A Day of Dance in the Park with Danse4nia Repertory Ensemble

by Emma Elsmo for The Dance Journal

Walking into Gorgas Park, in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, for the performance of  Danse4nia Repertory Ensemble, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter an outdoor gazebo stage that proved to be the perfect setting for the company’s show, Repete In the Park. The program for the evening included three works choreographed by the late Faye B. Snow, a feature piece choreographed by Meredith Rainey and a world premiere by Wayne St. David.

Pre-show entertainment included eclectic DJing and fun concessions that echoed the vibe of a raging block party. With little introduction, Danse4nia started the performance with Caged by Meredith Rainey. This was originally presented in 2010 for Danse4Nia’s 5th Anniversary season and performed this past July by the ensemble in Athens, Greece. The sounds of birds combined with the movements of the dancers evoked images of caged or free birds throughout the entire piece. Seven dancers moved throughout the small space, effortlessly executing leaps and turns. This was juxtaposed by intense sequences in unison while the dancers shouted phrases such as, “I am not my scars,” and, “I am enough,” which created an undertone of emotional turmoil as well as female strength.

After an intermission, the audience was presented with a tribute to the passing of Philadelphia dance legend Faye B. Snow, whose works impacted the Philadelphia dance community in the seventies as well as the generations of Philadelphia dancers that followed.  After You, danced by Jalen Rose, was an inspiring work filled with intricate turns and difficult leg extensions to the smooth tidings of Dionne Warwick. There was a detectable message of struggle and perseverance represented in the movement and in Rose’s emotional delivery. Wearing a long black dress, she performed the technically demanding solo with an intense seriousness that was undeniably captivating.   Dearly Departed, performed by Coralie Francois, brought a more serious tone to the show. The mourning quality to her movement was accentuated by her veil and the flowers she carried throughout the work.  Black Angels, also by Faye B. Snow, consisted of five captivating women performing Alvin Ailey-esque movement to the incomparable Roberta Flack. The dancers moved through complex spatial patterns effortlessly and delivered sass admirably as the sounds of the park added to the ambiance.

The performance closed with the world premiere of Deliverance choreographed by Danse4nia’s resident choreographer Wayne St. David. As the sun set behind the gazebo, the dancers entered the space in colorful, flowy dresses indicating a more delicate tone only to be contrasted by the hard-hitting movement. With legs flying through the air, the seven dancers exuded confidence through modern, jazzy movement and engaging emotional confidence.