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Dance Theatre of Harlem program exudes passion, power and perfection

by Rita Kohn
November 10, 2011
Madame Walker Theatre Center
617 Indiana Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 236-2099

Featured Dance Company:

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9000
www.alvinailey.org

This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
The dancers of Dance Theater of Harlem Ensemble at the Madame Walker Theatre Center on Nov. 10 were as breathtaking as were the dancers during the company's 1969 opening season. "Passion, power, perfection" emanating from an inner core of emotional honesty remains the enduring mantra. Their distinctive vocabulary projects graceful yet vigorous movement that broadens and deepens what we think of as "classical ballet". By adding a slight lift or turn to the expected steps and positions, shifting angles to architecture and lines, surprising with vivid facial expressions, the mixed repertoire showcased the role of classical ballet into pop culture via five choreographers.

Sixteen dancers projected their individualistic aura that transformed into synchronized energy in corps work as well as in solos. Their sense of oneness with what has been and still is the distinctive look and feel of DTH belies their having been assembled from world-wide residences and training platforms.

The program opened with four couples in ever-changing fluidity in David Fernandez's "Six Piano Pieces" (Harlem Style) to music by Moritz Moszkowski played by Melody Fader. With "Adagietto #5," set to music by Gustave Mahler, Royston Maldoom stretches the body capacity of Samuel Wilson, Lourdes Rodriguez and Anthony Savoy for amazing moves and pictures. Balanchine's "Glinka Pas de Trois" on the other hand took the trio of Ashley Murphy, Davon Doane and Flavia Garcia through a whimsical relationship.

Peter Pucci created the undulating duet "Episode" to music by Nana Simopoulos; danced by Rodriguez and Frederick Davis, the emotional heat sizzles.

The program closed with the four-part "Return", choreographed by Robert Garland, featuring the company and soloists to music by James Brown, Alfred Ellis, Aretha Franklin and Carolyn Franklin.

Founded by Balanchine-trained dancer Arthur Mitchell, DTH now is under the artistic direction of Mitchell-trained Virginia Johnson.
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