Posted on: Friday, November 7, 2003

Diversity, mastery carry show

By Carol Egan
Advertiser Dance Reviewer

 •  'Fall Footholds'

Earle Ernst Lab Theatre, University of Hawai'i-Manoa

8 p.m. today and tomorrow, 2 p.m. Sunday



"Fall Footholds," the University of Hawai'i's dance production, exemplifies the dance department's ongoing dedication to diversity in a program of works ranging from bharatanatyam and Balinese/West Javanese to modern dance to hula.

The student performers include many who have entered the profession. Ben Arcangel, for example, displays all the subtle movements and control of the best Indonesian dancers in his traditional solo, "Rumiang." Small, quick shifts of the head, malleable foot movements, the twirling of a fan are all executed with utmost control to the accompaniment of intricate gamelan music.

Equally outstanding is delicate, expressive Izumi Sato in her solo, a traditional dance of South India. Her perfection of the highly stylized bharatanatyam form proceeds from her eyes to the hand gestures that convey the story (much as in hula) to gently stomping feet with bands of bells fastened to the ankles. Seeing her dance is like watching a jewel in motion.

If Arcangel's and Sato's works focus on traditional styles emphasizing rhythmic, dynamic variations, Christine Berwin's slinky body connects one movement to the next with absolute smoothness.

Berwin also is responsible for the ambitious multimedia work that occupies the first half of the program. Conceived, directed and partly choreographed and performed by her as part of her MFA program, its central idea concerns a future time when dancers will be replaced by holograms used primarily in television advertising to convey subliminal messages.

Using actors Jeremy Pippin and Ofeibia Laud-Darku to narrate, the five sections (choreographed by Berwin, Gregg Lizenbery and Jen Irons) demonstrate the dance program's strength in the creative and technical aspects of modern dance training. The script needs reworking, but the dances are beautifully choreographed, well performed and perfectly suited to the theme.

Particularly striking is the final section, choreographed and performed by Berwin, in which ingenious use of a three-level set designed by Dan Gelbmann shows her sliding, twisting, folding over and under, stretching to, or suspending from one level to the next like liquid gold in a tower.

Further highlights include a hula solo performed by Annie Lokomaika'i Lipscomb, a charming duet — "Crackling Embers" — choreographed by Wayles E.S. Haynes and danced by Haynes and Jacqueline Nil, and Jen Irons' canonic octet set to a fun piece of rhythmic chanting composed by Ernest Toch.

Catch Fall Footholds this weekend for an entertaining evening of dance. And don't miss the magical fire dance outside at the intermission, only on Friday and Saturday evenings.

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