BETA Dance Festival was the first local artist festival I have witnessed in the valley that showcased contemporary work, while also providing an opportunity for avante-garde dance work. The ticket prices were a modest $10, which was an extremely fair amount for the quality of work that was shown at the festival. The performers were committed, the movement was challenging, and the choreography was intricate and mature, something that I rarely see in professional companies in the Valley. The festival received such a large quantity of work that they developed two shows. This review will be of the earlier show at 6pm.
Jordan Daniels started the festival off with Face Down, a strong, contorted, no-hold-bars work. The choreography was detailed and intricate, all the way down the fingertips. Literally, all of the dancers painted their nails the same dark color. The work showcased seamless transitions between complex movements and the extension of long limbs. The music used a strong pulse that was not over-worked in the choreography. Dancers Carley Conder and Jordan Daniels excelled at using subtle dynamic changes in their movement to accentuate the intricate pulses and phrasing of the music.
The next piece, From Dirt to Soil, choreographed by Jenny Gerena continued to work the choreographic pallet of intricacy all the way down to her toes. Literally, watching Jenny articulate her toes is a profound experience. The two dancers in this piece were able to navigate one another’s bodies like the back of their own hand. They utilized weight, momentum, and strength to intertwine their bodies and seamlessly pop into unexpected positions.
The entire show was filled with dancers who were committed, articulate, and made use of every joint in their body. The theater at Phoenix Center for the Arts was comfortable and appropriate for the size of the audience, but the stage needs to improve its lighting capabilities. The faces of performers upstage were frequently shadowed, and there was no side lighting to emphasize the contours and muscles of the body. The show was about an hour long with intermission, which was a great amount of time to keep the audience engaged. However, between the shows there was a two-hour mixer that tired the patrons planning on attending both shows. The time to mingle and snack with other artists was efficacious, but it would have been more effective if the mixer were shorter. I see this as the first of many festivals in Phoenix that presents professional work made by local Valley artists, and provides opportunities for emerging artists to present their work.
Reviewed by Julie Akerly
June 21, 6pm Show