To commemorate Black History Month, Washington Reflections Dance Company performed a program exploring both contemporary and historic African American culture at Dance Place on Saturday.
Whitney V. Hunter's "South Country" was about the experiences of blacks who fled the South after emancipation, and later after World War I. The choreography called for a great deal of walking and variations on walking, a powerful motif for a work about migration. The dancers did a fine job of depicting the spirit and fortitude that buoyed these characters through hardship.
"Spoken Word," choreographed by Derrick Spear, was fairly simplistic; the steps were not especially original and its long sections of unison movement were tiresome. While the choreography was packed with high leg kicks and pirouettes that finished in a difficult balance, the execution of these tricks seemed to come at the expense of emotional investment. Though they were dancing to a recording of Martin Luther King Jr.'s poignant "I have a dream" speech, many of the performers appeared indifferent to it.
"Prophet vs. Profit" was an excerpt of a full-length work that the company will debut in May. In this work, choreographers Kutia Jawara and Spear attempted to contrast two pervasive themes in contemporary hip-hop: superficial, over-the-top materialism and substantive social consciousness. This was not successfully communicated, though. Still, with modern and ballet movement set to hip-hop music, the piece did succeed in demonstrating the vast possibilities that arise from blending dissimilar aesthetics.
Full of clean lines and crisp jumps, Camille A. Brown's "The New Second Line" was an energetic, polished finish to the evening.
-- Sarah Halzack