Choice performance 

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
Pike Performing Arts Center
June 16-17

Encore, a retrospective of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre works from 1992 to 2006, moves this company from “new” and “aspiring” to established status. Like Rudy, the Notre Dame football legend, GHDT is the little guy with a big heart. It’s time to recognize the repertoire and dancers for their distinctive aesthetic — a commitment to exploring cultural, social and spiritual issues and a fluidity of movement that melds ballet, modern, folk/nationalistic and skaterly technique.

The company dancing felt especially tight-knit and inspired during the June 16-17 program at Pike Performing Arts Center. The breadth and depth of the choreography unfurled in the seven works listed as those most asked for in the year-long process of soliciting audience favorites and in the newest work, which was presented at the 11th International Baltic Ballet Festival in Riga, Latvia, during March 2006.

“Out of Darkness” (1994), based on “the human soul’s need for faith,” parallels the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus two-year “spiritual journey.” Experiencing both programs within two days gives this reviewer a dual sense of urgency and hopefulness. What do we in the USA truly value? With “Imagine” (2006), GHDT offers a snapshot of what we may look like to others. What is special about us? “1968,” which premiered in 1996, is perhaps the most inspired piece because its content demands enormous emotional context from two dancers who are puppets of a restrictive political state, unable to function when freed. Chew on that.

Christine Colquitt and Martin Casanova, here as in other instances, partner to perfection. The GHDT Student Ensemble was splendid in nature’s celebratory “The Visit” (1990), and added to the shimmering quality of “The River’s Edge” (2000), the provocative “Trail of Tears” (1995) and an emotive “Bolero” (1992). “The Two Fridas” (2000) is a segment of “La Casa Azul,” a musical by Hancock and Kate Ayers. Heather King’s voice rings around the core of Rachel Rutland Maryanovskaya’s character dancing. It’s a showcase of the diversity of company talent. Sara Collister, Tara Hennig and Jesse Sebastian round out the company, with apprentices Amanda Pease, Courtney Cole and Kathryn Adams. Ryan Koharchik’s lighting design and Hancock’s costumes are essential to the look and feel of GHDT.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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