Review: Dance Kaleidoscope's 'Cole!'

June 9, 2012
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Using the material of one of the 20th-century’s greatest songwriters (one who happens to be a native Hoosier) as fodder for an evening of dance may seem like a no-brainer for a modern dance company.

But there are hidden challenges in the material, the largest of which is that many of these numbers are branded by other forms of dance. Try to picture anything but crazed tap dancing accompanying “Anything Goes,” for instance. Or shake the image of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell owning the stage dancing to “Begin the Beguine.”

In “Cole!,” its season-closing production at the IRT, Dance Kaleidoscope wisely doesn’t bother competing with its iconic stage and screen predecessors. Instead, it makes its own amiable way through the Porter catalogue, briskly offering 16 numbers sans showstoppers but also free of duds.

The first act respectfully uses early versions of Porter recordings and the thin sounds seems to have had an effect on the dancers, who don’t pop as well as they do in the second half, featuring a more modern sound (by which to say the likes of David Byrne and The Thompson Twins are mixed with Sinatra, Armstrong and Fitzgerald).

There was a disconnect between the lyrics and the choreography for “Miss Otis Regrets,” but the number stood out as a crowd-pleaser.  As did the Act 1 closer to a choral “Wunderbar.”

In the midst of the playful spirit of the show, Liberty Harris danced a moving solo to Annie Lennox’s version of “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” made more powerful by the combo of lighting and choreography that boldly left her face largely hidden. And Brandon Comer and Timothy June’s “It’s All Right With Me” was an appropriate pairing for Pride Week.

Much of the spotlight in the show seemed to be on Comer, a 2nd year DK dancer poised to fill the space left by last season’s departures, Kenoth Shane Patton and George Salinas. During a Q&A during intermission (a plus during DK’s Thursday evening shows), artistic director David Hochoy responded to a question about Patton, pointing out that the life of a dance company comes from retiring dancing making room for new ones (I’m paraphrasing). He noted that more than 60 dancers have come through the company since he took over 21 years ago.

That’s a remarkable legacy. And one of the pleasures of a resident company—of which DK is a rare breed in this town—is seeing it evolve, constantly morphing.

One of the reasons we love sports so much is that we care about the players. A resident arts company can invoke the same loyalty while, in essence, creating its own long-form dance piece. Within that, some games are forgettable. Some are spectacular. Others are just entertaining.

Your thoughts?

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  • One other thought
    And that is being a resident company means that in many ways what we are, where we've been and where we are going is an expression of our community. Art indeed holds a mirror up to life, and in this case we are privileged to be creating work that reflects our life here in Indy!

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  1. Kent's done a good job of putting together some good guests, intelligence and irreverence without the inane chatter of the other two shows. JMV is unlistenable, mostly because he doesn't do his homework and depends on non-sports stuff to keep HIM interested. Query and Shultz is a bit better, but lack of prep in their show certainly is evident. Sterling obviously workes harder than the other shows. We shall see if there is any way for a third signal with very little successful recent history to make it. I always say you have to give a show two years to grow into what it will become...

  2. Lafayette Square, Washington Square should be turned into office parks with office buildings, conversion, no access to the public at all. They should not be shopping malls and should be under tight security and used for professional offices instead of havens for crime. Their only useage is to do this or tear them down and replace them with high rise office parks with secured parking lots so that the crime in the areas is not allowed in. These are prime properties, but must be reused for other uses, professional office conversions with no loitering and no shopping makes sense, otherwise they have become hangouts long ago for gangs, groups of people who have no intent of spending money, and are only there for trouble and possibly crime, shoplifting, etc. I worked summers at SuperX Drugs in Lafayette Square in the 1970s and even then the shrinkage from shoplifting was 10-15 percent. No sense having shopping malls in these areas, they earn no revenue, attract crime, and are a blight on the city. All malls that are not of use should be repurposed or torn down by the city, condemned. One possibility would be to repourpose them as inside college campuses or as community centers, but then again, if the community is high crime, why bother.

  3. Straight No Chaser

  4. Seems the biggest use of TIF is for pet projects that improve Quality Of Life, allegedly, but they ignore other QOL issues that are of a more important and urgent nature. Keep it transparent and try not to get in ready, fire, Aim! mode. You do realize that business the Mayor said might be interested is probably going to want TIF too?

  5. Gary, I'm in complete agreement. The private entity should be required to pay IPL, and, if City parking meters are involved, the parking meter company. I was just pointing out how the poorly-structured parking meter deal affected the car share deal.

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