Anyone involved in dance in Washington in the 1980s remembers the creative fervor--and the invading sense of tragedy. While those years brought about great activity among local dancers, with new ensembles forming and performances going on in every nook of the city, they also marked the onslaught of AIDS, which claimed some of the area's brightest talents. Those dancers, choreographers and teachers were remembered this past weekend at a concert in their honor.
"Mostly Men," at Joy of Motion's Jack Guidone Theater, commemorated artists such as Jimmy Thurston and Jason Taylor, active in the Duke Ellington School of the Arts; choreographer Gene Hill Sagan; and Joy of Motion guiding light Guidone. As the concert's organizer Miya Hisaka Silva noted in a heartfelt introduction, numerous local dancers working today--including many of those on the program--owe their careers to such mentors. Silva, director of DC Contemporary Dance Theater in the '80s, lost many of her own dancers and choreographers in that decade. She said it has taken the full measure of the intervening years for her and many of her colleagues to recover and rebuild.
Two of the longest works on the program were by members of her current company, El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador. "Del Amor Que No Se Habla Entre Suelos Fertile" ("Of the Love That Is Not Spoken Between Fertile Soils") by Francisco Castillo and Erick Gonzalez, and "Amame, Extraname, Quiereme" ("Love Me, Miss Me, Want Me") by Gonzalez, were both overwrought statements on love and lust, yet showed off the impressive physical talents of the dancers.
Juan Carlos Rincones and Bruno Augusto performed Rincones' "A Fuego Lento" ("On a Slow Flame") to tangos by Horacio Salgan. Rincones is a mesmerizing dancer, punctuating smoothness with snap in a work that was part courtship, part sparring match. Gesel Mason's "How to Watch a Modern Dance Concert, or What in the Hell Are They Doing on Stage?" was even funnier than its title, and wickedly on the mark as a sendup of dance conventions. Adrain Bolton contributed the robust "Nomad," and Tony Powell's "Pulse," an intricately crafted exercise in following the beat, closed the evening.
The most effective moment of the concert, however, was the quietest. Joy of Motion Director Doug Yeuell's meditative and exquisitely performed solo "Solitude" offered a shifting perspective on being alone, from stifling stillness to focused calm to a dream of flight. One glimpsed the depths of a survivor's pain, and the first twinges of the will to go on.