Tony Powell/Music and Movement
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
November 29, 2000
Reviewed by Judith Lynne Hanna
Once again, Washington-based Tony Powell has manifested his multiple talents. A hyper-energetic renaissance man, Powell, of Tony Powell/Music and Movement, presented the company?s fifth anniversary gala, “Creations for a New Millennium,” with three world premieres.
Powell choreographed the ballet Romantique to waltzes, mazurkas, preludes, and etudes by Frédéric Chopin, played by pianist Amy Belcher. He and his company performed his modern dance Cantus Firmus, which he set to Bach?s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins and Orchestra, played by The Bach Sinfonia, an eleven-member Maryland group specializing in baroque music. The Sinfonia also played Powell?s Symphony for Strings, which Powell conducted without dance accompaniment. The company presented two of Powell?s 2000 creations: Pas de Six, to Arvo Pärt?s composition Fratres, and Contact, a ballet film he choreographed, photographed, and edited, with music he composed and performed.
Powell invited members of the Kirov Academy of Ballet, the Washington School of Ballet, and the Washington Ballet to perform in his ballet pieces. KAB-trained USA-IBC gold medal winner Adrienne Canterna stepped into a Pas de Six role after the dancer for whom it was originally created was injured. The dance delights with contrasting ballet and jazz movement and clearly changing spatial formations of a single dancer, ballroom couple, and foursome weaving folk dance-like patterns. With long outstretched arms, Ted Freeman and Steven Lumadue both gracefully partnered the dancers, including four women.
For Contact, his fifth dance film, Powell filmed Brianne Bland and Jason Harley from the Washington Ballet as they danced his pointe pas de deux. Then Powell imaginatively designed segments of the dancing, optically turning the two dancers into four or six; the screen appeared to burst at the seams.
With crisp movements and a beautiful smile, Elizabeth Endenberg sparkled, projecting the joy of Romantique. The audience applauded the Suzanne Bryant-Don Love duet for their sensitive movement, which matched the music?s dynamics. Excessive material bunched about the women?s breasts detracted from their otherwise attractive gold satin costumes. Powell?s modern dance choreography was somewhat diminished by the uneven quality of the performers in his company.