To call David Hochoy prolific does not even come close to accurately measuring the scope of the body of work the choreographer created during his 32-year tenure as the visionary artistic director of Dance Kaleidoscope. Having covered Indiana’s premiere contemporary dance company over its half century existence, I can attest to the depth and breadth of this artist’s repertoire. Legendary in his own right, Hochoy, who was a dancer in the Martha Graham company and was also her rehearsal director, leaves behind his own distinctive legacy forged by work that has inspired, provoked, and entertained audiences for decades.
One of Hochoy’s most whimsical pieces, first premiering in 2007 and repeated several times since, is timeless, much like the music it pays tribute to. Set to music composed by The Beatles, “Musical Decades Tour,” opened Dance Kaleidoscope’s 50th anniversary season concert on the OneAmerica stage. I attended Saturday’s performance at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
“Magical Decades Tour,” consisted of eight movements. One was “The Fool on the Hill” that featured DK associate artistic director Stuart Lewis in his final bittersweet appearance as a dancer. Other pieces included in the overall work were “Two of Us” featuring Marie Kuhns, Manuel Valdes, Kieran King, and Sarah Taylor; “Because” danced by Stuart Lewis, Marie Kuhns, Paige Robinson, and Sarah Taylor; “All We Need Is Love” with the entire company; and “The Long and Winding Road” danced by Stuart Lewis and Emily Dyson. Lighted by the incomparable designer Laura Glover and featuring original costumes by Barry Doss, DK’s former designer, the overall effect of the Beatles homage was poignant, nostalgic and evocative of the carefree attitude and flavor of the 60s, making this boomer and former hippie feel nostalgic for my youth. The musicality and technical excellence of each DK dancer was, as usual, clearly evident throughout Hochoy’s intricate ballet which displayed them at their best advantage.
Following the intermission in the two-hour program were a series of pieces choreographed by DK company members titled “Vinyl Visions” which premiered in 2022 at the IndyFringe Theatre Festival. With each dancer introducing their individual contribution, I was left thoroughly impressed with their collective work, but several spoke to me in particular.
My favorites included, “Welcome to the 7 O’clock News” by Sarah Taylor, which faithfully documented the turbulence embodied in the political and social climate of the 60s. The dancers in Taylor’s imaginative piece were Adrian Dominguez, Emily Dyson, Holly Harkins, Marie Kuhns, and Cody Miley. Julie Russel, and Manuel Valdez. Music danced to was “Itchycoo Park” by Small Faces, “Whole Lot of Love,” by Led Zeppelin, “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones, and “Seven O’Clock News/Silent Night” by Simon and Garfunkel.
A fan of Daryl Hall and John Oates, I was naturally drawn to Cody Miley’s playful, feel-good “Wild Party” featuring an effervescent trio consisting of Marie Kuhns, Kieran King, and Manuel Gonzales.
Following Miley’s lighthearted piece was Paige Robinson’s dance, honoring the World War II years, which was on the other end of the spectrum with its stark rumination on grief. Wearing long, flowing skirts designed by her mother Christie, Robinson’s piece was set to “Victory Polka” by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters and “I’ll Be Seeing You” sung by Billie Holiday.
Closing off this particular portion of the concert, which highlighted historic past decades, was perhaps the most affecting of all the dancers’ creations. Focusing on racism, yet offering hope and positive change, was Manuel Valdes’s provocative “Human.” Music for section one was “All Human Beings” by Max Richter. Section two was “Yeh, I F*ckin’ Did It” by Labrinth. Section three was “The Angels” by Labrinth, and section four, “I’m tired” by Labrinth & Zendaya. Valdes’s no-holds-barred pièce de résistance was passionately danced by Paige Robinson, Cody Miley, Marie Kuhns, Kieran King, Sarah Taylor, Holly Harkins, Adrian Dominguez, Julie Russel, Vivien Mickels, and Daniella Sibley.
The concert concluded with an epilogue, choreographed by Hochoy that included “Yesterday” and “Let It Be” by the Beatles. As the evening concluded, I could not help but feel a tinge of sadness knowing that with Hochoy’s retirement in June, it will be the end of an era. At the same time I felt solace, knowing that this rare artist’s legacy will be celebrated in his work, which will surely live on, as well as that of all the DK dancers he taught and influenced over the years.
For tickets and information about Dance Kaleidoscope’s 2023-2024 Season visit dancekal.org.