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Review: Dance Kaleidoscope's 'Carmina Burana'...plus extras

October 24, 2014

Beauty was in ample supply in Dance Kaleidoscope’s season opener (through Oct. 26 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre).

Anchored by a revival of DK’s 1995 signature piece “Carmina Burana,” the program opened with a trio of appetizers. First, the world premiere of "Rondo Capriccioso” a perfectly acceptable but unexceptional piece set to music by Camille Saint-Saens performed by students from the Indianapolis School of Ballet. Kudos to DK Artistic Director David Hochoy for allowing up-and-comers access to his company’s audience.

That access paid greater dividends for the audience in “Minor Bodies,” which showcased the choreography of Bloomington’s Elizabeth Shea. “What was the story?” I heard a patron behind me ask afterwards, entirely missing the point that dance and storytelling aren’t congruent circles. They are forms that sometimes intersect but don’t have to.  Here, just-right dancers Ryan Galloway and Rachel Newbrough ran in parallel circles with eyes locked, gentle touched fingertips along the stage floor, held but slipped away after creative but not show-offy leaps and catches, and fit together in a variety of lovely ways. Hochoy here proves himself valuable not just as our city's leading choreographer, but also as an impresario with a keen eye for talent and wililngness to present it. Bravo.

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Crowe's Eye Photography
The first act ended with retiring DK dancer Liberty Harris in an understated, moving Hochoy dance set to Annie Lennox singing “E’vry Time We Say Goodbye.” The meta-level of the choice of song wasn’t lost on the enthusiastic, appreciative crowd.

The rest of the program was devoted to “Carmina Burana,” DK’s go-to piece offered every five years or so—including a 2009 production featuring live music.

It started boldly, as ritualistic, undifferentiated skull-capped dancers (slaves, perhaps?) moved to composer Carl Orff’s regal bombast. Lengthy material was then wrapped around a dancer, at first appearing to prepare her for mummification. The binding, though, became a wedding dress of sorts and then, under her eye, a boy and girl paired. Soon we were out in the natural world (smoothly, beautifully transitioned thanks to Laura E. Glover’s lighting) where Pan-like goat guys wooed winsome women and it was at that point that I hoped that the folks behind me had shaken their “What’s the story?” thinking and given themselves to the dance.

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Crowe's Eye Photography
Plot you can find in a book or play. Dance, here, hinted at transformation, love, torture, sacrifice, crucifixion, self-doubt, liberation, oppression, peace and praise while resisting the need to tell a traditionally progressive story or lock dancers into playing singular characters. And while Liberty Harris certain got the loudest and most sustained applause at the extended and well-deserved curtain calls, “Carmina Burana” is a true ensemble piece.

It’s a testament to Harris' 16 years with the company that her swan song as a DK dancer wasn’t about grabbing the spotlight but about being a part of an ensemble that seems to get more unified with every performance.  

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