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DeMa Contemporary Ballet

'6ix Works'

by Victoria Dombroski

May 8, 2010 -- Ailey Citigroup Theater, New York, NY

DeMa Contemporary Ballet’s “6ix Works” was a beautiful start to the fresh and innovative company’s debut season. This talented group of dancers showed strength in ballet technique, while presenting works with contemporary intricacy and individuality. With such a strong opening, it will be wonderful to see the growth and progression of this emerging group of artists.

The opening piece, entitled “The Feminine,” was choreographed by Tokyo + Tokyo the company, and set to music by Sigur Ros. The music was steady and consistent, and the dancers were able to bring out the almost hypnotic, dream-like quality of it through their movement. In light, simple, short white dresses, the dancers moved with ease and fluidity. The movement quality and style was unique, involving a lot of rolling through the spine in circular motions in every which direction. The roundness and elegance in the motion of the arms was calming and easy on the eye. The soft lighting gave the stage a quiet, serene feel, and meshed nicely with the constant movement of the dancers and the fluidity that it created. The arm movements involved hand gestures starting from the center near the heart, then developing outward as if reaching outside of themselves. The individual expression from each dancer and their battle with emotion was streaming from their bodies. The white dresses created a sense of spirit for me, as if they were souls expressing their deepest inner struggles to the outside world. The gentleness and sensitivity that seems to be associated with femininity was expressed through this piece with a sense of yearning and want for clarity. Ending the piece with the young couple, standing face to face, gave a sense of care and comfort.

A particularly powerful piece was entitled “Zaloggos” and choreographed by artistic directors Despina and Matina Simegiatos. A ramp was set up to represent the Zaloggos Mountains, which was captivating on stage. The dancers were dressed as Greek slave women, in gold and purple dresses. The piece presented the struggle of these women to fight against slavery, and in doing so, jump off of this mountain and face death. Their strength was incredible, and the dancers connected with each other intensely. The main soloist, Marla Phelan, danced with such emotion; it was as if this was a real circumstance coming to life. There were many gestures of pain and resistance. Shaking fists, hands of prayer, leg extensions turned in and turned out, and lunges in all directions were executed with strength and power. The dancers came together moving in a circle with their hands held. They moved their torsos and heads forward into the circle and then away, along with shaking fists, legs extending from all angles, and still created a sense of unity in their overall energy and in what eventually was a final decision. They create a true sense of oneness, as they all made their way struggling up the mountain, to jump off one by one to their death. The ending was so powerful, seeing each woman end her life. The set was amazing, as each dancer fell off to the side, appearing to really fall from the audience’s perspective.

The final piece of the performance, “Yes, I Do,” choreographed by Yesid Lopez, was a piece on flirtation, love, and marriage, wrapped into a comedy of dance. This piece was extremely well thought out and presented, considering marriage is a common part of life, and used in so many mediums in our world. It was a piece that seemed to exaggerate real life, as there was ballroom dancing, flirtation between the men and women, and a wedding ceremony. The men started off the piece in suspenders and hats, and the women were in different light colored, 50’s-style dresses. The main couple, Yesid Lopez and Hillary Ramos, were such fun characters, creating many smiles as they danced with lightness and gaiety. As the women danced, they danced with character, lifting their skirts, skipping on and off the stage between attitude turns and developpes, and going back and forth between wanting to dance with the men and then deciding they weren’t interested. The marriage ceremony was full of laughter, as the groom got cold feet, but said yes nonetheless, having his friends betting on him behind his back. The mothers of the bride and groom did an exceptional job with acting out their roles, concerned mothers not sure if what is happening was right, and then crying on shoulders as they marry off their children. The final scene featured every character in the piece in one group in the middle, with chaos streaming from every end. One of the men, who played an awkward, nerdy type throughout the piece, comically jumped forward to the ground as the lights faded. The realness of these characters, combined with such joy of dance, had the audience wrapped into the scene and story until the very end.

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