Friday, March 06, 2009

DanceHouston: The Edge

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DanceHouston blew into the Cullen with a line-up for Houston's top hip-hop troupes, proving once and for all, we are a multiple dance scene city. The groups showed a marvelous range from the casual competition style of Sol y Luna, to the highly structured Soreal Cru, with lots of entertainment between those two extremes.

Ghost Crew, directed by Patrick Garrett, performed with a slick polish in Ghost Take Over. The quartet, (Pat, Marcus, J-spree and LT) showed triple threat chops, inventive moves, razer sharp timing, and undeniable chemistry with the crowd. Garrett's on stage charisma is a force in and of itself. Ghost Crew thoroughly took control of the space with a strategy that included both highly nuanced choreography and a full range of qualities. Garrett seems to be pushing the hip-hop to a more refined edge, delving deeper into the possibilities as a movement form. Although the music was uncredited, the selections offered diversity and a chance to highlight the troupe's spot-on dancing. My only quibble with Crew was that is was too short. When you are this good, we just want to see more.

WyldStyl won the cool and forever shifting formations prize in The Upcoming. Using the dancers like a group body, the energy contracted and expanded, making for the most complex use of space of the evening. The all-girl troupe Fyasko kept it simple when it came to patterns in space but showed strong feminine verve in The Reason Ladies Y Come First.

Planet Funk's post-apocalyptic opus, ELCX 11 Relaphat went on too long, obscured whatever splash of inventive (but messy) dancing there was with clunky set pieces, and thriller-like zombie costumes. The Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who inspired text fell flat and made little sense. The result was a dressed up disorganized cirque-imitating manage of unconnected events. Not even cameos by noted local dancer Mario Jaramillo and others save Relaphat; they were simply lost in the visual confusion.

Sol y Luna placed hip-hop in its natural state with a gathering of B-boys trying to out do each other. The straightforward plan worked, and allowed each dancer to show their chops in turn. At times, it seemed unclear whose turn it was, but no matter, everyone got to shine. The pared down style provided a welcome contrast to Planet Funk's theatrics. The 8th Edition burst out in a sassy salsa in The Beautiful People. Ill-Ovation lived up to their name in Open House with a cool scenario, just enough theatrics to break up the dancing but not overwhelm it. Inertia got off to a fun start in Insane in the Membrane with one of the dancers scampering over the backs of the others to enter. HIStory, veterans of Americans Best Dance Crew, fused contemporary dance in their punchy offering, A Different Same Old Thing.

Soreal Cru, another troupe that has made the finals of Americans Best Dance Crew, did not disappoint in The Re-Up. Dynamic dancing, quick shifts in focus, level, and formation, made it one of the more compelling offerings on the bill. Choreographers Andrew Bateria, Jackie Lautchang and Brian Puspos kept the interest strong in their brief, but tight piece.

All in all, the Edge showed off a tremendous range of talent, creativity, and sheer invention happening in Houston. Kudos to DanceHouston for bringing it all together in one show. A sold-out, lively, and prone to screaming crowd thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Reprinted from Dance Source Houston.