DancEthos at the Atlas Intersections Festival: A collaborative music mix

Saturday’s sold-out matinee at the Atlas Intersections Festival featured a classical piano trio, an a cappella ensemble and an indie pop band. The show was called “Voice(s),” and it was, ostensibly, not a local music variety show but a dance performance.

“This is our biggest collaboration yet,” Tiffany Haughn, artistic director of DancEthos, told the full house in the Lang Theatre. There were 42 performers in total, and the collaborations, it must be said, were more impressive than the choreography. The program opened with Haughn’s “The Divide,” set to a 1921 piano trio by the rarely heard composer Rebecca Clarke. The 10 dancers displayed a mix of body types and abilities, so the piece was best appreciated as a whole, including the West Shore Trio, which performed Clarke’s mercurial music onstage. In the third movement, the six women formed a circle, and took turns coming forward into the center, neatly twisting their limbs and creating a striking picture of a pretzel each time.

(Colin Hovde) - DancEthos and its musical collaborators performed as part of the Atlas Intersections Festival.

Next was the D.C.-based a cappella ensemble Euphonism — seven singers who beat-boxed their way through tunes by La Roux and O.A.R. They weren’t exactly “Glee” caliber, but they were more fun than the choreography. Carolyn Kamrath’s movement looked a little too tai chi for the music, which called for something clubby. Instead, the dancers — dressed like they were headed to yoga — rolled their necks, crossed their legs and gently outstretched their arms while singers crooned about locking lips.

Movement met music more effectively in the final work on the program: “Voice(s) on the Hook,” a suite set to seven songs by Pauline Pisano, who performed with a six-piece chamber pop band. Matthew Bennett, Jenny T. Flemingloss and Rick Westerkamp collaborated on the choreography. The 16 dancers in these numbers were the most technically proficient, rolling on and off the floor with ease, executing smooth, bent-leg turns and working the stage in diagonals. It wasn’t stunning, but it was very watchable. And if audience members left the Atlas ready to find Pisano’s tracks on Bandcamp, or to Wikipedia to look up Clarke, that was very much in the spirit of DancEthos.

 
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