Dance Kaleidoscope presents Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring” at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beautiful. Emotional. Fulfilling. Triumphant. Just some of the words that aptly describe the opening night performance of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring as offered by Dance Kaleidoscope and staged by David Hochoy and Miki Orihara. This classic piece, presented on the IRT Main Stage, was composed by Aaron Copeland for Ms. Graham to choreograph, and premiered in October 1944 –  commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation in the Library of Congress. It has grown to be known the world over as a defining element of American dance culture and artistry – projecting not only the innovative American form, but also an American pioneer experience.

The DK dancers are led by Caitlin Negron as The Bride, in her farewell performances with the company after a ten year stint. Ms. Negron is lovely and expressive as the young woman – catching qualities of joy and uncertainty, resolve and anticipation. Her Husbandman is performed by Timothy June, who brings a strong confidence to his role. Together, they skillfully portray a range of emotions that fit the storyline of a new couple in the Spring of their lives, striking out together, facing all the joys and uncertainties of frontier life and marriage.

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(from left) Mariel Greenlee, Timothy June and Caitlin Negron in a scene from Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring”

Mariel Greenlee adds her finely crafted portrayal of The Pioneering Women – a guiding figure for the bride, solemn and wise; while Stuart Coleman (who alternates with Brandon Comer in the role) gives forth a stirring performance as The Revivalist, a rigid man of God.

Completing the cast are Emily Dyson, Marie Kuhns, Aleksa Lukasiewicz, and Misty Thompson as The Followers – four young ladies whose reverence and enthusiasms are brightly offered by this quartet.

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(from left) Stuart Coleman and Mariel Greenlee in a scene from Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring”

Martha Graham’s choreography is unmatched in its portrayals and understanding of the human course. It is remarkable to witness this authentic recreation, augmented by the original set design of Isamu Noguchi and the costume designs by Ms. Graham. We are fortunate, as audience members, to have Mr. Hochoy’s insights on the piece – gathered as he worked beside the great choreographer in her later years. It gives us a chance to see the work as it was meant to be done – it is an unforgettable event, by any account.

Supporting the Graham piece is a first act of varied modern works. Two solo dances – Ave Maria and Losing My Mind, as choreographed by Mr. Hochoy, are expertly presented by dancers Stuart Coleman and Mariel Greenlee, respectively. These offerings – the first, sublime, and the other edgily tormented, lead the way to choreographer Stephanie Martinez’ Taking Watch, an ultra-modern piece performed as much to sounds as to music. It contains a surprising section without any supporting sound – with Timothy June and Caitlin Negron as the main dancers – that is extremely well done.

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Jillian Godwin performs the opening section of Stephanie Martinez’ “Taking Watch”

Finally, the entire troupe gathers all their energy (and leaves it all on the stage) for a rousing rendition of the famous Benny Goodman number – Sing Sing Sing. With choreography by André Megerdichian, this is as lively a number as the company has ever done, evoking the wild dance style of the Goodman era. It’s no surprise that this energy draining performance comes right before intermission!

Every time I have the privilege of seeing the Dance Kaleidoscope company in performance, I am struck by the immensely talented people involved in this troupe. That includes not only the dancers and choreographers, but the lighting designer (Laura E. Glover) and costumers (Cheryl Sparks and Guy Clark) as well. Indianapolis is so very blessed to have this group in its fold and as they enter their 47th year, I can only hope that more and more people who enjoy dance and the arts will be become involved as DK audience members. If you go once, you will want to return again and again.

Appalachian Spring only runs thru Sunday June 3rd, so you will need to get your tickets rather quickly. You can get performance and ticket information by going to http://dancekal.org/features/concerts/appalachian-spring to or by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.

  • – Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography
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DIVOS (The Men) by Dance Kaleidoscope at IRT

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reviewed by Adam Crowe

I must extend enormous gratitude to Ken for allowing me my very first chance to review Dance Kaleidoscope. Their current offering, presented by The National Bank of Indianapolis, is DIVOS (The Men) and will be performed over this weekend at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. It is, quite simply, not to be missed.

My background in Dance is as an uneducated audience member only. My first experience with Dance Kaleidoscope was many years ago as a part of the IMA’s Penrod Festival. My initial feelings of “modern dance intimidation” were entirely unfounded, as DK’s fluency in all manner of choreography and musical forms drew my attention and my admiration. I also came to look forward to DK’s participation in the yearly Indianapolis production of “Spotlight”. This Charity event, now underwritten by Deborah Simon, is a fundraiser for Indianapolis’ Damien Center and brings together dozens of local artists in creating an evening of one-night-only entertainment. DK Founder David Hochoy was one of the people instrumental in creating “Spotlight”, which, BY THE WAY, takes place at Butler University on April 23rd.

