’s other dance number, was performed to live music composed by Gustavo Aguilar and performed by Aguilar and his wife Gaelyn. The plaintive sounds were pleasingly interpreted by the sarong clad duo of Amy Miller and Damien Highfield. About ‘things in flux, the motion of change, how far can we journey and still be connected to a place, to each other,” the overall effect was compelling. The dancers were physically disconnected, though emotionally connected, through most of the piece, moving in separate spheres. As is often the case with Aguilar’s compositions, the number was too long, causing connect exhaustion between the dancers and the audience.

Following the performance Shimotakahara announced that the company would be in New York in residence sometime during the 2008- 2009 season.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: GROUNDWORKS DANCETHEATER is one of the area’s shining cultural lights. Welcome to Kelly Brunk, who appears to be a fine talent addition to the company.