Resurrection in Dance

Ephemeral/Indelible: A Concert in Motion

At UCSB’s Hatlen Theatre, Saturday, April 15.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

The most immediate form of validation for a performance is applause. And the applause, cheers, and general support that was in full force at Ephemeral/Indelible were well-deserved. The evening consisted of five works: Four were developed by graduating student choreographers, while the fifth was a highly anticipated restaging of José Limón’s suite from Psalm. The varied program was choreographically strong and beautifully danced.

“Latent Fervency,” choreographed by Gina Schmidt, was aptly named as the quartet of dancers (Amanda Hoffman, Kim Isbell, Sasha Nelson, and Jackie Speas) were smoldering in their explosiveness. The fervent pace, driven by an original score by masters student Timothy Beutler, was maintained throughout the piece.

Cherise Richards’s “Inward Pilgrimage” was reminiscent of Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” in its spiritual tone and composition. The seven dancers painted concentric circles on the floor with masking tape in front of an altar, and then evoked spirituality through compelling unison dance and a moving solo by dancer Chelsea Retzloff. The pilgrimage closed with exuberance, as the dancers grooved while the curtain descended.

“Touch” was a duet choreographed by Blake Hennessy-York, and lyrically danced by Victor Fung and Sarah Pon. Languid in tone and moving with a sense of the music, their bodies created the sound they danced to; the two were partnered gorgeously.

The evening’s final student composition was Nicole Helton’s “Within Layers.” It uncovered multidimensional uses of space as the dancers undulated, rolled, tumbled, and soared. They danced beneath two angled mirrors that caught pieces of their movement, creating a visual play between the layers. The piece’s final image, Blake Hennessy-York holding Jackie Speas aloft after a duet, was striking in its simplicity.

Psalm was a triumph. Professor Emeritus Alice Condodina, former principal dancer with the Limón Dance Company, danced this work in its 1967 premiere season, and she has restaged the original choreography for the student company. The 14 dancers were glorious, and could have been the original company themselves. The mood of the piece, although it pictured the angst of suffering, also displayed the power and joy of hope. Soloist Marcos Duran, as the Burden Bearer, aptly portrayed this through his strong use of gesture. Soloist Nicole Helton was expressive in her strong lines. Although Psalm’s choreography is rooted in the sensibility of the 1960s, its message and visual impact remain true. A joy to behold, it was a fitting end to an inspiring evening of dance.

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