DITA performance at a former SiTE:LAB location during ArtPrize. Photo credit Erin Wilson.
Since 2009, the collective known more commonly as DITA has gained recognition for its classes, performances, and dance-on-film. Master classes once again resume this month, with world-renowned Graham Technique master teacher William Crowley.
By Steve Sucato
While Grand Rapids can boast a lot of things—from Beer City USA to Furniture City to ArtPrize—one thing it isn’t known for is a plethora of professional dance companies and presenting dance, especially when it comes to modern dance. In 2009, the local scene’s leanness provided just the impetus needed for dancer/choreographer Amy Wilson and friends to form Dance in the Annex (DITA), a modern dance collective fostering an appreciation of dance through education and performance opportunities.
Since their formation, DITA has grown to regularly hosted master classes, and produced dance concerts, site-specific works, and dance-on-film works on a project basis.
Wilson says the collective was formed not only to support professional dancers in the area, but also to be a place where adults could take a modern dance class.
“We started once a month on Sundays, opening up classes to anyone over 16,” says Wilson. “Of course when you get a bunch of dancers in a room they inevitably want to start choreographing on each other and performing so things then evolved from there to where we are now.”
DITA’s latest class offering came last October. Wilson attributes this most recent gap in programming to DITA no longer calling the Wealthy Theatre Annex home. But a new partnership with Grand Rapids Ballet to their master classes is something Wilson feels will reenergize the organization as well as the Grand Rapids dance community’s interest in it.
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Owner/Director Keegan Loye. Photo credit Darline Nguyen.
By Steve Sucato
In the heart of Grand Rapids’ Comstock Park neighborhood sits an anomaly. No, it’s not a giant sinkhole or a time portal to another dimension—it’s something far more innocuous but perhaps just as rare: a dance school that exclusively teaches breakdancing.
61Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy, with its graffiti-adorned walls, is one of just a few dance schools in the nation that exclusively teaches breakdance. Most dance studios offer classes in a variety of dance styles. Even the ones with a hip hop dance concentration generally offer training in several styles within the genre, such as popping, locking, and krumping. The narrow focus is something 61Syx Teknique owner/director Keegan “Seoul” Loye says is at the heart of their philosophy as artists and teachers.
“We want to pass down the legacy of breaking to others,” says Loye. “Although breaking has been a street dance for decades, it is still very new when it comes to being taught in dance studios.”
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Grand Rapids Ballet’s Cassidy Isaacson and Levi Teachout in “Alice in Wonderland.” Photos by Eric Bouwens.
Reviewed by Steve Sucato
For a long time, it’s been a common speculation that iconic novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was the product of mind-altering drugs. The world premiere of Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB)’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” Friday night based on that tale by Lewis Carroll’s (the pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), feeds into that notion. The mind-blowing visual spectacle has the feel of a cross between 1960s psychedelia and Disney’s “Fantasia.” But where award-winning Argentinian visual artist Luis Grané’s colorful and cartoon-like costumes and scenic design was a highlight of the production, slow character development early on in the ballet proved problematic.
Known for his illustration work on such films as “The Matrix” (1999), “Ratatouille” (2007), “Hotel Transylvania” (2012) and “The Boxtrolls” (2014), Grané’s bold visual effects and projections acted as a moving scenic backdrop to the 90-minute multimedia production choreographed by Brian Enos. “Alice” was the first ever full-length story ballet Enos has choreographed. He was up to the challenge for the most part, employing a strategic blend of movement styles that helped illustrate each of the ballet’s characters. The artistic director of St. Louis’ The Big Muddy Dance Company, local audiences may remember Enos from his other ballet created on GRB, 2013’s Scottish-flavored “Nae Regrets.”
Family-friendly (although skewing more toward younger audiences), the ballet was set to a well thought out score of existing music by composers Alfred Schnittke, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev and others compiled by Brendan Hollins. Although not set in the usual Victorian era in favor of a more contemporary look, for the most part Enos followed Carroll’s universally known storyline.
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