Life + Arts

Local dancers exhibit diverse styles

The Power of Movement was a Friday-night showing of dances from various companies in the Houston area. The performance was part of the non-profit organization Dance/USA’s 2009 National Conference, an event that seeks to unite artists within the dance community through education and collaboration.

The first show is called ‘Thousand Hands Goddess,’ by the Dance of Asian America Company. The dancers’ fingers were adorned with pointed gold jewelry that accentuated their hand movements. The precision and timing of the dancers created a beautiful line dance not typically seen in modern American dance.

Hope Stone Dance’s ‘Village of Waltz’ is a thoughtful, ponderous piece that placed importance on the sensation of touch. The dancers were first seen embracing one another, then gradually moving into routine. The piece was exemplified by live accompaniment of Terrence Kern. Following ‘Waltz’ is Revolve Dance Company’s ‘Philosophy,’ an edgier piece set to the music of Ani DiFranco. A single spotlight highlighted the group of dancers, whose slinky movements matched the dark music.

Hans van Manen’s piece ‘Solo’ centered on Houston Ballet’s dancers Oliver Halkowich, Jim Nowakowski and Connor Walsh. Set to upbeat, frenetic Bach music, the choreography was charming, playful and humorous. The men danced with light feet and dazzling speed, stealing the audience’s laughter with their capricious expressions and gestures.

Suchu Dance’s ‘How to Absorb the Colorama Format,’ exhibits strength in choreography with its hypnotic weaving of dancers. However, the piece is overshadowed by poor choice of music.

A treat came in the form of ‘Traffic,’ an excerpt from Travesty Dance Group’s show Hometown. One of the most inventive and experimental pieces of the evening was choreographer Karen Stokes incorporating dance, acting and prose into one performance in an attempt to poke fun at the insanity of Houston’s heavy traffic, aggression of Houston drivers and gas-guzzling Suburbans.

Similarly, Dominic Walsh’s ‘I Napoletani’ is ingenious in its unusual choreography, costumes and set.

The most visually appealing work of the night, ‘I Napoletani’ had both male and female dancers dressed in cobweb like tutus, dancing behind a sheer scrim. The effect of the buoyant skirts and the jerky, almost awkward movements of the dancers created a sensation of birds hatching out of their shells on stage.

The second half of the show began with ‘Across the Waters,’ an extremely dramatic dance by Urban Souls Dance Company that told the story of a country in political and moral turmoil. With music from the movie Hotel Rwanda, the highly theatrical performances and the army costumes made the piece feel similar to a preview for a movie.

Psophonia Dance Company presented ‘Excerpts from Virus,’ utilizing blacklight so that only the dancers’ costumes could be seen. The green glowing shapes looked like underwater sea creatures, but the excitement began to wear off once the choreography became difficult to see.

‘To the Thawing Wind’ by the Sandra Organ Dance Company and ‘Tidal Intersections’ by the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company closed the evening.

‘To the Thawing Wind’ is a more simplistic dance with soft movements and music – a relief after the intensity of the preceding dances. ‘Tidal Intersections’ encompassed the characteristics of modern dance and the emotional value of expression through movement.

It is clear Houston is a place for rich and diverse styles of dance, a place where choreographers can reinvent cultural ideas of movement and a place where the modes of self-expression are celebrated.

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