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    Calen Kurka group in newsteps 2014
    Photo by courtesy of Chen Dance Center
    Calen Kurka group

    Small but Rich

    Chen Dance Center presents Newsteps 2014


    Refreshing brevity permeated Newsteps 2014.

    NEWSTEPS 2014
    Choreography by: Briana and Hilary Brown, Luis Gabriel Zaragoza, Adam Wile, Jin Ju Song-Begin, Calen Kurka.
    Dancers: Briana and Hilary Brown
    Luis Gabriel Zaragoza: Clara Elena Ruiz Casanova and Richard Scandola
    Adam Wile
    Jin Ju Song-Begin with Giulia Carotenuto
    Calen Kurka: Jesse Engel, Joseph Harris, Erin Hall, Haleigh Larmer, Jessica Malat, Emily Malamet, Alex Olivieri, Heather Toth
    Lighting design by: Stephen Petrilli.
    Chen Dance Center
    January 16-18, 2014

    Sistertwins Briana and Hilary Brown take brevity too far, but two sections of Women Times Three are intriguing or disturbing. Sister one sits, back to us in a backless dress, brandishing sister two's chair. Sister two enters wearing an obvious wig, and they dance slow-motion sibling conflict. One seems to have the upper hand, but two "screams" her silent protests in one's ear. An intentionally ugly little movie comes on just after the wig comes off in one's hand. Nothing is clear onscreen but darkness and implied violence.

    Luis Gabriel Zaragoza's Amoris Inversus (The Kiss) serves snippets of tasty mystery in subtle stops and starts. A solo by a man becomes, almost seamlessly, a solo by a woman; just as surprisingly, the two begin dancing together, with a sort of backward movie quality that ends in unexpected emotion. Cleancrisp movement, interesting phrases and good casting — Richard Scandola and Clara Elena Ruiz Casanova — make this sweet and sad.

    Adam Wile in newsteps 2014  
    Photo by courtesy of Chen Dance Center  
    Adam Wile
    Adam Wile makes b-boy sweet, charming, easy and cool, in Boom. — his solo to a Jay Z song. After quietly working the audience with close-up entreaties and greetings, he relaxes to midstage. In no rush, he eases into movement as the song begins, working with and against the lyrics and the boasting. The lyrical theme "on to the next" can be either callous consuming or easy flow, and Wile favors the latter. He dances easy but also big, and manages to impress without seeming to try.

    Beautiful is the best word to describe Does Not Disappear..., Jin Ju Song-Begin's duet with Giulia Carotenuto. Cloaked lightly in diaphonous fabric, the two begin quietly on the floor, creatures stirring awake in a morning mist. As they begin to come into focus, fabric falls away to reveal knees, and eventually the two coccoons are butterflies, flitting all over. Parts or all of this may be based in Korean dance, but the strongest impression is how well-matched the two dancers are, Korean or not, in interplay or unison.

    The vital, strong dancers Calen Kurka groups for If I Swallow This Darkness end the evening well. Masculine menace and energy fill the first two solos, as a man from each "side" displays for or represents his team. The women on each side easily hold their own, with a couple even outpowering the men. The darkness of the title is strong but not overwhelming, and a life force capable of uniting all seems strongest. Whatever transpires will be exciting.

    2014 is the twentieth year newsteps has been presenting choreographers. This well-earned anniversary, and the newly renovated entrance and stairways, show its health.

    JANUARY 24, 2014

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