2/16/2012 - West Side Leader
By Roger Durbin
The beautifully executed dance program GroundWorks DanceTheater performed in Cleveland recently will be the same one the company will bring to the Akron-Summit County Main Library Feb. 24-25 at 7:30 p.m.
Make no mistake, there are lots of reasons to see this wonderful dance company and specifically this particular program.
Artistic Director David Shimotakahara’s company has some particularly amazing dancers. In the works prepared for this program, you’ll no doubt find yourself drawn to the talents of veteran GroundWorks member Felise Bagley. She has become the consummate dancer — polished, sophisticated, liquid in the subtlest gestures and transparently athletic. Through her stylistic treatment of all the dance material presented, the audience gets that it is watching an important expression of art. This dancer makes and sells the dance.
That is not to say the rest of the company are slouches. Indeed the male dancers — Damien Highfield and Gary Lennington — and female dancers — Sarah Perrett and Kathryn Taylor — are highly skilled professional dancers who understand their art. This company is noted for its great ensemble sensibility. All the viewer has to do is go the journey with the dancers and enjoy the experience.
A highlight of this upcoming performance is the premiere of a newly commissioned work called “CoDa” for GroundWorks by celebrated Israeli-born choreographer Ronen Koresh. This seven-section work is plain old fun dance. You can easily see elements of Middle East folk dance in this work, and that gives it a decided theatrical flair. Koresh trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which can account for the strong sense of drama and the logical structure of his pieces in dance terms.
Through the various sections, the rhythm leads and builds to an upbeat and lively (though not rousing) conclusion.
Koresh uses five of GroundWorks’ dancers to mine the various layers and colors of the European-soaked score. The music creates a crispness that the dancers pick up on that enlivens both them and the audience. Koresh’s “CoDa” is pure enjoyment and not to be missed.
It’s always fun to see works that have been set on a particular set of dancers. Koresh’s work is one, while another is the recently commissioned work under GroundWorks’ New Works series called “Hindsight.” This work brings special connection to Akron audiences, for it is a tribute by nationally awarded choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett given to the area’s own rock star Chrissie Hynde, of the Pretenders. Corbett selected some traditional Hynde tunes — “My City Was Gone,” “I’ll Stand by You,” “Love’s a Mystery,” “Hymn to Her,” “Rosalee” and “Brass in Pocket.” Dressed in funky black leather costumes and accoutrements, the dancers interpret the various moods and themes of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songstress.
Also on GroundWorks’ bill is Associate Artistic Director Amy Miller’s own ethereal and busily riveting modern dance piece called “Valence.” Valence as a term concerns the relative combining capacity of an atom and thus has to do with reaction and movement and pushing and pulling in the creation of energy. That aside, the chief metaphor at work in this intricately conceived dance is breath. Musically (in Peter Swendsen’s original electronic and acoustic based music for this piece), it can be as minuscule as a flute player’s initial power to give voice to her instrument. In dance terms, it can be the sustained and energetic ability to remain still or to suspend motion as a larger movement is about to begin or end.
Thematically, it can be as erotic as charged physical attraction that has its share of sensual explosion in this work or as ethereal as the profound awareness one may feel in a moment of stillness as a gentle breeze washes over your body on a hot summer’s day.
Tickets for all performances are $25 for preferred seating, $20 for general admission, $17 for seniors and $10 for students and can be purchased by calling GroundWorks at 216-751-0088 or online at www.groundworksdance.org.
Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.