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BWW Reviews: Verb Ballet's EXPLORE DISCOVER Echoes Its Name

BWW Reviews: Verb Ballet's EXPLORE DISCOVER Echoes Its Name

This season Verb Ballets, Cleveland’s largest contemporary dance company, is mainly featuring a single choreographer at each program.  This concept continues The company’s goal of supporting and fostering emerging talent.  Programs will highlight the works of Antonio Brown, Chung-Fu Chang and Richard Dickinson.

It is appropriate that the first evening of EXPLORE DISCOVER showcases the work of local dancer and choreographer, Antonio Brown.

Brown, who is a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, was born and raised in Cleveland.  He began his dance training at the Cleveland School for the Arts under the guidance of Bill Wade (Inlet Dance).  He went on to study at the Julliard School, and has performed with a number of noted dance companies.  Besides performing, he developed an interest in choreography, and staged works for such organizations as Verb Ballets, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, and The Julliard Dance Ensemble.  

Brown, who is noted for his dynamic personality as well as his non-stop energy, displays these traits in his dance concepts.  

The Verb program opened with CONTINUUM (2011), performed to a remix assembled by Brown, which represented his youthful and free form style and featured a dervish of balletic, rolling, running, sliding, arms flailing, free form lifts, and movements.  Though a little long, it was engrossing.  Trad Burns’ lighting and Janet Bolick’s blue and maroon costumes helped create the right moods.  

Tom Evert’s THE PRESIDENT (1986) featured the focused dancing of Brian Murphy.  The piece showcased the anguish, reconciliation, sleepless nights, and pressure of the man who holds the highest position in the land.  Complete with the unfurling of the American flag in the conclusion, it was an appropriate selection for this season of political infighting.

THE ROAD TOGETHER, choreographed by Brian Murphy was performed to Sigur Ros’s Med Sud I Eyrum.  Short and intense, it showcased Ashley Cohen and Ryan DeAlexandro nicely exploring the challenges that keep us apart.  Centering on moving on and around two chairs, the duo came together and broke apart in anguish and angst.  There was a clear message, nicely developed by Murphy and his dancers. 

I’M ON MY WAY (2012) was choreographed by Brown for himself.  Centering on a pile of clothing which Brown put on and took off in an attempt to find the “right look,” there was a shallowness of effect. 

Performed to a remix of various artists, PASSING BY (2012), was youthful, repetitive, and overly long. The free form movements, though well danced, did little to capture and hold the attention.

Capsule judgement: Antonio Brown, whose work was the centerpiece of EXPLORE DISCOVER (9/22/12) has great potential as a choreographer.  Though it might be incumbent upon a local reviewer to extol his work, it would not be a service to him or his audience.  Brown is  just developing a style and dance philosophy that will take years and maturity to polish, and needs honest evaluation to help him on his path.  Verb should be praised for giving the young man a chance to ply his creativity and give him a chance to experiment. 

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Roy Berko Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in more than 16 plays, 8 TV commercials, and 3 films. He has directed more than 30 productions. A member of the American Critics Association, the Dance Critics Association and The Cleveland Critics Circle, he has been an entertainment reviewer for more than twenty years.

For many years he was a regular on Channel 5, ABC-Cleveland's "Morning Exchange" and "Live on 5," serving as the stations communication consultant. He has also appeared on "Good Morning America." Roy served as the Director of Public Relations for the Volunteer Office in the White House during the first Clinton Administration.

He is a professor of communication and psychology who taught at George Washington University, University of Maryland, Notre Dame College of Ohio and Towson University. Roy is the author of 31 books. Several years ago, he was selected by Cleveland Magazine as one of the most interesting people in Cleveland.


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