Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inlet Dance/Nehemiah Mission


Inlet Dance, whose motto is “using dance to further people” and Nehemiah Mission, whose purpose is “reaching out to the entire community in order to rebuild the lives and homes of people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religious beliefs and lifestyles,” are organizations on parallel paths. It is only fitting, therefore, that they should be assisting each other. Inlet needed rehearsal space, Nehemiah Mission had an unused gymnasium. Nehemiah Mission needed finances and Inlet is a performance company who could do a series of concerts to raise funds. So the match, probably made in heaven, came to be.

Recently a two-night benefit concert was held at Breen Center on the campus of St. Ignatius High School.

The program included ASCENSION, a Bill Wade choreographed piece with contemporary music by Ryan Lott, which investigated relationships. Filled with gymnastic moves, which featured fine body control and powerful lifts, the well danced piece showed respect for balance and trust.

THE DOOR, choreographed by Steve Rooks, was a series of varying configurations in which the dancers appeared to float through a triangle of light to illuminate a journey through redemption.
IMPAIRED is a fascinating piece in which Justin Stentz and Mackenzie Clevenger danced blindfolded, to experience what it is like to unleash the sensitivity of going through life sightless. The idea flowed from Inlet's residency at the Cleveland Sight Center in which they worked with impaired and blind students.

BEAUTY IN TENSION, one of my favorite offerings in the Inlet repertoire, features a large piece of stretch material which is held tightly by the corps of performers. While in single or group units, the dancers move under the material and attempt to stretch their way out. The emotional and physical tension created is highly involving, causing audience members to squirm in response to the efforts of the dancers.

The highlight piece was STONE BY STONE, a premiere dance choreographed by Bill Wade in collaboration with the cast and set to original music by Jeremy Allen. It is a contemporary telling of the Biblical story of Nehemiah, who, after the Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem, came back and organized the people in voluntary groups to rebuild the city. This concept is much like the mission of the local Nehemiah Society, whose purpose is to recreate Cleveland out of the destruction of years of neglect and financial problems. It visually showed how to rebuild cultures through eliminating the physical and psychological stones which block progress and present hope and restoration to the brokenness of the community.

Capsule judgement: Inlet Dance created an artistic, meaningful and involving evening of dance in their successful fund raising effort on behalf of the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland.