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Roy Berko

(Member, Dance Critics Association)

Inlet Dance, Bill Wade’s innovative company, had a bittersweet experience in its latest concert, which was part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s DANCEWORKS ’13.

The program, which featured a world premiere, was mainly composed of dances from the group’s repertoire.  This was intentionally done, as this program brought to a close the dance career of Justin Stentz, one of the area’s best, if not the very best, male dancers.

Stentz, who joined the company’s training program in 2005, was promoted to apprentice status in 2007 and the next year was made a member of the company.  He has been studying to be a Physician’s Assistant, and will start pursuing that career goal-full time.

The handsome Stentz, whose sculpted body lends itself to powerful gymnastics and physical moves, has a keen sense of the dramatic while on stage.  His face and body clearly reflect the changing moods of the music and the message of the piece being performed.  His coupling with Joshua Brown, another proficient dancer, have created some of the most dynamic pieces showcased on local stages.  Stentz will be very difficult to replace.

The program opened with LET GO, which featured dynamic choreography consisting of running, flips, carries, and male-female reverse role interactions.  The exhausting piece probed working through past issues, learning, forgiving, and letting go as a means to maturity and freedom.

imPAIRed is a signature Stentz showcase.  Coupling with Elizabeth Pollert, the duo, having gone through experiences while in residency at the Cleveland Sight Center, dance the entire piece blindfolded.   Imagery, intimacy, and tension are evident as the couple moves near, on and over each other i perfect partnership.

BALListic is an Inlet “have fun” segment.  Dressed in bug-inspired blue costumes, the dancers use huge red balls to bounce, jump on, roll over, and as catapults for flips.  Their funny faces, slurping sounds and joyous movements create a feeling of absolute joy.

A much repeated Inlet favorite, A CLOSE SHAVE, highlights the artistic and dramatic flair of both Stentz and Brown.  Creating a dual image of actions on both sides of an imaginary mirror, the morning activities of shaving and face washing become synchronized dance movements.

In her book THE FOUR ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS, Laurie Beth Jones describes how each person has characteristics of one personality type.  Wade, a proponent of Jones’s philosophy, is creating a four or five installment piece illustrating each element.  The recent program contained two of the segments:  WATER, created in 2011, and its companion piece, AIR, in its world premiere.

Both WATER and AIR illuminate the attitudes, moods, thinking styles of those classified as having Water or Air personality elements via impressive choreography.

Capsule judgement: The Cleveland dance scene bids a farewell to Justin Stentz and though he will be sorely missed, the intelligent and talented young man moves forward into a helping career where he will transfer from entertaining people, to saving their lives.  Inlet Dance and its audiences will miss Justin.