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    VON USSAR danceworks in Dance Gallery Festival
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    VON USSAR danceworks

    Crowd Pleasers

    Dance Gallery Festival at Ailey Theater


    In what may be the sort of smorgasbord showing that will get more people interested in dance, Astrid von Ussar assembled 16 groups for The Dance Gallery Festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Though every piece was not for every taste, all shared common threads of strong dancing and choreography. The following touched a few positive taste buds.

    Choreography by: Loni London, Alenka Cizmesija, B.J. Sullivan, Allison Jones, Jeremy McQueen, Martin Lofsnes, Joe Celej, Astrid Von Ussar, Michelle Cuccaro, Mojca Ussar, Shelley Bourgeois, Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selissen, Freddie Moore, Dorcas Roman, Andy Noble.
    Produced by: Astrid Von Ussar.
    Dancers: Loni London: Christopher Ralph, Rachelle Raphailledes
    Alenka Cismesija: Brian Brooks, Randall Riley, Bradley Shelver
    B.J. Sullivan: Jennifer Cheek, Rachel Kempson, Stephanie Leathers, Margaret Moncure, Virginia Sowards, Caitlin M. Spencer, Ruth Ward
    Allison Jones: Hayley Jones and David Scarantino
    Jeremy McQueen: Alexis Convento, Lauren Sambataro, Danielle Schulz, Courtney Ortiz, Alyssa Maksym, Dana Thomas, Jessica Walker, Lauren Wojcik, Camille Workman
    360 Degree Dance Company: Martin Lofsnes
    Houston Metropolitan Dance Company: Joe Celej and Marlana Walsh-Doyle
    VON USSAR danceworks: Colleen Cintron, Mindy Lai, Ryan Schmidt, Shiho Uchiumi, Tina Vasquez, Nichelle Wright
    InnerSoul Dance Project: Bridget Perfetto, Criscia Richardson, Emily Goldman, Danielle O'Neill, Lindsey Perfetto, Gina Pettito, Daniella Vittor, Taylor Manoussos, Danielle Brethel
    Mojca Ussar: Andreja Sraj
    Shelley Bourgeois: Brittany Anastasio, Hanaah Frechette, Sydney Keister, Kaley Pruitt, Emily Way
    BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT: Kyla Barkin, Naoki Inui, Aaron Selissen, Yin Yue
    The Men of Footprints
    Dorcas Roman: Dorcas Roman and Chris Cano
    NobleMotion Dance: Catherine Nysveen, Brittany Thetford, Jared Doster, Brittany Barnett, Tristin Ferguson, Jesus Acosta, Sarah Peterson, Shohei, Iwahama, Alexis Anderson
    Lighting design by: Stephen Petrilli.
    Ailey Citigroup Theater
    October 15 and 16, 2010

    For performance quality and choreography, and for the whole package, the best were two duets — the opening duet of the evening by Christopher Ralph and Rachel Rafailledes, choreographed by Loni Landon, and Twice, choreographed by Allison Jones and danced by Hayley Jones and David Scarantino. Both are steamy, in different ways. Landon's Nothing Is Ever Finished is flashy and passionate, with big collisions and plenty of anger, she wearing almost-not-there underwear and a sultry attitude and he throwing himself and her around with speed and fluidity. Twice has an elusive but equally strong sense of heat, from both the choreography and what the two, especially she, do with it. The lighting and the mood are cooler, but the connection between the two makes bottomless love look possible, with only small touches and small unexpected spasms.

    Hayley Jones and David Scarantino in Dance Gallery Festival  
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu  
    Hayley Jones and David Scarantino
    Some male-dancer choreographies are fairly strong. Martin Lofsnes is fun to watch at first in his shirtless solo, full of male brio and young abs, though some combination of jeans and music brings it down a bit by the end. And Brian Brooks, Randall Riley and Bradley Shelver dance with Subtle Degrees of Beauty for Alenka Cizmesija, with dramatic and brisk movement to classical and Philip Glass music.

    And some female-dancer choreographies bring big groups and big energy. Concerto Nuovo by Jeremy McQueen has nine women in white dresses dancing ballet almost in jest, giving an animal pack feel to fast and furious movement. It is fun to watch even if it makes ballet purists cringe. Both by B.J. Sullivan is sillier and not as impressively danced, but Shakerleg music makes things fly, with seven women. Six sharp women give Astrid von Ussar's Nothing But the Truth lots of punch. Costumes by Elena Comendador and Tina Vasquez help as well. This truth seems to be about the power of women and is never shy about showing crotch.

      Christopher Ralph and Rachelle Raphailledes in Dance Gallery Festival
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Christopher Ralph and Rachelle Raphailledes
    Andreja Sraj dazzles a little in the solo Full Moon, choreographed by Mojca Ussar. A simple bench is sole prop and home base for the beautifully gymnastic Sraj, who dances with the crispness of moonlight.

    And two mixed-sex choreographies are entertaining and a bit baffling. Sequitur or Non by Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selissen, has Yin Yue and Naoki Inui joined at the neck for much of the piece and a motif of mildly accusing pointed fingers that is intriguing and bizarre. Yue and Inui seem like inseparable lovers, until Selissen comes and literally carries Yue away from him. Yue and Barkin also have a fast and funky same-sex synched duet that impresses. And the nine-member piece that ends the evening, KinkyKool Fan Blowing Hard, is campy and cliché-ridden but also has some really good dancing, especially by some of the men who slide athletically across the floor. Wheeled industrial fans that blow lots of chunky newspaper confetti, and women's hair, surf the line between cheesy and amusing; it got the biggest applause of the night.

    OCTOBER 25, 2010

    Reader comments on Dance Gallery Festival:

  • dance gallery   from Bob the Dance Fan, Nov 5, 2010
  • Almost weeent   from Alex, Nov 5, 2010

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