Jaricco Dance: The legend grows ...
By Vejay Steede
Simply put, Eric Bean Jr. is a genius. After the triumph that was 2011’s ‘Return to Paradise,’ room for improvement was somewhat scarce; I mean, I did call ‘Return to Paradise’ the best thing I had ever seen on the Earl Cameron Theatre stage back then.
Well, Jaricco Dance Company’s second offering, ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ which just completed a three-night run at that very theatre, has muscled its way onto the pantheon of great works of art that have been displayed there. This, of course, puts Mr Bean, who created, choreographed, and casted the show, at two-for-two, and leaves no doubt that this young son of the soil is nothing short of a legend in the making.
I was able to attend last Friday night’s performance of this amazing dance show, and the only thing about the evening that was not absolutely fabulous was the fact that the Earl Cameron Theatre was not filled to the rafters. The room was about half full in fact, which is a bona fide travesty, because this show is very deserving of standing room only status.
I didn’t take notes. Well, not traditional notes anyway. I just jotted down words like power, precision, brilliant, sensual, grace, majesty, passion, angst, haunting, yearning, beautiful, symmetrical, and a bunch of other nouns, verbs, and adjectives meant to indicate admiration. It would have been futile to attempt full notes; the show was utterly mesmerising.
The most artistically relevant difference between this show and 2011’s ‘Return to Paradise’ was that the spoken word was sacrificed this time, in favour of a strong focus on movement. This proved to be a delicately dazzling move, making it essential for the audience to communicate more intimately with the movement on stage this time.
The eight-member company delivered two perfectly paced forty-or-so-minute halves that left the audience breathless. Full company pieces like the majestic, angst-ridden ‘Fields of Mars,’ the aggressive, precise ‘One of Many,’ and the powerful, funk-drenched ‘Defiance’ were delightfully rich, layered with whispers, phrases, screams, shouts, slaps, and various other communication devices translated into movement.
Even during full company pieces, Miss Dawnita Smith stood out. To be fair, every member of the group was stunningly competent throughout, but Miss Smith exhibited the kind of passion, panache, and artistic abandon that could only be matched by Mr Bean himself.
Miss Smith’s lovely duet with visiting dancer Micah Geyer, entitled ‘Two’ was warm and beautiful, and her stage presence was thoroughly conspicuous throughout, making it quite impossible to take your eyes off her.
Jaricco Dance veterans Dominique Willis and Fedrika Hill also shined throughout the show, with Mrs Willis delivering a hauntingly gorgeous solo piece entitled ‘One’ during the first half. Classically trained dancer Anna Clifford and Dance Therapy student Shaydrina Hassell rounded out the excellent female complement, while visiting professional Robert Tyler completed the full cast.
Again, every member of this wonderful group was impressive, but Miss Smith and Mr Bean seemed to own the dance a wee bit more. Passion, pain, angst, abandon, and the demand for freedom informed the standout performances, and made this show at least as good as the last ‘best thing’ that ever graced the Earl Cameron Theatre stage.
I was honesty not quite sure what to say about this show at intermission. The first half was fantastic, but was it as good as ‘Return to Paradise?’ – The jury was still out. Then the second half came. The second half was a seamless melding of energy, power, light, sound, shadows, menace, passion, funk, aching, poetry, and visceral, salt-of-the-earth awesomeness. Yeah, it was as good as ‘Paradise.’
The show as a whole was carnal, complex, thrilling, and utterly absorbing all at once; in short, an absolute triumph.
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