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Dance Kaleidoscope's Home for the Holidays Explores The World We Make Through Dance

by Rita Kohn
December 18, 2018
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
David Hochoy propels Dance Kaleidoscope dancers and audiences into the immediacy of life under emperor Antiochus in 168 B.C. “Let There be Light: the Story of Chanukah” on Dec. 6 at Indiana Repertory Theatre. ’s 3

From within the 3/4 thrust Upper Stage turned into a battleground for religious freedom set to three sections of Leonard Bernstein’s "Chichester Psalms," Hochoy culled the story of the Maccabean Revolt. “I wanted you to understand emotionally what was happening,” said Hochoy at the talk-to session during intermission of DK's program Home for the Holidays.

Hochoy described how his research into the historical events brought him to plumb the complexity of life under siege, of having to live against your beliefs, to choose death rather than succumb. When provoked beyond endurance, a third option —revolt—came into play, setting the template as the first uprising for human dignity in the wake of defilement of a place of worship and hence the thrust of this compelling choreography. He spoke to the necessity of this work in the wake of the 2016 U.S. election.

An ensemble of seven, including Jillian Godwin, Emily Dyson, Marie Kuhns, Aleska Lukasiewicz, Cody Miley, Paige Robinson and Missy Thompson, with Timothy June and Manuel Valdes alternating with Stuart Coleman and Phillip Crawshaw, as soloists, bring full emotionality into play, embodying the music as a layer of skin.

When the work premiered in 2003 with a different company and when George W. Bush was President. 2003 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began operation and took over the U.S. Customs and U.S. Secret Service Agency; the war in Iraq was launched, citizen protests followed.

Fifteen years later, a different President, a different scale of warfare.

Hochoy’s choreographic impetus grows from his own acceptance of vulnerability. In building a work he reveals his feelings, opening the way for dancers to plumb their own relationship with the unfolding movement within music. The result is an essence of ownership flowing from the stage, inviting audience members to personal levels of involvement, as well. I don’t know whom to credit, having heard from myriad sources this rephrased mantra: It’s not your job to give audiences what you think they want, it’s your duty to give them what you are feeling. Hockey takes this seriously toward artful benefit.

In paying homage to Bernstein at 100, Hochoy taps into their mutual abilities to build bridges between disparate groupings of people so we can appreciate the underlying humanity that will unite us. When we open ourselves to feel and think, to personalize “the other” in that same way that we individualize ourselves into a group in which we feel kindred, we get to the essence of our “calling” as human beings. Those who miss this point become bigots and bullies.

The choice of Psalms, with their inherent universal supplications, drove Bernstein’s composition, which in turn drives Hochoy’s movement. Part One inspires us to a mindful life, a grateful being: “Awake, psaltery and harp/I will arouse the dawn” is joined with “thanksgiving for being brought into life and into service for goodness” [Psalms 100 and 108].
The universally-embraced Psalm of David, “The Lord is my Shepherd/leading me to righteousness,” is the essence of hopefulness undercutting the hatred heaped upon the people of Jewish faith. The Uprising against Antiochus grows from the Judaic steadfast belief in social justice; Part Two flows into Part Three with the bedrock Psalm 133, “Hineh mah tov/ Behold how good, how pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity…’yahed’ as one.”

Is this masterful performance by dancers who become a unity of longing for service to a greater good enough to quell even the local hatred that simmers in Indianapolis and propels people to desecrate a house of worship here and now, as was done centuries ago? From whose pulpit is hatred fomented against a different pulpit? Can the complexity of Hochoy’s yearnings so beautifully twined with Bernstein’s and so insightfully brought forward by the dancers penetrate the layers of bigotry that lives alongside us here and now? Are the candles springing to life on the IRT Upperstage bright enough to penetrate dark hearts within our city?

In one of those instances of serendipity, in my mail just before curtain time, came a book by Alden Solovy, “This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.” Dance Hallelujah, calls out on page 34: “A dance of wonder,/A dance of joy and thanksgiving/Arms raised to the sky/..a step, a bend, a twirl, a leap/a breath of light/a stream of color/spinning toward radiance and splendor…a dance of light and life/a dance of energy and endurance/a dance of homily and grace/…a dance of peace”

There in a nutshell is the review of “Let There Be Light,” reminding us justice and humanity can prevail; yet though the bigot, the bully can be overcome, their DNA festers beneath the surface, to raise itself up at another time. Knowing this we, alone and together, must listen with our hearts to hateful speech and try to understand why and feel the pain of those who believe their path to achieve is upon the bodies of people they choose to hate and understand why. Mindfulness and vigilance, reminds Solovy, must be part of every day. And we must be part of a bold unity to foresee and work to remove the causes that lead some people to cruelty against people, our planet, our peaceful existence.

“The first bird of morning/sings alone…/The second bird of morning/sings a duet…/Then the chorus appears/the pitch rises/still they make space/for solos and for silence/they make space to hear/they make space to rejoice in being/alive and awake/in this world.” [page 5]

Hochoy’s “Let There Be Light,” act two of Home for the Holidays, equally challenges us to be the light, to make us a unity. The work takes us into a “World Christmas Kaleidoscope” with segments that originally premiered between 1997 through 2017. Through Jillian Godwin’s blatant spoof on The Trocs to her stunning adoration within “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” we gain the wealth of her artistry. As the senior company member in her 16th DK season, we watch her lead with intelligence and passion as she presents a joyful collage. The entire company gains admiration for this two-part program that broadens our understanding of diversity leading to oneness as a humanity.

One hopes.
Dance Kaleidoscope's Emily Dyson, Paige Robinson, Missy Thompson, Manuel Valdes, Jillian Godwin, Aleksa Lukasiewicz and Cody Miley in 'Home for the Holidays.'

Dance Kaleidoscope's Emily Dyson, Paige Robinson, Missy Thompson, Manuel Valdes, Jillian Godwin, Aleksa Lukasiewicz and Cody Miley in "Home for the Holidays."

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


DK's Stuart Coleman and Aleksa Lukasiewicz in 'Home for the Holidays.'

DK's Stuart Coleman and Aleksa Lukasiewicz in "Home for the Holidays."

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


DK's Stuart Coleman and Aleksa Lukasiewicz in 'Home for the Holidays.'

DK's Stuart Coleman and Aleksa Lukasiewicz in "Home for the Holidays."

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


DK's Cody Miley, Manuel Valdes, Chris Crawl and Missy Thompson in 'Home for the Holidays.'

DK's Cody Miley, Manuel Valdes, Chris Crawl and Missy Thompson in "Home for the Holidays."

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


DK's Paige Robinson, Aleksa Lukasiewicz and Stuart Coleman in 'Home for the Holidays.'

DK's Paige Robinson, Aleksa Lukasiewicz and Stuart Coleman in "Home for the Holidays."

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl

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