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Cody Miley, Jillian Godwin and Manuel Varges in RAIN-SM

As much as I have enjoyed watching Dance Kaleidoscope perform as a part of these other events, an evening like DIVOS (The Men), centered exclusively on the Company and its talents, raised my admiration to new levels. Choreography credits for DIVOS (The Men) go out to seven of the Company members, along with founder Hochoy and special guest Nicholas A. Owens. The mix of choreographers matches beautifully with the Divos of the title – male musical artists or groups that inspired each of the individual pieces. The DK Company takes such disparate sources as Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Queen, Led Zepplin, and George Michael and creates an eclectic and electric array of short pieces, with Hochoy and Owens tackling longer Elton John and Prince pieces respectively in Act Two. The IRT Mainstage felt remarkably intimate and the audience was captivated from the opening curtain.

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Brandon Comer in Eltoniana

Critical to the entire production were Laura Glover’s lighting and Michael Lamirand’s sound designs. They were exceptional, and both add to and support each choreographer’s vision. If you’ve never seen Dance Kaleidoscope in person, this production is a terrific introduction. The familiar artists and music offer an easy gateway to some striking dance pieces, both lighthearted and deeply emotional, brought fully to life by cast and crew.

DIVOS (The Men) runs until April 8th, on the Mainstage of the Indiana Repertory Theatre, located at 140 West Washington Street. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at DanceKal.org or by calling (317) 635-5252. Tickets will sell quickly for such a short run, so don’t delay.

  • – Photos by Freddie Kelvin

 

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “A World of Christmas” at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

One of the many, very special things about living in Central Indiana is the remarkable number of Christmas entertainments that are available in the month of December. Over the years, I have enjoyed many of the holiday revues, the Christmas Carols, the symphonic celebrations, and the cheerful holiday themed plays and programs that are offered here. They are wonderfully traditional fare and they form an enduring fabric of the season for us all. This year, I had the opportunity to savor a different sort of celebration – one consisting entirely of dance.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s festive offering, A World of Christmas, is currently lighting up the UpperStage at IRT with a jubilee of dance selections that are both delightful and sublime. Under the inventive hand of choreographer David Hochoy, the DK troupe stages two very differing pieces: Hochoy’s 1997 creation, Ceremony of Carols, and his evolving set of internationally inspired and themed works entitled World of Christmas Kaleidoscope.

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One of the many beautiful arrangements from David Hochoy’s “Ceremony of Carols”, part of  “A World of Christmas”.

The first, Ceremony of Carols, opens with an immediate impression of purity and light as the dancers arrive bearing gifts created by the Herron High School sculpture class, and wearing costumer Cheryl Sparks’ varietal immaculate white creations. Moody lighting by Laura E. Glover enhances the imagery. The dancers perform a series of mostly brief presentations set to music by Benjamin Britten which places the ensemble on a softened ethereal plain. The choreography is flowing and precise, very much a set of momentary still images connected by graceful repositionings. In total, the combined sets result in a serene and hopeful feeling.

The second half of the performance, World of Christmas Kaleidoscope, is much more bright and lively. The appealing selections begin with Mariel Greenlee’s playful rendition of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” celebrating Russian influences, continuing on through group dances of the USA’s “Here Comes Santa Claus” and a Hawaiian favorite, “Mele Kalikimaka”, plus solos by Stuart Coleman (a sharp “White Christmas”), and the Norwegian carol “Kling no Klokka” – a smoothly striking piece performed by Emily Dyson.  Through it all I noticed not a peep from the 3 year old in my neighboring seat, who was entirely transfixed by the wonderful dancers.

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Emily Dyson performs to “Kling no Klokka” (“Now the Bells are Ringing”) as part of “World of Christmas Kaleidoscope”.

The remaining renditions visit Spain, for an emotional duet depicting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging; then it’s on to Jamaica, for the bouncy island beat of “All I Want for Christmas”; and Benin for a striking “O Holy Night”, one of my favorites. The set concludes with a return to the first act’s stylings for “Silent Night”.

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The Dance Kaleidoscope company performs “Mele Kalikimaka”, a part of “World of Christmas Kaleidoscope”.

