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Flash Review 2, 10-15: Homecoming
Brown Walks DTW Out of the Dark

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse

NEW YORK -- Ronald K. Brown/Evidence first performed for Dance Theater Workshop fifteen years ago, as part of Fresh Tracks, its annual, adjudicated showcase of emerging choreographers. So Brown's "Walking Out the Dark," the evening-length piece which christened DTW's new Bessie Schonberg Theater in its opening earlier this month, felt something like a homecoming.

In this tripartite work, the ecstasy came at the end. And not without struggle. First there was poetry, in the language Brown's voice recited into the darkness. Then a series of solos and duets performed with raw vulnerability and what seemed like an overtly therapeutic intent, an urge to reveal. The dancers' authenticity demanded an equally sincere response from the viewer, as resting dancers watched each other from their places on the stage. This was dance as a belief system. Brown wove the explosive physicality of his researched African forms into a modern dance composition as a communicative tool. His hybrid danced language spoke of thwarted expression being freed, of anger and of big-hearted, articulate pain. Arms flew open to accept, to absorb. The quartet of dancers (Brown, Diedre N. Dawkins, Bridget Moore and Keon Thoulouis -- the Evidence cast rotates through the roles on various nights) moved with assurance through their communal testimony, as if the promised land was known to them, under the weight of the sky.

Throughout the suite of dances, Brown kept the design simple. Spare structures amplified the four individual approaches to the phrase material. Each body took turns dancing at each other, at the audience, into the earth, with flailing limbs of ferocious intent and an appetite for covering ground. Their organic polyrhythms breathed muscle, spirit and bone. Peripheral detail was often lost in the force of their attack.

In the third part of the dance, drummer Mamadouba Mohamed Camara initiated a celebratory air, improvising to Brown's solo dancing. Then the other dancers joined Brown for a final section of "Bliss," smiling and flirting and showing off, their colorful costumes replacing the simple white sheaths worn earlier. Just as their rejoicing eased the memory of a long passage.

"Walking Out the Dark" continues Wednesday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Dance Theater Workshop. For more information, please click here.

 

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