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BWW Review: THE OTHER SIDE at Kennedy Center

The piece has an important message.

BWW Review: THE OTHER SIDE at Kennedy Center
L-R Daisy Denicore, Jordin Green, Tanasia Lane, Nateisha Reaves, and
Riché Williams in the World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission of
The Other Side.
Photo by Jati Lindsay.

Note: The casting mentioned reflects the April 24th 1:30pm performance.

There are some ideas for theatrical pieces that seem great on paper but never quite become what you hoped they would be. Kennedy Center's World Premiere dance commission The Other Side is that kind of piece.

Based on the book of the same name by Jacqueline Woodson The Other Side tells the story of Clover (Tanasia Lane) and Annie Paul (Tara Bellardini). They are two young girls who live just across the fence from each other. Clover is African American and Annie Paul is Caucasian. Living in a segregated town Clover's mom has said that she should not venture over the fence. One day Clover discovers Annie Paul and the two girls strike up a friendship. Because they go can't over the fence the girls sit on the fence and talk that way. Ultimately the girls realize the fence should not be there at all.

Woodson's story is a strong reminder of how ridiculous segregation was in this country and how it never should have been so The Other Side teaches a good lesson to young children.

Director/Choreographer Hope Boykin puts Woodson's novel onstage as a dance piece with recorded narrations (performed by Lay'la K. Rogers as Clover) to help tell the story. This is where The Other Side went off the rails for me. It wasn't that Boykin's choreography didn't tell the story but more so that the small stage of the Family Theater doesn't give her enough space to do so. The fence designed by scenic designer Joe Gaito obviously takes up room and the dance overall just looks crammed. However, the company of five does display lots of energy in executing Boykin's choreography.

Secondly, the mother's reasons for not wanting her daughter to go over the fence is the reason Woodson is telling her story but she isn't a character in this production. There are three fine ensemble dancers (Nateisha Reaves, Jordin Green, and Riché Williams) who play Clover's friends so I'm sure there could have been a cast character double if so desired.

From an audible perspective, Ali Jackson's jazz score and the narrations could have benefited from having a sound designer (there isn't one listed) properly EQ everything. The narrations do not sound clean and the music as good as it is sounds uneven level wise.

Overall, The Other Side has a very important story to tell and on a larger stage it stands to succeed more so than it does in this incarnation.

Running Time: 40 minutes with no intermission.

The Other Side runs through April 30th, 2022 in the Family Theater at The Kennedy Center which is located at 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC.

For tickets, click here.

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