BWW Review: DORRANCE DANCE's THE BLUES PROJECT Invokes the Healing Powers of the Community
Living through political tumult and societal unrest brings many emotions to the surface: fear, worry, anxiety, and most notably, anger. In these times of uncertainty, the healing powers of dance can reflect all that is good and beautiful about humanity. And it's just what Dorrance Dance achieved on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 during their run at The Joyce Theater. In a stunning collaboration with the velvety vocals and musical styling of Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely, esteemed dancers Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K. Grant and choreographic help from Karida Griffith, Michelle Dorrance created a mesmerizing, imaginative universe; one filled with tap dancing so powerful, it brought the entire room together through love and light.
Celebrating great Americana music - soul, folk, and blues - the evening began with the dancers in three trios, riffing off each other with casual ease. Letting their taps inform their individual shapes, their bodies became conduits for the syncopated, percussive rhythms that swirled through the air. With each of the night's movements, the dancers brought new purpose to the choreography, using the music to channel a distinct mood and tone, flirting with the rhythmic licks in synchronous joy. Dorrance's choreography served each dancer individually and collectively, playing with different pairings and groupings to showcase their seamless interaction.
But the highlights of the evening were most certainly the solos. Powerful and striking, Grant taps with enviable ease, floating across the stage with vintage glamour. Debonair and devilish, his tap dancing is the currency of all movement. Similarly, Sumbry-Edwards is a vision. But she attacks it differently, with quiet focus and precision. Her taps are succinct and forceful, and everything she does appears effortless - it's the mark of a true master. Yet on this night, it all begins and ends with Michelle Dorrance. Slender and unassuming, Dorrance is fast and furious; putting everything she's ever experienced or done right into her taps. Addressing the current state of affairs, Reagon united the audience to sing along to her self-proclaimed "war cry" song, and we did willingly, witnessing Dorrance's every breath, turn and flick of her feet. It was intoxicating.
The Blues Project was one of the most powerful pieces I've seen in many, many months. Not only did it showcase incredible dancing, it sparked hope and love for the community at large, which is what dance should always aim to achieve. Bravo, Dorrance Dance.
Photo Credit: Em Watson