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Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s third season in NYC

Charmaine Patricia Warren | 3/13/2014, 1:48 p.m.
“His Grace” Sharon Bradford photo

For its third season in New York at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, on March 6-8, Dallas Black Dance Theatre presented works spanning 2006 to 2014. The two works that closed the program and, not surprisingly, the premieres, “Polarity” by Richard A. Freeman Jr. and “His Grace” by Christopher L. Huggins, best showed the company’s talents. Bruce Wood’s “The Edge of My Life … So Far” (2010) is also deserving of mention.

Freeman’s “Polarity,” which was, for the most part, a series of challenging duets where partners depended on each other’s support to switch from one mystifying position to another, was successful. For example, one dancer hangs down the torso of another upright dancer, their knees propped up on the shoulders of the standing dancer, or a dancer is seated on the lap of another who squats.

The audience only sees a mangle of body parts, but the atmosphere is set as duet after duet takes the stage, with each duet exiting with the lights out, and then the lights are up again to reveal another pair.

Huggins’ “His Grace,” an homage to Nelson Mandela, begins with a slideshow of pointed photos of Mandela set against a backdrop of traditional African rhythms. The lights rise, and the dancers are visible in a repeating line near the back of the space. Soon, they fall in and out of the decidedly crucial line, dancing in different groupings but always falling back in line.

photo

“The Edge of My Life … So Far”

Possible narratives of Mandela’s life story could be drawn from the pairings, or his legacy is expressed through Huggins’ sharp and reaching lines, which he blends with African-derived movement.

In Wood’s contemplative “The Edge of My Life … So Far,” performed by Nycole Ray, she is engulfed in powdery white dust, stares at the audience or manipulates movement atop or around a table and a chair.

Also on the program were “Lost in Memory” (2006) by Nejla Y. Yatkin, “Requiem” (2009) by Chang Yong Sung and “Southern Recollections: For Romare Bearden” (2013) by Bridget L. Moore. The young cast excelled in the works by Huggins, Freeman and Woods.

Special note: This is the company’s 37th season, and founder and Artistic Director Ann Williams will retire at the end of 2014. We wish her well.