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IndyFringe 2018: Rich with Inspiring Choreography Delivered by Strong Dancers

by Rita Kohn
August 20, 2018
District Theatre (formerly Theatre on the Square)
627 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 685-8687
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Dance Kaleidoscope’s program of eight world premieres covers eight instances of commonplace events under the umbrella of “Make ‘em Laugh Workshop.”

It’s a naughty and nice, gamey and provocative traipse through our foibles, hopes, fears and nightmares. DK company members bare their souls capturing autobiographic lifelines in new choreography, and their fellow dancers exuberantly embrace the challenge.

Brandon Comer’s “Don’t Tell Mama” verges on down-home from the expected Kander & Ebb essay in “Cabaret.”

With a poignant overview of “Recess” time, Manuel Valdes merges horsing around with memory of the difference one child’s kindness can make.

What can’t go wrong at a “Prom”? Paige Robinson depicts a lexicon.

Any dancer working up a routine fully aches with soloist Paige Robinson in “BruBlech.” [and a seat-mate reminded, “It’s like anything in life you’re trying to make perfect but…”]

Missy Thompson thrusts us “Out of This World” when what we seek is sure-footing on terra firma.

Timothy June shows us as we are with “Naptown Misfits.” O.K. we’re laughing with, not at…”.

Jillian Godwin nails the currency of Washington D.C., launching a new genre of contemporary dance as a seamless fit for Comedy Sportz and Saturday Night Live.

Mariel Greenlee sent us home with the deeply personal struggle between our own forces of light and darkness. Here, “The Waiting Game” extends the original impetus of Dawn to Night to Dawn from La Gioconda’s “Dance of the Hours” —awaiting death a la the Spanish Inquisition mirrored to our fate here and now for speaking up—or maybe it’s just my interpretation about dehumanizing people for a jeering crowd in any age?

But that’s what brilliant choreography is all about—being touched.

Mariel Greenlee extended her choreographic outreach at The District Theatre with a premiere work as part of the Indianapolis Ballet program, “Beyond Ballet.” With the world premiere of "The Path is Seldom Straight," Greenlee draws from the deeply personal vocabulary of Kenji Bunch for a narrative simultaneously expressing interior thoughts and emotions with exterior reactions to ‘the other person.’ Witnessing two separate castings—Kristin Toner and Khris Santos on Aug. 17 and then Yoshiko Kamikusa and Chris Linger on Aug. 18, showcased the breadth and depth inherent within this work—unpredictable, in its search for comfort towards a tender sweetness. Having experienced Greenlee’s choreography on other dancers for diverse companies over the recent past, it is safe to predict her oeuvre is commanding attention.

In its second season as a professional company of 22 dancers, Indianapolis Ballet took risks and delivered on them for this “Beyond Ballet” program. Opening the concert with the premiere of Kalimba, Paul Vitali visualized the now-popular modern version of the African mbira, through six of the company’s male dancers, clad in metallic grey’ depicting ‘attitude’ to music by Mr. Scruff.

Victoria Lyras’ "Toccata" countered with seven ladies in black and white visualizing Maurice Ravel’s virtuoso piano composition.

Even if you’re not a musicologist, you couldn’t help but feel the joke between these two long-time colleagues.

With Petipa’s Le Corsaire [pas de deux,] Kamikusa and Lingner, on Aug. 17, and Toner and Santos on Aug. 18, showcased classical partnering, solo virtuosity and aesthetic storytelling.

The premiere of "Milonga en el Viento" adds to Lyras’ cache of Tango-centric works, this time capturing the spirit and vibrancy of dancing in the wind, as a manifestation of Pablo Ziegler’s music depicting six couples living and breathing for/with Tango. Breathtaking maneuvers. Lyras’ "Eclat!" to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26, closed the program as an arc to its premiere Spring 2018 at The Toby at Newfields.

With five works under the rubric, “Present Memories,” Nugent/Shea Dance Theater mined the geography of our individual and collective stories, pictorializing symbols through contemporary dance.

Stephanie Nugent’s "A Shadow Passes" addresses how we, as individuals and as society, tend to assess and use what we consider the darkness of failing. Within the context of fast-paced kaleidoscopic movement by nine dancers, success earns elation from the understanding we gain from trying and persevering. The work takes us into heights and depths and their ever-present flow towards fulfillment, towards our better selves.

