Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: DANCE NATION at Olney Theatre

Review: DANCE NATION at Olney Theatre

Now through October 30

Dance Nation is a 2019 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama by playwright and performer Clare Barron and directed for Olney Theatre by Jenna Place. The play follows a "tweenage dance team from Liverpool, Ohio, more is at stake than a first-place trophy." Its about the battle between self doubt and self belief as well as the devotion required in order to be truly great at something.

The choreography to Missy Elliot and other dance anthems by Assistant Director Nikki Mirza is filled with the chaotic angst of the preteen years but does not shine as bright as the stellar performances by this diversly colorful cast of adult actor of all ages playing adolescent girls (and one boy).

Moyenda Kulemeka's costuming choices are not elaborate but subtly thoughtful. From Dance Teacher Pat's (Michael Wood) all black attire with starry accents sparkle alongside the adages of Universality woven into his eccentric coaching style to Brigid Cleary in shades of pink spandex as Ashlee during her explosive feminist monologue on female power.

These strong feminist attitudes are undercut, however, through staged interaction between the group and Amina, the strongest member of their team and literal hero of the story. Amina motivates her teammates and leads rehearsals while still managing to alienate herself from the other girls through her, well...greatness. Jasmine Joy's Amina is reminiscent of a young Serena Williams on the tennis court or Beyoncé in the early years of Destiny's Child. Amina's talent and ambition prove to be most unbearable for her bestfriend Zuzu. Ashley D. Nguyen as Zuzu, the Icarus to the Amina's sun goes through several ranges of emotion from depression at trying to live up her mother's dream which leads to an almost demonic level of focus to an infectious joy as the character hits an emotional breakthrough. All of which are applaudable.

The cast is rounded out with several Olney debuts including Joy, Nguyen, Louis E. Davis as the lovestruck Luke, Yesenia Iglesias as Vanessa/the moms (Brava!), and Shubhangi Kuchibhotla (Connie) as well as returning artists MaryBeth Wise (Maeve) and Megan Graves she/her (Sofia).



Interview: Theatre Life with Lauren Pekel Photo
Today’s subject Lauren Pekel is currently living her theatre life as the Production Stage Manager for what is easily one of the more technically complex productions running in DC theatre right now. Nightly (with two matinees) at Studio Theatre, Lauren calls over 300 light cues and close to 100 sound cues for People, Places and Things. The show runs through December 11th in Studio Theatre’s recently open new space known as the Victor Shargai Theatre. Did I mention her only view of the stage is through two ten-inch TV screens? Read on to see how that all works.

The “King Of Waltz” Bringing Musical Extravaganza To UBS Arena At Belmont Park Photo
Petaluma’s premier theater company, Cinnabar Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Nathan Cummings and Executive Director Diane Dragone, is proud to host a “Swingin’ New Years Eve” concert, Saturday December 31st, at 7:30pm.

Voting Now Open For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards Photo
Voting is now open for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.

Review: THE DAY YOU BEGIN at Kennedy Center Photo
Jacqueline Woodson’s 2018 children’s book The Day You Begin comes to radiant musical life in the Family Theater at the Kennedy Center this holiday season.


From This Author - Martrese Meachum

Martrese is a writer and storyteller based in Washington, DC happy to be doing the BWW DC scene.

... (read more about this author)

Review: DRACULA at Synetic TheatreReview: DRACULA at Synetic Theatre
October 17, 2022

What did our critic think of DRACULA at Synetic Theatre? Synetic Theatre's signature style of silent, motion filled acting lends itself well to this adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel of the same name. Dracula is the tale of a wounded warrior granted eternal life as a vampire during the Turkish Invasion. Four hundred years later, upon the arrival of John, an English solicitor to Dracula's secluded Transylvanian lair, the adventure begins. True to its name this show is spooky and sensual with a tinge of a rock n' roll.

Review: MY CALAMITOUS AFFAIR... at The Corner At Whitman WalkerReview: MY CALAMITOUS AFFAIR... at The Corner At Whitman Walker
October 13, 2022

What did our critic think of MY CALAMITOUS AFFAIR... at The Corner At Whitman Walker? Voices Festival Productions' presents My Calamitous Affair with the Minister of Culture and Censorship or Death of Dialogic in the American Theater by founder and playwright, Ari Roth as its season opener. My Calamitous Affair...is directed by DC theatre veteran and six time Helen Hayes Award Nominee John Vreeke.

Review: DANCE NATION at Olney TheatreReview: DANCE NATION at Olney Theatre
October 5, 2022

Dance Nation, Olney Theatre's 22-23 Season opener, is a 2019 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama by playwright and performer Clare Barron and directed for Olney Theatre by Jenna Place. The play follows a 'tweenage dance team from Liverpool, Ohio, more is at stake than a first-place trophy.' Its about the battle between self doubt and self belief as well as the devotion required in order to be truly great at something.

Review: KURIOS - Cirque du Soleil's CABINET OF CURIOSITIES at Tyson's SquareReview: KURIOS - Cirque du Soleil's CABINET OF CURIOSITIES at Tyson's Square
August 25, 2022

Given that this was my first time visiting the circus any circus in well over a decade and the first time attending Cirque du Soleil in person, I was not sure what to expect. However, I was prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Under the big blue tent in Tyson Square there are lots of refreshments and even a VIP lounge with separate entrance and open bar. If I were you I would pay the extra to sit up front because the closer you are to the stage in this aspect the easier it is to be immersed in the show. That being said, the famous French-Canadian circus begins in the audience with classical mimes thematically appropriate costuming as pre-show entertainment.

Review: SOPHISTICATED NEW ONES at Unexpected Stage CompanyReview: SOPHISTICATED NEW ONES at Unexpected Stage Company
June 27, 2022

What did our critic think? Sophisticated New Ones, written by well versed television actor, writer and show creator Keith Powel is not a throw away play. Set in the time leading up to President Barack Obama's first election, this story centers an antique repair shop owned and operated by a divorce' and her adult son. It explores the conflict between what one has to give up in order to move forward. It's directed by Unexpected Stage Company board member and stage veteran, Dawn Thomas Reidy.