Tuesday, October 23, 2012


By Nancy Condit

Continuing their practice of bringing the audience and dancers closer together, while presentig both completed and works in progress, Hartel Dance Group performed a evening of innovative, thoughtful, enjoyable dance last Friday night in their studio on the fifth floor of the Magnolia Building downtown at Northwest 7th and Broadway. The four dances were choreographed by Austin Hartel, artistic director.

"Network," with music by composer Aaron Robinson, was the pivotal piece of the evening, as dancers, including Hartel, performed some of their fabulous stands, like the one on the backs of her partner's calves as the dancers both faced away from each other.

Austin Hartel and another dancer perform one of his signature
non-traditional moves.
Photo c. by Nancy Condit
"'Network' is (concerned) with how social media works and (that) people expect instant on and off. What is really a relationship? 'I have so many friends on Facebook,'" Hartel said. In continuing staggered movie playbacks, the backdrop continued to reflect the dance as it echoed through different media, as they danced and after the dancers had completed the performance. 

Robinson's deep drums were also danced to in "Syncopated," as the dancers shook, leapt, and circled, leaning to the side in flat footed rhythm to the terrific recorded music. The four women appeared in bright red tube tops and brief trunks.

In "Superman" four women performed with bright red balls to music by Ted Nuggent. They slid over the balls, posed with them as they sat on the floor, and treated them as bowling balls in the enthusiastic piece.

"Stranglehold," the last dance, was very sexy as the four women danced in string tank tops and daisy dukes. The sexiest dancer extended her leg far above her head, four others swayed back and forth sensually, while a sixth held back, participating as little as possible, until the end.

The dancers were Christopher Castleberry, Thyrsa Da Rosa, Riley Daniel, Pamela Gimenez, Bethany Head, Sami Kropp, and Cameelah Pennington, and Austin Hartel. 

The seating was changed to incorporate both a section of bleachers to one side, and cabaret style seating, with small round tables and an assortment of chairs, keeping the space affordable for the dancers and viewers.

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