"We are not an ordinary dance company," affirms Stephanie Yezek when asked about her Bare Contemporary Dance Collaboration.
Together with co-founder Francesca Jandasek, the Howard County native is back in town after a whirlwind dance tour, and is hardly stopping to exhale before unveiling the duo's new work, "Gallery Space," July 24-25 at Washington's Dance Place.
Yezek began her dance training in the Howard County school system, graduating from Bucknell College in 2003. She is a lovely dancer, with the kind of lithe body that makes any choreographer's heart pound just a little ahead of the beat. In class, she glows with a warmth and joy burnished with aristocratic bearing.
Following an impressive debut on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, she gave a knock-out performance at Howard Community College last semester, proving again that our community provides fabulous dance training.
She was a Washington area finalist on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2008, and wowed the Howard County crowd at 2009's "Rising Stars" talent competition. Later that year she was nominated for the D.C. Metro Dance Awards.
Yezek actually began dancing with Jandasek in 2005 in a company called BosmaDance. The two found their performance styles to be intuitively in sync.
"Often, the dancers were given movement phrases and asked to deconstruct them, working collaboratively to make, say, a duet," Jandasek said. "I loved working with Stephanie, because if I would flip upside down, say, she wouldn't freak out, but would just go with it."
Yezek left for a year in England pursuing a graduate degree in English literature at Oxford University, but the two reconnected in the spring of 2008 with the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company, a contemporary Indian-fusion company. The two began working together collaboratively, making the team official in engagements at Baltimore's Theatre Project in 2009.
"Gallery Space" combines movement, text and video in an evening-length work encompassing three main characters struggling to find their identity in the milieu of a gallery space.
"When we walk into a gallery, what do we see?" asks Yezek. "A triptych of paintings. A video screen installation. A live performer. We come to gallery spaces to look, to perceive, perhaps to learn. Ultimately, to judge."
Jandasek, Yezek and featured actor Dan Istrate negotiate this space by embodying archetypes and characters from fairy tales, and examining themselves as individuals with the question, "What do you see when you look at me?"
The Bare Contemporary Dance Collaboration premieres "Gallery Space" at Washington's Dance Place Saturday, July 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 24, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $10 for seniors, students, teachers and artists and $8 for children (17 and younger). Call 202-269-1600.
Dance Exchange, sans Liz
Columbia dance fans have adored Liz Lerman ever since she first set foot on the Slayton House stage in the early 1980s. Over the years, Lerman has presented her Dance Exchange in various settings, ranging from fitness centers to backstage at the Kennedy Center.
Although Lerman no longer directs the company, the Dance Exchange continues its offbeat performances, much to the delight of audiences.
"lost, left, found & borrowed," a program of four new works commissioned by the MetLife Healthy Living Initiative, will premiere at the Dance Exchange studios in Takoma Park this Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m. Admission is free with a suggested donation $5 to $10.
In advance of the formal showing, beginning at 6:30 pm, Sarah Levitt and Benjamin Wegman will perform "Rest Easy," a 30-minute, site-specific installation on the Dance Exchange loading dock. Also on the program is a work-in-progress slated to have its premiere on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage Sept. 8- 9. For information, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Summer night delights
Summer dance often surprises. Last Saturday evening at Slayton House, the legendary Diane McIntyre appeared in a local benefit concert. There was hardly a word beforehand that this grande dame of dance would take the stage to join "Dancers United, A Concert for a Cause," organized by Kendall Skirven to raise money for melanoma research.
Most of the audience had turned out to see the newly formed Merge Dance Company, led by Aimee Velle Moran. Local dance star Leland Charles joined the dancers on stage for the contemporary pieces, with a notable mix of ballet and lyrical dance.
BFunk Dance and Ballet With Cindee Velle kept things moving along with samples from their contemporary repertories. However, the evening belonged to Diane McIntyre, there to honor her friend, the late Charles Skirven, according to the program.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun