Saturday, November 23, 2019

REVIEW: DecaDance at Flatlands Dance Theatre

by Shane Strawbridge

If you want to get a snapshot of what makes an artist popular, transcendent, or game-changing, a
good place to start is their greatest hits. DecaDance: A Celebration of FDT’s First 10 Years is a collection of eleven pieces chosen from the over 130 created by Flatlands Dance Theatre over the past decade. The evening, which includes pieces from crowd-pleasing toe tappers to more heady interpretations, has a little bit of something for everyone.

Among the hits, a few moments stand out. Rachel Ure’s Lumina, a collaboration between Ure and lighting designer Emmett Buhmann, uses a single bulb as a dance partner. Ure dances like a moth to a singular flame, light and shadow playing with each other almost as if they were a second couple on the stage. The piece serves as a sort of amuse bouche for the evening, although I found myself wishing it was longer and was presented as the entrĂ©e. Genevieve Durham DeCesaro’s We Are All on Fire pits a quartet of performers against a forest of bodies, using the forms of chorus dancers more as a set piece than other humans, evoking the struggle of revolution and the cost of martyrdom. Kristy Kristinik’s artwork as the backdrop for Ali Duffy, Almendra Gonzales, and Sarah Mondle’s Continuum provides a striking visual, the curved movements of the performers mirroring the artwork that hangs behind them.  Allison Beaty’s CNL3 is perhaps the most cerebral work of the evening. Against its technical movements (which mirror the splitting of cells), Beaty finds a plaintive beauty that lingers on the brain long after the evening is over.

The lighting design by Joshua Whitt adds another dimension to the proceedings. Throughout the evening his work serves as canvas, indicator, and dance partner without calling attention to itself or overpowering the choreography. Although no designer is credited in the program, the costumes also enhance the evening well.

DecaDance is a lovely introduction (or reminder) of the work that Flatlands Dance Theatre is doing. Although some of the tracks could use a little more dusting and polish (and you may yearn for some deep cuts), it is well worth the visit to the LHUCA Firehouse Theatre. It will certainly whet your appetite for what FDT has in store for the next ten years.

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