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City Dance Ensemble

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Is anyone planning on attending City Dance Ensemble's performance at the Kennedy Center?


CityDance's Season Opening


John F. Kennedy Center


WEDNESDAY, October 22nd at 7:30pm

THURSDAY, October 23rd at 7:30pm

I'm primarily interested to hear about this company because a relative of mine is performing with them now, and, although her name is not currently listed on their website's list of dancers, it's pretty exciting to us! I hear the company is quite up and coming - have any of you seen them perform?

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Yes, I've seen them. I found them rather raw, but very eager, as is often the case with young companies. Some choreography was quite interesting, others.....only a mother could love ;) The choreography by guest choreographers was more developed than that by the home team, for me. "Fractured," a trio (one man, two women) by Dana Tai Soon Burgess -- that Rasta Thomas did at their last gala -- that is one of the best dances I've seen by any Washington-based group, and I'd send it abroad, too!

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I still have my review from the Post (the writers own copyright, so I can post it) of the last performance of theirs I saw:

City Dance Ensemble

There was a pleasantly Retro feel to the concert City Dance Ensemble presented Thursday night at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. Most of the pieces harked back to the early days of modern dance when choreographers used the body to express human emotions rather than merely create complex patterns or for virtuosic display. For the most part, CDE reworked the past in fresh and very satisfying new ways.

There were two premieres, both by Washington-based choreographer Vladimir Angelov, who’s choreographed for the Kirov and San Francisco Ballets, among others. “Suitcase” is a danced short story in which an angel (Rasta Thomas), tossed out of heaven--or his last gig--encounters a feisty mortal woman (Julia Smith).

Angelov is a rare, bilingual choreographer, equally proficient in both ballet and modern dance. Thomas (listed as an artist-in-residence for CDE this season) is a ballet gold medalist, and Angelov uses his whiplash turns and skykicking extensions to show the angel’s unearthly nature. Thomas’s anguished, twisted torso, the arms reaching behind his back, grasping for his lost wings with increasing desperation, provided the work’s central image.

The other premiere, “Deep Surface,” to a commissioned score by Michael C. Lillys, is a dance of rebellion. A female soloist (Kelly Mayfield) is both antagonist and leader of a group that at turns rejects, follows, and accepts her. The dancing is very physical--it’s rebellion born of the body--with bold, weighted movements, lots of stomping, and quick, audible breaths.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess’s “Fractures” describes the disintegration of a relationship. A couple (Melissa Greco and Thomas) dances while another woman (Smith) echoes their steps. All three sense each other with their bodies; the movement is silkily sensuous. Smith is always there, watching politely as Greco and Thomas intertwine, yet never intruding. Greco curls around his body like a vine, but Thomas is inexorably drawn to Smith, returning to Greco, leaving, returning again, until he finally abandons her--quickly, decisively, unapologetically. Greco, who has become limper and smaller with each desertion, is drained of emotion, and her body crumples. It’s a masterful dance, masterfully performed.

Two of the evening’s dances drew from nature, another early modern dance theme. Angelov’s solo for Connie Fink, “Chinook” -- the word refers to an unexpected and unseasonably warm winter wind -- has an improvisational feel. An extended arm suddenly becomes heavy, tipping her off-balance, leading her body to fall, or stumble, as if blown to another part of the stage. Live, new music has long been a CDE staple, and Chinook’s score was played onstage by its composers, Francesca Jandasek (who also dances and designs costumes for the troupe), Matt Jones and Bob Rychiik.

In “Falling into the Sea,” by Paul Gordon Emerson, CDE’s artistic director, five women in blue-green unitards roll, their undulating bodies evoking waves and undertow. A man (Bobby Sidney) seems to capture one of these women/waves, only to be caught himself in the treacherous waters.

Kris O’Shee’s beautifully composed “Choral Stance” (1990; a company premiere and part of its Legacy Series) opened the program. Ten women strike archaic, two-dimensional poses, living design taken from Hellenic pottery. The dance requires, and got, precise execution.

Excerpts from Adrain Bolton’s exuberant “Caravan,” where the dancers unfortunately look like they’re escapees from a co-ed Harem, closed the program.

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