This awesome holiday show confirms for me the following truths: I consider DK to be an artistic treasure that we are fortunate to have access to in Central Indiana. The dancers are all strong, precise and amazing performers, whether as a group or in duets and solos. The leadership provided by Mr. Hochoy cannot be overlooked – his vision as a choreographer is creative and unique, full of vitality and imagination. This celebration of Christmas is a gift to the city, and is hopefully a pleasant new addition to Indianapolis’ traditions.

A World of Christmas continues Thurs-Sun, Dec 7-10 on the IRT UpperStage. Ticket information and schedules can be found at http://www.dancekal.org or by calling 317.635.5252.

  • – Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography

 

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Dance is a Contact Sport” at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Dance Kaleidoscope completes it’s 2016-17 season with a compilation of pieces presented on Indiana Repertory Theatre’s OneAmerica Stage. Dance is a Contact Sport features two excerpts from DK Artistic Director David Hochoy’s catalogue of works, along with a creation by guest artist Kiesha Lalama and the premiere of a new work by choreographer Stephanie Martinez.

The evening begins with a selection from Hochoy’s 1991 work, First Light. This dance is presented over a spectacular piece of music – “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by John Adams. The composition, described as “a fanfare for orchestra”, gives the DK troupe an intense musical bed full of rising action with which to convey their most energetic movements. Propelled by this force of ever-increasing tension, the dancers are very successful in raising our pulses and taking our breath away. Of special note is the dynamic lighting by Laura E. Glover coupled with the intensely colorful costuming by Cheryl Sparks.

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DK dancers perform David Hochoy’s “First Light” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

The mood changes to a smooth and romantic pace with Jillian Godwin and Zach Young’s sublime performance to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” from Mr. Hochoy’s Deep in the Heart of Country (2014). This familiar ballad’s message of helpless love is sweetly imparted by the dancers’ skillful work and it provides a needed resting point between two very lively selections.

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Jillian Godwin and Zach Young perform “Crazy” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

Kiesha Lalama’s Catapult, which she created with the DK troupe in 2015, begins with stillness. But this quietude is very much like a launch pad before the rocket blast. Soon enough the music (“Forget Your Limitations” by Rishi and Harshil) rises and the troupe catches fire, launching into a powerful display of energetic imagery. The assorted combinations work through amazingly vigorous sets of group dance, and featured solos, duets and trios. I was left breathless for a second time as DK’s corps of performers showed just why they are so highly regarded.

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Mariel Greenlee performs Kiesha Lalama’s “Catapult” with fellow DK dancers as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

Intermission followed with an open discussion by Stephanie Martinez about the piece we were to see next – her new False Start, Pass Interference.

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DK dancers perform the rollicking conclusion of Stephanie Martinez’s “False Start, Pass Interference” as part of “Dance is a Contact Sport” presented at IRT.

This long form work examines, celebrates, and satirizes sports in our culture, with good humor and raillery. Costumes by Michele Hankins emphasize “team” and the accompanying sound track features everything in sports – from field action and arena celebrations, to commentaries, tv commercials and congratulatory fan-songs. Very free-form and abstractly original in style, Ms. Martinez’s creation shows us aspects of sports participation, viewing, and fandom. And in the midst of all the frenzied hoopla, it slows down to take time for a beautifully sensitive look at a couple (Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman) dealing with a situation due to sport fixation. Some of the composition’s highlights include Jillian Godwin’s feisty referee, Brandon Comer’s wild and wordy commentator, and something I believe I have never before witnessed – a singer dancing the national anthem! False Start, Pass Interference is a wonderfully imagined and perfectly presented new piece. Its unique and thoroughly enjoyable form presents a program dance on subject matter that surrounds us, but which is rarely featured in a format such as this. I’ll hope to see more from Ms. Martinez’s interesting creativity.

Dance is a Contact Sport only runs thru Sunday June 4th, so you will need to get your tickets rather quickly. You can get performance and ticket information by going to http://dancekal.org/features/concerts/dance-is-a-contact-sport-june-1-4 or by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.

  • — Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography

“DK & Friends” presented at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Last night Mrs. K and I had the privilege of attending the current offering from Dance Kaleidoscope which is being performed on IRT’s OneAmerica stage. Entitled DK and Friends, the evening was dedicated to coordinated efforts by the creative forces of DK, guest artists from Todd Rosenlieb Dance – which is based in Norfolk VA, and live performances by singer Doug Dilling and electric violinist Cathy Morris.

