BWW Review: A Joyous Impact with RONALD K. BROWN/EVIDENCE
On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, world-renowned dancer and choreographer, Ronald K. Brown and his groundbreaking company EVIDENCE kicked off their season at The Joyce Theater for a limited engagement through February 11th. The Brooklyn-based company, returns for the first time since its successful season back in July 2016. This occasion marks the world premiere of new works, performances of old, yet relevant pieces, and the celebration of Associate Artistic Director, Arecell Cabuag's 20th anniversary with the company.
The program opened with the piece entitled Come Ye, by Mr. Brown. Inspired by the music and legacy of the acclaimed Nina Simone, this is a call and reminder of the revolutionaries who fought for change, equality, and justice. The choreography fuses African movements with modern dance in a way that is sharp, yet very fluid. It was a powerful dance with the message of having the faith to overcome. The piece closed with a slide show of many iconic figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and Ghandi- just to name a few- as a way to pay tribute to those who were willing to fight for their lives and peace.
Next was an excerpt, Lessons, from a larger dance called March that was originally choreographed in 1995. Performed to the voiceover of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech about the value of man, the piece brings up issues of unity and the many excuses humankind has made for hatred. As the speech played and the dancers danced, you could hear claps throughout the audience on many different points throughout the speech. Although this speech was written fifty years ago, and this dance was created over twenty years ago, the words of Dr. King and the movements of Mr. Brown, never resonated so much as they do right now. It was deep and powerful!
The evening continued with the world premiere of Den of Dreams. The duet, performed by Mr. Brown and Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag, was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mr. Cabuag's dedication and commitment with the EVIDENCE company. The dance takes the audience through the journey of their relationship both professionally and personally. What a treat to see them both perform together on stage! They are both such great movers. It also looked like they were having fun.
As a special treat for opening night, the company concluded the performance with Upside Down, an excerpt from the 1998 evening-length piece Destiny created in collaboration with Mr. Brown, Rokiya Kone of the Ivory Coast and her company Jeune Ballet d' Afrique Noire. This was a colorful piece with lots of high energy. I enjoyed watching it. The only word that could come to mind as the lights faded and curtains closed, was wow!
Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE is a company that has been on my "must watch" list, and this performance proved why they have made their way on that list. The company comprises a group of such talented dancers. And Mr. Brown and his seamless integration of traditional African movements with contemporary dance provides a unique perspective on struggles, tragedies and triumphs- particularly within the African American community. And I know if you see Mr. Brown's choreography, he and his company will also be on your "must see" list!
For more information about Ronald K. Brown, his company EVIDENCE, and upcoming performances, please visit their website at www.evidencedance.com.
Ronald K. Brown in "On Earth Together" Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes