BWW Reviews: Young Dancemakers Company 2014

BWW Reviews: Young Dancemakers Company 2014

Sixteen New York City public high school students were given the opportunity of a lifetime this summer when Bessie-winner Alice Teirstein took them under her wing and introduced them to the dance community. After a whirlwind tour across New York City, as well as a slew of other dance-related activities from shows to workshops to seminars, The Young Dancemakers Company ended its 19th season with a packed gala performance at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.

Coming from all five boroughs and 15 different high schools, these youngsters ranged from all sorts of dance backgrounds and life experiences. While this resulted in an assortment of pieces, what was truly evident was the camaraderie among them. Just from their opening piece alone, the chemistry was electric as the Company cheered on each soloist, shouting things like "That's my friend!" They danced joyously to the sounds of featured guitarist Juan Virella and Musical Director William Catanzaro, while Hilary Rodriguez created a graffiti backdrop live.

The first of the student pieces was "Constellation" by John Rosario, a women's ensemble piece that explored shapes across different dimensions. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" was a central piece to "The Movement" by Don Phillipe Aubourg, where dancers seemed to melt under a Southern summer sun, jaded by the long-drawn fight of the Civil Rights era. Dancer and choreographer Dea'Shinique Ramsey danced gracefully to eerie silence in "Beneath the Mask."

"Do As You're Told" by Jane Namenwirth was a riveting ensemble piece that depicted conformity. The ensemble made their way downstage like a gang a la West Side Story, and while one or two tried breaking free, there was always a way back into the group. Even in the chaotic frenzy, there was still uniformity among them.

A playful duet between a dancer and her shadow lightened up the mood in "The One Behind Me" by Nhia Solari, while fears and anxieties took center stage in "Fear Kills, Hope Strengthens" by Shamara Bey and Alexandra Crocitto. A jazz party is quickly interrupted by prejudice and bigotry in "Blacklisted" by Ivoryona Williams. The last piece, "The Power of One" by Jael Lewis, was a fun interpretation of different styles of dance from all over the world, ranging from Chinese to belly dance, salsa to West African.

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Jessica Abejar Jessica Abejar is an artist with a love of storytelling. As a dancer/choreographer, she most recently performed at World Youth Day in Brazil, where she was called to explore movement as a prayer. She promotes a holistic approach to health and wellness as an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor, performing and teaching a style of sacred dance she calls "The Moving Prayer." She also writes a youth column for the newspaper The Filipino Catholic. Jessica graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, summa cum laude with a BA in Business, but decided to follow her childhood dreams instead and performed with Disney Cruise Line.