Father-Son Dance Program an Up and Down Ride


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CDT dancers in Tim Veach’s “Synapse.” Photo by John Ray.

Columbus Dance Theatre – V2
Fisher Theatre
Columbus, OH
March 3, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

It was a homecoming both on stage and off for Judson Veach. Returning home to Columbus, Ohio and to Columbus Dance Theatre where he was one of his father Tim’s first students, Judson, now a dancer with Nashville Ballet, took part in V2, an evening of works choreographed by the Veach’s at CDT’s Fisher Theatre.

The program on March 3, performed by CDT in collaboration with the Carpe Diem String Quartet, led off with the premiere of Tim’s latest work, “Synapse.” Set to an eclectic score by Erberk Eryilmaz, the contemporary dance work through its choreography attempted to emulate the nervous system’s explosion of activity with synapses firing and brain signals racing about.

A group of ten dancers moved in a tight circle that expanded outward and then released them into a flurry of individual movement riffs. The dancers twisted, squirmed, snaked and jumped in a chaotic mishmash that, in general, wasn’t appealing. The work had occasional moments of beauty but the choreography, with its “jazz hands” shaking, mostly came off as an awkwardly literal interpretation of synaptic activity.

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CDT dancers in Tim Veach’s “Synapse.” Photo by John Ray.

Next, a last minute program change scratched Judson dancing a solo choreographed by Tim. Instead we were treated to an improvised duet danced by the father-son duo.  For this reviewer, straight-up concert dance improvisation is normally an indulgent exercise more interesting for the dancers to perform than it is to watch. Thankfully however, the father-son dynamic and their comedic approach to the improvisation was a pleasure to watch.  Performed to live improvised violin music by Carpe Diem’s Korine Fujiwara, the dancing was primarily centered on a reluctant game of one-upmanship with each dancer showing a dance move and the other attempting to repeat it. The self-deprecating, middle-aged Tim often not taking the bait on the challenging stuff but still showing he is a capable mover when prodded. As people off stage, the pair are good natured and likable. That showed onstage as well in this short and sweet bonus performance.

The highlight of the evening turned out to be its oldest work, Tim’s “Entangled Banks” (2009). Unlike “Synapse,” this was an engaging, well-crafted piece performed marvelously by CDT dancers Stefani Crea and Christian Broomhall.

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CDT dancer Stefani Crea in Tim Veach’s “Entangled Banks.” Photo by John Ray.

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CDT dancer Stefani Crea and Christian Broomhall in Tim Veach’s “Entangled Banks.” Photo by John Ray.

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CDT dancer Stefani Crea and Christian Broomhall in Tim Veach’s “Entangled Banks.” Photo by John Ray.

Set to an original score by Fujiwara played beautifully by Carpe Diem, the work began with the dancers lying on the stage floor.  Resembling a long-limbed insect, Crea moved with a slow elegance contorting and pulsating her body as she slinked about the stage. The pair then came together for a dance of jittering limbs in sympathy with one another before Crea climbed atop Broomhall’s back to be carried by him on all fours across the stage. Both dancers expressed a range of emotion in their facial expressions and distant stares during the spellbinding duet that ended with the Crea and Broomhall fully upright walking toward each other and into a kiss.

V2 closed with the world-premiere of Judson’s “Ever Forward.” The contemporary ballet for eight dancers including Tim was set to Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s driving String Quartet No.1 (‘Quartettino’) and Baltimore-based composer Jonathan Leshnoff’s “Four Dances.”

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CDT dancers in Judson Veach’s “Ever Forward.” Photo by John Ray.

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CDT dancers in Judson Veach’s “Ever Forward.” Photo by John Ray.

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CDT dancer Erika Junod in Judson Veach’s “Ever Forward.” Photo by John Ray.

Said to be inspired by the steadfastness and resiliency of those who settled the West by wagon train, the somewhat abstract ballet followed dancer Erika Junod as she and her compatriots navigated a series of trials and tribulations along a journey that would see all but Junod’s character perish.

A young choreographer with some promise, Judson seemed to fall victim to trying to cram too many disparate ideas together to fill the music. There was way too much going on. Taken separately, sections of the younger Veach’s ballet sparked some interest. One of those being a scene where the dancers teetered on the front lip of the stage as if ready to fall then turned and began crawling on their stomachs upstage.

While “Ever Forward” was a bit of a miss choreographically, CDT’s dancers were solid in it with Junod showing she is convincing actress and a lovely performer.

Inconsistent as it was as a dance program, V2 was a success in showcasing the relationships at its heart; that of father and son, mentor and protégé, and the ongoing successful collaboration between CDT and Carpe Diem String Quartet.

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