Put on your red shoes
Capital Choreography Competition
Crest Theatre1013 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
A truly modern dance, complete with atonal music and necessary silences; a dark, tormented dance based on the work of a Turkish composer struggling with the Armenian genocide; and a Latin-flavored dance absolutely bursting with energy: That’s the fare at the second annual Capital Choreography Competition, which has its final performance this Friday, October 22, at the Crest Theatre.
It’s rare when the performing arts manage to provide both excellence and accessible new works in a single production, but it’s become the hallmark of the Sacramento Ballet’s Capital Choreography competition. Without a doubt, it’s the best deal in town for an introduction to and a celebration of the current state of dance. The three choreographers compete for the grand prize, but each also has an opportunity to earn the People’s Choice Award at each performance, as the audience members get to choose their favorite work.
The choreographers chosen for this year’s competition are Melissa Barak (Los Angeles Ballet), Yannis Adoniou (Kunst-Stoff, San Francisco), and Darrell Grand Moultrie (New York). The three pieces, commissioned specifically for performance by the Sacramento Ballet company at the Crest, were reflective of the differences in the choreographer’s style and training.
For example, Barak’s ballet, “Keeping Within,” used music by Charles Dodge, who is best known for using electronic and computer music, and Morton Feldman, a master of asymmetric sounds. The result might have been very cold and technological; instead, it was dissonant but not at all mechanical. The dancer’s moves invoked fluidity, but of a non-Newtonian type; it was biological, completely human, mercurial but not metallic.
Adnoiou’s work, “Gomidas Songs,” arose from the music of Gomidas Vardabet and is based on traditional Armenian music. The music invokes the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the 19th century; Adnoiou’s dance was thoroughly informed by that, even including wisps of skirting on the male dancers that was reminiscent of the kiltlike wardrobe of the region. The work itself was marked by silences and laments, as well as resistance; at one point, dancer Brik Middlekauff was suspended between a rope by two male dancers. It also featured Alexandra Cunningham in a final variation that was a powerful physical embodiment of the ululation of grief.
Moved, the work choreographed by Moultrie, used music with a decidedly Latin style in a physically exuberant piece that, at one point, had dancers popping up and down like fingers moving across the frets of the guitars. It had elements that seemed to come from Moultrie’s background in musical theater, and was by far the most accessible of the three pieces. In one notable sequence, the dancers seem to be thrumming like the strummed strings of the instruments themselves.
Moultrie’s piece won the grand prize, and was also chosen as the audience favorite on opening night. Of course, another outcome is easily possible with a completely new audience this week.
And in addition to the Capital Choreography Competition on Friday night, Sacramento Ballet also has two family-friendly shows at the Crest on Saturday. The two performances of Family Fun: Discover Dance will use fairy-tale and storybook characters to bring dance alive for the younger set, and will include interactive activities, like a dress-up station in the lobby. This program sold out last year, so reserve tickets early.