by Chelsea Hamilton for The Dance Journal
In a theater with grand ceilings and an antique ambiance at Bryn Mawr College, the school continued their six month-long performing arts series with a lively performance by the seasoned artists of Ronald K. Brown/Evidence: Dance and the Spirit. Opening up the show was Lisa Kraus, the Performing Arts Coordinator at Bryn Mawr, who delivered a speech comparing the theater to a beautiful, old church and comparing the act of dancing itself to church, setting the tone for a night of superb movement.
The first piece presented by the company was titled Torch, featuring all the dancers in the company and an upbeat array of music. A female dancer dressed in all white stood on the shoulders of a male dancer and then fell backwards, where the rest of the ensemble was waiting to catch her. From there, the dancers moved into a detailed display of traditional African movement, running on and off the stage in different groups. Between their quick steps and sequences of jumps and turns, the dancers looked like they were having fun throughout the whole piece and made the audience want to tap their feet and dance along.
The dancers all moved at their own pace, showing incredible strength and detail in their movement. They formed two straight lines to finish the piece, dancing in unison for the first time — it almost seemed as though they never stopped jumping or moving their feet along to the beat, making for a wildly entertaining opening number.
The next piece, an excerpt of Lessons: March, was incredibly moving and portrayed a powerful message to the audience. Two talented company members, Sherman Wood and Taylor Jones, delivered an emotional yet strong duet to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The men were dressed in loose-fitting black bodysuits and performed a very technical array of movement, moving very fluidly together during the partnering and unison parts and still so strongly when they were on their own.
The show continued with The Subtle One, featuring the entire company and showcasing a more contemporary style. The dancers were clothed in colorful ombre dresses and shirts and moved ever–so-gracefully and effortlessly across the stage. As the music picked up, the dancers moved faster and more determinedly, repeating a phrase of back attitudes, arabesques and pirouettes. Although arguably not as lively as the other pieces of the night, the audience still seemed to enjoy the fluidity and flexibility of the dancers movement and their ever-present skill and strength as performers.
The closing piece of the night was Grace, which was originally choreographed by Brown for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1999 and became part of the Evidence repertory in 2003. The piece began with a single female dancer on stage wearing all white, dancing slowly but beautifully across the space. The music gradually became more upbeat as the rest of the dancers from the company joined her on stage, clothed in red and white costumes against a fierce red backdrop.
The back curtain was left slightly open in the center in front of the backdrop, allowing the dancers to enter on center stage. They performed a fast-paced, high-energy number that was as equally sassy as it was technical. The piece took a dramatic turn when all the dancers came out on stage wearing all white and dancing fluidly to a soulful song. They ended the charming number in three couples, hugging and walking off stage together.
Especially evident in the final piece of the night, the company showcased their versatility by jumping between different styles, but doing so with the pure talent and artistry of experienced professional dancers.
***Photo courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Coordinator