Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre closed its season and Christine Colquitt rounded out her nine-year career with the company dancing the multifaceted role of Esmeralda in the signature work The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Described as depicting “True beauty and heroism ... found in the every day,” the performances at Pike Performing Arts Center last weekend illuminated not only the story of “a younger, cruder Paris, before she was the City of Lights,” but equally the qualities of illumination Colquitt has brought to GHDT.
Observing Colquitt as a singular dancer in a closely-knit troupe, it’s the “small stuff” that shows the kind of breadth and depth that she has consistently brought to the company in a range of characters, be they as a corps member or in a featured role. Colquitt softens Hancock’s signature starkly angular, jerky movements, and she brings a sense of purpose to Hancock’s equally signature (and seemingly random) running about the stage.
At the close of one set, Colquitt never fails to be in position to move seamlessly into the next statement. Her sense of lyricism transcends Hancock’s stop and start choreography, marking Colquitt as a dancer’s dancer rather than a skater-dancer. And, most satisfying, is Colquitt’s willingness to be vulnerable, sharing heart and gut. She takes us into her story, her confidence, and helps us delve into the special language of the soul dance opens us to. We take from her sense of prescience not merely a performance, but another way of observing joy, pain, wonderment, jadedness, naiveté, jealousy, humor, disdain and the rainbow of loving.
Throughout, Colquitt has shown us something new, exciting and alive. She has lived inside of Hancock’s choreography, bringing to us the shape of the knowledge she has gleaned, moving the word to the heart, creating from the creation and thus showing us how and why dance is life and life is dance and why we should care.
She has partnered superbly throughout her career, most recently with Martin Casanova, with whom there has been an affinity that elates the viewer.
Colquitt has been a teacher, bringing her balance of exuberance and dignity to a new generation of dancers. Her work as a community leader in the arts has been recognized with numerous awards.
With this latest version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Colquitt shared her strengths of interpretation with a new cast, thus connecting us to the triangles of characters danced superbly by Kimberly Torivia as Fleur De Lys, Oleg Gorboulev as Phoebus, Robert Gosnell as Dom Claude Frollo and Cory Lingner as Clopin, and to the corps with whom Esmeralda interacted.
Even when this reviewer took the company to task for failing to connect viscerally, Colquitt stood out as the lone member who did connect. Always she delighted in the costumes created by Hancock and lighting designed by Ryan Koharchik. Technically, she is as fine a dancer as we can hope for. She could have competed for a position in any number of other nationally known companies elsewhere. That she chose to be here is a tribute to her and a gift to us. We wish her well in her new endeavors."