Guest choreographers Miguel Perez and Zane Booker joined forces with LVCDT’s Bernard Gaddis for the company’s spring concert on May 6-8 at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre. The program featured four pieces, one from each of the guest artists and two, including the anticipated frog-work “Phib,” from Gaddis.
Perez’s “Emergence” was a twining, full-bodied and expressive piece that seemed to sponge up emotion and release it when called upon. Lovely adage work from the girls and a playful duet lightened the somewhat staid tone and contemporary choreography spiked with classical lines furthered this dichotomy. The glimmer of individuals throughout the piece made the movement simultaneously surreal and relatable. Effective use of music and light lent a feeling of time passing and the result was a sobering but optimistic experience for the audience.
Gaddis’ “Sacrifus,” a study in choice and consequence, began the second act with a compelling male duet and a kind of visual percussion that the company does well. Many of the interactions between the dancers built to the charged third movement of the piece, which culminated in a galvanic stand-off between the men and women. Throughout the number ran an undercurrent of complex relationships, all blanketed by a burning energy and ferocious partnering. Looking for the human moments in the piece was one of the pleasures.
Two pieces capitalized on a healthy measure of novelty. “Portraits,” by Booker, was part period-piece to sax and brass and part edgy, contemporary concert dance. Recitations of literature introduced each character in the small cast and gave the audience an idea of what they were in for; robust movement followed shortly and gave these artistic greats some context. (Such figures as Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Gloria Steinem and Byron Hurt were represented.)
The choreography itself was busy and detailed, a fact the dancers took mostly in stride. This kind of number meshes well with the artistic strength of the dancers and the confidence that emanated from each was gratifying to see.
“Phib” hopped into the final slot of the show as a fantastic summation and a number that holds great promise for outreach programs. Giggles from the audience began right away, but it was clear that the dancers took this frog business very seriously. A watery, reedy feel set the stage for splayed-legged rolls and ballet-mistress-approved grand plies. The choreography itself was interesting in that the character movement rang distantly of funk in the precisely timed isolations and a sweet duet midway through the piece lent some emotional depth. Kudos also go to Gaddis for resisting the temptation of too much silliness, because the piece certainly benefited from it.
LVCDT has a distinct genre that they dance well and this concert showcased this effectively. There is also something about seeing a posse of frogs applauding their artistic director that is not to be missed.
Neither is the fall concert series. LVCDT will be performing “Vespers” by choreography icon Ulysses Dove on November 4-6. Keep an eye on their website here for more information.