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Dance Kaleidoscope's Ray & Ella a seminal program

by Rita Kohn
March 27, 2015
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
This article was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Dance Kaleidoscope is in a new era as a company of dancers who genuinely meld with each other, powered by a sense of cohesive unity and delight in sharing what they love to do.

March 27th's show at Indiana Repertory Theatre unfolded as a gallery in motion, projecting the sensibility and sumptuousness of Degas and Picasso for the world-premiere of Ray & Ella, a program built on the songbooks of Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles. When technique is impeccably fluid, as it was here, layers of emotion intuitively travel into the seats. One could feel the power uniting the audience being in the moment with the dancers. Abetted by lighting acting like a palate in motion the choreography by David Hochoy and Nicholas Owens alternated between extending lyrics and moving on the music.

Act One featured "Ella" inspiring Hochoy. Opening with Night and Day the women of the company colored the stage in candy cotton-hued flouncy dresses resembling Degas' "Little Dancer" [find her at the Indianapolis Museum of Art]. The men in black trousers and vests with shirts of bright gumdrop colors complimented the sweeping movement.

"Blue Moon" evoked undulating tides in ever-expanding reach. "Someone to Watch Over Me" encircled Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June in concentric intimacy of soul and body. Noah Trulock seamlessly stepped into the distinctive personalities of Emily Dyson, Aleska Lukasiewicz and Missy Trulock alternately vying for his undivided attention in a changeup "Tea for Two." Brandon Comer and Stuart Coleman showcased a flamboyant "Too Darn Hot" and Jillian Godwin, Greenlee and Caitlin Negron poised "Cry Me a River" as a tabloid of Blues.

We felt their pain deeply. Incited by Justin Sears-Watson stepping on Fitzgerald's scatting "Lady Be Good," the company became a whirl of confection. In direct opposition to how things usually are done, Act One closed as a tender tableau investing "With A Song in My Heart" as DK's anthem.

The music of "Ray" moved Act Two into a sizzling company poured into red and black wet-shiny leotards body-romping and shimmying through Nicholas Owens' signature move-every-inch-of-your-body choreography in "Let The Good Times Roll," "Mess Around" and "I Believe to My Soul" as company numbers.

With "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" Phillip Crawshaw and Caitlin Negron brought us into joyful release of love, bonding gospel and blues.

A spectrum of dance genres and relationships carried us into Owens' "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" and "Till There Was You", and Hochoy's "Hit The Road Jack" and "Eleanor Rigby."

The evening closed with the rousing gospel and rhumba infused "What'd I Say," Pts. 1 & 2. It was equally a salute to Ray Charles springing loose from his R&B box into mainstream pop music and to DK as a company taking a figurative leap over the rainbow onto a new landscape with an expanded vocabulary. Eye-catching sculptural and atmospheric movement throughout the program gave us a sense of unity encompassing diversity. Based on exit conversations, many of us wished for the replay capacity of sporting events so we could see a segment again right then and there. We talked about what touched us and was "unexpectedly just right."

Ray & Ella is a turning point for DK as a company with strength, speed and grace as its growing footprint.

Lighting by Laura E. Glover and costumes by Guy Clark impeccably partnered with the choreography and dancing.
Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Justin Sears Watson in 'Ray & Ella.'

Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Justin Sears Watson in "Ray & Ella."

Photo © & courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography


Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in 'Ray & Ella.'

Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in "Ray & Ella."

Photo © & courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography


Mariel Greenlee in 'Ray & Ella.'

Mariel Greenlee in "Ray & Ella."

Photo © & courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography


Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in 'Ray & Ella.'

Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in "Ray & Ella."

Photo © & courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography


Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in 'Ray & Ella.'

Dance Kaleidoscope dancers in "Ray & Ella."

Photo © & courtesy of Crowe's Eye Photography

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