Part and Parcel – A Performance Duo by DancEthos and Word Dance Theater

With a scarf to tempt Isadora herself, Cynthia Word gracefully wafted across the stage opening a two company performance that featured the works of Word Dance Theater and DancEthos. “Part and Parcel” was staged at Dance Place on June 23rd and 24th.

Word Dance Theater (Photo Credit: Stephen Baranovics)

Word Dance Theater preserves the works of Isadora Duncan and creates original works inspired by the Duncan technique. It’s disorienting to take in the intense operatic scores and head-wrapped women without knowing that Isadora was greatly influenced by her time spent in the Soviet Union. Duncan’s work can be very internal and the dances often felt far off despite the black box feel of Dance Place.

The stage was back-dropped by images that reflected the mood of each piece. They were purposeful while not being distracting. Each flowing crepe fabric dress billowed around the dancers’ form, adding dimension and femininity to their strong shapes. Pianist Carlos César Rodríguez superbly executed every violent piano score and each delicate Chopin piece.

With little pause between works, Word Dance Theater presented nine pieces that transitioned seamlessly between each other. In “Dubinishka,” the dancers flocked gracefully as one, banking and straining to pull invisible giant taffy. Scarves in hand, the dancers transformed into warrior-like Rosie-the-Riveters. In “Revolutionary Etude,” Hannah Goldberg gave the dusty work a fresh level of intention. Seeming to dance for life itself, Goldberg put a driving fury behind each dragging and diving motion.

It’s rare to see works that could be coined with such a description as “original,” but DancEthos presented a diverse array of works that poked at such an acclaim.

DancEthos (Photo Credit: Amanda Kilgour)

In Carolyn Kamrath’s “Incessant,” three dancers lay belly-up, flopping and spasming in timed spurts. The traveling moments were limp and uncontrolled, yet phrased in patterns that created a cryptic beauty. The play on controlled and spastic motion imitated the tremors and instability of Parkinsons patients. The wind in the background was like an incessant white noise, drowning out the waves of raspy French music.

In “Matriculate,” choreographer and poet Matthew Bennett fueled the movement phrases with his vocal nuances. The pedestrian-like dancers created family relationships – mother to daughter and father to daughter – that showed defiance on the part of the children and self-sacrifice on the part of the parents. Bennett begged the audience to love and cherish their families or end up “graveside and holding nothing but what we wouldn’t say.”

A picture frame dictates where to look, but in “Framework,” choreographer Vladimir Angelov drove the focus to everything beyond. The black-dressed dancer created an impassioned Disney-like fairytale of a picture-frame girl come to life. She freed herself from her two-dimensional cell. Liberated but vulnerable, she gradually retreated to her frame but closed with one arm reaching away and the other holding the empty frame out to her side. Even when we want to escape, we can’t let go of the things that hold us up.

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About Lauren Green
Lauren is a dancer, instructor, choreographer, writer and wine enthusiast in the DC Metro Area. She specialized in social media marketing and has a passion for all things dance. Follow her on Twitter: @laurlens.

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