Dance Review: VelocityDC Festival Highlights Seven Troupes
If the immediate goal of the VelocityDC Dance Festival was to give local companies a high-impact, high- speed boost, then call this first annual event a success. Friday and Saturday at the Harman Center for the Arts, more than 1,500 people paid $15 to see seven troupes perform on an enormous stage. Odds are, they liked some or all of what they saw.
The whole affair was festive in the best of ways. At 5:30 each evening, Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner and 16 dancers delighted (or perplexed) pedestrians with a series of human sculptures scattered all over Penn Quarter. A DJ spun tunes at the Harman and the bar stayed open late, encouraging patrons to linger at the theater.
The actual performances? Oh, yes. Outstanding. Friday night, Edgeworks Dance Theater committed the only artistic misstep. The all-male ensemble presented a meandering work that got the show off to a lethargic start. But the other companies fared much better. Choreographer Gesel Mason and Peter DiMuro, director of Dance/Metro DC, broke the ice with their comic duet "How to Watch a Modern Dance." Flamenco dancer Edwin Aparicio and his band brought the Latin heat. CityDance Ensemble took the biggest risk of the night, restaging "Last Look," an apocalyptic thriller by modern master Paul Taylor.
Former local choreographer Nejla Yatkin delivered an excerpt from "Wallstories," a new work her feisty young dancers will perform in full Monday night at the Millennium Stage. Also in from New York to bolster the program: Ron K. Brown's Evidence dance company.
The Washington Ballet closed out the show with Edward Liang's "Wunderland," a suite set to music by Philip Glass. It's not an especially profound piece but it's awfully pretty, and solid evidence that while great companies pass through Washington each month, some darn good dancers choose to stay.
-- Rebecca J. Ritzel