Philadanco speaks with many voices. And as heard on Friday night at The Egg, this contemporary dance ensemble utters them with fierce bravura that makes every one sit up and listen.
Mainly, the dancers of Philadanco can do it all. They sprint full speed and stop instantly to hang a layout pose on one leg. They can bend and stretch like Play-Doh. But they can also be as taunt as race horses at the gate. And they move through it all with boundless energy and heaps of personality.
This one program demonstrated their strength and skill as the four works were diverse — balletic to hip-hop. And the choreographers who created the night’s offerings, which were all tailored to these dancers, showed the 13 performers at their best.
Actually, all of the works were sensations because of the dancers. Consider, “In Between Time,” choreographed by Zane A. Booker to alluring music by Chuck Mangione. The dance was a pleasant frolic through an idyllic landscape. It felt like a pleasant dream, with the dancers in silhouette swaying like wheat in the breeze. When the lights lifted, the cast, in colorful and elegant evening wear, plunged into an upbeat and Latin-tinged soiree.
The choreography was not especially inventive, but the dancers paired with the music, shaped “In Between Time” into an inviting experience.
Artful dancing was happily paired with clever choreography in “Pulse.” This dramatic work by Daniel Ezralow to the electronic humming score by David Lang took sliding on your socks to an divine level. The dancers ran and slid across the floor. And as they glided, like skaters, they struck gorgeous attitudes that accentuated their slender, sculpted limbs.
Illuminated by dim shafts of light, the dancers appeared like objets d’art or creatures of technology. They moved in perfect unison across the floor. And then as one couple sauntered into the center, others rolled around them like cogs in a wheel. The effect was fascinating and hypnotic.
Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris knows how to create atmosphere too. The Philadanco crew got down in his “Philadelphia Experiment,” which crackled in front of a video collage of Philadelphia’s grittier neighborhood. As a singer repeated “Do you remember slavery,” the dancers jerked and gyrated as if shaking off the past and militantly marching into the future.
Most astounding was the dancers didn’t collapse before the end of “Philadelphia Experiment.” The aggression behind the tough, repetitive maneuvers was exhausting to watch, no less do.
The Philadanco dancers were at their best in “Violin Concerto,” created by Milton Myers. The choreographer is one of the company teachers and he knows each dancer idiosyncrasies and he exaggerated them gloriously. Erin D. Barnett, in the graceful dress, led the cast as the solid center of calm and beauty.
“Violin Concerto” confirmed Philadanco is perfection.
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Categories: Life and Arts