THELMA HILL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
June 27, 2016
Thelma Hill Performing Art Center (Thpac) celebrates 40 years of supporting dancers and choreographers of color at the Actors Fund Art Center this last week of June. After a short welcome by Executive Chairman Alex Smith and Artistic Advisor Walter Rutledge, the evening’s program began with a video and then choreographed tribute to the late Loretta Abbott. Thpac’s 40th anniversary is dedicated to Loretta Abbott, whose death is still making waves in the dance world by all those who were recognize her importance and greatness.
Emotions ran high, and Jamal Story Loss: Remixed did not let up. Virtuosic movements lead Story across the stage, taking moments of breath as he explored the feelings of loss simply and elegantly.
Mayra, be strong! Presented a less emotional, but incredibly interesting piece. A photographer and a dancer performed on the stage. The photographer took pictures throughout the wild and energetic piece. One by one the pictures taken at those moments appeared projected on the back wall. Dance and documentations happened simultaneously. Observing frozen moments from the alive dance still ongoing was a fascinating contrast; highlighting how dance is captured in stills. The intensity of the dancer was absolutely present in her movement as well as the photographs.
The fun really begins as the HSA Dance Ensemble performs their group routine Sweet’s Sweet Suite. A group of youth, including two very young dancers, performed a latin fusion dance, dripping with rhythm and playfulness.
Post intermission, there could not be a more varied cross section of dancers making work. First, Ronald K Alexander presents his heartbreaking Tribute to Orlando, letting the pain ripple through each accent of his body and his solo to the familiar Clair de Lune. As the audience was gathering themselves from the power of Mr Alexander’s performance, they were invited to come stand on stage in the round for the next piece, A Walk in Our Heels.
Abdiel Jacobsen presented his work that showcases ballroom style dances where both male and female partners wear heels. It was stunning the way Jacobsen and his partner Kelsey Burns moved in perfect synchronization, but the two who really stole the show were the percussionists and vocalist, Meredith Butterworth and Greg Osei.
Finally the last piece feature dancer Bones, who is a ‘Flex Dancer.’ Using contortion and quick muscle contractions he made the piece Bones the Machine feel like an appropriate title. Moving in ways the inspired gasps from the audience, he created interesting pictures, elevating the street style of dance to appear comfortable in the concert venue. The audience was raucous after his performance, cheering for Bones, but also for the full night of dance which was illuminating, emotional and a true celebration of the work Thpac is fostering.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller