BWW Review: An Evening of Special Tributes at the AMERICAN DANCE GUILD PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL
October 25-28, 2018 marked the 2018 American Dance Guild Performance Festival: Visions- Then and Now as the Guild celebrates 61 years of service to dance. This year's showcase brought a program of dances both old and new featuring the work of modern dance legends Jane Dudley and the late Donald McKayle. The weekend also recognized two-time BESSIE award winner Jane Comfort and the inimitable Eleo Pomare for this year's Lifetime Awards.
As part of this four-day festival, I had the lovely opportunity to attend the performance on the evening of Saturday, October 27th.
The festival opened with Seams by Anna Hooper. There was lots of body contact throughout the choreography as the group moved together as one unit. Next was Oneero, an excerpt from the piece Heartbeats commissioned by the Limon Dance Company with choreography by the late Donald McKayle. This special production was performed by Roxane D'Orleans Juste. It was very fluid full and beautiful rounded and curved arm movements. The following piece, Amid by Kara Robertson, was a female quartet. I absolutely appreciated the moments of stillness throughout the choreography. With Only The Clothes On Our Backs, choreographed and performed by Loretta D. Fois, was very interesting. It was a political statement about the history of our nation's feelings on illegal immigrants. Ms. Fois incorporated text from a number of US speeches and laws including The Chinese Exclusion Act (1917) and the Shut the Door speech (1924) to name two. The issue of immigration is not new, but has evolved to target different groups of people over time.
The program continued with Die Unbekannte Aus Der Seine by Hanna Berger, full of up and suspended movements from the floor. Next was At The Receding Edges by Jennifer Kayle. It appeared as if the dancers were embarking on a dangerous journey, but struggling to make it through. The following piece, Blink performed and created by Mary Fitzgerald and Eileen Standley with music by Barry Moon and Dough Nottingham, gave me a feeling of being in outer space with sounds of a UFO and other robotic sounds. Unseen, Unheard, Forgotten by Joniece Boykins was a powerful and moving piece. It was full of grace, yet very intense. In the dance, in medias res choreographed and performed by Li Chiao-Ping, incorporated the interesting use of a table in the choreography.
The evening closed with a special tribute and celebration of the life of Eleo Pomare (1937-2008). Widely recognized for his contributions to American dance, he gained the reputation for portraying the black experience and political insight into his work. The tribute featured a short film of him teaching followed by a performance of the piece Hex choreographed by Mr. Pomare and performed by Dyane Harvey.
The American Dance Guild, formed in 1956, was one of the first dance service organizations to be in the US. The Guild was founded on the goal to support dance teachers with a yearly conference to provide a time and space to exchange ideas and see master teachers demonstrate their work. Since then, it has grown to produce a publication called DanceScope, and conferences addressing a variety of issues in dance as well as honoring distinguished members of the dance community. Most recently, the Guild has provided performance opportunities as part of their annual festivals,and awards a summer scholarship to the Jacob's Pillow Festival in Massachusetts.
To learn more about the American Dance Guild or to support their programs and initiatives, please visit their website at www.americandanceguild.org.
Eleo Pomare Photo credit: David Fullard