BYU's Modern Dance Division is giving its usual unusual concert, a combination of diversity and (for the most part) delight. Performances continue Friday and Saturday evenings in the Pardoe Theater.
Three works are premiered in this concert, ranging in mood from joyous to dreary. The joyous one is "And the Father Will Dance," a piece about relationships with Father in Heaven, immediate family, and the family of man. It was choreographed by Kathie Debenham and Chris Ollerton, with assistance from Pat Debenham and Gigi Ballif Arrington.This exuberant dance with a beautiful score features Pat Debenham as father, Kimberly B. Anderson as mother, and Kelby Debenham and Allison Roberts as their young daughters. The little girls almost stole the show Thursday evening. Some in the audience cheered at the conclusion of this dance.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Les Ditson's "Firstborn," an experimental piece that is dark and unharmonious most of the way.
The piece mixes primitive instruments and rhythms and a resemblance of tribal ritual with verses from a Shaker hymn, "Lord of the Dance." I believe I am not alone in my negative reaction to it. (There are some excellent singing voices among the dancers, by the way, but a monotone also stands out.)
Caroline Prohosky's "Testament" is another new work, characterizing the range of human experience found in The Book of Mormon. Dancers interpret praise, idolatry, war and destruction, a new child, and hope. The effect is most powerful when the 15 dancers move in unison. The colors and shades of costumes and the voice of Ivan Crosland as narrator also add to "Testament."
Prohosky's "Shadowdance" uses light filtered through grating to form interesting patterns on the two figures as they dance in unison. The performance by Lisa Ford Moulton and David Tinney would have stronger impact if their movements were more precisely synchronized.
Dancers in "A Second Season," choreographed by Tami Arbon, move to upbeat New Wave music with such precision and fluidity in the demanding piece that it is apparent they are well in tune with each other. Kudos to Lisa Arbon, Joy Arnell, Kim Anderson, Krista Poulson, Traci VanTussenbroek, and Wendy Wagstaff.
Competition for parking because of a basketball game prevented my seeing the first two pieces, the light-hearted "Hambone for Two" and Michelle Harrast's restaged "Wed to thine Evening's Gaze," with Becky Miller as soloist.