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Flash Review 3, 2-13: Medium Maximum
Young Company Lacks Maximum Impact

By Lauren Feldman
Copyright 2001 Lauren Feldman

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida -- I was excited by the prospect of seeing Miami's Maximum Dance Company in its Fort Lauderdale debut Saturday afternoon at Bailey Concert Hall in Broward County, as it was also the company's debut for me. Unfortunately, I didn't leave as excited as I had arrived. The audience, however, seemed to love every second of the performance. Most of the people surrounding me couldn't stop talking (even during the dancing!) about how happy they were to have Maximum up in Broward, especially with the possibility of a full season here next year. They also whispered to their friends that both of the artistic directors, Yanis Pikieris and David Palmer, had danced with Miami City Ballet, as had two other Maximum dancers. Interestingly, many people seated near me expressed surprise at the small audience. I overheard one woman say that they had given out the wrong telephone number for the box office. If that was the case, it was a shame that more people who might have come to see the performance didn't because of a publicity error.

The dancing was all technically excellent, and the pieces chosen for this performance were said to be staples of the company's repertoire. However, something seemed to be lacking in all but one piece. Perhaps it was my imagination, or the lack of enthusiasm from a less than full house, but I got the sense that the dancers were a bit disappointed. The first piece was "Bound for Brubeck," choreographed by Palmer with music by Dave Brubeck. The movements were at once fluid and percussive, appropriate for Brubeck's jazzy music. The piece finished with some fun floor work and swingy movements, but I was anticipating more.

Next was "Scheherazade," with choreography after Michel Fokine, and music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Douglas Gawriljuk and Andrea Dawn Shelley displayed their technique well, but I felt again like the piece needed more oomph -- whether from the dancers themselves or from the staging, I couldn't tell.

"Bach de Trois," choreographed by Nikolai Kabaniaev, had to be my favorite of the show, and the only piece that really came into being on stage. Jacques Loussier's arrangement of Bach's music was remarkable, as was the moving, and often comedic, choreography. Loussier wove Bach's highly-structured music into sensual, jazzy sections and then back again, with several of his prominent compositions. The perfection of the integration of Bach and jazz made me wonder why no one had attempted this particular musical exercise before. Pendulum-like movements, along with fall and recoveries full of breath, reappeared throughout the piece in many different reincarnations. Marife Gimenez and Hiroko Sakakibara showed excellent control and theatricality throughout the piece, and Mikhael Plain showed his strength and suppleness in his solo, in particular.

The final piece, "Adiemus," choreographed by Pikieris and Palmer, with music by Karl Jenkins from "Adiemus Songs of Sanctuary," was a woodsy dance that reminded me vaguely of a mix between Enya and the "Lion King" soundtrack. Unfortunately, I don't think that was the desired effect. This piece did do what it proposed in the program notes to do, in that it did show the "abilities and artistry of the cast," but I didn't think it was quite as "celebratory" as was promised. I do hope to see this company again in Miami Beach, because I feel that Maximum Dance is a technically admirable company with an honest desire to bring contemporary ballet to South Florida. Perhaps next time I'll enjoy the program as much as my surrounding audience members did on Saturday.


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