by Gary L. Day for The Dance Journal | photo credit: Frank Bicking
As one of the bright lights of the Philadelphia dance scene, programs presented by Koresh Dance tend to be highlights of the season. Unfortunately, in the current season, Koresh will be able to present only one new performance, later this spring. However, for those of us who are suffering from Koresh withdrawal, the company offers substitute presentations to help tide us over between major performances, the Koresh Showcase Series.
Koresh Showcases happen several times each season, where the company hosts a number of smaller or lesser-known dance artists from the area who present short samples of their work or work-in-progress. While there is seldom work presented that matches the creative impact of a regular season presentation, there is often much of worth in the line-up, with several artists worth following. The most recent Showcase, the January series, was presented at the Koresh Studio on Rittenhouse Square this past weekend, January 28 and 29.
This Showcase was a little different in that the line-up for each of the three performances (two on Saturday, one on Sunday) was a little different. I only attended the opening performance, early on Saturday, so there were half-a-dozen segments I didn’t see. From what I did see, it must be said that the talent level was a little skimpier than usual, which is to be expected periodically in what is much like a public audition. But let me quickly add that the performance featured a number of highlights that displayed loads of skill and talent, and a fair amount of creativity, redeeming the Showcase as a whole.
The first highlight, for me, was a piece by Project Moshen Dance Company, featuring choreography by Kelli Moshen. The piece, titled “Trainee,” was a duet featuring Katie Book and Danielle McGilligan, both of whom exhibited a generous amount of grace and charm. With music by Duke Ellington, “Trainee” combined elements of swing and traditional jazz dance to create a buoyant and playful tone, with the two women moving seamlessly together in sync with Ellington’s catchy melody.
Next was a piece by the Koresh Youth Ensemble, choreographed by Melissa Rector. Titled “Joe in the Box,” this was a solo piece featuring Sarah Shaulis. As might be expected, some of Koresh’s choreographic style was evident in this modern, mostly abstract piece that was nevertheless emotionally expressive. While some influence by Koresh may have crept in, choreographer Rector clearly is in the process of developing her own voice and her own style, fully serviced by Shaulis, a strong and technically proficient dancer capable of holding the floor as a solo performer.
The last piece I want to single out is by the Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company, choreographed by Kyle “JustSole” Clark. Titled “Club Life” and featuring a mixed ensemble of six, the piece was a strong example of urban hip-hop with a strong theatrical storytelling component. As has been the case with other work of his I have seen (Just Sole! has appeared in previous Showcases), Kirby’s dance pints a picture and tells a story of urban life, here with a significant admixture of gospel. It’s a fun, high energy story acted out by entertaining dancers all with impressive technique. This was definitely the high point of this Showcase, and Just Sole! should definitely be sought out whenever and wherever they may appear.
Overall, this was by no means the best Koresh Showcase I’ve seen, but it nevertheless served as a “Koresh-fix” until their single regular season show is unveiled later this season.
The Koresh Showcase January Series was presented January 28 & 29 t the Koresh Studio, 2002 Rittenhouse Square. For information on future Koresh presentations, call 215-751-0959 or visit koreshdance.org.