Lee Hartman, KCMetropolis
Now in its third incarnation, 'New Dance Partners,' hosted by the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College, brings together the talents of Owen/Cox Dance Group, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, and new this year, the Oklahoma City Ballet, for two performances on September 25 and 26.
For the past two seasons, "New Dance Partners" has offered inspired collaboration between Kansas City’s dance companies. In this third iteration, hosted again by the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College on September 25 and 26, the talents of Owen/Cox Dance Group and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company will be joined by the Oklahoma City Ballet.
Inspired by the similar program, Dance St. Louis’s "New Dance Horizons," the event pairs local troupes with nationally recognized choreographers. Michael Uthoff, executive director of Dance St. Louis, serves as N"ew Dance Partners" artistic advisor. This year’s commissioned choreographers include Brian Enos, Katarzyna (Kate) Skarpetowska, and Gregory Dawson. Their residencies began on September 1.
Skarpetowska was a member of Parsons Dance for seven seasons and danced his most iconic work, Caught, regularly. She is setting her choreography to Owen/Cox. Dawson, a faculty member of Alonzo King LINES Ballet, is working with Wylliams/Henry; and Enos, who serves as artistic director of the Big Muddy Dance Company (St. Louis) is paired with Oklahoma City Ballet; he set his first ballet with the Houston Ballet at age eighteen.
Dawson’s work, Twisted Metal, is well suited for Wylliams/Henry particular brand of strength and beauty. Often filled with angularity and jagged contortions, his works are captivating in their innovative positions that serves the music. Dawson also composed the musical component of the piece.
Owen/Cox’s strengths in partnerwork and solo is highlighted by Skarpetowska’s setting of Henri du Bailly’s ethereal La Folia: Yo Soy la Locura. Her steps often play with tempo manipulations so that when finally locked in sync, the combined effect of the music and choreography is made all the stronger. The preview video of Skarpetowska’s choreography for Owen/Cox (danced by Felicia McBride) showcases her graceful and playful musicality. Enos’s Speaking in Spheres sets eight dancers of the Oklahoma City Ballet. Pushing traditional ballet with modern elements, Enos’s choreography is engaging, artistic, and athletic.
New Dance Partners is a must-see dance showcase. Read KCM's Laura Vernaci’s review of last year’s New Dance Partners here. Tickets are now available.