Tag Archives: Columbus Dance Theatre

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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Columbus Dance Theatre’s ‘Dancers Making Dances’ a mixed bag worth digging into

CDT's Elena Keeny (center) in Jaime Kotrba’s “Isolation.” Photo by John Ray.

CDT’s Elena Keeny (center) in Jaime Kotrba’s “Isolation.” Photo by John Ray.

Columbus Dance Theatre – Dancers Making Dances
Fischer Theatre
Columbus, Ohio
October 23, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Sucato

Columbus Dance Theatre kicked off its 2015-2016 season with its annual Dancers Making Dances program in which CDT company members choreographed on each other.

Like most productions featuring works by mostly novice dancemakers, the program on October 23 at the Columbus Dance Theatre’s Fischer Theatre, was a mixed bag in terms of quality and refinement. It led off with what would be its highest quality offering Christian Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places,” that set a high standard few works on the program would approach.

Set to a trio of Indie-folk tunes by singer-songwriter Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron and Wine), Broomhall, a former dancer with BalletMet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, put the full weight of his past movement experiences dancing the works of great choreographers into creating a gem of his own.

Essentially an extended contemporary dance duet performed by himself fellow former BalletMet dancer Kerri Riccardi, “A Dozen Places” was a quiet, tender piece that swept up the viewer in its soft current like a winding stream.

CDT's Christian Broomhall and Kerri Riccardi in Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places.” Photo by John Ray.

CDT’s Christian Broomhall and Kerri Riccardi in Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places.” Photo by John Ray.

CDT's Christian Broomhall and Kerri Riccardi in Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places.” Photo by John Ray.

CDT’s Christian Broomhall and Kerri Riccardi in Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places.” Photo by John Ray.

Broomhall’s choreography for the first of its three sections fostered the image of a romantic couple conversing through movement.  The pair leaned into and fell into each other. Each targeted touches that gently nudged the other into motion. And while Iron and Wine’s song “Muddy Hymnal,” musically fit the mood of the section, its lyrics seemed at odds with the picture that played out before us.  In contrast, the work’s second section danced to the song “Cinder & Smoke,” pitted Broomhall and Riccardi on opposite sides of a movable wall mirroring and shadowing each other’s unseen movements but not able to touch.

Entering into the mix were dancers Erika Junod and Jaime Kotrba who appeared to be echoes of Riccardi’s character, flanking her at times and other times moving two more mini-walls about the stage that hid and revealed the work’s dancers with magical results.

Well thought-out, wonderfully-crafted and beautifully danced, “A Dozen Places,” alone justified the price of admission with the rest of the program still to come.

Broomhall is talented choreographer that CDT artistic director Tim Veach would be wise to utilize in future productions.

After a Stefani Repola’s balletic and breezy “Drops of Ocean,” dancer Terrence Meadows showed off his technical prowess, strength and vulnerability in “Please Don’t Leave,” a solo he created for himself set to the French standard “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”

The program’s first half then closed with Alexandra Napoli’s group work “Bella” for six of the company’s women. One of several beginner-level choreographic works on the program, Napoli’s choreography, although rudimentary, held an air of grace to it.

Napoli’s work, along with others on the program, also revealed the wide range of dancer skill and maturity found in the company.  Individually, CDT’s dancers are all capable movers in their own right. As a unit however, those disparities in technical ability and stage presence could at times be quite glaring.

The program’s second half began with Seth Wilson’s pas de deux “A Walk in the Park” set to the Stevie Wonder song “Village Ghetto Land.” Like Wonders’ song, which juxtaposes a happy melody with depressing lyrics about poverty and violence, Wilson chose to pair a cute, playful, contemporary dance waltz with those stark lyrics that was nicely performed by Broomhall and Kotrba.

As choreographer for the geisha-inspired group work “Suzuko” that came next in the program, Junod struggled to create an interesting, cliché-free dance. As a performer in Chloe Mellblom’s solo work “unBalanced” that followed, Junod showed brilliance. The solo had the feel of a delicate lullaby interjected with flurries of leaps and turns. Most captivating though were several repeated gestures in which a paused Junod nervously twisted her hands together or tensely grasped at her dress.

The program closed with Kotrba’s vibrant “Isolation.” Set to pulsing music by Philip Glass, Tyondai Braxon and Nosaj Thing, nine of CDT’s dancers including central figure Elena Keeny, swiveled, shimmied, twisted and twerked with style in the interestingly patterned work.

