Guest Post: An Informal Introduction to MOVEiUS Ballets

By Helen Gineris

MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet is forging a path and making a home for classically-trained talent in the Greater Metro DC area. On Saturday, May 18, the company extended an invitation to Meet MOVEiUS, a casual studio showing of five works comprising old, newer, and in-progress pieces by four choreographers. Hosted at Takoma Park’s infamous Dance Exchange, the audience sat in three rows of folding chairs and overstuffed pillows at the rear of a large, Marley-floor dance studio. The intimate evening flowed quickly with each production headlined with introductory commentary allowing for an insider perspective rarely offered to dance audiences.

Verge

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Indicative that the casual studio setting is new to some, the immediate start of Florian Rouiller’s “Verge” (2013) is met with curious whispers observing the absence of “special” lighting. Soloist Kathleen Howard performs with adeptness, strength, and control, a dancer whose classical technique shines in graceful arm and leg extensions and fluid movement atop a supported frame. Contemporary contractions and body waves complement the classical style while turning leaps excite. On its own the composition is well-structured, uses the entire space and depth of the stage, and keeps the audience traveling along with the soloist. Musically speaking, set to nuevo tango “Santa Maria Del Buen Ayre” by GoTan Project, a song of passionate beats, sharp crescendos, and intricate electronica, a disconnect is present. Perhaps the casual studio atmosphere and absent stage-lighting contribute to the lost translation of musical strength and passion or presence of “verge;” the overall impression urges an embrace of the choreography with a reevaluation of musical choice or a definitive nose-dive into the multi-layered bounty of musical tensions, tones, and tempos until they emerge inseparable from the existing choreography.

SINS/Learning to Run

By contrast, “SINS,” alternately titled “The Sun is Not Sinking” (2013) proves captivating in the exquisite musicality present in the choreographic phraseology and internalization of it by the four dancers down to the last detail, from emotive facial expressions to head turns creating lines of sight that help the audience know exactly where to focus their attention throughout the piece. As a studio showing, the forced physical presence of the main character or trio on the sidelines, where they would normally be hidden in the wings, lends an even greater distinction to the relationships played out on stage. Throughout, the movements, at times deliciously subtle, mesmerize. Choreographed by MOVEiUS Associate Director Katya Vasilaky, who also performs in the piece, SINS is a collaborative work between four dancers who convey a graceful sense of trust, support, and closeness on stage.

MOVEiUS Founder/Executive Director and choreographer Diana Movius presented a preview of “Learning to Run” (2013) followed by “Legacy” (2011, restaged 2013). Set to minimalist modern music by Steve Reich, in “Learning to Run” Movius presents a fast, slow, fast mood-changing piece evoking the contradictions and motivations of modern-day life.

Legacy

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

“Legacy,” which premiered at Dance Place in 2011, is well-traveled both in and out of state and debuting its first restaging on an entirely new cast at Meet MOVEiUS. As the choreographer, Movius reveals that restaging produces a new dance influenced by the capabilities and strengths of individual dancers; meanwhile, the music, structure, and “emotional core of what our relationships mean throughout our lives” remain the work’s constants. As the piece opens two dancers in child’s pose are approached by a counterpart who steps behind each to raise them up with the soft wave and rise of a hand and arm as if growing flowers out of a garden – budding, sprouting, and opening up to the light. Staccato rhythms of pointe shoes paired with outstretched arms and legs carve an “X” in the space inducing excitement as if to say “Hello! I’m here!” and so the relationships begin. Movius’ beautiful composition takes the audience on an intricate journey through relationship evolutions such as dependence, support, excitement, growing up, standing on one’s own, letting go, remembrance, and reverence. It’s easy to see why this is a repertory mainstay.

Big River

Closing the evening is a four-song preview of “Big River” (2013) performed to music sung by Johnny Cash. Inspired by Cash’s lifetime of music, choreographer Kimberly Parmer boldly attaches contemporary ballet to a well-known and loved, definitively iconic American figure whose artistic career spans 50 years and fan-base crosses generations. In choosing Cash, the ballet is no longer being performed to “dance-viewers,” but to dance-viewers who reside somewhere along a Johnny Cash fan continuum and whose level of fandom will undoubtedly affect one’s experience of the ballet. It has the potential to knock Johnny Cash fans out of their train cars as they uncover how their fandom is shaped with preconceived notions, already-established emotions and images attached to Cash’s musical work and revealed only in the process of seeing that work translated onto another artistic medium.

