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BWW Review: Dance Theatre Of Harlem Sparkles at The Broad Stage

BWW Review: Dance Theatre Of Harlem Sparkles at The Broad StageDance Theatre Of Harlem Sparkles at The Broad Stage,

APRIL 20 & 21, 2018

There are certain Dance Companies that are in a class by themselves. Dance Theatre of Harlem is one of them. They not only encompass many forms of the Dance brilliantly, they are committed to diversity in their dancers and repertoire.

Arthur Mitchell, (the first black principal dancer to appear with the New York City Ballet) co-founder of the Company, now almost 50 years strong, along with Karel Shook, wanted to create unique ballets that spoke of their roots, the struggles of their people and the hope of things to come.

The program is brilliantly assembled, with the first piece, VARIATIONS, reflecting youthful, playful, many tempo-ed sections with very traditional balletic movements. Set against a brilliant blue backdrop, Robert Garland's Choreography of Johannes Brahms work solidifies the Company's mastery of ballet as we are used to seeing with long-established Companies and their signature pieces. There is a noted softness to their port de bras in this piece, no matter whether there is intricate, fast-paced footwork, or fluid legato movements, lifts and partnering. This sets aside this piece from the rest of the program. Fashioned to represent Louis the XIV's court, with a bit of Harlem attitude thrown in, it is lovely to watch and uniquely executed. Many of the couples, Crystal Serrano and Da'Von Doane, Alicia Mae Holloway, Yinet Fernandez, Amanda Smith, Ingrid Silva, Anthony Santos, Christopher McDaniel, Donald Nguyen Davison, and Choong Hoon Lee, are intertwined throughout in varying formations that are constantly changing and interestingly woven together. Much of the piece is done in rounds, complementing the melodies, with excellent fouettes done by the male dancers that were a treat! Their bows taken were an example of how traditional ballets are specifically and regally done.

BWW Review: Dance Theatre Of Harlem Sparkles at The Broad StageThe second piece of the evening was originally set on The Royal Swedish Ballet in 1993, by Ulysses Dove, who had just been through a very tumultuous time in his life, having suffered the loss of his father and 13 other close friends and relatives. DANCING ON THE FRONT PORCH OF HEAVEN (Odes to Love and Loss) and staged by Anna Dabrowski, pays tribute to those who had influence on his character and introduces more contemporary lines and movements, mixed with very expressive emotional groupings, signifying the support for each other, the strength to move forward and join together as one to await their arrival. The port de bras is more defined and deliberate, and several sections en pointe that are very strong. There are several standout male dancers executing difficult positions; one being in deep plie' in second position; en pointe, but in ballet slippers, not pointe shoes! This seems to be one of their trademark steps, and a crowd pleaser. The dancers, performing to Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, all in white one-piece jumpsuits, against a dark black background, are Lindsey Croop, Alison Stroming, Alicia Mae Holloway, Dylan Santos, Jorge Andres Villarini and Anthony Santos.

BWW Review: Dance Theatre Of Harlem Sparkles at The Broad Stage

To complete the evening, VESSELS, choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie, with music by Ezlo Bosso performed with gusto by the entire company, was in sections: Light; Belief; Love, and Abundance, and meant to represent a cyclical journey. "Let us all be infused with something beautiful that can be transferred to others," was vividly expressed in each section. The striking costumes, salmon-colored tutus and leotards for the women, and shorts or jumpsuits for the men, gave this piece a joyous feeling, designed by George Hudako. The technique in this Company was showcased magnificently, and implemented a diversity of styles; with flowing adagios, sharp, staccato movements, strong port de bras, a very athletic men's section, very clean ladies section, a dynamic solo by one of the male dancers, intricate floorwork, and glorious leaps and lifts. Truly uplifting and made you want to dance your way out of the theatre.

This company has not performed in Los Angeles for about ten years, and, with only three performances this time around, I am hoping they will return much sooner, with longer engagements, as they are powerful and in demand the World over.

Photo credit: Ben Gibbs

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From This Author Valerie-Jean Miller

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