The Ormao Dance Company's growing up

click to enlarge "... And I Have Repented" in rehearsal - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • "... And I Have Repented" in rehearsal

With 12 years under the svelt belt of the Ormao Dance Company, our area's only resident contemporary dance company, it may be fair to say its sheltered youth is over and its performance this weekend at the Fine Arts Center marks a recent growth spurt, the beginning of an adolescence brimming with sexy possibilities.

While it's clear that much of the company's revitalized energy stems from a string of new dancers, at a recent run-through of the performance, I was more impressed with the spectrum of voices invited to participate. In an evening of nine works, eight choreographers are featured -- a most unusual and welcome display of diversity. The range speaks to Artistic Director Janet Johnson's desire to challenge her movement-hungry company.

Three of the company's dancers will themselves be presenting work in the concert. Sara Cliffton will be performing "With," the first of the evening's two solos, one that draws from a balletic vocabulary while conveying a certain modern "you can't ignore me" expressionism. Amy Guthrie has choreographed an intriguing trio, "Davar," a piece inspired by "the pull of India" and Guthrie's contemplation of the question: How do I fit all of these different dreams into this short little life? And Jaclyn Tallent's strong ensemble piece, "Failure to Adapt," is perfectly timed for our current brink-of-war status.

John McLaughlin, the new executive director of the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre, has jumped into the dance community with both feet, setting "Bowlesian Picnic" on the Ormao dancers. Described as a "movement poem," it's an ensemble piece redolent with circuslike revelry, making an appropriate opener for the evening.

Seattle-based artist Madelyne Camera is the lucky choreographer with two pieces in the show. The first is a haunting and lovely duet titled "Internal Memoirs," featuring Guthrie and powerhouse mover Mary Ripper Baker. Though the push/pull themes in the piece could suggest it explores the antagonistic currents underlying friendship, Camera considers the piece wider in its focus, "invit[ing] the audience to witness ... the essence of connection."

Camera's second piece, "Mastering the Mundane," treads in lighter territory, though with no less sense of purpose. It came out of an examination of "those moments that we don't count ... those moments the rest of the world never sees" -- in this case, doing the laundry. Camera will perform this solo.

Chicago-based artist Erica Wilson set on the company "Fight Water Within," whose brisk, urban-inspired movements are somewhat at odds with the piece's soft, earth-brown costuming.

Fine Arts Center lighting designer Kevin Shea will be presenting his first choreographic effort, "...And I Have Repented," a piece featuring six masked women ("the Greek chorus") writhing around one tortured man. Though it's inspired by an Alanis Morissette song, the piece reads like a Robert Palmer video.

And the evening concludes with Johnson's "Rebound," a Run, Lola, Run for the dance world. Caution: It's got energy in the excess, so you may leave the theater thinking you can run a marathon. You can't.

-- Tess Powers


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