North Carolina Troupe, Triangulating the South

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Southern sights, sounds and charm were on view at the Strathmore when North Carolina Dance Theatre performed Sunday night. The company, headed by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, creatively used live musical interludes between the dancing. Bonnefoux has assembled an incredibly versatile and likable company.

Three choreographers presented different perspectives while music ranged from John Coltrane to Christine Kane, a petite powerhouse of a singer. In a duet titled "I'm With You," Bonnefoux's steps seemed to play between Kane's melodies rather than mimic them, creating a gorgeous synergy matched by the chemistry between the dancers, Nicholle Rochelle and Daniel Wiley. Their performance, a melding of ballet and modern vocabularies, was the jewel of the evening.

The program, "Under Southern Skies," opened with Mark Diamond's "City South," a jazzy number animated by Jesse Tyler's funky grooves. Uri Sands's "Sweet Tea," a trio set to music by Coltrane, was perhaps too rich and multilayered for a scene about sweltering heat. Bonnefoux's feel-good closer, "Shindig," also had live accompaniment. Five fierce musicians known as the Greasy Beans created bluegrass tunes that ignited the dancing: virtuosic displays of fouettes and a hoedown by the men in cowboy hats. Perhaps a future visit can feature work by female choreographers to showcase the ladies' formidable talents.

-- Kate Mattingly

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