Koresh Showcases the Breadth of Philly’s Dance Talent

photo credit: Frank Bicking

by Gary Day for The Dance Journal

A lot of people may not be aware of just how extensive Philadelphia’s talent pool for modern dance really is. Partly this is probably because, outside of college and university projects, opportunities for emerging talent are somewhat limited. Also, let’s be honest: our town’s major media—like the Inquirer—tend to ignore arts outside the big venues (the Fringe being a notable exception).

Koresh Dance tries to address this shortage of exposure with its Showcase series, where smaller companies and young independent choreographers are invited to display short samples of their work for select audiences.

The talent on display in last weekend’s Koresh Showcase was remarkably diverse. Of course, as with any showcase, the quality of the myriad pieces varied widely, but there were several examples of truly impressive emerging talent—some of which were excitingly good.

Among the highlights was a piece choreographed by Emily Kline featuring an ensemble of five gifted young women. Kline’s choreography was among the most sophisticated and complex of the evening. The five women dancers moved in complicated patterns, moving in and out of controlled synchronization with precision and flair. It was quite a dramatic display.

Next up was a solo piece choreographed and performed by Yuki Ishiguro, a dancer of remarkable athleticism. Starting in a well-defined circle of light, Ishiguro utilized elements of mime to portray being trapped in a box (or a prison cell). He then pulled in some energetic street hip-hop as well as some competitive level gymnastics as she struggled to escape. It was a thrill to watch him execute his moves with skill and eclat, maintaining a smooth unbroken dramatic flow as he shifted through one style after another.

Perhaps the most fun piece on the program was presented by the Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company. Choreographer Kyle “JustSole” Clark’s concept was, what would happen if he created multiple copies of himself to help with the rigors of an increasingly busy life. The dancers formed a chorus line and all was well as each did as instructed by the choreographer. Briefly well, that is, as the “copies” became increasingly uncontrolled and chaotic. The ensemble was highly energetic with their street hop-hop influenced stylizations—and funny. The audience (myself included) was rolling in the aisles with delight.

But the most exciting piece was choreographer Melissa Rector’s contribution, utilizing seven women from the Koresh Youth Ensemble. Rector’s choreography was strongly reminiscent—but not derivative—of Ronen Koresh’s style, in that it utilized strong dramatic moves, in conjunction with equally dramatic music, to create an exciting flow. Rector’s control of her strong and disciplined ensemble was firm, with each component of the complicated patterns meshing together seamlessly as a cohesive whole. The dancers from the Koresh Youth Ensemble were uniformly strong, graceful and precise—a testament to the highly level of training they’re obviously receiving.

All of the artists on display in this showcase deserve further exposure, a chance to enhance their already considerable skills, as opportunities to expand Philly’s already burgeoning dance scene.

Finally, it should be noted that Koresh holds open auditions for participation on their showcase programs. Interested emerging artists are encouraged to contact them via email at [email protected] for more information.

The Korresh Artists’ Showcase November Series was held on November 5 & 6 at the Koresh Studion, 2002 Rittenhouse Square. For information on future Koresh showcases, or other programs, call 215-751-0959 or visit koreshdance.org.

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