Olney Theatre Center’s suite of summer programming continues strong with Dance Around the World, a two-part series that features dance troupes with traditions from across the globe. The first part of the series alone included acts that represent “over one third of the world’s population,” as explained by Kevin Mcallister, director of curated programs at Olney, in his intro to the performances. What followed was an inviting and interactive evening of dance and storytelling.
The show got off to a very strong start with Kankouran West African Dance Co., a D.C.-based outfit founded by Assane Konte, who introduced the troupe and provided educational interludes throughout, in addition to performing himself. “We preserve our history through music and dance,” said Konte, explaining that this kind of performance helps to tell an authentic story of West African cultures.
The troupe’s impressive drum corps started the show, warming up the stage and revving up the audience as well. In keeping with the interactive nature of the night, musicians at several points got the audience clapping in rhythm. The already-high energy mounted higher when the dancers arrived on stage, with the audience continuing to clap as rhythmic backup. In all, it was a joyful and celebratory start to the show.
…an inviting and interactive evening of dance and storytelling.
Next up was Rhythmaya Dance, a dance academy based in the DMV which teaches and performs Indian dance. Outfitted in glittering costumes, the opening duet was an enjoyable skit, mixing traditional Indian dance styles with a soundtrack of Justin Bieber.
As with KanKouran, the studio teachers Nirathi Rao and Shelia Oak provided context for dance and music traditions, both showing and telling. In a wonderful duet, Rao sang a ballad in traditional style as Oak expressed the song’s themes through dance. Rhythmaya teaches a diverse range of Indian dance styles, from traditional Kathak to Bollywood, many of which were on display during the evening. The section ended with a very fun, full audience lesson, with easy-to-follow directions.
Cristina Camacho & Co. performed last, but definitely not least, with a world-premier piece choreographed by Cristina Camacho, a DMV native, who is also the associate producer of the Dance Around the World series.
Titled “Machismo,” the performance featured five dancers who deployed appropriately strong and liquid moves, reflecting hip-hop and modern dance styles. After the performance, Camacho organized a joyful hip-hop cypher, a semi-circle which invited performers and audience members alike an opportunity to show off their free-style dance moves.
Running time: About 90 minutes with no intermission.
The first Dance Around the World perfromance was July 21, 2021. The second part of Dance Around the World will be performed on July, 28, 2021 featuring Company E, Xuejuan Dance Ensemble, and CHR PROJECT by Charles Renato. All performances are FREE and performed at the Root Family Stage at Olney Theatre Centre. For more information, click here. The series is part of Olney Outdoors.
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