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Monday, April 4, 2011

DANCEworks Santa Barbara 2011: "Mo(or)town Redux" Day 17

DANCEworks
Doug Elkins Dance Company
"I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance."
Friedrich Nietzsche
Photo: David Bazemore
We are beginning to think that visiting friends has benefits that go far beyond good conversation and eating well. Last year, while visiting with our friend, Paula, she planned a trip to the Di Rosa Museum - which turned out to be an adventure in art. Recently, invited by Santa Barbara friends, we were taken to the Lobero Theater, where we experienced an adventure in drama, humor and joy through movement.
Mo(or)town/Redux, a world premier piece based in Shakespeare's, Othello with music from the legendary Motown Studio in Detroit, opened the Doug Elkins Choreography program. Each of the dancer's movements corresponded to both the distinct sound and rhythms of Motown, while simultaneously expressing the Shakespearean tragedy of love, jealousy, contempt, deceit, murder and, ultimately, suicide. 
Referring to the 1949 dance work entitled, The Moor's Pavane (choreographed by José Limon), Mr. Elkins' charges his "redux" with the bravado of b-dancing (breakdance) elements and a mixture of various other contemporary and classical dance styles - all colliding and flowing into one another - as the story is expressed.
In each work, a white handkerchief plays an important role in the choreography and story. Othello's gift, a token of love gifted to Desdemona, the handkerchief is later used as a tool of manipulation by Iago. Handed from one performer to another, throughout, the white cloth is the visual thread, linking all the elements together - the tragedy of Othello to Limon's, The Moor's Pavane, to Elkins', Mo(or)town/Redux.


Videos: David Bazemore
Two more dance pieces were presented; Fräulein Maria (excerpts) and Center My Heart-1996.
Fräulein Maria was danced with a "wink" throughout. While honoring The Sound of Music, Mr. Elkins also places his tongue firmly in-cheek, mixing dance styles, Alpine and  African costumes and genders. The audience, delighted to be in on the joyous visual pun, roared with laughter from beginning to end.
Center My Heart - 1996 was also a joy to watch and feel. Dancers, costumed in  shades of bright reds, yellows and pinks danced with pure exuberance to the sacred Sufi-inspired music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The dancers, expressing an almost hypnotic vibration, transformed themselves into lively, animated Whirling Dervishes. 
An objective of Sufism, as defined by classical scholars, is the atonement of the heart and its immersion in all that is God. As an audience member, I was mesmerized by the repetitive sounds of the music and ecstatic movements of the dancers - all blending into one at the end - inspired dancers, immersed in movement, to the exclusion of all else.
We will look forward to more from Doug Elkins! And we will also look forward to more from DANCEworks!
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Dancers included:
Mo(or)town/Redux
Alexander Dones, Cori Marquis, Donnell Oakley, Gregory Omar Osborne
Fräulein Maria (excerpts)
Sara Barney, Renee Colbert, Frazier Collins III, Matthew Foley, Wesley McIntyre, Grace Louise Pavelka, Meredith Robinson, Alex Dean Speedie,
Center My Heart - 1996
Sara Barney, Renee Colbert, Frazier Collins III, Matthew Foley, Wesley McIntyre, Grace Louise Pavelka, Meredith Robinson, Alex Dean Speedie
DANCEworks residency at the Lobero Theater (Lobero Live) is conceived by Dianne Vapnek.
Motown soundtrack by Musical Director, Justin Levin
Special thanks to Angie Bertucci, Marketing and Communications Liaison, Lobero Theater Foundation - and to photographer, David Bazemore
Doug Elkins Choreography 
Lobero Theater, Santa Barbara, CA 
DaTripman's Channel, Youtube
David Bazemore Photography

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