Elizabeth Shea’s "Memory Object" opened with a seated woman in distress; a seated man seemingly light years away. How they connect and interact becomes a tour de force of reconciliation as interpreted by Rachel Newbrough and Justin Sears-Watson.

Morgan Skiles and Caitlin Nugent emerge from within Nugent’s "HERE, Doing the Best We Can or What We Can Remember" to bring to life a relationship fraught and loving, lost and found, stifled and growing. Halfway through, the meaning hit—this is family—mother/daughter?? sisters?? No matter—I related.

Rachel Newbrough effects weightlessness as a solo figure within "Shea’s In the Seas". Shea seamlessly choreographed upon the first movement of Tenebrae, Osvaldo Golojov’s work depicting contrasting realities—what we experience up close, what reveals itself from afar. Mysteriousness permeates—are we witnessing a sea of water or of air? We lean closer—wanting to touch…

In a program already cerebral-centric, "Hot Dust (obscured galaxies)" caps the program with dancers in progressive discovery of the meaning of life unfolding in all its stages upon a vast expanse of time and space—performance as life, life as performance, thrilling to being alive within myriad possibilities of joyfulness.

Three disparate companies, showcasing the expansive offerings that mark the unique voice developed by IndyFringe. There are four other offerings. Find the entire FringeFest 2018 program here: www.indyfringe.org

Present Memories continues Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m; Aug. 25 at 1:30 p.m.; Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.

Beyond Ballet continues Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 22 at 6 p.m.; Aug. 25 at 3 p.m.

Make ‘em Laugh Workshop continues Aug. 22 at 9 p.m.; Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.; Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 25 at 4:30 p.m.

ALL AT THE DISTRICT THEATRE, 627 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis IN
Dancer: Marie Kuhns<br>Don't Tell Mama, choreographed by Brandon Comer

Dancer: Marie Kuhns
Don't Tell Mama, choreographed by Brandon Comer

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


Dancer: Emily Franks<br>Recess, choreographed by Manuel Valdes

Dancer: Emily Franks
Recess, choreographed by Manuel Valdes

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


Dancers: Emily Dyson, Brandon Comer, Timothy June, Emily Franks <br>Prom, choreographed by Paige Robinson

Dancers: Emily Dyson, Brandon Comer, Timothy June, Emily Franks
Prom, choreographed by Paige Robinson

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


Dancer: Paige Robinson<br>BruBlech, choreographed by Stuart Coleman

Dancer: Paige Robinson
BruBlech, choreographed by Stuart Coleman

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


“Memory Object,” choreography by Elizabeth Shea. Dancers: Rachel Newbrough and Justin Sears-Watson.

“Memory Object,” choreography by Elizabeth Shea. Dancers: Rachel Newbrough and Justin Sears-Watson.

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


“Here, Doing Our Best or What We Can Remember,” choreography by Stephanie Nugent. Dancers: Caitlin Negron and Morgan Skiles.

“Here, Doing Our Best or What We Can Remember,” choreography by Stephanie Nugent. Dancers: Caitlin Negron and Morgan Skiles.

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


“Hot Dust (obscured galaxies),” choreography by Elizabeth Shea. Dancers: Gracie Black, Veronica Bone, Julianne Rice, Elaina Welch.

“Hot Dust (obscured galaxies),” choreography by Elizabeth Shea. Dancers: Gracie Black, Veronica Bone, Julianne Rice, Elaina Welch.

Photo © & courtesy of Jeremy Hogan


“A Shadow Passes,” choreography by Stephanie Nugent. Dancers: Julia Dorf, Amanda Hoover, Katie Lea, Jay Man, Elise Young.

“A Shadow Passes,” choreography by Stephanie Nugent. Dancers: Julia Dorf, Amanda Hoover, Katie Lea, Jay Man, Elise Young.

Photo © & courtesy of Amy Osajima


“Memory Object,” choreography by Elizabeth Shea, dancers: Rachel Newbrough and Justin Sears-Watson.

“Memory Object,” choreography by Elizabeth Shea, dancers: Rachel Newbrough and Justin Sears-Watson.

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Photo © & courtesy of Moonbug Photography


Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Photo © & courtesy of Moonbug Photography


Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Photo © & courtesy of Moonbug Photography


Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Indianapolis Ballet production of Beyond Ballet

Photo © & courtesy of Moonbug Photography

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