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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