The ballet is set within a framework of values derived from Eric Erickson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Parmer emphasizes that “Big River” is very much a work-in-progress in the rehearsal phases with dancers still trying on and internalizing the movements. The six-dancer ballet begins with the end in mind, at the end of Cash’s career, with the song “Unchained” (Jude Johnstone). Breaking from tradition, the tallest dancer leads the front adding depth to the stage while the group plays out the passage of time in waves of diagonal lines. Repetitive hip twists depart from the classical linear tradition and the sound of pointe shoes add a surprising beat on top of the music as the ballet turns to “Folsom Prison Blues” to explore the sentiment hope. The piece proves a disconcerting juxtaposition between exuberant leaps, lightness, and smiles (hope) and gritty, at times fatalistic lyrics, From the infamous “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” to “I know I had it comin’, I know I can’t be free.” It begs to know from what perspective hope is being explored. Is it inspired by the last stanza, the catchy, rhythmic tempo surrounding the lyrics, perhaps an absence of hope, or simply that Cash’s career is beginning? The highlight of the ballet is “Got Rhythm,” a refreshing, upbeat tap solo with sounds and contemporary moves not to be missed, performed en pointe by Shelley Siller. Typical of a work-in-progress, the preview arouses more questions before presenting a definitive piece. Provocative, “Big River,” centered on an American icon will undoubtedly ignite cocktail discussions on artistic choices, interpretation, focal elements, translation, and response. The reception that topped off Meet MOVEiUS was merely the beginning.

MOVEiUS Contemporary Dance presents a six-show run of Big River and Other Wayfaring Ballets at 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, July 12th – 27th at GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are on sale June 17th. Contribute to the completion of this project by making a donation at MOVEiUS’s Indiegogo online campaign.

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Daydreams Dance at the Capital Fringe Festival

Daydreams, presented by the Call Me Crazy Dancers, is a show appearing in the Capital Fringe Festival. The show takes place at the Gala Hispanic Theatre at Tivoli Square. The show will feature local dancers from the Flint Hill School, under the direction of dance teacher Jenelle Mrykalo, as well as dancers from Maryland, Philadelphia, and New York City who are part of The Call Me Crazy Dancers.

We wanted to do an entire show featuring different dance styles and original material. Daydreams is an innovative dance show featuring ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary dance, spoken word and original music. The journey explores the kids we were, the adults we became, and the dreams we’re still chasing. The show’s music consists of original jazz and rock songs composed by the band Call Me Crazy. There is even a tribute to the Great American Songbook of jazz standards, but featuring original songs. This show is as dynamic and unpredictable as our dreams themselves.

“We don’t live to sit and work at computers, wait tables, or drive trucks. We do these things while we’re busy making other plans. Our daydreams keep us going in a time of increasing pessimism. We can make better lives for ourselves and others, and it all starts with a daydream on a playground, at a desk at school, on the drive to work, or while brushing our teeth.”

The mission of our group is to provide opportunities for young emerging dancers to work professionally outside of their home studios, says John Curtis. “There is a wealth of talent outside of our base in NYC, and we go out and find it. Everything we do in this group is original: the music, the choreography, and the spoken word segments; it is what we do, and it is perfect for unconventional performance vehicles like the Capital Fringe. Our dancers enjoy being part of the full creative process with our material.”

The above information is adapted from a Daydreams Dance document received Monday, July 16th.

The Deets

Mayzsoul Dance Company at the Capital Fringe Festival

Below is an excerpt of Kent Neidhold’s article originally written for DCMetroTheaterArts.com.

“Souls”— A World Premiere at the Capital Fringe

Ten Dancers. Ten Souls. One Journey.

This summer you will only have five chances to take part in the journey of “Souls,” premiering at the 7th annual Capital Fringe Festival in July. “Souls” is a thoughtful and moving metaphysical narrative. It follows lost souls as they help a new soul navigate through a labyrinth of relationships to help him discover his place and ultimately their place in life. Perhaps they will find that truth lies in their lost state and that they have no permanent self, only to discover their souls are part of an ever-changing entity.

“Souls is a reflection of the point in every person’s life when they begin to lose sight of who they are. We all need a reminder of what it means to be human and need to embrace the changes that may occur,” Joye Thomas, Artistic Director. Mayzsoul is inspired to share this with the Capital Fringe Festival and all who attend. Mayzsoul has had the unique opportunity to commission two original scores by Paul de Jong, formerly of THE BOOKS and The Fight Mannequins.

Jong, who himself is an experienced musician and composer, saw the importance and unique opportunity that came from composing music for Souls: “Never having met Joye and being totally unfamiliar with her work, initially made me feel that composing this piece might be a bit of a shot in the dark. That quickly changed when we had our first phone conversation, it was quite refreshing to experience so much creative drive, focus and enthusiasm dancing my way through the airwaves! Reading the description of ‘Souls’ and understanding where my music would fit within the development of the ‘storyline’ of the dance movements immediately gave me the creative direction that led to the music I have now called ‘Orchid’, a symbol of beauty, love and strength.”

Mayzsoul is a Washington, DC area based 501(c)3 nonprofit dance company founded by Melanie Lalande, who is also Artistic Director of Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE”. Mayzsoul’s mission is to create and grow a community of artists that will continue artistic exploration and education while producing quality performances. Mayzsoul gives regular community workshops and free open classes, and creates groundbreaking work meant to allow others to see the world from a new perspective. Approaching their sixth year, Mayzsoul is excited for the future. “I am deeply proud of Mayzsoul. It continues to exists because of the commitment the people inside the company have to the process and the purpose of the mission as well as the work. They are beauty in motion,” said founder Melanie Lalande.

