E-Moves: Ten from Ten

April 16, 2009

E-Moves: Ten from Ten
Harlem Stage

Gatehouse, NYC
April 16–18, 23–25, 2009

Reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa


Judith Sanchez Ruiz in her solo
And They Forgot to Love. Photo courtesy Harlem Stage.

Harlem Stage’s 10-year-old E-Moves festival raises the same grumpy questions that surround City Center’s annual Fall for Dance series. Can a conglomerate program really help recruit new, committed audiences for its spectrum of aesthetics and troupes? Can it ever dig in deep enough to serve audiences something of lasting value? Can a show approaching three hours please fans and newfound viewers or just test our patience?

Last year, one journalist all but suggested that the E—as in “E-Merging” or “E-Volving”—might stand for “E-Xhausting.” The idea of sampling a range of work by rising Black and Latino artists delights me. But, after attending this season’s “Ten from Ten” program, I worry that one showcase of 10 choreographers—a few of whom can be pointlessly long-winded—might do more harm than good. One artist, Pedro Jimenez, dared tack a silly outdoor number—two dancers rolling downhill into the gaping crowd—onto the already overlong show. The next E-Moves must not offer Eleven from Eleven.

The lineup included This Pleasant and Grateful Asylum (1999), a romantic, suggestive male duet with music by Bach and art deco-ish movement by Arthur Aviles. Ayodele Casel’s sweet solo, Celebrate, featured autobiographical voice-over musings that were often muffled by her nifty, nimble tap work. Brandon “Peace” Albright’s Impossible,IZZpossible represented the hip hop generation to an audience that looked decidedly un-hip hop. The work’s professional, stagey sheen was jarring, but I found it hard to resist an ensemble so disciplined.

Melissa Brading and Amy McClendon gave a respectable account of the stretchy lyricism and the turbulence within Why Am I Running…, a duet by Ailey star Hope Boykin. But—much like Judith Sanchez Ruiz’s solo And They Forgot to Love—the piece earnestly noodled along to nowhere. And this is the second Boykin piece I’ve seen in which dancers come to resemble her more than they express themselves. I might have enjoyed Adia Tamar Whitaker’s A Brake 4 the 5 had it not arrived so late, plucked from an unknown, possibly interesting context.

Solomon Bafana Matea, in Edisa Weeks’s Between an Arrow and a Fall, and Erick Montes, in his own El Hombre + (e/m) = Reloaded, gave engrossing solo turns. But one couldn’t ask for better than Camille A. Brown, ailing with a neck spasm and forced to replace a brand-new solo with vivid excerpts from her sensational character study, Evolution of a Secured Feminine.


These three soloists suggest what E-moves could be if not stuffed to bursting. Concentrate on one or perhaps a few exceptional artists. Give each his or her proper time. Give the audience the means to understand and—yes—fall for dance.