Friday, November 16, 2018

Ormao Dance Company's best-of-the-best showcase draws on 29 years of history

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge Nov. 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., $21-$26, ormaodance.org. - TMDEXTER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • TMDexter Photography
  • Nov. 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., $21-$26, ormaodance.org.
On the docket this weekend: a new day, a new venue and a new concept for Ormao Dance Company, which has never put together a “best of the best” showcase of their patrons’ favorite dances. With nearly 29 years of history to draw on, a thousand possible combinations could have gone into this show. Would the tone be too heavy? Too light? Would the pieces work together or feel divergent? Ormao artistic director Janet Johnson says their showcases always present a “mixed bag,” even when based on a loose theme, but this lineup came together perfectly. After soliciting nominations from patrons earlier this year, Ormao has chosen four legacy performances and one premiere to fill out Ovation!, their first performance at the Ent Center for the Arts.

Patrizia Herminjard, the current artist in residence at Colorado College, choreographed the premiere piece of the show: “On the Nature of Daylight.” According to Johnson, this piece represents the cycle of a day, with one dancer, Prentiss Benjamin, performing on an AstroTurf stage in front of a time-lapse video of grass growing. Benjamin, an accomplished Equity actress, has a theatrical approach to her dance that Johnson says makes her “a real force,” and the perfect dancer to tackle Herminjard’s ambitious piece. “It speaks to the passage of time,” says Johnson, “and movement in cycles,” which makes it an appropriate addition to this retrospective.
“Fear Silences,” Johnson’s director’s pick, also speaks to the concept of cycles. Conceptually dealing with J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, and the culture of America during his tenure, “Fear Silences” includes voice-overs of Hoover’s speeches on the soundtrack. The piece mirrors the paranoia he inspired, and his obsession with rooting out radicals — in his department and in America as a whole. “We should be thinking about it,” Johnson says. “Understanding it’s a cycle that repeats in our country.”

Other dances on the docket include “Umbreller,” “Proximity” and “Lapsus,” three pieces with incredibly different tones. The generally uplifting “Umbreller,” choreographed by Hsin-Yu Kao and performed with prop umbrellas, stands in contrast to the emotional depths of “Lapsus.” Choreographed by Mike Tyus, “Lapsus” represents struggle, the fall toward rock bottom. “Proximity” walks a line somewhere between the two, a duet performed on and around boxes that represent “the compartments we find ourselves living in.” Johnson says the choreographer, Tiffany Tinsley Weeks of UCCS, worked with her dancers’ strengths, even altering movements from the original piece to highlight their advantages.

When a dance company has been around as long as Ormao, and seen as many successes, audiences can bet on a good show no matter what they put on. But you can walk into the Ent Center on Sunday knowing that these pieces really are the best of the best. “This is quintessential Ormao,” Johnson says. “Huge variety, and each one is its own journey.”

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