Watching Mark Morris’ dancers swoop and soar in V, (the number five, a reference to the number of musicians playing Schumann’s Quintet in E-flat major) was entirely thrilling. There are no stars in the company so the group has to work very hard—they do but it doesn’t show. The work is a pure representation of dance integrity.
Crossroads, the premiere of an evening–length work in three parts with choreography by Amanda Selwyn and company is abstract with a focus on decision-making and what an often disturbing process this is. It was exhilarating to watch the very well-tuned dancers move in solos, duets, trios, and sometimes as a complete group, each showing inner strength while maintaining an essential understanding of personal place and where their bodies fit into the space.
It was with relief that I greeted the final number on the program. Undercurrent, set to music by Henryk Gόrecki, woke up, enlivening me, the audience at large and also seemingly the dancers who had previously drifted through a series of works that I found bland and somnolent. Undercurrent raised levels of power and energy with repeated prancing steps, first danced by groups of women and later by the company’s men.
The evening provided a thoroughly engaging look at the creative process as it concerns choreographers, dancers, costume designers, music and a related exhibit that examines both antiquity and its relationship to the revered Ballets Russes.
Two big hits out of three made for a great evening. Sombrerisimo, a total delight, is choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, inspired by the surrealist world of René Magritte who famously painted bowler hats. The work was made originally for an all-male cast; this version turns it upside down with Shelby Colona, Jenna Marie, Eila Valls, Gabrielle Sprauve, Dandara Veiga and Melissa Verdecia pulling off a bravura number.
Dramatic and innovative, even to the point of changing her name from Angela to something more exotic, Isadora Duncan helped free ballet from restrictions and in doing so became one of the earliest proponents of modern dance. At twenty-one with very little money she sailed on a cattle boat to England and there, at the British Museum, fell for ancient Greek sculpture in a big way. The result was barefoot young women in skimpy clothing dancing with abandon—which drew huge crowds and lots of attention.
Tap dancing was once dismissed as lightweight entertainment, for example Fred Astaire, who delighted zillions of people, great art or not. Then came artists including the astonishing Savion Glover; now there is Dorrance Dance, the company that has won numerous awards for pushing tap rhythmically, technically and conceptually. Founded in 2011 by artistic director Michelle Dorrance who became a MacArthur Fellow in 2015, Dorrance Dance blows the lid off the form.