DK Concert Offers Contrasting Styles of Two Master Storytellers

January 13, 2024

A symbolic passing of the torch transpired Thursday, on opening night of” Divas A-New, “presented by Dance Kaleidoscope at Howard Schrott L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University.  Representing a transition from the past to the present, the program consisted of a revival of DK Artistic Director David Hochoy’s 2015 piece, “Ella” which graced Act I and the world premiere of Christel DeHaan Artistic Director Joshua Blake Carters “Stories from the Corner Bar” featured in Act. 2.

L – R Julie Russel, Courtney Jeffries, Gion Treichler & Vivian Mickels in “Ella.”  – Courtesy of Freddie Kevin. Used with permission.

“Ella” saw female ensemble members dressed in pastels and wearing pearl necklaces, evoking both Audrey Hepburn and mid-century style and the males channeling Fred Astaire while wearing vests and later, suspenders. Hochoy, who has a penchant for creating work notable for its lyricism, was no better represented than in this elegant balletic-style work that was set to jazz singer Ella Fitgerald’s classics that included such Great American Songbook hits such as “Night and Day,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Tea for Two,” “Cry Me a River,” and “With a Song in My Heart.” The overall effect of this exquisite piece was one of nostalgia and romance. Standing out in a moving pas de deux were Holly Hankins and Cody Miley in the Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch over Me.”

“Stories From the Corner Bar.” –  Courtesy of Lora Olive. Used with permission.

Carter’s “Stories from a Corner Bar,” in Act 2, which contrasted with the timeless work of his predecessor was fresh, edgy, provocative and represented the choreographer’s generational and cultural aesthetic. With ensemble members dressed in unisex, satin-like shorts and jackets, accented with appliques, the total effect of designer Terri D. Moore’s costumes was one of modernity. Once again reflecting the times, Carter choreographed sections to songs by singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, who identifies as a lesbian. Taking place in a bar-like setting with a stark, industrial-looking background, ensemble members danced to songs that included “The Things I Regret,” “The Joke,” “Turpentine,” “Whenever In Your Heart,” and “Party of One.“ With gorgeous lyrics that hinted at the content of emotional-filled stories told by the bar’s characters, of which some were same sex couples, LGTBQIA activist Carlile’s songs, sung in her warm and gentle manner, spoke of yearning and hope.

Following the performance, I had the opportunity to converse briefly with former DK managing director Douglas Dilling during which we both agreed that Laura Glover’s exceptional lighting design sets DK far apart from most dance companies of its size and scope. This concert was hardly an exception. She is truly an artistic treasure.

Finally, providing a delightful sneak peek at the future of dance were students who participate in DK’s education program which draws two hundred children and teens. Performing in front of a supportive audience that included obvious proud parents and friends, they consisted of dancers in the Hip Hop Ensemble, with choreography by Manuel Valdes and the Jazz Ensemble, with choreography by Paige Robinson.

For tickets to DK’s “Divas A-New,” which runs through Sunday, Jan. 14 visit


















photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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