Adventures in Dance Part IV: Evidence, A Dance Company
My final stop in this dance marathon was Evidence, A Dance Company, which features choreographer and Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown, who has choreographed for the likes of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. Based in Brooklyn, Evidence, A Dance Company fuses traditional African dance with contemporary choreography, the result of which is an original, colourful and vibrant rendition of the struggles, tragedies and triumphs of the human experience. Moreover, this company seeks to bring African American culture and African rhythms to a variety of audiences, and they do so with rare beauty and power.
This show included three pieces, all of which made use a fantastic array of music styles and a fluid, lively style of choreography. The first piece Ife/My Heart depicted costumes that were meant to represent West Africa (traditional and flowing), Cuba (a bit frilly and a lot striking) and the US (relatively contemporary looking dresses and pillbox hats and one man in a white suit), and each dancer came together with the others on a journey towards portraying and embodying love, which is described in the program notes as :One loving the way God one". Though I found that this piece took a little bit of time to warm up, heat up it did until it spread its flames of joy well into the audience. Using a choreographic vocabulary that was fluid, engaging and strenuous, the company seemed to grow more comfortable with each other and the stage as the dance progressed so that by time it was over, I felt that they had reached place of fabulous synergy where their collective energy transcended the amount of energy that seven dancers should be able to produce.
The two other pieces, Upside Down and Grace were equally engaging and colourful. Upside Down was the least driven by an obvious narrative of the three pieces, and it seemed to convey a pure joyfulness that brought to mind the idea of praise. Grace depicted a story of a Woman/God coming down to earth and eventually returning to heaven with the community. It sounds like a rather literal idea, but it was conveyed without feeling literal or burdened with narrative and gimmick. Instead this piece was graceful and ethereal and utterly captivating. Once again, these lithe, athletic dancers wove their way into what felt like an almost trance-like state that invited me to experience dance as something spiritual, something absolutely inviting.
Every aspect of the three pieces was beautifully attended to from choreography to costumes, lighting and music, and I left the theatre feeling that my absorption in the spectacle that is Evidence, A Dance Company was complete and pure.
Evidence, A Dance Company: gold medal.
I’m a bit tired from seeing so many shows, but the good news is that the calibre of dance and choreography was (mostly) excellent, and the scope of styles and range of themes were remarkable for the diversity in evidence in these widely varying shows. Right now, being dance-saturated feels like a very good thing.