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The Dance Theatre of Harlem School Spring Concert

by Robert Abrams
June 5, 2003
United Palace Theatre
Broadway and 175th Street
New York, NY

The Dance Theatre of Harlem School Spring Concert

Everett Center for the Performing Arts
466 West 152nd Street
New York, NY 10031
Phone: 212-690-2800
Fax: 212-690-8736
www.dancetheatreofharlem.com/school.asp

Review by Robert Abrams
June 5, 2003

The Dance Theatre of Harlem School presented their annual spring concert at the United Palace Theatre (Broadway and 175th Street). This was a traditional dance recital with a series of performances by each class in the school. The students did an admirable job showcasing the many styles of dance taught at the school. Here are some highlights.

Level 1A and 1B danced "Singing in the Rain". This was a ballet performed in white outfits with colorful, twirling umbrellas. The cuteness factor was set on high. Many of the students had impressive leaps with legs parallel to the floor at the height of their arc. The students were taught by Chiang, choreography was by Chiang, Brooks and Naidu. Music was performed by Gene Kelly and arranged by Lennie Hayton.

Level 1A* (pronounced 1A star) danced a polka that was really a ballet. The dancers had dangerously high levels of energy, so in this respect it was exactly like a Polka. The dance also included some fast partnership walking in a circle similar to that found in traditional social polka. The students were taught by Perry. Choreography was by Victoria Fedine with music by Shostakovich.

The Level 1A boys performed a Hungarian Dance. There were plenty of deep knee bends, foot slapping and the ever impressive swinging of the legs underneath themselves with a kicking motion. The dancers did a good job capturing the flavor of the dance. The students were taught by Naidu, with choreography by Naidu and music by Brahms.

Level 2 performed "Stars and Stripes". The dancers had admirable precision. I could clearly see the progression of skill from the level 1 to level 2 dancers. The level 2 dancers showed off good partnering skills as well as good balance on one leg with kicks. The students were taught by Sekyi, with choreography by Sekyi after Balanchine and music by Sousa.

Level 3 danced the "Capriol Suite". Their en pointe work was very graceful. They worked well together as an ensemble. The students were taught by Perry and Chiang. Choreography was by Brooks and Naidu with music by Peter Warlock.

Students in the professional training program and the Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble performed the 4th movement of "Estancia". This was a strong presentation. They attacked the choreography with verve. Choreography was by Daniel Catanach with music by Alberto Ginastera.

Level 3 performed "Tap in 7's". This was a soft shoe with style in sparkling black dresses and bowlers, choreographed by Sekyi. The students were taught by Sekyi.

The final number of Act I was "When the teacher leaves the room". The professional training program students showed off a broad sense of humor. The dancers were very athletic with clear isolations. Choreography was by Darryl Quinton set to Janet Jackson's "Throb"

The intermission gave the audience a chance to admire the magnificent interior of the United Palace Theatre.

Act II started with Level 4/5 performing the Pas de Trois from Act II of La Bayadere. They came on stage in wave after wave of graceful dancers. They showed superb stillness at the top of each pointe sequence. The students were taught by Lisina and Naidu. Choreography was by Marius Petipa. Music was by Leon Minkus. The number was staged by Alvetina Lisina, Figueroa, Grinnel, Jerez, White, Nunez, and Stephney.

Level 2B performed the 3rd movement of the "Holberg Suite". They danced with a breezy lyricism. At times, I could see an echo of Irish step dancing. The students were taught by Lisina. Original choreography was by Arthur Mitchell with music by Edward Grieg.

The Professional Training Program performed "Nine Angry Women". The dancers showcased a combination of modern and African influenced dance with strength and fine ensemble work. The choreography felt like a melding of order and chaos, which is probably as good a description of anger as any. Choreography was by Lowell Smith, with music by Edwina Lee Tyler and Gabrielle Schavian, Cantino, Diagne, Gomez, Holmes, Johnson, Martin, Meade, Mora and Mosley.

Level 4/5 performed the 1st movement from the "Holberg Suite". The dancers had good pointe work. Overall, the dancing was well presented. I could also tell that the dancers were doing their part as a school because kids in the audience were mimicking the movements on stage. If the class of students who is about to graduate can inspire the next potential generation of dance students, they (both the dancers and the school) are doing something right.

The finale was the "Pas de Dix" by the Professional Training Program and Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble. They were confident, stylish, and energetic. Their dancing had finished movements, quick and precise footwork, stillness and good ensemble work. Staging was by Brooks and Naidu. Music by Glazunov. Principal couples were Kotrba, Grey, Williams, Robinson. 1st Variation by Devitre, June, Lopez, and Sosa. Male Variation by Kim, Smith, S. Wilson. 2nd Variation by Carlson, Jew, N. Wilson. The coda was performed by the Ensemble.

Over the course of the entire two act program, there were a couple of landings that dancers didn't stick, but even these were minor. I thought that all of the students performed at the level that can be expected given their experience, and often much better than that level. The Dance Theatre of Harlem School has done a fine job with these students. We can expect great things from them, whether they pursue dance as a profession or as a backdrop to the rest of their lives.

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