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      Darrah Carr Dance
    Irish gig

    Darrah Carr Dance experiments with combining modern and Irish folk dance, with often interesting results.


    Mixing folk dance and modern dance is always taking a risk, but taking a risk is usually the route to success. Whatever the future, Darrah Carr Dance puts on an entertaining show, with dancers moving like breaths of fresh air, mixing traditional Irish dance and music with new and traditional modern dance styles.

    "four and five" was more or less a fiasco work in progress the night this reviewer saw the piece, but the bones were there for a good piece, and it would have been interesting to see the music performed live — "five" in the title being the number of musicians with the "four" dancers — as it was on other performance nights.

    Choreography by: Darrah Carr.
    Dancers: Breezy Berryman, Amanda Callahan, Claire Malaquias, Nicole Mannarino, TaraMarie Perri, Cara Surico.
    Washington Square United Methodist Church
    135 West 4th St.
    Aug. 8-24, 2003

    Fringe Festival 2003
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    "Summersalt" was the first of two duets of traditional Irish step dancing performed by Darrah Carr and her Irish dance partner Niall O'Leary. The two perform and teach Irish dance together and separately and are extensively involved in promoting and furthering Irish dance. This was a very likeable piece, especially the first part of the duet when Carr danced barefoot in a short, simple skirt while O'Leary stomped out rhythms in his traditional Irish tap boots, both moving essentially in unison but with a very yin and yang quality between the silent and soft Carr and the noisy O'Leary.

    "Passage (excerpt)" was a beautiful piece. Everything worked together to create a timeless and universal quality. Beautiful costumes in purples, dancers moving like air, invisible music and a variety of movements feeling variously African, Celtic-square dance and Martha Graham all flowed together without edges or corners or breaks. Motifs of dancers running in lines and circles, paired spinning, flying/circling limbs and spinning jumps, all soft but vital and vibrant, culminated in an ending with an appealing rag doll quality.

    "Rince na Spuineogai" was more or less a traditional spoon player/step dancer duet with both call-and-response and unison sections, performed impressively and engagingly by O'Leary on spoons and Carr in shoes. Both have been dancing and competing from a young age, and this piece showed much of the skill that has garnered both of them numerous competition awards.

    "Melange 445 (excerpt)" was the most obviously mixed piece, at times very slapstick/cabaret modern dance, at times straightforward step dance, at times a mixture of both simultaneously, with an element of bright Irish Kelly green in every prop and costume and a fingerless glove element that alternately conveyed the campy sophistication of New Orleans parade queens and the macho toughness of West Side Story gang members. It's definitely a melange, but held together by a musical glue of traditional Celtic/Cajun musics and an overarching sense of fun and humor.

    Like her dancers — for this concert Breezy Berryman, Amanda Callahan, Claire Malaquias, Nicole Mannarino, TaraMarie Perri and Cara Surico — Darrah Carr's choreography is quick and compact but also flows and flies freely, with a smile.

    AUGUST 19, 2003

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