“Souls” will be performed at the GALA Hispanic Theatre at Tivoli Square: 3333 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20010. Between Park Road and Monroe Street. The theater entrance is located on the second floor by stairs or mezzanine level (M) through the elevator. Metro: One block north of the Columbia Heights Metro Station on the Green line.

Thursday, July 12th, 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 14th, 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 24th, 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 26th, 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 28th, 12:00 p.m.

For more information, please visit mayzsoul.org, capfringe.org or call 866-811-4111.

MOVEius DANCE at the Capital Fringe Festival

By Tina Barksdale, Marketing Director for WKS INT. Representing: MOVEius DANCE’s  “Flight of Fancy”

A parallel universe? Perhaps… At the very least an alternate reality! The setting for MOVEiUS DANCE’s Flight of Fancy (A Steampunk Ballet) is sure to please both sci-fi junkies and classic romantics alike!

Flight of Fancy is a contemporary ballet that embraces the Steampunk Movement, a literary and fashion genre that combines the Victorian style with futuristic developments from the perspective of a steam- powered society. This performance will have its audience ultimately asking, What if human innovation had taken an alternative path? A path equally as modern as our computer-enhanced reality; however, able to maintain the class, style and intrinsic values of a more romantic time by utilizing an alternative power source? The Steampunk philosophy stays true to Victorian optimism and comes to a slightly idealistic conclusion that the steam-powered reality that results is a world that celebrates individualism. This performance will explore the wanderlust in us all!

The Steampunk movement has taken hold around the world, most notably in the UK and US. Kathleen Howard, a founding dancer with MOVEiUS DANCE and a promising young teacher at the Washington School of Ballet, came up with the Steampunk idea for their premier Fringe performance. While MOVEiUS DANCE has performed shorter pieces since 2010 in esteemed venues such as the Woolly Mammoth Theater and Dance Place, they sought an unusual full-length concept for their one-hour Fringe show. Diana Movius, Director and Co-founder of MOVEiUS DANCE, agreed: “The Steampunk concept is perfect for the Fringe Festival, and the style is perfect for ballet.”

Join us as we celebrate MOVEiUS DANCE’s Fringe Festival debut and follow the character “the Aviator” during her journey through offices, stars, love and a novella steampunk society. This is a ballet showcasing a number of MOVEiUS’ accomplished local dancers, many of whom enjoyed professional ballet careers before moving to DC: MOVEiUS Co-founder Katya Vasilaky in the role of the Aviator (Vasilaky danced with the San Francisco Ballet and Martha Graham); Charlotte Barnett, fresh from the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Erica Diesl of BalletRox and Ballet Theatre of Maryland; Kathleen Howard, Diana Movius and others. The score is upbeat with an indie rock twist and full of intriguing factors that will engage an audience and lead them through the exploration of breaking free from computer technology, creating an ambiance of positivity, individualism, celebration, and even hot-air balloons!

Performances are part of the Capital Fringe Festival at the Gala Hispanic Theatre, located at 3333 14th Street NW, Washington DC, 20010 (in close proximity to the Columbia Heights Metro Station):

Saturday, July 14th, 4:45 p.m.

Sunday, July 15th, 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 17th, 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 21st, 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 26th, 6:00 p.m.

Tickets go on sale on June 18th at capfringe.org or moveiusdance.org.

darlingdance company looking for Production Assistant/Understudy

Photo Credit: Matthew Wright

darlingdance company is currently looking for a Production Assistant/Understudy for our upcoming performance in the 7th Annual Capital Fringe Festival this summer. The start date for this position is negotiable, but you must be available for the second half of May, all of June, and all of July. This position is a wonderful, all-encompassing experience for an eager dancer looking to experience the physical aspect of dance and the management aspect of dance. Duties will include: learning phrase work to fill-in when dancers are absent, assisting with marketing for the Fringe performance, working tech for the Fringe performance, as well as other responsibilities tbd.

darlingdance company was founded in Washington, DC in August 2010 by choreographer Hayley Cutler. Hayley was a finalist for the 2012 Emerging Choreographer Award at the MetroDC Dance Awards. With a background in modern and postmodern dance, Hayley combines classic movement vocabulary with her own take on abstract and pedestrian movement to create an aesthetic that is often described as “quirky” and “daring.” darlingdance company has performed at The Atlas Theatre, Dance Place, in the Chicago Fringe Festival, and will be performing in Dance in the Circle on April 21st.

If you are interested in this position, please e-mail your resume and a short written statement about why you would like to work with darlingdance company to darlingdanceco@gmail.com.

The above information is from an e-mail received Tuesday, March 27th from darlingdance company.

danceDC Weekend Event Guide 7/23-7/25

Friday, July 23rd

Saturday, July 24th

Sunday, July 25th

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