If the powerful performance of “Dog without Feathers” at the Eisenhower Theater last night is any indication of what the Kennedy Center’s Ballet & Dance Season has to offer, we’re in for a wild ride. After covering dance for four decades, this writer thought she had seen it all. But Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker’s “Cao Sem Plumas” (the Portuguese title) was something else again.
Inspired by the poem by Brazilian author Joao Cabral de Melo Neto, Colker’s Company takes us to the hidden, secret world of the Capibaribe River Region. Both the poem and the dance trace the river’s flow in the northeast area of the country, a starting point to reach the wilderness beyond. Here we meet the mud-covered dancers on the mud-covered stage, created by Colker in collaboration with her long-time set designer Gringo Cardia who provides the dancers with massive climbing walls and cages to climb up, down, in and out.
Colker’s company of 14 deserves praise for its visually striking performance of “Dog without Feathers,” though there’s no dog portrayed – crabs, snakes and birds, instead.
The company spent weeks living in this region where the authenticity of movement and facial expressions is depicted brilliantly by Colker and her cinematography genius, Claudio Assis. Jorge du Peixe and Berna Ceppas keep the dancers moving constantly to the beat of their Afro-Brazilian musical score.
There’s a certain fresh, uninhibited and politically inspired way of dancing that Brazilians manage to pull off. It came into being in 1980’s post-modern dance era and continues to crop up now and then, especially in the multi-media works by Colker’s company, last seen at the Kennedy Center in 2010. For decades now, Brazil’s borders have been open to artists from all over the world. The result is an artistic freedom and style that stress adaptability, theatricality, versatility and non-predictability.
Think Samba. Or those fleet-footed Brazilian soccer stars who dazzle us with their amazing feats on the field. And who could forget the XXXI Olympiad, “Rio 2016,” where Deborah Colker and her creative team gathered 3,000 performers in a glorious tribute to her country?
So it’s not surprising that Colker has once gain come up with an amazing tale put to music and dance. And like her contribution to the Olympics and her work with Cirque du Soleil, “Dog without Feathers” is less about plot and more of a visual treat of curiosity, surprise, and astounding physical stunts. Colker’s company of 14 deserves praise for its visually striking performance of “Dog without Feathers,” though there’s no dog portrayed – crabs, snakes and birds, instead.
Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission.
Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker wraps up “Dog without Feathers” tonight, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in the Eisenhower Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW in Washington, DC. For tickets, visit the box office or purchase them online.
Since the Cia de Dance Deborah Colker ends its too-short KenCen engagement this Saturday, here’s a heads up on terpsichorean delights next week. Damian Woetzel, the former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer turned director, choreographer and producer, returns with friends and colleagues for his “DEMO: Gathering” at the Center’s Terrace Theater Monday, Oct. 29. Here’s a chance to see some up-and-coming stars (and some veterans, too) in cross-genre performances. I remember some fabulous tap dancing mixed in with a classical trio. This show is always a treat for all ages.
Kicking off the Kennedy Center Ballet Series, the San Francisco Ballet returns to the Opera House in a program called “Unbound: A Festival of New Works,” two separate programs at the Kennedy Center Opera House Oct. 23-28. You can’t lose with Program A that features works by Trey McIntyre, Christopher Wheeldon and David Dawson. Then again, there are winners by Edwaad Liang, Cathy Marston, and ballet’s hot star Justin Peck on the second offering.
For information on subscriptions and individual performances, Call the Kennedy Center at toll free 800-444-1324 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.