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From the (254) DANCE-FEST in Waco, 2016

Review: {254} DANCE-FEST | Out on a Limb Dance Company | Waco Convention Center


Dance Crazy in Waco

Margaret Putnam reviews the fifth annual {254} Dance-Fest in Waco, which featured several Dallas-Fort Worth companies, including Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.



published Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Photo: Lynn Lane
From the (254) DANCE-FEST in Waco, 2016

 

Waco — A dance festival in Waco? Land of Baptists? Where not too long ago Baylor University outlawed social dance?

Yes, Waco. Former Texas Women’s University alum L. Brooke Schlecte bravely moved back home to Waco several years ago with her Out On a Limb Dance Company, and five years ago started the annual {254} Dance-Fest in collaboration with the Waco Cultural Arts Fest.

Dancers from New York, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and beyond descended on the Waco Convention Center’s Brazos Room for three performances Oct. 1 and 2.

Photo: Lynn Lane
From the (254) DANCE-FEST in Waco, 2016

With 13 works performed on the 5 p.m. show Saturday, 11 on the 7 p.m. show, and 12 Sunday, one felt saturated with modern, contemporary and post-modern dance.

Of the 24 works I saw Saturday, many were outstanding, a few were tame, and the rest intriguing. In no particular order, among the best:

Jennifer Mabus’s This one’s for…, set to Anis Mojgani’s spoken poem Shake the Dust. Is it cheating to let the words “This one is for the fat girls—for the former prom queen—for the bus driver who drives a million broken hymns” carry the weight of a dance? Does it matter?

Wearing a man’s coat way too big for her small frame, Mabus seems to ride the wave of the words, capturing the nuances, the force, the cadence with movement that sweeps and curdles and expands, so that at the end, having shed the coat, she curls up like a cat, face down.

Amy Sleigh’s La Serenissima, set to the music of Loreena McKennitt. The constraints dictated by custom begin to evaporate as Brandy M. Niccolai-Belfi, corseted in 16th century style—allowed herself to run and swirl and scamper in an imaginary meadow.

ARCOS Dance, French Proverb, set to the music of Nico by B. Fleischmann. With her stork-like limbs and bald head, Erica Gionfriddo suggested at times an exotic bird, twitching and splaying her hands, but her agitation was more likely that of a woman undergoing an internal struggle.

Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Coyotes Tip-Toe, set to the music of “Waltz from Suite for Jazz Orchestra,” “Goldberg Variations,” “Aria da capo,” and “These Foolish Things.” You can count on Joshua L. Peugh to create something offbeat, and this he did in Coyotes Tip-Toe, which premiered this summer Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Comic, wild and unexpected, it had Cody Berkeley and Chadi El-Khoury tearing around space, colliding and sticking a finger in the other’s mouth. They are the human equivalent of ping-pong balls. (This work can feature two women dancers too, as it did at Ballet Frontier’s recent Director’s Choice concert.)

Photo: Lynn Lane
From the (254) DANCE-FEST in Waco, 2016

Although nothing could quite match those four, there were plenty of others worth mentioning. Among them were: Collective Force Dance Company’s Lost Friend, where Alisha Armstrong and Glori Weiner reconnect with glances and touches only for one to fade off in the distance. Like Lost Friend, Jordan Fuchs Dance Company’s Trace (excerpts) involves two dancers, but in this case the dynamic involves cautious partnering between Whitney Geldon and Melissa Sanderson that becomes increasingly complex.

Uno Más’s Swift Impulse was indeed swift and impulsive, pitting Adrián Aguirre and Monica Hernandez in friendly combat.

The program notes describe Alex Cole’s Septime as a solo inspired by dreams and limited space, which explains why Ms. Cole spent her time walking around a large carpet, sometimes with her back to us, staring off into space, and eventually, rolling herself up into the rug. Westin Portillo supplies whacking tick-tick OOM–OOM sounds and vocals.

Like Septime, Grid Arts’ Same Sound Different Instrument made live music an integral part of the work.

Big Rig Dance Collection’s The Body of Your Dreams supplied wry comments about our culture’s obsession with the body beautiful, if rather laboriously.

As the host company, Out On a Limb provided two works; its offshoot, Out On a Limb Dot Vines for young dancers, offered two as well. After seeing Out On a Limb over the years, one impression predominates: this is a company that likes ideas, but some are so cryptic that they seemed buried deep, deep, deep in a well. That was the case on the last work on Saturday night’s program: Off…spring (in two parts) where Katie Griffith, covered head-to-toe in white, and Ms. Schlecte all in black, trace a path on a crunchy tarp covered in white powder. The powder is meant to represent salt, and both dancers are sprayed generously with it, ending with the two lying prone, arms and legs splayed out like spokes in a wheel. It is somber, dark and bewildering.

 

» 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.  Thanks For Reading





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Dance Crazy in Waco
Margaret Putnam reviews the fifth annual {254} Dance-Fest in Waco, which featured several Dallas-Fort Worth companies, including Dark Circles Contemporary Dance.
by Margaret Putnam

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