SpectorDance Choreographers Showcase

By Scott MacClelland

SPECTORDANCE paraded new dance works by ten choreographers in their Marina studios on the weekend, the summer edition of its Choreographers Showcase series that began in 1997. Overall the tone was serious, the costumes favored black and the music, particularly the synthesized variety, tended to be repetitive and without fixed pitches. For these reasons, You Gon’ Learn Some Jazz Today, created and danced by Cherrie Paghasian, a student at Monterey High and Monterey Peninsula College, with music by Masego, was as glitzy as a Fourth of July sparkler and Paghasian, in bright colors and with an attitude, marked a high point. She got the only laughs on the Sunday afternoon performance.

Another big scorer was Night Revelations by veteran choreographer Margaret Wingrove. The work is a love duet, danced with high polish by Danny Tran (in black) and Mia Glumac (in a rose-colored dress) to Astor Piazzolla’s well-known tango, Adios Nonino. The music is an extended rondo that allowed Wingrove to put the couple through many changes of mood, from affection to rejection.

Fran Spector Atkins and her media specialist Bill Roden created a strange piece, We The People, danced as a solo by Paige Ettin, that began with a recitation of the Preamble to the US Constitution followed by a video of Daniel Roumain playing an electric viola da braccio and a pianist in “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” that, though well-played, bore little resemblance to the anthem and, on the big screen robbed attention away from the dancer. (Above photo by William Roden.) But the choreography was clearly the work of Spector Atkins, a sinuous, sometimes serpentine, sometimes knotted example of her talent for translating deep emotions into physical form.

Melissa Kamnikar created and danced A Message for All of Humanity, an earnest plea seeking to answer the tragedies of today with hope. It was accompanied by the recorded voice of Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from his film The Great Dictator.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo by Jonathan Lipow engaged four women dancers to Rebel Heart by First Aid Kit. Each dancer carried a battery-powered candle that provided a focal point on the darkened stage, and made patterns as much with their hands as their dancing. Out, Damned Spot! by Rachel Roman anguished four women dance students in short black sheer dresses over red small clothes, over the grief and guilt of Lady Macbeth, with the ominous Panoramic music of Atticus Ross. The piece ended with a solo.

Volar by Andi Salazar, for six dancers, one male, dealt with the circumstances faced by emigrants seeking to escape, over land or sea, from violence and repression. The dancing included individual as well as group movements, including much writhing on the floor, suggesting trying to stay afloat on water. A Sense of Symmetry by Mackenzie King for dancers Arielin Anderson and Caty Updyke-Brunet delivered the promise of its title, with the dancers physically engaged in a great deal of pushing and pulling.

César Rubio Degollado’s Univrs, for three men and three women, summed up the Showcase to Theatre Man for synthesizer. The choreography was complex with running, solos, duos, trios and other divisions. The ensemble somehow was able to keep its design and patterns intact even as the repetitive, featureless music seemed to provide no cues.

A reflection of the times in which we live, this particular program was unusually dark and of deeply serious inflection.

On a brighter note, Amy Byington, director of the SpectorDance School announced upcoming auditions “open to all dancers” eight and older for a new Spector Atkins work, When You Were Gone, and for a Moscow Ballet production of The Nutcracker for dancers six and older to be performed at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey. SpectorDance.org has the information. Byington also said that SpectorDance’s Ocean Trilogy will be presented at the Bronx Botanical Garden in New York during a climate conference, and that East West, SpectorDance’s gang-violence work will be performed in Stockton, another town similarly blighted.