Dancers For Life 15: Dancing Beyond Borders
Review by Rosie Trump 10/4/09
Party dresses, a disco ball, and a banana suit– all this before intermission. On Oct. 3, 2009 Dancers for Life 15: Dancing Beyond Borders drew a large and impressive crowd in the Landis Performing Arts Center in Downtown Riverside. Dancers for Life, presented by Riverside Community College’s Dance Department, is an annual benefit concert for people living with and/ or affected by HIV/AIDS. This year’s proceeds benefit the Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association. Artistic Director, John Medina programmed a remarkable evening featuring local, national, and international dance artists.
The program opened with Almost Moon Light by choreographer Hillary Thomas of Lineage Dance. This duet splendidly showcased traditional modern dance lines and aesthetics. With a touch of sentimentality, Almost Moon Light beckoned the ghost of Martha Graham.
As a disco ball descended, dancers entered decked out in retro party dresses and pastel suits teaming with glee and anticipation. Pregrame, choreographed by Patrick Damon Rago and performed by the Palindrome Performance Group was a lighthearted romp through those awkward pubescent courting rituals enacted at formal dances. Despite stellar bursts of virtuosic dancing and a sprinkling of laugh-out-loud moments, Pregame relied too heavily on skimpy character development and mediocre acting, not to mention that it lasted about two songs too long. Regardless of the impact they have, prom dresses do not the dance make.
Three Women Two Chairs, choreographed by Tim Rubel was a hilarious physical game of dancers one-uping each other as they vie for one another’s attention. Throw in a banana suit and some Three Stooges type antics and you have a hit! Three Women Two Chairs speaks to the inherent desire to be liked, and the inevitable rejection of not being the one picked.
To close the first half of the show, Vox Dance Theater performed Auriga, choreographed by Sarah Swenson. Possessing awe inspiring strength and elegance, this company commands the stage and does not misplace one once of their energy. Although the content of the work was unclear, Auriga was streamlined and mesmerizing to watch.
The Lux Boreal Danza Contemporanea opened the second half of the show with Storyboard for a Thriller, choreographed by Magdalena Brezzo. Hands down the highlight of the evening, Storyboard for a Thriller was a riveting dance drama. Cinematic like episodes unfolded between dark alleys and sewing circles as expectations were masterfully built, unmet, and morphed. Both rich and complex, this dance embraced the idea of absence, while simultaneously toying with representations of masculinity and femininity.
Kalyani Pallavi, choreographed by Ranjanaa Devi and performed by Justine Lemos, was a classical Indian dance performance. Composed around a rhythmic structure that follows a seven-beat cycle, Kalyani Pallavi featured precise gestures and dynamic turns.
Always an advocate for dance and technology, I was sorely disappointed with Coning by Pennington Dance Group. I do appreciate the incorporation of costume based LED lighting, but this work was poorly executed resulting in choreography that had little relation to the technology and a barely visible performer.
Closing the program, BARE Dance Company performed Nevermore, choreographed by Mike Esperanza. Dark and gothic, this work follows the journey of a male dancer and his encounters with a sinister tribe of tempters. The strength of this work was its beautiful and complex partnering.