Notes from Philly weblog

Brava Joan, Bravo Danco

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40th Anniversary Concert II
April 15-18
Perelman Theater

Who isn’t happy Philadanco’s Joan Myers Brown just won the Philadelphia Award — this city’s Nobel Prize. The founder and artistic director of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PhilaDanco), Brown is the 89th recipient of the award that old patrician Edward Bok created for those who improve this town.
Brown’s Dance School celebrates 50 years in May; her company is in it’s 4th decade. She’s drained her savings, her checking, remortgaged homes, fought off lawyers, and always shone. She’s spoken up and out not just for her dancers but for the arts nationwide. The $25,000 honorarium she will receive (May 10) will be put to good use.
The recent programs the Kimmel Center sponsored to honor Danco’s 40th anniversary brought three works from the 1980s and a Philadelphia premiere from 2008. These dancers, extension, extension, technique, and passion, are so good, you hope every time you see them, that they won’t be lost to a New York company (as so often has happened, i.e. the Ailey Company, among others.)

Talley Beatty’s A Rag, A Bone, A Hank of Hair from 1984. The corps dressed in a riot of Crayola colors, their Hermes sandals as fleet as Mercury to Prince & Earth, Wind & Fire. TP. Joy in every angled extension, and the extensions here are limb defying. Beatty’s use of space and momentum is fine and Danco’s nails it.
All is gravity and tension in The Element in Which it Takes Place, Milton Myers setting of Koyanasquatsi by Phillip Glass and Meredith Monk. Egyptian and first the women then the men of the corps dance, when lifts are achieved, the women are often caught in flight, which is thrilling. The dance is full of arresting moments, only some of the unison motions look cliched. A final tableau with Jermaine Terry lifting Rosita Adamo is spellbinding.

Jeremiah Terry has the grace of a wild panther. The moves so natural from the hip socket from the shoulder. How can a man move so easily, so wildly with such control. The mystery of dance.

Elegies are hard. Too much emotion can creep in. That’s what happens in Gene Hill Sagan’s choreography for Elegy set to Ralph Vaughan Williams, a dance whose fine dancers could not elevate it. The starry night backdrop over- emotes too. The men are ill used in this one lots of flutter. Little substance.

By Way of The Funk. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s 2008 work to Parliament Funkadelics featured Lamar Baylor (there were other standouts) in dancing deft and down and working. Makes you think this team’s been doing squats and lunges since the Millenium. Every muscle working from the hip, the shoulder. The quads, the gluts. Every funky thing imaginable from these beautiful, artful bodies of supreme control and quiver.

Now, the Philadelphia Dance Company goes on tour: first stop, Reston, VA.


Written by Lesley Valdes

April 19, 2010 at 12:15 am

One Response

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  1. Lesley,
    Terrific analysis, as usual, of what happened onstage at the Perelman today, and what a perfect tribute to Joan. Bravo reporting.



    April 19, 2010 at 3:54 am

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