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Voices and Movement by Terpsicore

Terpsicore dance completed their season with Voices and Movement at Tempe Center for the Arts, June 20-21. The first half of the show consisted of several short ballet pieces accompanied by live vocalists. The six vocalists were extremely entertaining, and were able to bring a breath of fresh air to songs that have been heard multiple times before like Habanera from Carmen, and their rendition of O Sole Mio, that included a guest appearance from Adam Marr, one of Terpsicore’s directors. The vocalists broke up the stuffiness that creeps its way into ballet shows by having the audience laugh and clap along with them. The entire show strongly appealed to the entertainment of the audience, which is important. However, it is the dancemakers responsibility to also provide high-quality work while they are wooing their audience.

Terpsicore aims to be a contemporary ballet company, and does a great job of engaging their patrons. However, the movement and choreography is not contemporary, but instead filled with pantomime and prosaic dancing that lacks both grace and strength. Several times through out the evening I witnessed dancers pecae en pointe with a bent knee. There were also many occasions where the dancers lost alignment in their hips while bringing their legs a la seconde. A visible lack on strength in the core and legs, as well as a lack of awareness of full-body integration (specifically the arms connection to the scapula), had me concerned for some of the dancer’s physical well-being. I expected a stronger performance from the dancers, and more innovative choreography from a contemporary ballet company.

One of my favorite numbers of the evening was a duet danced by Amber Willett and Mimi Ringness. The choreography complimented the dancer’s skill sets, and the costume accentuated a softness and grace that sat comfortably in both of the dancers as they performed. Mimi Ringness was the only company member that was able to genuinely maintain a constant presence and connection to her body and the audience. I especially enjoyed her performance during the most traditional number of the evening, a pas de deux with Nic Duchnowski. Unfortunately, the piece suffered because he did not match her performance level, and was frequently fumbling around Mimi’s body trying to figure out where to place his hands. At least Mimi had the strength and awareness to compensate for her partner’s lack of support.

I was excited to see contemporary dance work in Phoenix, and did not expect to leave feeling so disappointed. A constant problem I am observing with Phoenix dance companies is that they spend too much time working on many small projects rather than focusing their efforts on one larger project. Series of short vignettes in a season finale produces tired dancers, unpolished performances, and shows that are entirely too long. Terpsicore as a company seems to have a lot of potential for the future as they add more young members to their company, and bring in guest choreographers. They also have a large audience of art-goers, a strong community presence, and a willingness to approach ballet from new perspectives. I look forward to seeing how this company evolves in the upcoming years as they continue to build connections and collaborate with other art genres.

Reviewed by Julie Akerly

June 20, 6pm Show

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