To put on a good show, actors don’t have to practice every day. To put on a good show, ballet dancers do. That’s the fundamental challenge facing MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet. While many a wonderful Fringe show features actors with completely unrelated day jobs hamming it up or rocking it out after work, it’s impossible for a ballerina to strap on pointe shoes and turn 32 fouettes after a long day at the office.
For MOVEiUS, the Capital Fringe Festival represents a chance for young working professionals with extensive dance training to continue performing. Go into “Big River (and Other Wayfaring Ballets)” expecting a well-executed adult dance recital, and you’ll be pleased. The strength of this four-work program is that none of the dancers are in over their heads. The footwork is simple, and that’s a good thing, given that last year’s MOVEiUS Fringe effort — a steampunk indie ballet — was a spirited romp that could have snapped a few ankles. The opening three numbers were not on pointe — also a good thing — and the strongest of these was “Learning to Run,” a piece choreographed by MOVEiUS Artistic Director Diana Movius and set to music by Steve Reich. “Run” was a bit of an overstatement, though, as the choreography resembled basic, drastically slowed-down Balanchine, with an emphasis on short step sequences and crossing the stage in diagonals.
“Big River,” the headline act, was a suite of nine Johnny Cash songs choreographed by Kimberly Parmer. The most memorable moment of the evening came when four women were silhouetted against the rear of the stage, extending a tendu to the right in perfect rhythm to the baseline of “I Walk the Line.”
Between acts, Movius gave a long speech about, among other things, changing the company’s name from MOVEiUS Dance to MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet because she feels that name better reflects the company’s commitment to commissioning choreographers and performing experimental work. This seems rather self-inflated. The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which performs at Wolf Trap on July 30, is a great example of a contemporary ballet company. A slew of theater blogs have been raving about MOVEiUS. By all means, applaud these ladies for their dancing endeavors, but when Fringe is beyond us, more theater fans should give professional ballet a try.
Ritzel is a freelance writer.
In an earlier version of this review, the name of the dance company, MOVEiUS Contemporary Dance, was misspelled.