Inhaling the splendor of the Dance Theatre of Harlem

SANTA MONICA, CA-There are many forms of artistic expression. The combination of dance and music allows us to engage emotionally with the artist through sound and sight which brings an artist idea to life and takes today’s audience on a wonderful journey through the artist mind.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem’s performance at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Saturday, April 21 was an excellent example of this emotional engagement. This particular performance included three segments with two ten minute intermissions. The performances were “Brahms Variations,” “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven” and “Vessels.”

Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Anthony Santos and Alicia  Mae Holloway performing “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven.” Photo by Ben Gibbs

The first performance, “Brahms Variations,” opened the evening with dancing couples that reached the contemporary audience with excellent choreography and form. The movements and connection to the soothing melody ushered us into a place of peacefulness. It is a place where the ballet couples synchronization and commandment of the art captivated the audience.

The second performance, “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven,” continued in the traditions of ballet with a dance routine that allowed the audience to feel compassion as the story was told through dance and classical music. The capturing of hearts indicating love was clearly represented in this moment of grace.

Of course with love, there will be the euphoria or sense of loss and the ballet dancers graciously moved into a mode of reflecting that emotion. The last performance, “Vessels,” showcased the brilliance of ballet as couples are united in dance. At times there was only one couple floating on stage as the melody moved through our hearts and our eyes captured the movement of love.

Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Jorge Andre’s Villarini, Alicia Mae Holloway, Anthony Santos, Ingrid Silva, Dylan Santos, Lindsey Croop light up the stage with their “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven” performance. Photo by Ben Gibbs

In other cases, the stage appeared to be filled with couples illuminating the music with a dance that lit up the stage. Lastly, there was the occasional performance where only two couples occupied the stage, and their cohesiveness in dance truly spoke to the audience.

The two intermissions were extremely brief and did not allow for much time for socializing. Clearly, these intermissions were for the dancer to get prepared for the next performance, and not for the audience to be removed for too long of a time that the essence of each performance was lost.

This was an excellent production. The customs, music and stage settings were complimentary to the excellent display of ballet splendor that each dancer exhibited. The audience was clearly engaged in the emotional elements of the performance that lead us through a wonderful journey of time, love and loss.

The conclusion of this performance was met with a standing ovation. It is obvious that the Dance Theatre of Harlem nailed this performance and those in attendance was taken on a memorable ballet dance journey.

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