BWW Blog: A BOUNTIFUL Experience

By: Apr. 29, 2016

Look up. Turn off your phone... your iPad, your iPod, or computer... See someone, a loved one, a friend or stranger, see them and accept them just as they are, ask them their name or what they are passionate about, and then take them to see Bountiful: A Teacher's Journey.

This second Choreographer's Festival of R.Evolución Latina explores the journey of a NYC hopeful school Teacher who worries for the students he's tried so hard to build up in a society that has all odds against them. Matthew Steffens plays the teacher with passionate and vulnerable strength, barely leaving the stage in a test of stamina and commitment, his performance is both heart breaking and happily joyful. Bountiful also explores the journey of the festival's young accomplished dancers, the journey of it's up and coming hardworking choreographers, and the journey of the several dance organizations who've come together in their shared mission of using dance as social change. What's surprising is that it also explores the audience member's journey as a human being. That's me. It's You. And the person you just invited to see Bountiful with you.

Amidst a couple hundred people I sat in community not just watching, but feeling the beautiful and tragic world we live in through the emotional dance story these fifty dancers from around the world shared with us. As an artist, the only thing I ask of a theatrical piece, movie, dance, concert, or poetry slam is that it reaches across that stage-audience line and touches me in some way. Bountifulreached out and grabbed me from the start when I distinctly heard my heart beat and felt myself breathe to life.

The next sixty three minutes were a journey where I felt political anger, frustration, love, longing, fear, joy, gratitude, desire, hope... along so many other emotions that brought tears and laughter in the span of just a few minutes as well as a need to dance in my seat. That is because of the passionate commitment of each and every single dancer who didn't just commit to their steps and technique, but also to the truth and emotion of each moment of the story in every single dance piece.

These are all versatile, different styles of dance which include modern dance, lyrical dance, salsa, Peruvian folklore, flamenco, jazz, hip hop, a bit of tango, African dance, and so much more. Every single choreographer has masterfully communicated they're small chapter of that teacher's journey through their individuality and passion, and director Luis Salgado has pieced it together with seamless flow. I loved how dancer's bodies became a bedroom, a subway cart, the world. I want to describe each and every moment, every dance and every feeling because they were rich with life all in their own joyful, painful, frightening (terrorism fear expressed through flamenco) and hopeful way. But I won't because you need to experience it for yourself.

I will say that the strength of the show also lies in the creativity of the stellar production team that set so many different moods through strong lighting, costumes, projections and sound choices. Each dance is itself accompanied by a different song or music style that takes us into a musical journey in itself: from tribal rhythms, to rock n' roll, to pop intertwined with Peruvian traditional music, to classical music, and even a live percussionist which is the icing on the cake! All these different styles work seamlessly well from one to another. A beautiful example of how the story transitions from one style to the next is when we flow from an emotional dance of grey figures accompanied by crying violins into a joyful dance accompanied by playful piano keys that transitions into a rhythmic OM to a soulful jazzy song accompanying a fun dance that makes you want to get up and dance as well. Again, the journey is yours too.

It is notable to point out that R.Evolucion Latina and those working in this festival do so truly out of their love of dance and their belief of connecting with others through the power of art. And so, those involved are donating their time and skills. So it is a privilege to receive such a gift, if I were you, I'd take it and share it. And bring along those presidential candidates, they need to see Bountiful the most.

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