Barrettwerks & Voci Dance

Barrettwerks & Voci Dance

Barrettwerks & Voci Dance
Choreography by Ellie Potts Barrett
Johnny Holloway Theatre, Orlando, Fl

So often, the coolest stuff happens in the spaces with the worst seats. The Johnny Holloway Theater lurks in an unexpected industrial area off East 50, and features carpet-covered bleachers for the Extreme Dance Enthusiast. The more comfort oriented can grab a Wal-Mart lawn chair and sit off to one side with a good view of the wings. It’s worth the inconvenience as tonight’s show features the choreography of St Augustine based dance legend Ellie Potts Barrett, and the virtuoso Voci dancers.

We open with “Sonata Cantata,” featuring the entire company of over a dozen dancers. The music is one of J.S. Bach’s greatest hits, and while we regard him as a WMFE long hair, the dancers were clapping and dancing, tying today’s pop sensibilities to the same genera of 4 centuries ago. Voci stalwart Mila Makarova next appears for “Interlude”, a simple, alluring performance set over a dark and moody Jazz arrangement from Simon Henneman. “And Yet another Tango” introduces a pair of dancing couples, improvising on the classic tango moves with a bit of vinegar, then joining up for a clever foursome united in one dance formation.

Genevieve Bernard interjects a piece I’ve seen before, but still find enjoyable – the video age “Monitor.” Constantly regenerating arrays of dancers play video games over a Space-age sound track. Their thumbs never stop moving, their bloodshot eyes never lose focus, and the defeat of entire star systems are summarized with half of a high 5, followed by another epic pixel battle.

The enigmatic “Two For Tutu” wraps up the first half of the show with a soft parody of “Swan Lake”. I think I see a swan dying up there, but it might just be some loose Sugar Plum Fairies. The images are iconic, and by pushing the edges of the moves and costumes of Tchaikovsky, we tie modern dance to the classics, just as in the Sonata Cantata does with the pop hit.

The highlight of the second half, “For Opal”, is based on a true story of a young woman who went insane and spent most of her life in an institution. Here Barrett dances us thought the journey from a relatively carefree youth into the horrors of state institutions and the loss of freedom of will and actions. It’s a difficult piece, at least for the audience, but shows that dance can depart the completely abstract and portray the real world without reducing itself to mime.

While the dancing was superb, the transitions from piece to piece felt over long, and with the packed house tending to chat amongst themselves, that production flaw lessened the impact of the evening. Nevertheless, the Holloway is an excellent dance space, and sometimes it’s good to suffer for the art you care about.

For more information of Voci Dance, visit

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