Written by Nalisha Rangel
Velocity Dance Center “Kicked-Off” their Big Bang Remix Party Friday, September 23rd at the Founder’s Theater, in a show which showcased an eclectic variety of local dancers. Jody Khener and Ricki Mason, of The Cherdonna and Lou Show, opened with a booty giggling number as “Jean” and “Erika;” dressed in bathing suit-adorned pregnant bellies and fabulously gaudy earrings and other accessories. They introduced the show and provided snippets of information about each piece intermittently throughout the entire performance.
Millions was a playful piece by Beth Graczyk and Corries Befort who covered them in cotton and danced to a whiny trumpet played live by Angelina Baldoz. The choreography–a frenzy of slapping and jerky spasms–evoked laughter from the audience.
Addendum 23 was captivating. Three dancers in business suits and one in black staggered themselves around a chair. Amy Johnson moved only when the other three lifted and gestured her limbs. Seated in a chair she stared stoic, wide-eyed at the audience. Markeith Wiley, Calie Swedberg, and Sarah Butler took turns manipulating Amy’s posture and with swift, sharp choreography, they dressed her in a dark blazer and pants and she began to come alive.
Donald Byrd’s choreography sparked life with the beautifully executed balance and extension of Ty Alexander Cheng, Jade Curtis, Donald Jones Jr, Vincent Lopez, Amber Mayberry, Shadou Mintrone, and Kate Monthy in Euclidian Space. Wrapped in skin-tight unitards or leotards and shorts, each dancer remained on stage taking turns dancing solo, then engaging in duets and a trio. Cheng and Lopez stole the spotlight with their powerful pas de deux and turns. Each dancer exhibited amazing technique with high extensions, powerful rond de jambes, and balance. The music’s heavy beat carried the audience through the piece and it ended much too soon.
Cassie Wulff’s I did that because I am that, Markeith Wiley and KT Neihoff’s I’ll Follow you into the Dark, and Ellie Sandstrom’s For One completed the first half and I’m Hungry kicked-off the second. In this work, Paige Barnes’s red, painted skin (except her face) and Monica Mata Gilliam’s yellow dress and heels, as she growled and gasped, began to present a predatory perspective of hunter and prey. Barnes’ body torqued in a frenzy of movement, her fingers walked like spiders around her body as she hovered above the floor to the haunting music. Mata faced the audience with a mouth red-smeared like a clown’s lips and she stared out with a shocked expression. Next, a projected slide show of lions and their freshly-killed prey played behind Paige as she stood and shed her clothes revealing her fully-red painted body paralleled with the bloody compositions on the screen and joined by audio of a woman speaking about indulging appetite; a compelling message.
Room with themes, an excerpt of a larger piece, featured Kate Wallich, Matt Drews, and Sarah Butler dancing in unison with buns atop heads and socks on feet. Their torsos shifted back and forth while their feet stayed in place. The music was like an electronic storm with bursts that excited when the dancers jumped and pulsed their spines as they hunched over. It was like watching Thai Chi on a circuit board; the electrical sparks sped up and then slowed the choreography. The music changed and they broke away from each other and a heart-monitor rhythm played as they paired off.
In Dirty Work by 33 Fainting Spells, Dayna Hanson and Peggy Piacenza treated the audience to a dazed-looking, bouncy, limb-shaky, TAB-crushing comical performance art piece. Next was A Crack in Everything: Installed, performed by Zoe Scofield in which she exuded regal dilemma as her lofty movements were overcome by emotion. Re-image-end slowed the pace down and proceeded with no music.
The show concluded with One of the Most Daring, Innovative and Original Pieces of Dance/Performance Art You Will See This Decade by Amy O’Neil. Her military-style pantaloons could not upstage her powerful demeanor. Amy’s stage presence is of furious commitment and in your face; her audacious choreography blends break dance, martial arts, and a splash of booty shaking. She dances comprehensively in place; right to the tips of her fingers.
The show was a daring kick-off to a 3-day event, continuing with different artists Saturday and Sunday. And it is all in the spirit of exposing the talent of and fundraising for Velocity and other local dance organizations, all of which attempt to give the audience a taste of something new and innovative.