Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as assistant director of UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.
The Studio Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre was host to a swinging dance party thanks to Ewert & Company this past weekend.
Showcasing the choreography of Artistic Director Anna Marie Ewert-Pittman, Festung von Erinnerungen (Stronghold of Memories) took the audience on a journey through Southern Louisiana, took a turn at Post-Modernville, then settled back into the intoxicating rhythm of the South.
Beginning with Ramke, a work in seven parts inspired by recorded conversations with her grandmother, Ewert-Pittman presented a glimpse into life in 1930s and 40s southern Louisiana. Setting the mood with a traditional American Cajun song and dressed in dusty blue-gray rompers, the dancers looked like the black and white projected photographs come to life. The introduction abruptly transitioned into the aptly titled “Pushing Marvin.” Soloist Lela Bell gave an emotional and hypnotizing performance as the young version of the grandmother as she mourned the loss of one of her brothers.
Yet, the transition into the following section, the upbeat “Picking Cotton,” was too quick and the preceding emotion was tossed away. However, it was visually interesting as a close-up view of a cotton field was projected behind the dancers, who carried oversized sacks that they placed various parts of their bodies into.
“Diedrick Ramke” was a beautifully conceived trio dealing with blindness; the dancers even performed with their eyes closed. Ewert-Pittman’s solo, “USS Atlanta,” was dynamic and athletic. Her body personified the Morse code translation of the text that made up the musical score. The upbeat final coda was a bit jarring as it followed the trace-like “USS Atlanta.” But overall, Ramke was a conceptually interesting piece that wove emotion, character, performance and media together.
The combative [A]part of the Whole was well danced, but at the times the performer’s focus seemed out of place. For a majority of the piece, the focus was internal and off-putting. But at the end it became external, creating a more powerful connection between the dancers and the audience.
The inventive Cares, Fears, Problems, Joys utilized the photography of Sharen Bradford (The Dancing Image) and unique lighting sources, including flashlights, floor lights operated by the dancers and a hand-held video projector. The dancers bodies became the canvas on which the photographs were displayed, and the dynamic movement played within the shadows cast. Rebekah Caffey shined during her intoxicating solo as a spotlight chased her. It was quick-paced, risky and mixed contemporary and modern movement, which seems to be the basis of Ewert-Pittman’s choreography.
The closing number, Hanging Outside of Town, had Ewert-Pittman and founding member Jennifer Mabus Cook swinging from the rafters. With only three months of practice under their belts, the aerial piece was a successful athletic feat. Cook threw herself at the wall with confidence as Ewert-Pittman did a series of risky front flips.
When the rest of the ensemble joined in, the fun really began as Cook and Ewert-Pitman flew over their heads and climbed on their backs. It felt like the ending of Mardi Gras, or the beginning of a party you hope you remember at the end of the night.