Sunday, October 26, 2008

Passion on the Ave.

Judging from the popularity of a certain reality TV series America is crazy for dancing. However, for dancing minus the celebrities and judges get yourself down to Klein Dance on Lake Avenue in downtown Lake Worth. Here the dedicated dancers of the Demetrius Klein Dance Company demonstrate their passion and professionalism every time the lights go down. There's something exciting about being so close to a labour of love like this. And you are close! Performances take place in a wonderful rectangular space with long benches set up against one wall. The barrier between audience and performer is practically non-existent. If you're in the front row, you may find yourself pulling in your legs for fear of inadvertently tripping one of the dancers as they whiz by.

Last night Shannon and I caught weekend 3 of their current Fall Festival. The program was a nice cross-section of what they do so well. The evening opened with an imagined reconstruction of the great Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun which was inspired by the Mallarmé poem Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and the well-known Debussy composition of the same name. As dancer Justin Walker explained in an informal Q & A afterwards, all that's left of Nijinsky's choreography are some poses from still photos which were incorporated into his performance. Next up was "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" from Handel's Messiah. Choreographing Handel's oratorio for modern dancers ("liturgical dance" he's called it) has been a life's passion for company founder Demetrius Klein -- called "Meech" by his legions of students and friends. "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" is a duet that gracefully blends elements of ballet and modern dance. There's also subtle allusion and allegory for those alive to the significance of Handel's text. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep.

After a brief intermission the full company minus one attacked a virtuoso piece of modern dance called Light in the House. A twenty-minute adrenaline rush -- or was it longer? time recedes to the background when swept up in an art form this visceral -- it combined complex synchronicity featuring the entire group and improvisational-seeming duets and solos. I say seeming because none of it is off the cuff, but is the result of hours of development and rehearsal. Last night's rendition was accompanied by a pounding industrial score from a band associated with modern dance icon Merce Cunningham (I can't remember the name of the band). It had elements that reminded me of John Cage, Sigur Rós and tango. It would be wrong to say that they dance to the music though, since the same piece is rehearsed to a wide variety of music...or perhaps even rehearsed in silence. The explosive impetus of the live performance is driven by the dancers' cues to each other and internal sense of timing. The result is visual poetry.

DKDC on the web


redeyespy said...

Wildly visual (and aural)! Sorry we missed it.

kori said...

WOW! Thanks Stephen! I hope my dancing is as descriptive as your writing! Everyone interested should know we have 2 more shows in which we'll be performing Halos in Reverse. Its a 40 minute adrenaline rush asking questions about what it would look like if we could dance with ALL the glory of Jesus Christ, blurring the lines between beautiful and grotesque, proper and unacceptable. Come check out the Klein Dance Company!