INTO THE LIGHTS (Dancefusion & Ballet Fleming): 2015 Fringe review 59

Dancefusion’s Anhthi Maria Nguyen, Gabrielle Wright, and Kalila Kingsford Smith perform in INTO THE LIGHTS (Photo credit: Randl Bye)

Dancefusion’s Anhthi Maria Nguyen, Gabrielle Wright, and Kalila Kingsford Smith perform in INTO THE LIGHTS (Photo credit: Randl Bye)

Two top-notch Philadelphia dance troupes team up for a 75-minute four-part program of modern dance merged with contemporary ballet. Dancefusion opens with the company’s Philadelphia premiere of two works choreographed by Tonia Shimin.Performed by seven dancers (Kalila Kingsford Smith, Anhthi Maria Nguyen, Janet Pilla Marini, Adrian Plascencia, Masad Qawishabazz, Kate Rast, and Grace Stern), In Our Own Light (2008) displays exquisite grace, elegance, and refinement in perfect harmony with Karen Tanaka’s “At the Grave of Beethoven”–a gentle, lyrical, musical homage to the Romantic composer. Pilgrim (2000) is an uplifting solo, danced with strength and poignancy by Gabrielle Wright to “City of Heaven”–a traditional spiritual sung and spoken by Jessye Norman. The full company unites for an authentic reconstruction of the 1st movement of “The Waldstein Sonata” by José Limón and Daniel Lewis (1971/1976). The up-tempo piece has an exceedingly fast pace, interspersed with extended stop-action holds and slow-motion passages, all skillfully performed by the talented troupe.

Ballet Fleming concludes the show with Chicago, a world premiere choreographed by Christopher Fleming to the songs of the eponymous 1970s jazz-rock band. Each piece captures the distinct mood and style of the music to which it’s set, while highlighting the classical training and modern expressiveness of the dancers (Fallon Gannon, Amanda Hill, William MacNeil, Nick Peregrino, Martin Skocelas-Hunter, Rachael Gnatowski, and Bethany Schwartz), as balletic spins, leaps, and kicks are infused with humor, joy, and a jazzy beat. In the words of Chicago, this exhilarating program is “a real celebration!” [Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St.] September 18-19, 2015;

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.