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Kerry Clawson, The Akron Beacon Journal | July 29, 2021
When DanceCleveland was planning its 2021-22 performance season after a yearlong hiatus, Artistic Director Sarah Sumbrum asked herself: "What are our audiences yearning for?"
The answer was coming back together as a community. And although the Cleveland-based organization wasn't able to have its usual American Dance Festival (ADF) this summer, its first event will bring local dancers and audiences together for free performances by hip-hop dancer Raphael Xavier at Cain Park Aug 21.
Performances of his "KOLADE-XCOPE" will run at 3 and 5:30 p.m. along the park pathways. The dance also will feature dancer Joshua Culbreath (Supa Josh) and live music by guitarist Tim Motzer, who will use looping and bowing techniques in combination with electronics to create a cool soundscape.
Audience members can just show up for the 45-minute performances; no tickets are required. Adding to the excitement, up to six local hip-hop dancers will perform with Xavier and Culbreath after competing for a spot in an All Styles Battle from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 18 at Cain Park's Alma Theater.
Hip-hop dancers of all styles ages 18 and up can compete. Registration is limited to 32 entries; see www.dancecleveland.org/events to register. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. for the battle. Limited registration forms will be available at the door.
Judges will be Xavier, Supa Josh and local dancer MGPAK (Paul Carpenter Jr.). Music will be provided by DJ Ernie. Selected dancers will be required to rehearse with Xavier Aug. 19, 20 and 21 and perform in both shows Aug. 21.
Xavier created "KOLADE-XCOPE" as an outdoor experience at Brooklyn Botanical Garden during COVID-19 quarantine. The hip-hop work includes breaking, poetry, spoken word and rap cadences mixed with modern dance.
DanceCleveland last presented Xavier on the Allen Theatre stage at Playhouse Square in 2017. Sumbrum called the immersive community project with Xavier a perfect fit for a summer event at the park.
"I think it's different than anything DanceCleveland's done because really we're producing a work, in a sense, rather than just presenting a work," she said.
New DanceCleveland Executive Director Theresa Remick said presenting dance goes well beyond bringing audiences to a stage venue.
"One of the things that really drew me to DanceCleveland was the fact that, in addition to presenting world-class dance performances, we're also really making an effort to go out into the community and engage community members" through educational experiences and opportunities for locals to dance alongside national artists. "That's always been a strong passion of mine, of connecting artists and community."
Remick, who hails from the Page Theatre performing arts center at St. Mary's University of Minnesota, is originally from South Carolina. She has a vocal performance degree from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and a master's degree in performing arts management from Brooklyn College.
Another DanceCleveland initiative to involve dancers of various ages with professional dance artists will happen Sept. 25 at the University of Akron, when Monica Bill Barnes & Company kicks off DanceCleveland's main season. The show, co-presented by the UA Dance Program and DanceCleveland, will be at 7:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall.
Barnes' dance "The Running Show," written by Robbie Saenz de Viteri, will include Akron-area dancers ages 12 to senior citizen, including UA dance students, performing with the company. DanceCleveland will present the work, which documents the life of a dancer through movement, interviews and stories, in its first live performance onstage.
As part of the mix in Akron, the company (which appeared in Cleveland in 2015) will cast one pre-teen dancer who's new to dancing en pointe as well as an older dancer in his or her 70s or 80s.
As UA normally does each year with DanceCleveland, dance students will have a weeklong residency with the professional company. This time, Barnes will also be setting choreography on the students for the show.
Next, A.I.M. (Abraham in Motion) will return to Northeast Ohio at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square to perform "An Untitled Love." Creator Kyle Abraham's newest evening-length work combines hip-hop and modern dance for a celebration of culture, family and community. It's set to music by R&B legend D'Angelo. A.I.M. will be making its Cleveland debut after being presented in Akron in 2018.
Audience favorite Momix will follow at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5, 2022, at the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. The company, last presented in Cleveland in 2016, will mix modern dance with visual illusions for "Viva Momix," a compilation of favorites from six of their world-famous shows.
Pam Tanowitz Dance has been rescheduled from an earlier pandemic date to perform in Cleveland for the first time at 7:30 p.m. March 19, 2022. The company will appear with pianist Simone Dinnerstein for "New Work for Goldberg Variations" at the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. The dance, which explores the musical architecture of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," premiered in 2017 to rave reviews.
Ending the season, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater will return to Playhouse Square for three shows at the State Theatre April 22-24, 2022. The company's most beloved work, "Revelations," will be performed along with a mix of repertoire showcasing the dancers' artistry and technique. The Alvin Ailey company last performed at Playhouse Square in 2019.
DanceCleveland season subscriptions starting at $135 are on sale at www.dancecleveland.org or 216-991-9000. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 16.
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