Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

My Photo
Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dance Theater of Harlem November 8, 2013

Dance Theater of Harlem: Elevating the Cerritos Center
                       By Glen Creason

     This is sort of a backwards review of the marvelous concert performed by the Dance Theater of Harlem at the Cerritos Center over the weekend. Starting at the last segment of a trio of thought provoking and superbly danced offerings I would have to say that “Contested Space” in one half hour was good enough to justify the price of admission all on its own.  The number choreographed by Donald Byrd with a fascinating blend of sound and music by Amon Tobin allowed ten dancers to express the meaning of relationships which flowed from rapturous infatuations to troubled choices to commitments to stay and grow together. This was truly an ensemble piece with an energetic backbone and individual expression that demanded a lot from the young performers. While each had their time to shine the diminutive Alexandra Jacob really lit up the stage and the upper balcony in her role. Overall, this finale was so captivating that it was hard to say goodbye to the troupe from the neighborhood once called “Black Mecca.”

     That is not to say the rest of the program was not excellent which it was from start to the aforementioned wonderful finish. The curtain raiser was a spiritual and rather classical piece called “Gloria” which was dedicated to the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem and featured a pitch perfect score by Francis Poulenc to accompany the choreography of Robert Garland which leaned toward ethereal ballet movement. “Gloria” was centered on principal dancers Taurean Green and Jenelle Figgins who lived up to the term “principal” with a sublime grace yet the sweet touch here was the use of little girl dancers who added a purity and gained huge applause for their contribution. The large and meaty middle of this delightful show was the complicated and dense “past carry forward” that illuminated the great migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north to find work in the early 20th century. Without words and with just the driving piano of Willie “the Lion” Smith as a backdrop the dancers made you feel the loneliness and suffering of those who left families behind to toil in factories or become Pullman porters or join the military out of desperation.  The concluding fifteen minute free-form expression of the dream of living free of racism was powerful and beautifully done by the ten dancers who performed with great dignity and style.