Island Moving Company’s A Thousand Reflections

islandFresh off a road trip from Richmond, Va., where they were invited to perform with Amaranth Arts as part of their Great Friends Touring Project, Island Moving Company had one more stop before returning home to Newport.

On Friday, October 10, they presented “A Thousand Reflections” at Rhode Island College’s Sapinsley Hall. This one-evening-only performance sponsored by The Rhode Island College Dance Company featured contemporary and modern dance with a touch of classical ballet.

The program begins with “Taking Watch,” which they performed in Richmond. A very lively and up-tempo piece, it features women wearing brightly colored, free-flowing skirts and tops with bare midriffs, and the men wearing form fitting pants with red suspenders. This energetic number ends with a very nice pas de deux set to silence.

Lauren Difede and Shane Farrell follow with IMC Associate Artistic Director Spencer Gavin Hering’s “Levitation.” With R&B singer Lee Dorsey providing the vocals and the constant refrain of “get together” sung throughout the song, Difede and Farrell certainly keep it together in a fun and cute piece with each dancer mirroring the other’s movements. It ends with Difede attempting to piggyback Farrell off stage with Farrell quickly aborting and carrying his partner to the wings with her hand gently resting on his head.

Just before intermission, the female dancers strap on their pointe shoes for the evening’s only classical offering in Hering’s “Breathing Space.” Here, Motif’s 2013 Dancer of the Year, Brooke DiFrancesco, shines. For her, the transition from contemporary dance to classical dance seems the most seamless of all the dancers. With long, clean elegant lines and pointed feet, she is a pleasure to watch. Difede and Glen Lewis also stand out with a simple but nicely executed pas de deux; I only wish it had been longer.

IMC Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen’s “Continua Metamorfosi” opens the second half of the program. Another energetic piece, Difrancesco and Farrell impress with some nice partnering. Azamat Asangul uulu also stands out with some nice jumps and turns; he was one dancer I wish I saw more of throughout the evening.

Then Difede returns for a solo piece, “Dante’s Beatrice,” a very mystical and mysterious number with a gypsy-like feel. Wearing a long black gown, she expertly uses a hand fan, opening and closing it to shield her face, almost as if hiding from the audience and we are merely voyeurs. Based on one of the guides from Dante’s “Divine Comedy” whose name implies beatific love, Defede nicely captures her character’s “Beatific vision.”

The evening concludes with “Land of a Thousand Reflections.” This was also performed in Richmond and was choreographed by Amaranth Arts Artistic Director Scott Putnam. Featuring the entire company, this piece certainly emerges as the program’s most interesting, though a bit long.

With the dancers wearing metallic-like colored costumes, “Reflections” has a futuristic look and feel with bit of a Middle-Eastern flare. The dance itself seems to be a quest for something with a sense of longing and desperation. With long strands of reflective paper hanging to the floor, the dancers intermittently stop to check their reflections. At times, the music slows and the movements become strained and exaggerated. Then the music picks up and the dancers erupt into frantic, almost orgy-like movements.

Overall, it was a very satisfying evening of dance enhanced by Lighting Designer Alan Pickart’s beautiful lighting and color schemes always projecting the appropriate sense of mood and emotions.

Next up for IMC is their annual production of “Newport Nutcracker at Roseclifff,” their original adaption of this holiday classic performed throughout various rooms in Newport’s historic mansion. For additional information, visit islandmovingco.org.

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