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The Duke University Dance Program presented November Dances in Bryan Center, Reynolds Industries Theater. The concert featured works by faculty, alumni and guest faculty, and included modern dance, classical, and African dance works.
Beginning the program was the choreography of Tyler Walters, "B2B to the Nth," featuring various excerpts of Johann Sebastian Bach and danced by Kelsey Allen, Brittan Anderson, Betsy Boxberger, Ellen Brown, Maurice Dowell, Anna Lipkin, Susannah Roberson, and Alexandra Sansosti. The dancer’s feet moved in sync and their angelic movements were the main focus with simple costuming and lighting.
The next work was "I Mind," choreographed and performed by Jessi Knight Walker and accompanied by “Canto de Ossanha” by Baden Powel, “The Electric Sound of Electricity” by Autoceremony, “I Mind” by James Blake arranged by Jessi Knight Walker, and the poem “What Eurydice Knew” by Christina Knight. This work set in modern Brooklyn, took the audience through the dancer’s journey into Haitian funeral imagery, electronic music, and drag culture. Walker’s rhythmic movements patterned well with the changes in music, and every emotion was well expressed.
The next performance, "Infectious Verve," choreographed by Alexandra Sansosti and Maurice Dowell and performed to M83’s “Midnight City,” was a wonderfully energetic dance. Sansosti and Dowell had an excellently combined partnership that stayed present on stage the entire time.
Following intermission we experienced two modern dance works. "I got wings" with choreography and text by Andre. E Woods Valdes, with the song “Old Lady Dinah” adapted from Tiye Giraud by Woods and “Gravity” by Mausiki Scales as music, and with costumes by Kande and Pamela Bond Designs. This piece was danced by Benjamin Avram, Ellen Brown, Maurice Dowell, Claire Fefer, Joy Monet Kajogbola, Rebecca Pham and Kara Simpson. This work was a beautiful mix of visual and audio sounds from the dancers themselves as well as recorded material. The brightly colored costumes were an excellent choice and all the patterns and movements fell into line with one another. "Vanitas" was next, choreographed and performed by Lynndsey Larre to Olafur Arnalds’s “Undan Hulu.” "Vanitas" was a beautifully danced solo work. The dance was based on Francis Bacon’s text, “All artists are vain, they long to be recognized and to leave something to posterity. They want to be loved, and at the same time they want to be free. But nobody is free.” The music flowed wonderfully with subtleties in the music and matched the feelings associated with the words of the text.
The last dance had African roots: "Reaching Into the Before-Time" celebrated the lives and honored the passing of those who created a way forward into new ways of thinking. The costumes were designed by Ava LaVonne Vinsett; the set installation was by Cici Stevens; and live music was performed by Richard J. Vinsett, Beverly Botsford, and Oesa Sa Vionne Vinsett. The dancers were Rebecca Holmes, Tria S, and Anikia Tucker. The lighting was a great opaque ethereal environment which led way to three dancers slowly moving on stilts. The live drumming music was timed flawlessly to the movements of the dancers and all the movements and changes were executed with ease.
November Dances included an eclectic mix of classical and modern dances. The dances were well rehearsed and the dancers laid their emotions out for the entire audience to feel and see.