A Dance Connection

Loop review: The dancers of elledanceworks work wonderfully together at WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

published Friday, March 9, 2012

A sober, pensive and intent Elledanceworks took the stage Thursday at Watertower Theatre as part of the ongoing Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Perhaps its coming of age had something to do with the mood, but whatever the impetus, the dancers’ compatibility was striking in their show "Looped." 

A good half of the dancers have been with the company for years, but you would never guess that the newer members weren’t also. Not only are their movements of the same sinewy, balletic variety, there is an important, keen connection to each other. 

And sometimes that connection is about all there is to a particular dance. Unravel, A Shot in the Dark, From One Fountain, and Will You Know Me all fell into that category. 

Unravel reveals a distraught Tiffanee Arnold in long black dress clutching her chest as Jennifer Dennison, Michele Hanlon and Shelley Padilla tenderly offer comfort, often with nothing more than a tentative touch. After a long bout of grief, Ms. Arnold regains her control as the other three, clad in white like angels, cluster around her with arms open like wings. 

In A Shot in the Dark, Ms. Padilla and Delanie Bitler warily seize each other up, using a table in the middle of the stage as the point of separation, eventually jumping over it and at last sitting across from each other in the most hesitant of movements. They end stretched out under the table. What makes this little nothing work is the constant eye contact, and it would have resonated even more with male against female. 

The lyrical From One Fountain was a pretty affair, made more so by the cello music and the filmy green and pink tie-dyed shirts that flap with every leap and turn. The five dancers move as one, but often break apart to make great arching turns that resemble long-stemmed flowers buffeted by the wind. 

If A Shot in the Dark had Ms. Padilla and Ms. Bitler at odds with each other, in Will You Know Me Ms. Padilla is all eager anticipation, peering at the self-contained Ms. Bitler with eager curiosity. 

Seven angry women walk purposely across the stage in For Peter, a tribute to Petrus T. Ratajczyk, known as Peter Steele, lead singer of goth metal band Type O Negative, who died suddenly at age 49. They jerk, wheel about, lunge, surge and slash hands fiercely. The mood is dark and grim and sometimes frantic, perfectly suited to the clamor of the music. It ends with one dancer collapsing as the rest walk away. 

For comic relief, four stiff-legged, frozen-faced women bounce like ping pong balls all over the stage in Happy People. Hair a mess, eyes fixed forward, they manage never to careen into each other even as Melissa Johnson ricochets within the tight formation. 

In My Way (homage to obstacles) has its comic moments too, especially when each woman shares her gripe about a friend’s constant complaints. As Ms. Padilla sits on the ground and bemoans how no one listens to her, others interrupt. “Excuse me!,” she cries. “I’m here!” In the meantime, her friends take their leave by walking up the raked aisles. Later, there is a lot of pushing and shoving, some falling and rebounding, and somehow, you know that whatever the tension that exists among friends, it will all work out. 

I would be amiss not to mention the interludes. They alone were enough to make the trip to Addison worthwhile, for singer and composer Amy Seltzer and guitarist Tom Ottinger offered gorgeous, plaintive music. 

◊ Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.

◊ Elledanceworks performed only once at Loop, but you can catch another local dance group, Muscle Memory Dance Theatre, at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. To see a complete schedule of shows and venues, go here.

◊ WaterTower is streaming several shows and events at Out of the Loop. To watch them on our site, click the US Stream icon at the top of this page. It will open a separate tab. The streaming schedule is also included there. Thanks For Reading

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A Dance Connection
Loop review: The dancers of elledanceworks work wonderfully together at WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.
by Margaret Putnam

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