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Odyssey Dance Theatre - Shut-Up & Dance

by Jennifer Wesnousky
April 5, 2007
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9000
Ailey Citigroup Theater
405 W. 55th St., New York, NY 10019
212-405-9000
While all of the members of the Odyssey Dance Theatre troupe displayed excellent classical, modern, hip-hop, jazz and often gymnastic ability in their New York debut at the Ailey Citigroup Theater on April 4-8, 2007, some of their first act pieces better showcased their strengths than others. Choreographer Mia Michael's "No Strings Attached" featured a mass of energetic youths who talked to one another as they danced en masse to soulful music. While their technical proficiency shone through barrel rolls, off-axis extensions, lifts and leaps, they often called to mind a cheerleading competition as they threw and caught one another in basket toss-like amalgamations. That being said, their excellent portrayal of schoolyard-like playfulness as well as their strong onstage communication and camaraderie would come into play throughout the duration of the highly entertaining evening.

Although choreographer Mandy Moore's "Soul Catchers" entailed moments of effective choreographic contrast, its multitude of dancers simultaneously on the stage often overwhelmed. This was further accentuated by busy, unattractive black-and-white patterned unitards which, despite all of the dancers' perfect physiques, did nothing to flatter them. Danced capably and charismatically by Marilee Glazier and Camron Nelson, "Motif" recalled Cirque du Soleil in a number in which Ms. Glazier, her legs in constant over-splits as she kicked, leapt and pirouetted, stretched herself to contortionist limits while maintaining her charmingly demure demeanor. "Transitional Illuminations" then employed an effective pathway consisting of two raised rows of roadside lights, along which the company ran at varying speeds from slow motion to lighting dashes. Her tousled blonde bob usually concealing her beautiful features, the evening's unmistakable starlet, Christina Bluth, exhibited exhilarating energy and appeal as she flung her body and soul into a broad range of movement.

As the centerpiece of the evening, the second act's "Moulin Rouge" laid any stereotype about dancers' inability to act to rest in a potpourri of storytelling pieces in which the dancers related to one another with organic, albeit occasionally over-the-top enthusiasm. "Can-Can's" dazzling costumes, consisting of magenta accents upon black and white stripes contributed to the explosive energy of its female chorus, who shrieked with invigoration while executing stereotypical kick-lines and prances. In emotional contrast, Thayne Jasperson's portrayal of Toulouse-Lautrec, the hunchback frustrated by his unrequited love for the beautiful Satine (Bluth), was rife with technical and expressive expertise. While hobbling convincingly, fantasy sequences in which Jasperson broke free from his mental and physical shackles enabled him to showcase his crisp classical repertoire with beautifully sprightly spins and leaps. The pretentious, mustached Duke, over whom the female cast members swooned adoringly, showcased his comedic skill with a farcical caricature, inspiring the stunning Bluth to seek the affections of the less affluent but equally adoring Christian (Eldon Johnson).

Despite some minor choreographic shortcomings, the Odyssey Dance Theatre's eclectic pieces, precise execution, dazzlingly detailed costumes and artistic vision should make them a delightfully compelling future force. Although the individual company members' talents may have been better showcased in segments involving fewer dancers in lieu of the many which sometimes complimented yet often convoluted certain scenes, each and every member of the troupe displayed exceptional ability not only to dance a plethora of styles, but to relate to one another and their audience in an extremely professional fashion, making it hard to believe the twenty dollar entrance price for a show that frequently equaled or exceeded the dancing caliber of a Broadway house.

Founder and Artistic Director: Derryl Yeager

Artists: Karl Hedrickson, Jen Osorio, Christina Bluth, Jorie Nieman, Veronica Yeager, Danielle Curtis, Eldon Johnson, Craig De Rosa, Ben Susak, Kaylene Farrington, Sarah Aezer, Camron Nelson, Thayne Jasperson, Matt Dorame, Melissa Ercanbrack, Heather Phillips, Katie Allred, Marilee Glazier, Christian Denice, Shauna Zambelli, Mallauri Esquibel, Noelle Menard, Elizabeth Martineau

April 5, 2007

"No Strings Attached"

Choreography- Mia Michaels

Music- Albert Sterling Menendez

Eldon Johnson, Karl Hendrickson, Camron Nelson, Veronica Yeager, Jen Osorio, Danielle Curtis, Mallauri Esquibel, Katie Allred

"Soul Catchers"

Choreography- Mandy Moore

Music- Devotchka

Costumes- Cheryl Yeager

Eldon Johnson, Karl Hedrickson, Thayne Jasperson, Christian Denice, Matthew Dorame, Camron Nelson, Ben Susak, Craig DeRosa, Veronica Yeager, Christina Bluth, Jen Osorio, Katie Allred, Noelle Manard, Melissa Ercanbrack, Mallouri Esquibel, Marilee Glazier

"Motif"

Choreography- Derryl Yeager

Music- Thomas Newman

Costumes- Cheryl Yeager

Camron Nelson, Marilee Glazier

"Transitional Illuminations"

Choreography- Mia Michaels

Music- Paul Oakenfold, Olive

Costumes- Cheryl Yeager

Christina Bluth, Karl Hendrickson, Eldon Johnson, Camron Nelson, Thayne Jasperson, Veronica Yeager, Jen Osorio, Heather Phillips, Katie Allred, Noelle Menard, Danielle Curtis, Shauna Zambelli

"MOULIN ROUGE!"

Choreography- Derryl Yeager, Eldon Johnson, Thayne Jasperson

Additional Choreography- Karl Hendrickson, Andrea Hale

Music- Moulin Rouge Soundtrack, Elton John, Palast Orchestra

Costumes- Cheryl Yeager

Cast of Characters:

Satine- Christina Bluth, Christian- Eldon Johnson, Toulouse-Lautrec- Thayne Jasperson, The Duke- Karl Hendrickson, Harold Zidler- Junior Case

The Company
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