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The Todd Rosenlieb Dance troupe performs “Heavy Like Waits” – choreographed by Todd Rosenlieb – Photo by Freddie Kelvin

The Rosenlieb group took the stage first, sharing three of their company’s creations. Todd Rosenlieb’s “Heavy Like Waits” is an innovatively costumed set of dances done to the trademark growl of an assortment of Tom Waits songs. “Voiced” which features choreography by former DK performer Ricardo Melendez (now a Rosenlieb associate), has an experimental feel to it – the Rosenlieb dancers have only human voice sounds to set their movements to. Finally, another Todd Rosenlieb conception called “Suite Sammy” honors the great Sammy Davis Jr. with an energetic piece choreographed for several of Davis’ standard hits. Of the three, the Sammy number is my favorite – hitting home with nostalgic feelings. However all the pieces were well performed – the Rosenlieb dancers being exceptionally skillful with their group’s choreographic stylings.

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Megan Butler, Caitlin Cooley, and Janelle Spruill perform “Voiced” – choreographed by Ricardo Melendez – Photo by Freddie Kelvin

Act Two featured the world premiere of a short-form work by DK artistic director David Hocchoy entitled “End of the World”, featuring dancers Stuart Coleman and Timothy June with musical support by singer Doug Dilling. The eponymous song is by composer/singer Matt Alber from his “Hide Nothing” album. Portrayed as a lament by a gay man to his lover, the work was emotive and tender.

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Singer Doug Dilling, with dancers Stuart Coleman and Timothy June performing David Hochoy’s “End of the World”- Photo by Freddie Kelvin

Following, there comes “Skin Walkers”, a 1999 Hochoy piece. The Celtic (or Scotch) music base is wonderfully augmented by Cathy Morris performing fantastic improv licks on her electric violin. The dance itself is an uber-high-energy program full of struts and leaps which brought the crowd to its feet at the finish. This piece definitively shows off the high skills of the DK troupe, with each of the 11 dancers having a turn to be center. It is an explosive ending to a very entertaining evening.

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The DK dancers perform David Hochoy’s “Skin Walkers” (1999) – Photo by Crowe’s Eye Photography

This DK concert only runs thru Sunday April 9th, so you will need to get your tickets rather quickly. You can get performance and ticket information by going to http://dancekal.org/features/concerts/dk-friends-april-6-9 or by calling the IRT Ticket Office at 317.635.5252.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Divas” at IRT

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

DK’s latest collection of dances, entitled Divas, opened to a packed house audience on IRT’s OneAmerica Stage for its very limited run. The compilation features dances by eleven choreographers including artistic director David Hochoy and guest choreographer Nicholas A. Owens, who present their new works entitled “Janis” and “Franklin”, respectively. Add to that the creations of nine members of the DK troupe, whose workshop pieces are offered as a first act.

That first act consists of an assortment of divas’ recordings put to dances which range from romantically sentimental to pragmatically humorous with stops in between. All nine offerings show creative savvy and style that someday may lead to major opportunities. Indeed, some of the dancer/choreographers have already had their works seen in local theatre productions.

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Zach Young (left) and Stuart Coleman in Timothy June’s “Enlightenment”, part of Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Divas”.

Of the nine, my favorites include a dynamic styling of Barbara Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, choreographed by Stuart Coleman and danced in a sparkling solo by Aleksa Lukasiewicz. Also, Brandon Comer’s design for Patti LaBelle’s haunting rendition of “Over the Rainbow”, danced by a group of eight, is pleasing in its evocative emotional blendings. It serves as a touching salute to our personal loses of loved ones.

Conversely, Timothy June puts his sense of humor to work in a hilarious piece entitled Enlightenment, which deals with personal discovery and self-acceptance. A delightful veil of a storyline enables June’s dancers to go from self-protective to fancy free – for Shirley Bassey’s “I Am What I Am”. Finally,  Jillian Godwin’s First Touch,  Adele’s “I Miss You”, illuminates the “first spark,…first glance,…first yearning,…first touch” of a relationship. It is indeed truly touching and poignant.

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(From left) Aleksa Lukasiewicz, Brandon Comer, Caitlin Negron and Timothy June in David Hochoy’s “Janis”, part of Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Divas”.

The second act consists of the full dance company in Mr. Hochoy’s Janis and Mr. Owens’ Franklin – both of which are tributes to these legendary ladies’ music and message. Janis is a hard rockin’, joyful set of Joplin’s earthy song renditions highlighted by dancer Jillian Godwin’s powerful solo for “Me and Bobby McGee”, and a group of 6 mixing it up for an impassioned “Cry Baby”. Joplin’s performances of “Move Over” and “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” round out the work.

