“Contemplations on Legacy.” Performers: VTDance II. Photo by Caleb Spenser.
Dancer/choreographer Vincent Thomas touches us with his powerful dance message.
Off stage, the dancer/choreographer stands a stunning 5 foot 11 inches tall, with incredibly generous arms and legs that go on forever. When he dances, he stretches his arabesques and lengthens his high flying leaps to look even taller, at least seven feet from the tips of his toes to the top of his shaved head.
As a performer, Thomas’ long, lithe body and intense projection make him one of those dancers who can stand perfectly still on stage and not lose the audience’s attention. But as serious as he is, every once in a while you can catch him smiling in performance, as if wondering silently, ‘’Hey, you, are you watching?”
…national treasure…all the dancers performed with passion and power.
What a treat to see this national treasure on stage, celebrating his 20th anniversary at Baltimore Theatre Project, where it all came together for him. At first he didn’t show off his clear, gorgeous dancing but spoke instead. He sang the blues, or was it a hymn of praise?
In the opening piece, “Suite 20,” set to cool music by Jason A. Baker and James Brown, Vincent Thomas joined the company for an audience call and response that he originally created in a dance-for-everybody class. “These are my hands…these are not your hands,” he shouted to the audience as he lifted his arms like Percy Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound” and we were mesmerized with this joyous gesture. He greeted friends, family, local dance fans, and gave a nod to those sitting in the front row.
“…drifting into consciousness.” Performers: Vincent E. Thomas snd Thomas Tyger Moore. Photo by Caleb Spenser.
Thomas has been exhilarating us with his audacious, eloquent, and dramatic works ever since he first started his company in 2003. He want to make the world better, one step at a time. He brings social issues into the dances, but even more valuable than his hard-hitting contribution is the continuing blast of freshness in his works.
All the other works were from projects Vincent Thomas has started and hopes to present in full next year. “‘Praise’ is part of a much larger work that was first developed in the Box Festival at Dartmouth College and continued in Hudson Valley and will premiere in 2024,” he mentioned in the phone call. “It’s about recalling stories, having conversation with church leaders (‘eye opening,’ he says) and helping us expand—’opening the wide spectrum.’”
He questions how the Southern Baptist congregation can impact us.“Come Change” is described as “humanistic” that comes out of his work,” Project Witness.’ In the Sunday show, all the dancers performed with passion and power. “Praise” is a baptismal experience and frustration with dogmatic religion without hitting the audience over the head.
Alone on stage, Sade Morgan, a senior at TSU, closed the program with Thomas’ “Praise, the Journey Still Planting.” She shook her head up and down, back an forth, allowing her hair to fall forward and backwards to a rhythmic beat by musicians Quinn Ketteringham and Marco Hague, both fun to watch.
Thomas prefers to allow for as much spontaneous movement as possible in his performances, certainly true at the Theatre Project shows. We are left with a big smile and anxious to see more of VTDance.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
“VTDance Celebrates 20th Anniversary” ran April 22 and 23, 2023 at Baltimore Theatre Project,
Vincent Thomas will present his “Men Dancing” at Towson University’s Spring Dance Program Wednesday, May 3, Thursday, May 4, Friday, May 5, Saturday, May 6, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. at Stephens Hall Theatre, Towson, MD. Students from Baltimore County Middle Schools and High Schools will participate in “Men Dancing.”
This summer, Vincent Thomas heads to the Kennedy Center’s Residency Program, an honor that he greatly appreciates. He will present “Garden of Clay, Life Lessons and Legacy,” with a nod to Clay Taliferro, who also has had an extensive involvement with American dance, earning an international reputation as an award-winning performer, teacher, and choreographer. We will keep you posted on the Center’s Millennial Stage show sometime in early August.