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Roy Berko

(Member, Dance Critics Association)

As the capacity audience was settling in on opening night of Groundworks Dance Theatre’s summer concert in Cain Park’s Alma Theatre, there was a loud electronic sound stage right.  As the eyes shifted in its direction, a lawn mower was pushed on stage.  This was followed by a series of other sounds and actions of everyday occurrences including playing golf, sunbathing, and living in suburbia.

“House Broken, as choreographed by Rosie Harerra is a series of everyday songs such as “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones, “So Happy Together” by the Turtles, “Little Boxes” by Pete Seeger, and “Cranking and Old Lawnmower,” by Million Dollar Sounds,” which, when blended together, created a zany picture of modern life via dance.

Each well executed crossroads piece between theatre and dance highlighted the skills of the newly constituted Groundworks company.   The composition, which was premiered in 2014, was well executed and delightful.  New dancers are Lauren Garson, former member of the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and Parson Dance.  You may have seen her on the launch of Microsoft XBOX 360. Michael Marquez is a 2015 graduate of The Julliard School, who has premiered a series of new creations by such choreographers as Monisa Bill Barnes, Emery LeCrone and Kyle Scheurich.  The duo blended well with company veterans Felise Bagley, Annika Sheaff and Damien Highfield.

“Remora,” in its world premiere, was a superb showcase that demonstrated the physical skills of the company.  The piece was complex and demanded and received perfect timing.

Synced to the repetitive cadence of the music created by composer Michael Wall, the non-narrative performance exploded on stage with gymnastic exertions, controlled moves, fine lifts and meaningful body contact between the dancers.   Dennis Dugan’s lighting enhanced the mood and movements.  Two highlight segments were Annika Sheaff’s solo and Damien Highfield and Felise Bagley’s duet.  The audience response was explosive.

“Boom Boom,” created by Groundworks Artistic Director David Shimotakahara in 2009, is a highlight piece in the company’s repertoire.

The number pays tribute to the essence of the blues.  As stated in the program about that musical form, “For all its pain and suffering it is also full of life.  There is loneliness and endless journey, but here is also an attitude about survival.”

The musical sounds, sometime plaintive, sometimes playful, sometimes lively, sometimes haunting, were well echoed in the dancing.

The musical score included:  “Sitting on Top of the World,” “Today I Sing The Blues,” “When the Train Comes Along,” “Hound Dog,” and “Got My Mojo Working.’

Capsule Judgement:  GroundWorks Dance Theater’s “At Cain Park’s Alma Theater” was a well danced and an entertaining evening of theatre.  The newly constituted company has a vitality and proficiency that maintains the integrity and artistic significance of David Shimotakahara’s mission of fine dancing and imagination.

Performance dates:  July 17-19, 2015


Upcoming GroundWorks performances:

Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival

July 31 and August 1 @ 8:45 pm

Glendale Cemetery, Akron


Arts in August

August 14, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

Tremont’s Lincoln Park


Fall Performance Series

October 16 & 17 at @ 7:30 pm

The Allen Theatre, PlayhouseSquare


For information about GroundWorks go to http://www.groundworksdance.orgor call 216-751-0088.