Under the direction of Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes, the Black Choreographers Festival has been mentoring, training and presenting black choreographers since 2005. This most recent offering, entitled “New Voices/New Works,” showcased thework of Dazaun Soleyn, Joslyn Mathis Reed, Erik Lee, Gregory Dawson, Antoine Hunter, and a group work by Phylicia Stroud, Marianna Hester and Ebonie Barnett.
Soleyn was both choreographer and performer for ‘the journey,’ a solo lamenting love. He is a powerful presence on stage. Although his focus throughout the piece was inward and anguished, he was able to project the lament inherent in the work.
Dancers Claire Augustine, Melanie Cutchon, Kim Ip and Joslynn Mathis Reed changed the mood considerably with “Autonomic,” to music entitled, “Today,” by Superpitcher. We were treated to super-moves by the quartet who blended the modern, jazz, hip-hop and jitting footwork. The audience cheered.
Justin Sharlman danced “Untitled,” a work by Erik Lee. The piece was dedicated to “every black life that has been taken.” This was followed by a duet “Silver Lining” performed by Tatianna Barber and Charbel Rohayem. It was a serious, well-performed duet that resolved in the separation and isolation of the individuals.
Antoine Hunter gave us “The Silence,” created in collaboration with Ellen Sebastian Chang, who states that she is “trying to capture that conflict (between silence and creativity) that resides in the body.”Hunter holds stage with great presence, yet for this reviewer, he is unable to project the power inherent in the work.
The finale, “At the Playground,” brought the program to a joyful close. To a variety of ‘now’ music, twelve dancers skipped rope, circled each other, hinted at playground activities and in general, delivered good spirit and high energy to the festival.
Ellis and Barnes thanked the many mentors who had worked with the dancers. These were Gregory Dawson, Joanna Haigood, Raissa Simpson, Deborah Vaughan and Robert Moses. For more information visit: blackchoreographershereandnow.com