Atlanta Dance Collective: Being

Last night’s dance concert by Atlanta Dance Collective was, overall, a good show. It featured six works by as many choreographers, four of which were set on the ADC ensemble and two others performed by two different guest ensembles. The pieces were all a little short and none of them stood out as the “must see” portion of the show, but it was definitely an enjoyable hour plus of dance at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s.

It started with a piece that I first saw performed as part of Dance Canvas’ 10th anniversary performance series, Britt Whitmoyer Fishel’s Epoch. I didn’t really get much from it when I saw it then, but this time I liked it a lot more. I honestly can’t recall that first performance well enough to be sure if there were any major changes to the choreography, but the staging was more simple and set in a smaller, more intimate venue. She eschewed the three panels on which videos were projected in favor of projecting the videos above the action, which also happened to be out of my line of vision so I focused entirely on the performance. It was also easier for me, sitting as close as I was this time, to see the dancers’ movements beneath their baggy clothing. It was more obvious to me this time that individual characters were being confronted by and reacting to standards of beauty represented by a mannequin placed downstage. The characters encountered it in various ways and reacted differently, with the ensemble closer to center stage performing choreography that seemed to represent what the characters were feeling. This time around I felt it was a good piece and I really liked the ensemble work in it.

The next piece on the program was Watershed Dance Theatre performing Sarah Emery’s Usually Strange. It was a sweet and sad piece featuring three dancers performing as a hetero nuclear family. It was presented in a way that was kind of like two acts: the first featured the family being all sweet and loving while the second explored tension as the father character seemed to feel drawn away or, perhaps, somewhat alienated from the wife and child characters. The latter do try to pull him back in and it seemed to end ambiguously. The choreography was pretty standard fare but it was a lovely work.

The first half of the program ended with Gray Stoner called That’s Life. Set to Sinatra’s recording of Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon’s song by the same name, it was a lighthearted and energetic piece that was reasonably well put together and fun to watch.

After the intermission was a piece by guest choreographer Mallory Baxley of Zoetic Dance Ensemble called Good. I didn’t quite see what the title had to do with the work: there seemed to be a program to it but it didn’t manage to reveal itself to me. I felt a sense of conflict throughout it and there were several confrontations between the dancers. It was interesting and engaging but I found that not much about it stuck with me. Though I haven’t seen any of her work in years, I generally liked her work with her own company and I suspect that I was too busy trying to figure out what it was saying to appreciate what was there.

Renay Aumiller’s duet boneGlow was next. It was set to “Heartbeats”, a percussive piece of music by Dave Yarwood. It was a bit odd, but not in a bad way. The choreography was made up of a lot of contact between the dancers with movements that seemed to be more against than with each other. It suffered somewhat from very low, blue lighting that obscured some of the movement a little, but I found it interesting and enjoyed it.

The program concluded with Sarah Stokes’ [re]collect. A bit of a spectacle, I couldn’t discern any particular aesthetic concept driving the work. The dancers kept laying down and taking up gaffer tape, though their movements never really responded to the location of the tape on the floor. I honestly can’t tell if it completely went over my head or if it was just trying to create an interesting aesthetic and kind of wish that there was at least a blurb in the program to help me understand what Stokes was going for. The choreography was somewhat interesting and it was performed well, which made it a decent watch if a bit of a weak ending to the show.

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