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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Dance

Dancers take audience from sea to fantasy


In its final showcase of the year, UH’s dance community presented works that featured exceptional choreography, vivid costumes and themes that ranged from the playful and fantastical to the desolate.

“Kinesthetic Symphony: Ensemble Annual Dance Concert” opened to a large audience on Friday inside the Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre with works choreographed by faculty members of the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance and performed by members of the UH Dance Ensemble.

The first piece, “On a Circus Theme”, choreographed by Jennifer Sommers, was a quirky and somewhat haunting routine with a circus clown personality.

The second movement, however, was rather poignant—a single dancer was encouraged, forced, and assisted in dancing by a group and individuals from this group. She teetered around initially, unsure on her feet, but with every guiding gesture from the group, she became steadier and more graceful.

This movement appeared to be a commentary on the effects that an individual can have in someone’s development as well as recognition of all the behind-the-scenes people who push and teach an individual, dancer or otherwise.

Several pieces stood out for their use of costumes, including “Tiny Bones in my Hand” by Catalina Molnari, which featured flowing and seemingly hand-dyed clothing in shades of blue on each dancer. This piece also utilized a series of fugues in movement across both the space of the stage and time.

Another work that used vivid costuming was “Dangle”, choreographed by Becky Valls, which used traditional Klezmar music and bright orange-red costumes with chiffon scarves pinned in different places on each dancer’s clothing.

This dance was flirtatious and playfully chaotic, with the dancers exhibiting frivolous mechanical and doll-like qualities. The audience burst into tickled laughter at a few points during the performance because of the lightheartedness and quirkiness of the piece.

“Cancao do Mar” stood out for its music sung in foreign tongues and use of projections behind the dancers; scenes of ships at sea, waves, and dancers on a beach accompanied the movements on stage.

The choreography itself, by Jacqueline Nalett, was a more classical ballet style of modern, and even included a brief pas-de-deux in this traditional style. It was very well danced, and the motions were well suited to the theme and presented a cohesive idea throughout the piece.

Another work that exhibited a true masterpiece of choreography was Karen Stokes’ “Midnight,” a contemporary routine that called to mind some of the dilemma of the fantastical Cinderella, although this was probably accidental.

The dancers were continually checking their imaginary watches and the final movement was rather fittingly a waltz, which seemed to emulate Cinderella’s dance at the ball with her Prince Charming. It was a beautiful medley of blue costumes and unobtrusive sound that captured the imagination and allowed the viewer to create his or her own story while still showing a complete narrative that flowed from scene to scene smoothly.

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