There is no more pleasant way to spend an afternoon than to attend, like I did Sunday, a Dance Kaleidoscope concert, particularly one that is held at the well-appointed and comfortable Tarkington Theatre at Carmel’s Center for the Performing arts.
The program itself, which paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, three of my favorite singers, allowed me the pleasure of hearing some of the superstar artists’ most popular tunes. Then, to see them interpreted by DK dancers in pieces created by choreographers David Hochoy and his young protégé Nick Owens was a bonus.
As far as the dancers themselves, each season they seem to grow stronger, more powerful and disciplined and in this concert, they clearly exhibited finesse and unison in movement that was nearly impeccable. I have seen dancers come and go over the many years I have covered DK, but this crop is among the finest in the group’s history and one that truly reflects the organization’s reputation as Indiana’s premiere contemporary dance company.
Opening the concert was “Ella,” with choreography by Hochoy, which was first presented in 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every section of this romantic work, but my favorites were “Someone to Watch Over Me,” featuring Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June, a duo who always enchant whenever they partner and Cody Miley, Emily Dyson, Aleksa Lukasiewicz and Missy Trulock, who were charming together in “Tea for Two.”
Hochoy’s “Janis,” which he created in 2017 and which closed Act 1, featured Jillian Godwin was spectacular in the title role that could only be danced by a performer whose formidable presence emulates that of the larger-than-life, hard-driving singer. Shining in “Me and Bobby McGee,” Godwin and the entire company, resurrected Janis’s free-wheeling, flamboyant spirit with this affectionate homage by Hochoy.
Act 2 featured Nick Owens’s “Franklin,” which premiered in 2017. It was set to such songs as “You Are My Sunshine,” “You’re All I Need to Get By” and her signature “Respect.” Though technically solid, this piece was much more restrained and lacked the flair of other works by Owens that I’ve seen previously.
As usual, Laura Glover’s top-tier lighting design provided for the captivating atmosphere each piece possessed and Guy Clark’s costume design, particularly the women’s 50s-era dresses in “Ella” and Godwin’s long, fringe vest and the bell bottoms worn by the entire company in “Janis” were a thorough delight.
A feature of any DK concert is its diverse audiences and this one, in terms of its mix of ages, racial makeup and other representations, was no exception. It’s a wonderful statement about the attraction DK holds for me and others who are drawn to and affected by its artistry and its power to uplift the spirit. At a time when female empowerment is in the spotlight, “Soul Sisters,” was a fitting tribute to three of the entertainment world’s most influential voices.
For tickets and information about Dance Kaleidoscope’s 2018-2019 season visit dancekal.org.