This year BETA Dance Festival held their 2nd Annual local choreographic showcase. The program presented a wide range from the dance community including both student and professional work. There were entirely too many works in the program to fairly discuss each one, so I have selected four pieces that stood out in terms of professionalism, maturity, craftsmanship, and originality.
After a long first half, the audience was finally brought to life during a comedically dry duet choreographed by Leanne Schmidt, titled “This One Goes Out To You (You Know Who You Are).” The piece was choreographed to the over the top lyrics of “I Will Always Love You,” sung by Whitney Houston. The song selection was essential during this piece because as the two young female dancers dabbled unknowingly into a tangled love affair, they never arose to the dramatic level of the drum set in the background and Whitney Houston’s blasting vocals. They stayed calm, nonchalant, and in the end, quite confused about where the past few minutes had taken them.
After the intermission the audience was taken on a fantasmagorical journey of strange birds, shaman, skeletons, and fairies. The work “Poder” choreographed by Gina Jurek was a miniature Classical Ballet condensed into ten minutes. Everything happened from a synchronized interlude, individual solos, several Pas De Deux, and a dramatic ending where red roses fluttered around the stage. It was a constant visual and conceptual progression that had my eyes and mind glued to the stage all the way from the balcony.
Aptly titled, we were “Windswept” away by Diane McNeal Hunt from the chaos of Jurek’s fantasy. Hunt’s work has the ability to put a refreshingly contemporary twist on classical modern dance movements. “Windswept” was a nourishing combination of strength and grace performed by two powerful dancers, who also maintain a lightness in them as though the support of the world is able to carry them with ease.
Elisa Marie Cavallero and Travis Richardson were able to create characterized comedy in their piece, “Lastige Klein Schwester.” Their characters were bickering the way siblings do in the back seat of the car, only they were dressed like Hansel and Grettel, so they probably didn’t have cars. Many times blatant characterization, story-telling through facial expressions, and dancing to musical cues from the piano plucking of Johann Strauss II leads to immature choreography. However, their ability to commit to the child-like nature of the characters, mobilizing their face into sideways smiles, and the way they sparingly correlated movement to the music for a laugh made this work a complete success, and left the audience hysterical with laughter. Thank you.
As a whole, the festival had a lot of variety in ideas, content, and aesthetics, leaving me bubbling with positive experiences in the end. However, it still feels unclear on the level of professional construction expected from the works presented, which ultimately pushed the less polished works from my mind, and brought the stronger pieces to the forefront.
Thank you BETA Dance Festival for another year of providing an opportunity for independent choreographers to showcase their work outside of the University and the few established dance companies in the Valley.
Moments Captured by Alex Marlar