A program like Dancers Making Dances for any dance company is more a vehicle to foster its dancers’ growth as artists rather than being a best representation of its capabilities. Sometimes, as with Broomhall’s “A Dozen Places,” those two objectives meet.

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New Full-Length Productions highlight Columbus Dance Theatre’s 2015-2016 Season

CDT’s Elena Keeny and Stefani Repola. Photo by Wes Kroninger.

By Steve Sucato

There was good news for Columbus Dance Theatre on the eve of its 18th season. The Columbus, Ohio-based troupe was awarded the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s 2015 award for Artistic Excellence for organizations with budgets less than $1 million for their encore production of Claudel (2014) at the Lincoln Theatre last February.

CDT’s new 2015-2016 season entitled Murder, Movement, Music and More will be a mix of repertory favorites and brand new productions including the world-premieres of artistic director Tim Veach’s Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet Prism. 

Here’s a look:

Dancers Making Dances – October 23-24, 015 @ Fisher Theatre

The season kicks off with the return of Dancers Making Dances, where eight of CDT’s eleven company dancers take a turn at choreographing works on each other. On tap are new creations by Christian Broomhall, Erika Junod, Jaime Kotrba, Terrence Meadows, Chloe Mellblom, Alex Napoli, Stefani Repola and Seth Wilson.

Matchgirl – December 11-12, 2015 @ Lincoln Theatre

CDT’s beloved holiday classic Matchgirl returns for its 16th anniversary year, this season performed for the first time at Columbus’ Lincoln Theatre. The 90-minute family-friendly production based on Hans Christian Anderson’s short story “The Little Match Girl,” tells the tale of dying child’s hopes and dreams that are sadly dashed on earth but realized in the afterlife. Structured like that of a romantic ballet, act one, set to music by Aaron Copland, follows Anderson’s tale of the girl in her village and act two is Veach’s envisioning of her afterlife danced to John Rutter’s “Magnificat.” Some 70 students from The School of Columbus Dance Theatre and CDT’s company dancers will be accompanied by orchestra and chorus conducted by Ohio Wesleyan University’s Associate Professor of Music Jason Hiester for this heartwarming production.

CDT dancers Christian Broomhall and Kerri Riccardi. Photo by Wes Kroninger.

V2 – March 4-5, 2016 @ Fisher Theatre

Father and son unite in V2, featuring dance works by and for CDT artistic director Tim Veach and son Judson, a former School of Columbus Dance Theatre student now a principal dancer with Nashville Ballet. “It’s a collaboration for father and son that I don’t think happens all that often in dance,” says the elder Veach. The father-son team will be joined by CDT resident musical ensemble Carpe Diem String Quartet as Judson reprises the solo “His Own Skin,” choreographed for him by Tim in 2012. Judson then creates for Tim what he refers to as a new “age appropriate” solo for him. Also on the program will be repertory works by Tim and a new group piece by Judson for CDT’s company dancers.

Hamlet Prism [World Premiere] – April 8-9, 2016 @ Fisher Theatre

This new dance work based on the Shakespeare classic Hamlet features a gritty, urban landscape in which Tim Veach, as the voice of Hamlet, wife and actress Christina Kirk, as the voice of the play’s other characters, CDT’s dancers and the Carpe Diem String Quartet bring to life this iconic tale in a way never seen before. Set to an original soundscape by composer Korine Fujiwara, the work follows in the footsteps of CDT’s other recent collaborative dance-theater successes, Cleopatra and Claudel.

Photo by Wes Kroninger.

Romeo and Juliet [World Premiere] – May 20-21, 2016 @ Capitol Theatre

Shakespeare’s timeless tale of two star-crossed lovers is retold in a new evening-length ballet choreographed by Tim Veach. Says Veach: “It will be a fairly traditional take on the Romeo and Juliet story.”  The production will feature guest dancer Judson Veach as Romeo, some 90 students from The School of Columbus Dance Theatre, CDT’s company dancers, other guest dancers and a full orchestra under the baton of maestro Jason Hiester.  “We have dancers of tremendous technical ability who also bring a great depth of theatrical capability,” says Veach. “It feels like the right moment for us (CDT) to take on the fullness of such a production.”

Columbus Dance Theatre
Murder, Movement, Music and More

Season Tickets: $125 –Adult, $100 – Senior (60 and up), $65 – Student
Individual Tickets: $30 – Adult, $25 – Senior (60 and up), $15 – Student

For more information visit columbusdancetheatre.com or call (614) 849-0227

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