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19 décembre 2008

Modern dance is muscular at University of Oklahoma

John Brandenburg, Newsok, Published: December 12, 2008

A supercharged evening of modern dance, abstract yet powerfully concrete, was offered in Thursday’s preview of the "Contemporary Dance Oklahoma” production at the University of Oklahoma.

It was performed on an almost entirely bare stage at OU’s Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center, 560 Parrington Oval, under the artistic direction of Austin Hartel.

A former 5-year soloist and co-choreographer with the Pilobolus Dance Theater, Hartel is an assistant professor of dance at the university.

Male dancers Cameron Lee, Xavier Garcia and Dwayne Cook appeared with female dancers Olivia Martin, Cheyla Clawson and Nicolette Battle in the evening’s first offering, "Poetry in 3-D.”

Making good use of the floor, stage flats, rectangular back curtain breaks and bench or seat-like stands, the three male dancers truly created "Poetry in 3-D” as they bonded first with each other, then female dancers.

Lasting about 28 minutes, the sustained, sensual, multipart opening number was choreographed by associate artistic director Derrick Minter to music by Michael Wimberly and Peter Gabriel.

Clad in blue leotards, six female dancers pulled themselves and moved around the stage, or slid over each other, making strange noises, more like seals than people, in "Vastus Sylva.”

Making use of storm sounds and music by Johnsie Holt, "Vastus Sylva” is an eerily evocative 1985 work by Hartel.

Jacquelyne Boe was at least marginally successful in making herself and onlookers feel "Purged” as she danced alone on the large stage to the moody music of Apocalyptica in a shorter work by Hartel.

Boe was much more effective when she teamed up with Cameron Lee to create human calligraphy in "Earthbound,” choreographed by Hartel and Lisa Dalton to music by David Hudson.

Ten dancers made their movements just quirky and mechanical enough to seem "Woundup and Ready” as they interpreted the strange electric sounds of Larry Hammette in another superb work by Hartel.

A shadowy backdrop that resembled a line of metal flowers in front of an achitectural façade added to the impact of "Woundup and Ready.”

The most energized and forceful selection on the program was the first act closer, "Battlefield,” a dramatically lit 2003 number by Robert Battle.

In "Battlefield,” a large company of muscular men and women with their hair down, wearing red and black, circus-like costumes, danced with wild abandon to the percussive rhythms of Les Tambien Dux Bronx.

Running "Battlefield” a close second was "Escapades,” a 1983 creation of Alvin Ailey in which colorfully clad couples, led by Garcia and Boe, danced to the bright, breezy, jazzy music of Max Roach.

Spectators will be the winners who attend the production, which convincingly demonstrates that OU’s sports teams have no monopoly on athleticism or charisma.

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