Provocative Previews

Choreographer’s Showcase, presented by Summerdance

At Center Stage Theater, Friday, July 28.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

We ordinarily think of works-in-progress as raw, rough around the edges, and somehow untidy. This was not true at the Summerdance Choreographer’s Showcase. The last formal presentation of the 10th Summerdance season provided an opportunity to see an evening of eclectic new work that was both spectacular and polished.

Choreographer Robert Battle’s “Rush Hour” was not really new work, as it is one of the first pieces the artist created for a group. What was new was the fact that this modern piece, with its vocabulary of frenetic, jerky, and explosive movements, was danced by members of State Street Ballet. Battle created the piece as a response to moving to New York City, and experiencing the stark contrast in the city’s activity as compared to the languid quality of his native Miami. Even if a viewer has never tried to push their way through the crowds during a New York rush hour, the frantic quality inherent in the piece relates well to the frenzy of everyday life, something with which anyone could feel an affinity.

Doug Varone’s “The Light” followed Battle’s controlled dissonance. It was difficult to believe that the company had only been developing the piece during four days of studio time in Santa Barbara. When Varone took to the stage, every movement was fluid; as he tossed an arm behind him, it was as though he was water moving. All the dancers personified light, playing as beams of light skipping in the sun in the joyous choreography. While all the dancers shone, the moments when Varone shared the stage with Eddie Taketa were truly dazzling.

The exuberance and creativity of the young dancers performing in the Kids Connection this year was a testament to the choreography of their artistic director, Brian Brooks, as well as to the talent and work of the young dancers. Their two compositions, “Something’s Missing” and “Spontaneous Combustion on the Horizon” beautifully framed the show with a glimpse into the potential future of dance.

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