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Review: Dance Kaleidoscope's Ray & Ella

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Dance Kaleidoscope is on top of its game. Their new show, Ray & Ella, built on the songbooks of Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, projects the sensibility and sumptuousness of Degas and Picasso. The company's dancers genuinely meld with each other, powered by a sense of cohesive unity and delight in sharing what they love to do. One could feel the power uniting the audience being in the moment with the dancers. Abetted by lighting akin to a palette in motion, the choreography by David Hochoy and Nicholas Owens alternated between embellishing on lyrics and moving with the music.

Act One featured Ella, choreographed by Hochoy. Opening with "Night and Day," the women of the company colored the stage in candy cotton-hued flouncy dresses resembling Degas’ “Little Dancer” (find her at the IMA). The men in black trousers and vests with shirts of bright gumdrop colors complemented the sweeping movement.
From left, Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Justin Sears-Watson in Ray & Ella. - CROWE'S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Crowe's Eye Photography
  • From left, Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Justin Sears-Watson in Ray & Ella.

"Blue Moon" evoked undulating tides. "Someone to Watch Over Me" encircled Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June in concentric intimacy of soul and body. Noah Trulock seamlessly stepped into several distinctive personalities as Emily Dyson, Aleska Lukasiewicz and Missy Trulock vied for his undivided attention in a changeup "Tea for Two." Brandon Comer and Stuart Coleman showcased a flamboyant "Too Darn Hot." Jillian Godwin, Greenlee and Caitlin Negron rendered Cry Me a River as a sort of blues tabloid. We felt their pain — deeply.

Incited by Justin Sears-Watson stepping on Fitzgerald’s scatting "Lady Be Good," the company became a candy-colored whirl. In direct opposition to how things usually are done, Act One closed with a tender tableau set to "With A Song in My Heart."
Dance Kaleidoscope's male performers during Ray & Ella. - CROWE'S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Crowe's Eye Photography
  • Dance Kaleidoscope's male performers during Ray & Ella.

he company poured into red and black wet-shiny leotards for Act Two's Ray, body-romping and shimmying through Nicholas Owens’ signature move-every-inch-of-your-body choreography in "Let The Good Times Roll," "Mess Around" and "I Believe to My Soul" as company numbers. With "Hallelujah, I Love Her So," Phillip Crawshaw and Caitlin Negron brought us into joyful release of love, gospel and blues.

A spectrum of dance genres and relationships carried us into Owens’ "Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’" and "Till There Was You," and Hochoy’s "Hit The Road Jack" and "Eleanor Rigby."
From the Ray portion of Ray & Ella. - CROWE'S EYE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Crowe's Eye Photography
  • From the Ray portion of Ray & Ella.

The evening closed with the rousing gospel and rhumba infused "What’d I Say, Pts. 1 & 2." It was equally a salute to Ray Charles springing loose from his R&B box into mainstream pop music and to DK as a company taking a figurative leap over the rainbow onto a new landscape with an expanded vocabulary.

Eye-catching sculptural and atmospheric movement throughout the program gave us a sense of unity encompassing diversity. Based on exit conversations, many of us wished for the replay capacity of sporting events so we could see a segment again right then and there. We talked about what touched us and was “unexpectedly just right.”

Ray & Ella is a turning point for DK as a company with strength, speed and grace as its growing footprint.
Lighting by Laura E. Glover and Costumes by Guy Clark impeccably partnered with the choreography and dancing.

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