Friday, August 5, 2011


By Nancy P. Condit

The Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival brought four professional Oklahoma dance groups together in a rousing performance for the first time in Oklahoma City’s dance history Friday night. 
Their last performance of a variety of modern styles will be tomorrow night, Saturday, August 6th at Bruce Owen Theatre at Oklahoma City Community College, 7777 S. May, at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are available at the door, and run $15.
Under the sponsorship of Perpetual Motion Modern Dance, the companies performing were Hartel Dance Group, Perpetual Motion, and RACE, with 25 dancers chosen by audition.  Also choreographing pieces for the dancers were Austin Hartel of Hartel Dance, Hui Cha Poos of RACE, Michelle Dexter of Perpetual Motion, and Robert Mills of OKC Ballet.
What impressed most about the students was their training, their talent, and, above all, the way they came together as a company in less than two months.
The dancers were particularly memorable in Hartel’s choreographed modern “Sunrise on Hatteras.”  Poos choreographed “Random Conformity” modern street ballet with a good sense of musicality.  Mills choreographed “Queen 2 (squared),” which had the dancers spoofing the well-known lyrics, to the audience’s delight, miming huge eyelashes with their hands, and the group climbing up on each other to a climax.
Among the professional companies, RACE’s “Hide and Seek” choreographed and danced by Olivia Graeff stands out for its ridiculousness.  Graeff danced on stage in a large black frou frou tutu over black shorts with curls in her ponytail to the line “Don’t you think I’m funny.”
Jr. RACE was charming in “Il M’aime…Non” choreographed by Amy Nevius. 
“Ashes, Ashes,” choreographed by Hartel, and danced by Hartel Dance Group, was notable for its flow of the moves of the company – the angles used by individual dancers in the first half of the piece, and the dance as a place for the audience to be in the second half.
Dexter’s “Garuda,” danced by Perpetual Motion, was full of juice and energy as one dancer moved almost motionlessly as the other circled her.   Perpetual Motion also performed guest choreographer’s Amy Querin’s “Belonging,” premiered at a previous performance.  The piece is noteworthy for the strength of emotions of the three couples, which alternately reject and accept each other.  A note: roles originally intended for men are frequently danced by women because of the lack of male dances.  And vice versa.  While it’s appropriate to interpret that a shove is a shove in dance, it may not always be accurate to assume that two women dancing together were originally choreographed that way.
The costumes added to the dances, as expected from these companies. 
Perpetual Motion has found a very nice performance venue in the Bruce Owen Theatre.
Perpetual Motion will be performing at St. Gregory’s University, which offers a bachelor’s of arts in dance, at on August 26.  Tickets are $10.
HartelDanceGroup presents “On the eighth day” on September 9 and 10 at Lyric on the Plaza.
RACE and Jr. RACE will hold auditions on August 13 and 14.  Go to for more details. 

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