Revolve Dance Company is the kind of ensemble that makes dancing look effortless when you know full well it isn’t. On Friday, December 10 they made this abundantly clear to a packed Barnevelder Movement/Arts audience with their sixth full-length concert, Premieres6.
The performance included, you guessed it, six premieres with works by foundational members, Amy Cain, Dawn Dippel, and Matt Dippel, plus guest choreography by Houston dance artist, Lindsey McGill, and nationally known choreographer, Wes Veldink, a frequent Revolve collaborator.
The eleven-member company’s repertoire is decidedly contemporary and somewhere in the jazz genus, but they show restraint when it comes to movement pyrotechnics, particularly for a professional company born and cultivated at a suburban competitive dance studio. All of the overstated power moves and flashy stuff are MIA, unless you consider consistently good dancing, flash.
In the middle of a mostly mellow lineup, Matt Dippel’s Wake is a welcome diversion. Opening under the midnight blues of Jeremy Choate’s contoured lighting, the company sits bowed and kneeling like monks before eventually engulfing Dawn Dippel in a pulsing, dystopian but not quite menacing mob. Ms. Dippel’s flame red hair shines like a beacon in the half-light hues, but it is her command of the stage that makes it difficult to tear your eyes away.
Science revealed recently that Earth’s moon does, in fact, hold water – more than we ever thought, actually. Yet, when has the moon not ‘held water’ for those that look upon it? Lindsey McGill’s romantic ode to moon gazing, …when the moon holds water, is layered with articulated, if not mysterious, gesture. At first it whispers, inviting witnesses to a private slow dance between dancers Amy Cain and Matt Dippel. Nuzzling, tracing, and measuring both the corporeal presence and the space once occupied by the other, the duo are folded into the geometric undulations of the full company. The choreography builds to a splash of unison at its climax, then wanes like the lunar surface, all under the ever-present double orbs in Choate’s orange heavens.
Ms. Cain’s Of This World is an exploration of the four terrestrial elements, capped with an earnest coda set to Antony & The Johnsons’ rhapsodic lament for the natural world. Houston Ballet Academy instructor and former HB dancer, Beth Everitt completed a goddess-like Air trio that also included Cain and Dawn Dippel. But, it is Matt Dippel and Lauren Difede who almost single-handedly cleanse the work of platitude with their breathtaking partnering as Water. (Jennifer Stricklin performed with Dippel in the Water duet for Saturday’s performance.)
Dawn Dippel’s Restful Retreat has familial charm and lives up to its title, though a jumble of images and props sometimes amount to contextual clutter. Everest featured three of Revolve’s junior company members and guest performances by the Senior Performance Company of North Harris Performing Arts, the studio co-owned by multiple Revolve Dance Company members. The dancers looked at home among professionals even if the dance in this context amounted to an exclamation point that NHPA is running a top-notch program. Veldink’s lyrical And I Love You, Bye is winsome but doesn’t fight hard enough to be more notable than its accompaniment. It was Cain and Ms. Dippel that demonstrated they could rival a song as big as Florence and The Machine’s Dog Days Are Over in a go-for-broke torrent of movement that morphed into a curtain call on steroids.
Contemporary dance can sometimes be identified by its boring apparel parade of pants and tunics. Therefore, deserving of mention is dancer and resident costumer, Jane Thayer who works with each choreographer to create a mosaic of costumes that manage to be individual and sometimes even surprising without being ostentatious.
Revolve Dance Company puts on a satisfying show that runs with the same kind of precision shown in the dancing. Their work is imaginative without breaking any rules. A homegrown collective, Revolve’s members are easily some of the best contemporary dancers performing in Houston and can be counted on to impress with a dignified elegance.
Reprinted courtesy Dance Source Houston