Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

DCDC Winter Concert celebrates 40th season

DCDC, excuse me, let me use the correct name for this amazing dance company. The World-Class Dayton Contemporary Dance Company does not begin a dance program, they explode onto the stage. A physicist measuring the energy that these incredible dancers generate would find that they could light up a medium-sized city for quite a spell. They certainly lit up the Victoria Theatre last Saturday with their
“one performance only” winter concert.

The evening began their 40th season with a moving tribute to their founder, the late Jeraldyne Blunden. Her “impossible dream” has become a reality. Her spirit lives in her legacy of dancers, passion for the art and continuing exploration into newer ways to capture excitement. This self-proclaimed “Celebration,” added a new wrinkle. Live music for the entire evening was provided by young artists in three very different genres. To open the concert, the Centerville High School choir, FORTE, sang on stage. Smiling faces belted out a panoply of songs which Debbie Blunden-Diggs turned into a choreographic bouquet, Painted Pictures.

Eight dancers in varying colorful costumes made their lines as clear as the lyrical lines of the songs. They created formations dissolving into individual and paired dances. Their precision was marked with a freedom which is difficult to describe but so easy to experience. DCDC is an all-star company. To name the outstanding dancers, you would include the company roster. Such luminaries as Sheri Williams, a company member for 35 years, led her colleagues, William McClellan, Nabachwa Ssensalo and Rebecca Sparks Vargas into dancing ecstasy.

The next work was another major departure. Oakwood’s incredible and very young Blackbird Quartet provided the music for Crystal Michelle’s Corinth. Introspective dancing by five beautiful women clad in red Grecian dresses created fascinating postures, patterns and kinetic figures.

After intermission, a wave of nostalgia overtook the seniors in the audience. The stage was filled with the University of Dayton Jazz Ensemble. Seated behind vintage music stands a la the 1940’s, the 20 beaming faces and flashing brass instruments took us back to that great “jazz age.”

In the program, each of the musicians was named along with their course of study. What a wonderful tribute to them and to UD. These future engineers, doctors, business leaders, teachers and a few musicians are touched by the magic of the arts.

Choreographer William McClellan is an energy expert. He transformed his own dynamism into a continuous dance, matching the vitality of the music to perfection. The men were “hip” in black, including fedoras. A colorful sash set them apart and served as the color accent for the women’s dresses. There was not a hint of adagio in the continuous presto of the dance and the music. The movements are indescribable.

What can be described was the spontaneous standing ovation, shouts and thunderous applause. Yes, it is definitely the World-Class Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. They are living the world class dream of Jeraldyne Blunden perpetuated by world class dancers, choreographers and staff.

Brother Wolf at the Loft

As a child, I used to pretend to be the mythic hero Beowolf. I would jump from the basement stairs onto the hapless Grendel with 100 percent success. I dispatched him and his evil every single time.

The passing of decades, many of them, have taught me that it isn’t so easy to remove evil and that heroes are only ordinary men at extraordinary times. That reminder was brought home to me and full house audiences at the Loft Theatre when The Human Race and Rhythm in Shoes collaborated to bring their version of Beowolf, Brother Wolf, to the stage.

Set in very rural Appalachia in the 1840s, the playwrights Preston Lane and Laurelyn Dossett used remarkable insight to make the universal struggle specific and yet retain its mythic world view. The play is an allegory, like Everyman, a yarn, a musical exposition of a time supposed to be simple but like all human experience is complex.
Told in music, movement, dramatic action and in an aura of almost eerie ontological distraction, the action takes place on Tess Little and Scott Kimmins’ sculptural set. The cast is a compilation of the most creative, versatile and talented actors/ dancers/ musicians imaginable.

Master actors Scott Stoney and Bruce Cromer team with Rhythm in Shoes members Rick Good, Sharon Leahy, Joshua Fossitt, Kevin Anderson, Tina de Alderete, Janet Schroeder and Ben Cooper. Add to all these special stars, returning artists Aaron Vega, Kelly Mengelkoch, Morgan Grahame, as the most beautiful witch-woman ever seen, and Carl Jones and Jessica Jacobs as an ensemble.

The songs tell the entire story. In true Appalachian mode, they spin out their sorrow in beguiling couplets. The characterizations, a monstrous Grendel played to the edge by Bruce Cromer, the rescuing hero Brother Wolf, by dancer now actor Joshua Fossitt, and the home-spun wisdom of Scott Stoney and Rick Good move the tale.
The audience, often confused but captivated, learned that evil is, sorry to say, eternal. Good, in the form of heroes like Brother Wolf must go the way of all King Arthurs, El Cids, Ivanhoes, failed prophets and failed Messiahs into disillusionment, defeat, death and rebirth as a shining myth.

Brother Wolf continues through February 15th. It’s an experience not to be missed.

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February 10, 2009
Volume 18, No. 6

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