Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bada Boom!

Last weekend, I did not go to church, but perhaps I should have after seeing Simone Sobers Dance's event, "Visions of Grandeur: An Evening of Burlesque". Before seeing the show at Theater 54 at Shetler Studios in New York City, the little bit of burlesque that I knew about was from the 2010 film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, titled, "Burlesque".  So, I knew there would be sexy attire and removal of clothing (not down to nudity of course), and sensual, yet tasteful dance choreography.

The show started with guest artists, Alisa Fendley and Marissa Maislen, with a very unique burlesque piece. The interaction between the two women had quite humorous moments, with one of them portraying a shy demeanor and the other being persuasively sensual. However, I felt that some of the movement was awkward and had awkward transitions. I felt more confused than excited. There was little removal of clothing, which was fine, but I just didn't know what to expect because of the jagged, abrupt movements. The mood changed with the main artists of the performance known as "Chocolate Decadence", with Titilayo Derricotte as Mocha Snaps, Epiphany Davis as Red Velvet, and Simone Sobers as Cinnabunz.
photo credited to:

They performed as a trio three times throughout the performance, and overall, there movement seemed too "cutesy" rather than sexy. Not to say they needed to be erotic and over-the-top, but their upbeat, cute movement overbalanced their sensuality. It was still enjoyable to watch. However, I would have loved to have seen better facial expressions and interaction with the audience because of the incredibly intimate setting of the stage to the seats of the audience. I was also expecting more cohesive movement with each other. In other words, a little bit more of rehearsal time would have made the movement even more enjoyable. I was most impressed by guest artist, Kamaria Dailey, who danced to Beyonce Knowles' version of the ever-famous, "Fever". She had great stage presence and interaction with the audience and was effortless with her sensuality and transitions. I thoroughly enjoyed her piece, and she seemed to have been a professional burlesque dancer.

The solos performed by each member of "Chocolate Decadence" varied greatly and were each enjoyable to the eye. The most extreme removal of clothing came from Simone "Cinnabunz" Sobers when her piece ended with her wearing breast tassels. She fooled me for sure, because when she turned around, I honestly thought she was going to be topless! But it was done tastefully and very sexy. There were 3 lucky audience members who were involved with the finale piece and got to sit up close and personal to "Chocolate Decadence". There was even a number that was done with a black light and the girls wore white lingerie and gloves. Overall the performance's individual pieces varied from each other, and it was nice to see the women had technical dance training included with their sensual movement. Burlesque is always going to be sexy, so these women conquered the task of being sexy and giving a good performance.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Step Up" or Step Down?

Capturing dance on film is always a tricky endeavor. There are important factors to incorporate in order to please the eye and grasp the entire essence of the movement being performed. You can't zoom in when there's a soloist dancing, because you lose the big picture of his or her movements. You can't pan across a stage or set, because the dancers will run out of frame. So, yes it's certainly a task to film dance, but under the direction of Scott Speer, "Step Up Revolution" succeeded with the filming aspect.  However, the plot seemed so similar to previous "Step Up" films: there's a love interest and there's a controversial fighting basis. The best aspect of this film, was the camera work with great angles of the dancers from which viewers can appreciate and feel connected to the movement. And of course, the dancing and choreography was unbelievably impressive.

Photo credited to
Getting into the plot, we are introduced to the infamous, traffic-stopping, high-thrilling energy of the flashmob dance crew known as "the MOB" in the streets of Miami. The opening dance sequence was packed with dynamic hip-hop choreography that included dancing on cars, flipping on stilts, and really utilizing the environment of the street scene. On a personal note, I loved the diversity of dancers used in the scene. I am a supporter of different body types, heights, hair texture, skin color, and more when it comes to dancers. All that matters is how they move, and I was sold by the way the dancers moved. Leader of "the MOB", Sean, played by Ryan Guzman, meets Emily, played by Kathryn McCormick. With her beautiful dance technique and excellent training, she strives to become a professional dancer but seems to lack the extra character and drive the director of the company she wants to join expects from her. Emily's father threatens to destroy the historic neighborhood for his hotel expansion and ultimately displace thousands of people. Emily teams up with "the MOB" to voice their disagreement against her father through the means of dance. Without giving away the ending of the film, I will simply say, the plot is very predictable and is jam-packed with diverse dance sequences: from hip-hop, to contemporary, to tutting and locking. And along with great dancers came familiar faces throughout the film.

There were cameos by Mia Michaels, Stephen "Twitch" Boss and of course Kathryn McCormick from "So You Think You Can Dance", Adam Sevani, and choreographer/dancer Luam Keflezgy. It was great to see so many familiar faces of the dance world in one film! I could not help but smile at every familiar face I saw. Overall, it was a pretty good film with a lot of great dance flare. Kudos to choreographers: Christopher Scott, Jamal Sims, Chuck Maldonado, and Travis Wall for capturing the spirit of dance and life on film. Am I hoping there will be another "Step Up" film? Not at all, but these dancers are greatly talented and did a superb job with the film. I will leave with this statement: It may be time for "Step Up" to just "step down".