Cleveland Repertory Project

Cleveland Repertory Project

Cleveland Public Theater
Cleveland, Ohio
February 7—9, 2003

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

The Cleveland debut of Cleveland Repertory Project, under newly appointed Artistic Director Hernando Cortez, introduced area audiences to Cortez as choreographer. It also revealed the quantum leap forward the sixteen-year-old Cleveland-based modern company has taken.

The program began with Cortez’s The Man and the Echo (2002), set to Grieg’s Holberg Suite for Piano. Influenced by William Butler Yeats’s poem of the same name, it featured seven of the company’s dancers in a barefoot ballet à la Paul Taylor. The work centered on Mark Tomasic as Yeats’s Man; he took the stage in a slow circling walk through shadowed areas of Chenault Spence’s lighting design, then danced an anguished solo that reflected his character’s struggle to maintain his marriage between body and soul–stretching and jumping skyward after something beyond his grasp. The remaining dancers served as the Echo, swaying and curving into lofty poses and moving through elegant phrases that delightfully skirted predictability and incorporated arms curled behind the dancers’ backs.

In Planet Soup (1999), the dancers were costumed in Edward Sylvia’s colorfully patterned sarongs (and halter tops for the women). Set to a melting pot of world music, Cortez’s modern choreography sampled several cultural dance styles and emphasized the liberating quality of movement. The dancers stomped their feet, pounded their fists on the stage, and whipped their bodies about in a joyously entertaining dance. Shannon Mulcahy was ardent and fabulous–her turns and accentuated dance movements commanded attention, as did Jason Ignacio’s athletic leaps and blindfolded hopscotching through crashing bamboo poles in a section incorporating a Filipino tinikling dance. Planet Soup’s visual feast and jazzy exuberance culminated with the dancers twirling large white sheets of fabric into what looked like giant flower petals caught in a gale.

The program ended with Cortez’s stirring remembrance of 9/11, Two Hours That Shook the World (2002). Edward Hillel’s installation of two floor-to-ceiling rectangular reams of white cloth dominated the stage, symbolizing the World Trade Center towers. The dancers performed the work live against a video, projected on the cloth, of their performance of the same work in the studio. Onstage, the dancers assumed pedestrian roles and were costumed in street clothes, including dancer Christopher Morgan, dressed in a business suit, who ran in slow motion, fleeing the shadow of the ominous towers, his movement unaffected by small groups of dancers sprinting across the stage in banked and panicked bursts. Danced to percussive club music, the choreography ranged from zombie-like staggering to refined chaos, with dancers such as the skillfully smooth Ellen Ressler Hoffman at times appearing suspended in the wake of the other dancers’ frenetic energy.

In the closing section of the work, set to Buffalo Springfield’s "For What It’s Worth," the movement became slightly clichéd, but not enough to diminish the work’s strong and lasting images. Throughout, Cortez’s choreography and the dancers’ performances were crisp and polished, and the program was an exciting debut for the newly revamped company.

Dancer Voices
Silas Farley in his Songs from the Spirit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Farley

I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.

Keep reading... Show less
UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.

The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Robin Worrall via Unsplash

Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.

Keep reading... Show less


Get Dance Magazine in your inbox