At the onset, “From the Horse’s Mouth” gave the impression it was a dance show. How could it not be? It spotlighted 29 dance artists who either live in the region or come from it. And each of these terpsichorean were doing what they do best, dancing.
Yet “From the Horse’s Mouth” was about more than dance. It was about life.
Each of the diverse artists, from genre such as ballet and folk, tap and modern, sat in a chair, faced the audience, and did what most of them never dreamed of doing — talked to an audience. The setting was perfect, the intimate GE Theatre at Proctors. On Saturday night, speaking from their hearts as if we were sharing a slice of pie with a best friend in their kitchen, they spoke of how dance has shaped or enriched their lives or how it made a moment fun, tense or how it healed their broken spirit. One dancer, Sally Rhoades, simply spoke of her appetite for vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate. Adrian Warnock-Graham lamented of his divorce, Paul Rosenberg recalled his 29-year phobia of dance and Vanessa Paige spoke of her big bosoms, which come in handy.
“But not in the way you think,” she said with a wink.
And as they went on three others moved about them improvising or reacting to the story or to each other. They were playful, emotive and sometime just plain silly. At other times, the chair was pushed to the wall and a parade of dancers traversed the stage in masks and costumes that distinguished their careers.
All-in-all, it was a love fest between young and old, colleagues and rivals, friends and strangers. They came together through the power of their art. And long after they took their bows, everyone there knew this fact — the region is rich and blessed with dance.
“From the Horse’s Mouth” is a creation of Jamie Cunningham and Tina Croll, who also joined the show. The two New York City dancers/choreographers travel the United States and Canada staging the piece for communities of dancers.
The have devised a precise assemblage. They put it together in three days of rehearsal — one for the story, one for the movement and one for a technical dress rehearsal.
The speed lent the work a sense of spontaneity and thus honesty.
It was also a gift to see many on stage who have long retired from it, such as Mary Jane Dike, Debra Pigliavento, Helga Prichard and Toni Smith. And while many of these dancers no longer have bodies that are slim or malleable, they still move gracefully. With their hearts brimming with the passion for dance, they inspired smiles and quite a few tears.
The only person missing from the roster was Pat Peterson, the matriarch of the region’s dance. Not surprisingly, she demurred. As usual, she was more comfortable in her role as supporter than performer. Appropriately, the presenters dedicated the evening to her.
The others in the program included Tina Fretto Baird, Maude Baum, Ione Beauchamp, Laurie Zabele Cawley, Jennifer DePalo, Mary DiSanto-Rose, Eva Dolan, Nan Guslander, Rich Kuperberg, Diane Lachtrupp, Sue Lauther, Xinhua Lee, Frank Lombardo, Johnny Martinez, Raul Martinez, Edmund Metzold, Ann Morris, Dee Sarno, Ellen Sinopoli, Bill Vanaver and Livia Drapkin Vanaver.
All of their stories were shimmering shards of the soul. And the audience should feel honored to be privy to them.
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Categories: Life and Arts