As a diverse cross-section of concert-goers filled the Victoria Theatre there was a palpable buzz that vibrated through the space. Seasoned lovers of dance and neophytes alike, eagerly awaited the concert of “world” premieres to begin. Seeing this many patrons still clamoring for artistic offerings of this Dayton institution, one cannot help imagining one angel in particular is smiling from heaven.
To make the case for being a world class dance troupe, it requires that the talents and skills of the dancers and choreographers be showcased and presented to maximum effect. Performing at the Victoria Theatre truly provided the best framing vehicle for the beauty and youthful vitality that moved before us.
It was stated in one of the three curtain speeches of the evening that it had been the dream of the artistic director, Debbie Blunden-Diggs , that she was committed to a vision of an all new choreographic works concert in honor of the forty-five year anniversary of the DCDC. That commitment produced one of the strongest concerts performed by the company in years.
The concert began with a polymorphic collage of kinetic movement specificity from Ronen Koresh. “Exit 7” began with a taut, repetitive ensemble section that evocatively set the the tone for the loosely linked dance vignettes to come. Dancers moved with a punchy precision while navigating rows of chairs highlighted individually by shafts of overhead lights. The choreography had a refined ritualistic tone that echoed throughout the rest of the work. There was a collective need to make sense of our rapidly splintering and fragmented society. This fragmentation led us on a journey, that was filled with at times moments of sensual despair, cheeky humor, and audacious physicality. It was brought to a dazzling close by the ensemble of dancers generating a sound collage of their own voices as an accompaniment to the visceral climax of the highly engaging and unique work of Mr. Koresh.
The work of Donald Byrd was a master class in combining engaging modernist movement material with spoken word in a heady mix of social and geo-political commentary and satirical undertones. It is the type of artistic work that only someone of his elevated artistic ability can accomplish.
Watching this work unfold and weave its intellectual spell on us in the audience, I could not help but envision this as being a truly post-modernist effort in every sense of the word. From the sublime verbal barrage of the narrator, exquisitely brought to life by Nabachawa Ssensalo, to the beautifully patterned and group movement invoking the bio-mechanics of cotton picking, this is a work worth savoring and repeating.
In the work of Rodney Brown”The Gatherer/wee Thing”, a tribute to the indomitable spirit of Sheri “Sparkle” Williams. One comes away with a sensory trip contemplating of not only Sheri as 40 year veteran, but also the future of DCDC as relevant fixture of the arts community. I would argue that DCDC is the only element of our community as a cultural component that transcends the bounds of our provinciality. An exportable cultural product that would hold up well under the glare and scrutiny of the world stage. All this from watching a “lion in winter” dancing star perform a nuanced solo on the Victoria theatre stage.
The evening concluded with the work of Ray Mercer, “Tossed Around”; a work whose brevity was not welcomed. This work felt incomplete for all of the right reasons. Visually engaging, physically energized choreography that hit you in the solar plexus and that filled this reviewer with with pure unmitigated joy for being in its presence. As the yellow chairs flew from the wings to be caught by the dancers as they moved in ever increasing complex movement patterns, you were left wondering if and how frenzied and complex the choreography could evolve into. It was like getting your hands on the first chapters of an amazing serialized page-turning novel. You were hungry for more.
Seeing this company of young dancers and seasoned veterans in this concert performing such world class and dynamic artistic works left me breathless and most importantly hungry for more.