Guest Commentary by Kevin Toft
The spot light revealed a stripper pole……waiting for a dancer. Looking to my left I swallowed hard. The young boy who had only recently stowed away his Gameboy DS had snapped to attention.
It was the start of “I’ll Have What She’s Having” dance project on March 19 in Rider University’s Yvonne Theatre. As a dancer reviewing this showcase, I serve the choreographers who may be looking for feedback. The dances I found particularly interesting have been given more detailed commentary.
In the opening piece, Seven Seasons, by Marie Alonso, the spot light took the pole in and out of view as the artist created increasingly athletic still shapes. A kind of quiet torment was visible from her downcast face. As the haunting music came to a close the artist exhibited the first movement of the piece, clawing in futility up the pole. Marie Alonzo gripped my attention and ended rather quickly.
The artist’s use of a stripper pole was confusing. The imagery inherent in a stripper pole may or may not have been what the artist was aiming at. The German song used was sung by prisoners of the holocaust. The message of which condenses to ‘working hard will set you free.’ Was she likening the life of an exotic dancer to the suffering of holocaust victims? I can’t be sure. In light of the song, the character portrayed was very clearly a woman of the holocaust. Well done.
Valse Fantasie by Olivia Galgano: I felt a desire to see more distinct emotion in the piece. Perhaps the dancers could show more expression in their faces?
Cuadro by Lisa Botalico: The rubber Marley floor took away from the heel strikes, but the glare of the one suited woman was paralyzing. The rich detail in the costumes and the sheer strength of the performance enlivened the audience to cheers and applause. Welcome to Stage Presence 101.
Untitled Solo by Loretta D. Fois: This piece failed to launch in its original line up. All that came over the sound system in the darkness was the faint sound of a CD scrambling. When it actually began the sound of the performer’s voice came from offstage as the lights came up. In exasperated tones, she berated a stage hand pointing out how the performance was going wrong. Realizing her microphone was on she took the stage.
The artist’s ability to perform without a fourth wall made it nearly impossible to take notes. Very funny throughout; I was left wondering whether the initial ‘failure to launch’ was part of the choreography. Untitled Solo for One was distinct and memorable.
Truth by Linda E. Mannheim stood out for its ability to bring the audience somewhere else. The mesmerizing song and movements allowed the imagination to elaborate, bringing the piece to a new level. Technically speaking the piece didn’t take risks.
The Whole Enchilada by Shari Nyce: The quality of the movement had a childlike commitment while being precise and athletic. Ms. Nyce’s style is splendid to watch. The song was funny, but distracting. Perhaps she could tell the story just with her movement?
Crispy Water and Sugary Air by Marie Alonzo: This piece was cool! With depth and complexity it flowed from section to section seamlessly. I found the prop usage highly original and the subtle combination of different styles captivating. This piece is an artistic achievement and shouldn’t be missed.
Untitled White by Christine Colosimo: Raw or ethereal, Ms. Colosimo’s dedication to abused women tackled half a dozen issues. Objectification and degradation came strongly to my mind. The slide show backdrop was powerful but felt drawn out and the white sheet section was less interesting than others. I applaud the dancers of this piece who offered an incredible performance.
Danse Oriental by Kim Leary: There was passion in the eyes of some, but not all. The tone in the second section better suited the performers.
One’s Upon Times by Marie Alonzo: This performance was worth the price of admission. Beautifully arranged with vocal actors contributing off stage, spoken text by the performers and with no music the piece kept a clear tempo with the breathing and foot falls of the performers. The sheer humanity of the piece sent ripples through the audience. A must see.
Papillon Suite by Lynn Lesniak Needle: Wonderfully weird, the costumes of this piece were an achievement in themselves. The interactions between the butterflies and the grasshopper were interesting, but I think there was too much time spent repeating similar movements that didn’t further the story.
Students barely pay the $11 dollars for a movie now-a-days. $15 for something without theatrical trailers and other mass marketing is excluding the youth. I look forward to the next one.
Kevin Toft is a performer and instructor for HotSalsaHot based in Princeton, New Jersey where he received his training. He is also a ballet student at Princeton Dance Theatre and has performed in Marie Alonzo’s Tangerine dance collective. A dance lover in all its forms Kevin is also a fiction writer who enjoys a common ground in dance writing.