Franklin features five of Aretha’s stirring recordings. The three more recognizable to this writer are the familiar “A Natural Woman”, “You’re All I Need to Get By” and, of course, “Respect”. The framework of these dances strongly covered human needs, human love, and the pervasive longing for respect. “You Are My Sunshine” and “First Snow in Kokomo” complete the piece.

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Stuart Coleman and Caitlin Negron in Nicholas A. Owens’ “Franklin”, part of Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Divas”.

Both of these top level choreographers provide great understanding of the emotion inherent in the Joplin/Franklin music. The DK troupe of dancers, a premier group who seem to gain in their artistry each time I see them, provide the wonderfully emotional and concise performances that their choreographers seek. For these reasons, Dance Kaleidoscope again proves itself a valuable treasure in this city’s wealth of artistic riches.

Finally, the excellent costumes by Cheryl Sparks and Guy Clark, with additional costume pieces provided by Barry Doss and Lydia Tanji – coupled with impressive lighting designs by Laura E. Glover – lend sensation and sensitivity to the proceedings.

Bottom-line: This is a fantastic evening of dance you won’t want to forego. Unfortunately, this is a very brief offering, so be sure to get your tickets soon. You cannot plan to go to this wonderful production next weekend; it’ll be gone.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s Divas continues only through February 12. Get information and tickets at http://dancekal.org/features/concerts/divas-february-9-12 or by calling 317.635.5252.

  • – Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography

Dance Kaleidoscope’s “Scheherazade 25” at IRT

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Dance Kaleidoscope’s season ending program of Scheherazade and An American in Paris was presented at IRT’s OneAmerica Stage to a rousingly approving audience last night. The ovation was not only for the magnificent display of dance, but also for Artistic Director David Hochoy’s 25 years leading the company, and for recognition of his long association with the company’s Executive Director, Jan Virgin, as well as with Lighting Designer, Laura Glover . It is evident that the company would not be such a crucial part of the fabric of Indianapolis dance and culture without the leadership and skills provided by this trio.

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The Princess (Jillian Godwin) is overtaken by the Witch’s Cronies as Scheherazade (Mariel Greenlee) encounters the Wicked Witch (Zach Young) in DK’s “Scheherazade 25”

As I say, the dancing was magnificent. The DK troupe is such a diversely talented corps, we see so many strong performances layered together in a piece such as Scheherazade. The quietly graceful countenance of Mariel Greenlee in the title role, is matched up with excitingly strong turns by Jillian Godwin as Princess and Zach Young as Wicked Witch. Harem dancers Emily Dyson, Jillian Godwin, Aleksa Lukasiewicz, Mandy Milligan and Missy Trulock offer allure, and are countered by Fates – Stuart Coleman, Brandon Comer and Timothy June – leading a frenzied final section of powerful choreography and emotion.

Director Hochoy created the steps and the stories for Rimsky-Korsakov’s score in 1992 as a showy end-piece to his first season with DK. They have survived the years well – as have the wonderfully colorful and depictive costumes by Barry Doss. Add Laura Glovers’ intensely beautiful lighting arrangements, and you have what could be Hochoy’s signature piece.

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Brandon Comer and Caitlin Negron dance the leads in DK’s “An American in Paris”.

A somewhat newer offering preceded the Scheherazade performance. Gershwin’s An American in Paris was delightfully portrayed by the company with Brandon Comer and Caitlin Negron as the featured couple. Gershwin wrote such a wonderfully varying piece, it is a perfect vehicle for Hochoy’s imaginative depictions – especially the busy streets of Paris, which here features a lively bus. Although the “boy meets girl’ aspect is delivered with charm – I thought it was interesting that this was not so much a romantic piece as it was a celebration of the composer’s love of syncopation and buoyant tempo. The performances were captivating, whatever the interpretations one gave it – and the strength of the troupe was impressive.

Sadly this program of dances will only be available one weekend – it would be wise to partake of this show, which is very entertaining and captivating for all ages.

Dance Kaleidoscope’s Scheherazade and An American in Paris continues only through June 5th at IRT’s OneAmerica Stage. Information about DK performances can be found at http://www.dancekal.org or by calling 317.635.5252.

  • – Photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography
  • – Banner photo by Freddie Kelvin

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