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Review: GHDT's "American Classics"

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3 stars

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, Pike Performing Arts Center, Aug. 13-14. Gregory Hancock's "Our Town" returned after a long absence to prove its place alongside GHDT's signature "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Adapted from Thornton Wilder's play, and set to the music of Aaron Copland, Hancock however places his work in an Amish community to "reflect subtle simplicity": courtship, marriage, birth, death, and the affirmation of life. The company throughout exhibited excellent technique in capturing the symbolic gestures and movements related to the Amish culture. The choreography is filled with humor to counterbalance the depth of emotions in the foreshadowing and ultimately in the death. Melanie Heazeltine, as Emily, and Christopher Lingner, as George, shared the spotlight with young dancers representing them as children and as teens. "Our Town" was a counterbalance to the louder, flashier, much too long "The Scarlet Letter." This allegory, set on the life of Marilyn Monroe, would be better served with the punch of a 20-30-minute work. Rachel Rutland Maryanovksaya nails Monroe; Martin Casanova is powerful in multiple roles; the six dancers who portray aspects of Monroe are picture perfect and the company as Paparazzi are effectively in your face. As always, costumes by Hancock and lighting by Ryan Koharchik are outstanding. Both pieces were enhanced with projections to set scenes.

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