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Robert Abrams
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The Faculty Studio Performance 2003 at the Steps Studio Theatre

by Robert Abrams
May 17, 2003
Steps on Broadway
2121 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
(212) 874-2410

The Faculty Studio Performance 2003 at the Steps Studio Theatre

Steps on Broadway

By Robert Abrams
May 17, 2003

Steps on Broadway is a dance studio with a very diverse faculty. They teach everything from classical ballet to hip hop, and everything in between. Their recent faculty show demonstrated this diversity, and much talent as well, in fourteen works presented with the assistance of Steps artistic director Carol Paumgarten, Steps Beyond artistic director Diane Grumet, and performance production staff consisting of producer Jill Harrison, production assistant Christy Walsh, faculty coordinator Val Suarez, lighting designer Stephen Petrilli, sound operator Justin Bates and reception coordinator Denise Maietta.

Eric Novoa and Laura Cozik started off with a West Coast Swing/Broadway hybrid to "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra. Ms. Cozik was dressed in a standout white suit. Their dance was filled with an exuberance of turns and whips.

Elizabeth Belton danced a contemporary ballet called "Untied" to music by Tom Watts. The music contained some swanky foxtrot sections that created a bridge to the previous dance. "Untied" was lyrical with rhythmic punctuation.

Melinda Abbott, Mariana Parma, Nkenge Scott, Erin Brisbane and Amber Efe Hopkins-Jenkins danced "52 Shades on 125th" choreographed by Karen Gayle to music by Jill Scott. Solists were featured against a backdrop of movement. This was a very focussed hip-hop style dance, with rap music serving as a narrative. The choreography bore some resemblance to what is often seen in music videos, but was much more nuanced than the typical music video. Mariana Parma was sporting a new, very cool, braided hair style.

Lauren McCarthy danced a variation from "Paquita" staged by Elena Kunikova (from choreography by Petipa) with music by Minkus. Ms. McCarthy was a slender and graceful vision in red.

Dawud Jackson, Leah Kelley, Kumi Kimura, Ivory McKay, Justin Bates, Lonne Moretton, Yasuko Obara and Kristina Osterling performed "And Now for the Flip Side" with choreography by Lonne Moretton, music by The Platters Songbook and costumes by Kumi Kimura. This dance featured doo-wop precision movements with partnering and a playful use of space.

Elizabeth Brown and Christy Walsh performed "Stations" with choreography by Christy Walsh, music by David Bowie and costumes by Traci Vogel. They gave a whole new meaning to rolling around on the floor. The dance started with extensive floor work, moved to dancing en pointe as well as including a classic leap circle, and finished back on the floor. The dancers wore silver blue outfits that fit well with the music and the unusualness of the choreography. If you were there, and someone were now to ask you "Why do Bowie and Ballet both start with a B?", you would be able to respond with a knowing smile.

Patty Arrieta, Meghan Merrill, Ana Suarez, Taryn Wayne and Adrianne Rodgers closed Act I with "In the Palm of Your Hand" with choreography by Val Suarez, music by W.A. Mozart and costumes by Pam Pardi and Adrianne Rodgers. This was a very spiritual modern dance, with much reaching. The choreography was well suited to ride the swells in the music. The solid colors of the costumes delineated the strength and suppleness of the movements.

In Act II, Danit Peled, Yuki Ishida and Tania Apelbaum performed a Flamenco dance called "Tangos" with choreography by Victorio Korjhan set to traditional music. The dancing was very intense. Stillness was followed by explosive movement. I noticed that some of the hand positions used in Spanish dance look similar to hand positions used in Indian dance.

Derick Grant and special guest Omar performed a tap dance routine called "Thinking Out Loud". This dance was performed solely to the music of their own percussive feet. Sometimes dancers feet make noise and sometimes their feet make music. Derick and Omar were making music. They could be very fast and very serious, and at the same time they were nonchalant. They danced with an understated exuberance.

Emilio "Budda Stretch" Austin, Deena "Snapshot" Clemente, Michelline Coonrod, Timothy Dark, Robin Dunn, Chris Graham, Amber Efe Hopkins-Jenkins, Jonathan Lee, Allyson Lynch, Noritaka Maeda, Eboni Osavio, Miri Park, Kristina Sanchez, Lenaya "Tweetie" Straker, Kumi Tsuji and Steven Williams performed "Anarchy" choreographed by Robin Dunn with additional choreography by Buddha Stretch, music by Robin Dunn, produced by Cuzin Bawb, music arrangement by Antoine "Doc" Judkins, and costumes by Joseph Bethune and Nike. This was a break dance work set to a story line about violence. The dancing had bright spots, such as during a party scene, and somber spots, such as at a funeral. The style of the dancing was consistent throughout the work's emotional ups and downs. The costumes used the classic cabaret color scheme of red, white and black to good effect.

Tomiko Maqario danced "Requiem" with choreography by Kate Thomas and music by Friedrich Handel. This was a ballet with stillness en pointe. From start to finish, this work was a visceral portrait of grief. The placement of "Requiem" immediately after "Anarchy" was very apt sequencing.

Eric Novoa and Laura Cozik danced "Through the Rain" with music by Mariah Carey. This was an energetic Hustle that showed off a nice use of the whole space. Hustle is often taught as a dance rooted to a spot (although technically speaking it is a slot dance, not a spot dance), but this choreography showed what Hustle can be when it is opened up to move around the room.

Lauren McCarthy danced Princess Florine from "Sleeping Beauty" staged by Elena Kunikova from the choreography by Petipa set to music by Tchaikovsky. As in her appearance in Act I, Ms. McCarthy danced beautifully, this time dressed in blue.

Last but not least, the Steps Scholarship Ensemble (Ryann Nelson, Nicole Predki, Lauren Podber, Mara Reiner, Genoveva Sistos and Mika Saburi) danced "RushHour" choreographed by Robert Battle with rehearsal assistance by Elisa Clark and music by John Mackey. This is a Rorschach test of a modern dance that, given the grey costumes, looked to me like a successful, epileptic prison break. And most likely an escape from a prison somewhere in the South given the forceful fiddles in the music. The movement sequences bore more than a passing relationship to the hip-hop pieces seen earlier in the program, although the presentation in "RushHour" is much less audience directed than in the hip-hop works.

All in all a very cool show. Next time Steps on Broadway does one of these shows, get your ticket and get there early to get a good seat.

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