Moving People Dance Oct. 24, 2009 at Moving People Dance Performance Space

by Janet Eigner

What a mother lode of gifted dancers have gathered at Moving People in the last decade. Now that the company has moved into its own school and performing space, now that it has weathered the transition from one charismatic artistic and executive director, Ronn Stewart, to the company’s other co-founder, Layla Amos, we can hope for Moving People’s continued development. With her comes the addition to MPD of master tap dancer, John Kloss,  Ms. Amos’s husband.

The studio was crammed with enthusiastic audience on padded folding chairs, SRO, but lacking raked seating, sight lines are difficult.  Hope for quick financial success or the donated skill of local carpenters to build bleachers soon.

This concert showed that these artists are clearly ready for more choreography that matches their level of competence.  Four works showed the skill and excitement they can bring to their performances–Robert Moses’s 2005 “Drop Pillow”, danced by Curtis Uhlemann and Rebecca Goldstone, Mr. Kloss’s premiere tap solo, “Stepology”, created and performed by the artist, “Glances”, a duet choreographed and danced by Sean Dahlberg and Erica Gionfriddo, and the 2009 “Lorca’s Lulluby” (sic), choreographed and danced by Echo Gustafson.

Though Mr. Uhlemann has both acted as Executive Director of MPD until Ms. Amos arrived, and has created some stunning, well integrated and coherent dances in the past few years, those premiered on the 24th, and those previously performed that were shown again, were all of a choreographic piece–frenetic, thrusting, lashing and repetitious.  Yet, these works were characterized by high energy and the dancers’ technical excellence from start to finish.

Still, Mr. Uhlemann’s choreography lacked nuance, and an overarching coherence, for  this reviewer.  Please, more variety and more design, more balletic vocabulary mixed in, and more breathing space in future work.  May Ms. Amos, who has made dynamic and interesting dances, have the time to contribute her choreographic talent.

Ms. Goldstone and Mr. Uhlemann’s “Drop Pillow” with music by The Junkman, looked like a playful contest containing smooth, precise moves, several swift, athletic pas de deux, a bit like a post-modern swing dance.  The couple pitted and pulled their weight against each other, taking non-contentious falls. Her fists clenched as he lifted her; she imprinted a ladder of palms up his torso, one above the other; she climbed his torso with her palms flat, all to the music of muted, percussive temple bells.

Mr. Kloss credited Mr. Uhlemann with building the impressive red oak tap platform on and around which he performed. Accompanied by live piano music, he charmed with a relaxed style, talking and tapping out subtle rhythms and super-speed vibrations, experimenting with the sounds his taps made on the wood, off the wood on the cushy dance floor, and past the dance mat to the cement underfloor.

Like a warm zephyr, the duet by Mr.Dahlberg and Ms. Gionfriddo created, to the guitar and saxophone of “Gold in The Air of Summer” by Kings of Convenience, a beach-like encounter that lulled with sensual, relaxed and swift spins, jumps and lifts.

Ms. Gustafson’s  “Lorca’s Lulluby” to “‘Nana de Sevilla’ Este Galapguito” by Monteserrat Figueras, looked like a filigree of rounded movement. So graceful was she in quiet, nearly static, slow, continual motion, and in its spiral-like design, surely she’ll be nominated to the spider web hall of fame.


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