34th Annual Choreographer’s Showcase Review
Review By Taryn Brown
The 34th Annual Choreographer’s Showcase evidenced a mixture of professional and collegiate choreographic identity at its production on Saturday, February 4, 2017.
With six dance pieces ranging from dance-theater to conceptual art, the show provided veritable mass appeal for a wide-scope of audience members. Chosen from 52 choreographic works (curated by Leah Cox and Keith Thompson), the 2017 event highlighted a spectrum of age and style, which demonstrated the variety available within regional Mid-Atlantic contemporary dance.
The prominent piece was Waking Darkness, Waiting Light (winner of the Audience Choice Award) by Orange Grove Dance. Choreographers Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves magically spun a visual tale of suspension, tension, and community within a multilayered moving painting. Wearing jackets and muted tones, the quartet worked around a ladder that shifted from vertical to horizontal orientations while holding the performers in, around, and on top of it. Masterfully fused with a sound score by Jeff Dorfman and Dylan Glatthorn, this excerpt from an hour-long graduate school development shined a bright light into the showcase with its maturity and thoughtful provocation.
Another visually stunning piece was nexUS, choreographed by Shenandoah faculty member, Tiffanie Carson. This directly-bound and highly-energetic dance was set on seven (yes, seven) male students from the Shenandoah Conservatory Dance Ensemble. Performing in black masks, long sleeve shirts, and pants, the men toggled between unison power and cannon ripples of gestures. Isolations and jazzy accents were set to a sound score reminiscent of a ninja movie scene, which made the dance exciting and fun to watch.
The other dances rounding out the showcase included Matthew Rock’s humorous Idea, in which light bulbs symbolized the genesis of dance making. Dancers spoke subtext aloud regarding the choreographic process as they played with movement invention and structure. Rachel Shaver’s archetypal solo, Antlers, showed conflict within its strikingly sculpture-esque adagio. Trisha Brown was evoked from within Sandra Lacy’s postmodern Lost, as her body seemed to discourse with itself inside a complexity of directions and intentions. MERDE featured Tarik O’Meally’s powerful trio of women who found an internal ferocity within their well-designed spatial patterns and syncopated rhythms.
The Choreographer’s Showcase has served as a prominent dance event for the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region since its inception in 1982. It moved to its current location at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in 2001. The showcase was pleasing and easy to watch, as there was rigor, investigation, and professionalism in each piece. Although not a production within the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at UMD, the event felt relatively connected to dance coming out of institutions of higher learning. When asked what was next for the works presented, half stated that they are slated to perform at one of this year’s American College Dance Association conferences. As well, all explained that they are looking for opportunities to perform these works again when the occasion arises. Keep your eyes and ears peeled to see what comes next from this year’s showcase artists.