I was very fortunate this weekend to bear witness to two ladies visibly demonstrating that their potency and relevance have not been forsaken or diminished, but rather laying dormant waiting to rise again. One lady on a red clay court being scrutinized by the world and the other, a dance company, performing on a stage on a late Saturday afternoon; both are stories that illuminate the power of perseverance and talent.
While some may consider comparing a tennis great like Serena Williams and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company to be a stretch. However it works when individuals and institutions approach their respective moments in the sun, be it on a tennis court or a proscenium stage with a preternatural focus and ability to fully engage you as a viewer in a visceral and intellectual whirlwind as to leave us positively giddy. I was delightfully connected and grateful to be present to observe it all.
With “Urban Impulse” , DCDC concluded the 2012-2013 season with energy and vitality and a hopeful promise of an even more solid renaissance in the future. In this day and age of a wildly uncertain socio-economic landscape, the arts are still a far cry from being removed from the endangered species list. With museums, dance companies and symphonies folding every year; this type of promise is worth its weight in gold.
With the revival of “Jacobs Ladder”, a potently engaging work that incorporated video projections/imageries and street dance vernacular infused modern proved worthy of revival. The audience was transported to the post -New Jack City streets that easily stands up to comparison with the genius of Jerome Robbins and his choreographic ability to vividly evoke the sights , sounds and energy of that uniquely urban terrain that we call NYC.
A novelty that could have easily backfired for the company, turned out to be the exact opposite. DCDC held a competition to select a local community group or individuals to perform with the company at this concert. Chenaulte Dancers were the lucky dance crew selected. “Shall Not Be Moved” was joyous opportunity to showcase the talents of a local company of young dancers. While it could have been a few minutes shorter, it was danced with an incipient flair.
The second showcase of local dancers came with “Hype”, a boisterous and wildly entertaining romp. This work was a testimony to the talents of the team of choreographers and their agile adeptness at integrating the dancers to the point of beautiful seamlessness. Major congratulations to Christina Perry, Zachary Scott Jr., Emily Stamas, Maddie Welsh and Taylor Young for clearly demonstrating their skills and embrace of this wonderful opportunity of a lifetime.
The concert culminated in a choreographic work that was an amalgamation of everything that is great about this current manifestation of the company.The solid ensemble has been given an incredible gem of a ballet in “Shed.” The choreographer Kiesha Lalama displayed her ample skills as a generator of mood, intensity and movement. Just like watching the incomparable Serena Williams, you marvel at the mysterious x-factor that manifests itself in such a championship as well as the alchemy of Ms. Lalama artistic genius. The dancers were clearly up to the challenge and that is what gives this work the jolt of vitality. This should be a part of the burgeoning new repertoire that is helping to define the quality of DCDC in the 21st Century.
Because of the majesty on display at “Urban Impulses”, I believe that the line from the ultimate king of urban swagger, LLCool J , applies to both Serena Williams and DCDC, “Don’t call it a comeback,” Because they never really left the throne of greatness. They just quietly and regally re-invented themselves for the future.