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Dancer With An Attitude

Memphis: The Musical Review

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Let me tell you what I expected upon entering the Fox Theater Tues. night for the opening show of Memphis: The Musical.  Happy music with more repetitive lyrics than actual plot twists, beautiful people, slick production quality and most importantly the guy getting the girl.

Set in the racially charged South in the 1950’s, this story tells the tale of a young, poor white man, Huey Calhoun (Bryan Fenkart), with a passion for the blues.  Jim Crow laws and his family keep him from pursuing his obsession until his father dies.  Then he feels he is free to cross town and go where that music is being generated.

After meeting his muse, the stunning Felicia (Felicia Boswell), the story of their love affair and career paths unfold.  We watch him become a popular radio DJ and later a television personality, providing opportunities for her to showcase her extraordinary talents.  Fear and the violent environment of the times, torture their relationship.  Huey is simple and wants to declare his feelings to the world, regardless of the consequences.  Felicia, worries about their safety and the success of her singing career and keeps him at arm’s length.  Coming from different races, backgrounds and culture they see the situation from very different perspectives.

The tension builds up until the end of the play.  The opportunity for both of them to go to NYC arises.  She wants him to join her so she can become the artist she has always wanted to become.  In the North they can love in the open.  He doesn’t want to leave the city he calls home, and wants her to stay and defend their love against the racial tyranny of the South.

Fenkart and Boswell’s performances are spot on.  They had me the moment they set eyes on one another.  The thick connection between them never brakes, from the first kiss to the deliberations about what the future holds.  Their exaggerated differences create the chemistry that drives the story forward.

So we get the beautiful people, slick production quality.  But we also get heavy plot twists and really great blues and rock and roll music.  I’m not, however going to tell you what happens in the end, you’ll just have to stop by the Fox Theater this weekend and find out for yourself.

Dancer With An Attitude

The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee

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“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee

The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Beginning 1.31.15

There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”

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Dancer With An Attitude

Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”

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photo : Chris Carder
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The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence

The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.

The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.

“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”

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T. Lang: A Woman Searching

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The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience.  Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place.  The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from.  Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.

On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s  performance of Post Up.  The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings.   The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison.  An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through.  The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.

The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent.  Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.

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