A Review of the Global Perspectives Festival by Shianne Antoine
The “Global Perspectives Festival”, a production featuring dance companies of different cultures based in the D.C. area, took place at Dance Place on February 8-9. Christopher K. Morgan, the executive artistic director of Dance Place, stated before the show began that it is important for Dance Place to celebrate all people of different backgrounds as much as possible. Morgan wants to “make sure [Dance Place] is accessible. Especially in the nation’s capital at this time”. Traditional Mexican, Chinese, Ukrainian, Indian, and Cuban dances showcased the production’s diversity and highlighted various similarities.
The cultures of Mexico, Ukraine, and Cuba are distinct, but watching the companies perform the traditional dances of these three cultures made it apparent that they share similar inspirations.
Maru Montero Dance Company performed Jalisco, a traditional Mexican dance. In this piece, couples excite the audience with rhythmic stomps, joyful shouts, and continuous twirls. The women paddle turn in place causing their bright colored skirts to make continuous ocean waves, mesmerizing the audience. The men impress the audience with their rhythmic stomping, cheerful shouting, and sword dancing.
The Suite of Hutsul Dances, performed by The Capaitha Folk Dance Ensemble, presents the traditional dances of Ukraine. The piece begins with four men performing the “Arkan”, which contains grapevine patterns, grand plies, hops, and gleeful shouts. This transitions into a soothing lullaby of soft walks and gentle paddle turns performed by five women. This piece concludes with four couples performing an exciting celebratory dance, the “Kolomiyka”. The couples shift foot to foot sprightly, finishing with an exclamation in celebration.
The DC Casineros perform A Cuban Jam Session!!, a piece performed by four couples with traditional and current Cuban influences. The piece emits a fun, party atmosphere. The couples turn each other rapidly, dip the women, and twist their hips, all with a playful smile. The highlights lie within the simplicity of the unison, for example, when the dancers step ball-change and cha-cha in unison repeatedly, the consistency is satisfying to the eye. The dancers lead the audience in clapping on rhythm as the piece ends.
The clearest differences between Jalisco, The Suite of Hutsul Dances, and A Cuban Jam Session!! are the types of music being used, but the energy behind the music and movement are similar. Each represents dances from a different part of the world, but all three of these pieces display skillful footwork, playful partnering, and audible shouts.
Contrasting the traditional structure of the first three discussed pieces, TRIBE and We, The Moon, The Sun envelop their cultures into a different dance style. We, The Moon, The Sun, performed by Gin Dance Company, blends Chinese dance with Modern dance. With a projection of the moon hanging in the sky behind her, a soloist gently folds and unfolds her arms within themselves. More dancers appear as the projection shifts to a sunrise image. The seven women, all wearing loose white dresses, gesture gracefully as if creating and moving a box in varied ways. Solos and duets breakaway from unison with long balletic lines and turns, which contrasts the intentional reaches and hand presses of the ensemble. The piece resolves as the original soloist drips her fingers behind her head in front of a sunset image.
TRIBE, performed by chitra.Moves, combines Eastern Indian dance with Hip Hop dance as well as combining these genre’s related music. There are clear Indian-inspired arm movements, which then shifts into a pop of the chest or body roll from the Hip Hop genre. These women, wearing patterned Indian shirts with black sweatpants, are boldly entertaining. The transitions within TRIBE are completely flawless,there is never any indication of a compositional change approaching. By the end of TRIBE, there is no visual difference between Indian or Hip Hop steps; the steps effortlessly blend.
These two pieces differ in the energy they provide. We, The Moon, The Sun is very calming while TRIBE is bold. Indian and Chinese dances can be characteristically similar as their focuses lie on hand and arm movements. Both pieces are also similar in their seamless blends of their respected cultural dance with a different dance genre.
“The Global Perspectives Festival” was a culturally diverse production, but it is evident that the cultural dances represented are similar in many ways. The joy of Jalisco easily matches the glee of The Suite of Hutsul Dances or the playfulness of A Cuban Jam Session!!. We, The Moon, The Sun finishes with a sense of peaceful certainty just as TRIBE ends with bold certainty. Whether the dance told a story or the dance accompanied the music, each dance in the “Global Perspectives Festival” resolved with the same feeling:pure happiness.
This review, by Shianne Antoine, was written in conjunction with the Dance Metro DC Writer’s Cohort.
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