Image result for cvncNC Dancers Grace American Dance Festival

By Kate Dobbs Ariail
June 19, 2013 – Durham, NC:

The American Dance Festival has struggled in recent years to find ways to present and nurture choreographers working in this state, while at the same time bringing dance artists working at the highest level from around the world. This season, for the first time, the ADF made an evening of NC dance part of its Reynolds Theater series. In conjunction with the North Carolina Dance Festival, the ADF presented four quite different dances as a sampling of what’s going on in the North Carolina dance world.

The format of several works by various artists danced serially on a bare stage under similar lighting would have been familiar to anyone who has attended NC Dance Festival events over the past 20+ years. The NCDF, led by Jan Van Dyke, herself a choreographer and dancer, has doggedly pursued attention for contemporary dance, sometimes with scant success. On the 19thhowever, she was smiling as she introduced the program, for the house was full and buzzing. The audience also proved to be attentive and enthusiastic.

I found the program quite refreshing because, individually and as a group, this was dance about connection — personal connections, individual stories — rather than Big Theme choreography about contemporary social conditions and struggles, abstracted, as we had seen in the previous two ADF programs (Shen Wei and The 605 Collective). It opened with a delightful romp by choreographers/dancers Lindsey Kelley and Mindy Upin called A Tribute and Reflection of the Relationship. This sassy, sweet, straightforward duet is set to the music of Queen, but they could have used “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The no-angst frolicking, smart rather than clever, used natural movement, popular dance styles and references to yoga and Pilates. It was not surprising to learn that Kelley and Upin have both worked with Monica Bill Barnes. Like hers, Kelley and Upin’s good-natured exuberance gives hope for the future of dance as a pleasure. A Tribute…certainly is enjoyable, and if it perhaps draws a bit on Barnes’ Luster (which premiered at ADF 2012), that’s another tribute.

. . .




By Laura Di Orio

September 28-29, 2012
Steps On Broadway

For the first time, Steps Repertory Ensemble, the resident contemporary dance company of Steps on Broadway in New York City, presented an evening of 11 new works created by members of the Ensemble themselves. What came to life was an evening of these talented young dancers dancing with each other, for each other and performing work by each other.

Each dancer had a moment to speak before his/her choreography. Some took this time to explain the piece or his/her intention, and some said little and chose to let the work speak for itself. There seemed to be shared themes of love and quirkiness; motifs probably prevalent in these young people’s lives. All in all, the evening showcased some definite up-and-coming dance talent and also introduced some new, interesting choreographic voices.

The Ensemble dancers are undoubtedly lovely performers and excellent technicians, but this performance became more about their skills as dance makers, which, for some may have been a first.  .  .

Another playful piece was Victor Larue’s La Vie en Rose, set to the famous song by Edith Piaf and danced beautifully by Ensemble rehearsal director Mindy Upin. Larue introduced his piece as one’s “own story” and encouraged the audience to interpret it as they wanted. Upin resembled a curious young girl in the piece. She’s a petite woman and she wore girly lace socks. Her character danced as though she was always on the verge of falling; trying to be cool and calm but always aware of people watching. Upin is a likeable, theatrical performer and undoubtedly was a natural choice for this role. . .

The closing piece of the evening, Modnar is Random, was Upin’s own creation on the Ensemble. She prefaced the work by saying she was motivated by the oddities she saw during the summer in NYC. This was the first time we saw the entire Ensemble onstage together, and it was refreshing to see so many talented bodies, all unique in personality and movement quality, complement each other so well. The dancers started as a collective walking mass traveling through space, all dressed in some variation of cut-off jeans. One by one they left and changed into shiny, colorful leggings.

Modnar is Random was a well-crafted, enjoyable piece. As New Yorkers, the work brought out familiar gestures and made us recognize what Upin observed during the summer months. The dancers traveled through random pathways and came together for dynamic unison phrases. They finished in a slow motion clump downstage, where Halperin acted as though she was rocking out to her headphones, and the audience was left with a smile.

It was exciting to see so much dance, so much movement, in one evening. It was apparent that the dancers had all spent a considerable amount of time on their creation, and while some may have been more successful than others, it was inspiring to see so many ideas and voices in such a young crowd.


Ensemble on Ensemble

By the Steps Reportory Ensemble

Off Off Broadway, Dance
Steps on Broadway, 2121 Broadway

by Joseph Samuel Wright on 10.13.12



  • Innovative new dance from the next generation
  • The cutting edge of movement composition
  • Ongoing programming at Steps on Broadway

BOTTOM LINE: Ensemble on Ensemble was an invigorating presentation by the up-and-coming generation of dance artists.

Ensemble on Ensemble evolved as a way for the Steps Ensemble to explore creating their own pieces using fellow ensemble members. Initially, the ensemble members each created a solo piece featuring another dancer, then over the summer they began work on a larger dance piece. These pieces were rehearsed, explored, and finally presented to an audience September 28 and 29, 2012 as part of the Steps on Broadway’s ongoing “Steps Beyond” program. Steps Beyond “embodies the philosophy that Steps on Broadway is a studio for professionals, and for dancers training to be professionals. Its missions is to connect dancers with the wider artistic community by providing opportunities to translate and interpret their daily dance training into performance, and to gain access to people working in the industry.” Eleven exciting new dance pieces premiered in September featuring both the members of the Steps Repertory Ensemble and a sprinkling of guest dancers. It was an invigorating presentation of new works by a diverse range of voices. . .

The night ended with Modnar is Random, an intricate piece of polyglot styles by Mindy Upin for the whole ensemble. Satirically silly, aesthetically exciting, and kinetically impressive, Modnar is Random serves as Williamsburg’s answer to “The Rich Man’s Fugue.” Upin’s work belies a fabulous sense of irony, and a presentation and energy that brought down the house and closed the night with a bang!


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