Mich-Mash Productions Showcases DC Dance’s Next Generation of Choreographers

So you’re a recent graduate. Made it to the top of your university dance program. You’ve tossed your Gail Grant and your Anatomy text book and replaced it with your headshot and resume. There are stars in your eyes, and you’re ready to start living. Now what?

Only a handful of dance programs prepare dancers to answer this question. Some artists find their way through trial and error, and others give up all together. Micheline Heal, Artistic Director of Mich-Mash Productions, has found a way to fill this gap – to help dancers make the leap from college dance program to real life and take the loneliness out of the process.

The Young Choreographers Collective or YC2 (pronounced “why see squared”), a support network created by Heal, is designed to give recent grads the business skills necessary to ease the transition from diploma to dance scene, alleviating the mystery that holds back many potential dance artists.

Mich-Mash Productions presented YC2, an evening-length concert performed, choreographed and marketed by Heal and two YC2 choreographer-hopefuls – Matina Phillips and Elizabeth Odell. Held at The Jack Guidone Theater at Joy of Motion Dance Center Friendship Heights, Mich-Mash Productions experienced a nearly full house on Sunday, February 26th.

“There’s Something About Marriage” was Odell’s take on four marital situations and the common stigmas attached to each – arranged, same-sex, long distance and polygamous. In “Arranged,” the dancers often appeared forced together in awkward angles, portraying the uncomfortable resignation attached to such unions.

Seasons as a theme is a difficult task. It has been interpreted in movement since nearly the beginning of dance-making so making it new in some way would be a feat. In “Still Lifes: The Seasons,” Heal broke up the distinct four-part calendar year into four very similar pieces. Opening with the fall season, the dancers tumbled and sliced through the space in an unpredictable pattern, creating the look of leaves. Blackout. Winter. Blackout. Spring. Blackout. Enter shorts-clad dancer with sunglasses and beach towel to make sure the audience knows it’s the summer section.

In “Nightly Thoughts,” Phillips explored sleeplessness. The stripe-clad insomniac was manipulated by two nightly shadows. The piece shifted between boredom, discomfort, anguish, euphoria and yearning, eventually collapsing from sheer mental exhaustion. While the meaning is accessible to a wide audience, certain formation choices were unclear in how they contributed to the overall intention.

It takes guts to draw contemporary meaning from tap, but Phillips is an optimist. Her clean riffs and shuffles added percussion to the streaming music, constructing an image of a young woman making her own happiness, traveling through life and overcoming bumps and bridges with barrel turns and over-the-logs. For more information about Mich-Mash Productions and YC2, please visit www.mich-mash.com/yc2/.

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