The words "live music" may be expected at most New Orleans entertainment events, but the live accompaniment at the Marigny Opera House Dance Company's recent premiere was both rare for contemporary dance companies and a lively addition to the performances.
Brazilian native Diogo de Lima's Blast (pictured) featured the Young Fellaz Brass Band playing contemporary New Orleans-style brass band music for a lively 20 minutes filled with solos by the evening's five dancers. De Lima served as a sort of conductor for the piece, as it the musicians dipped into "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" riffs and the dancers kept up with it's boisterous pace and energy, with arms and legs akimbo. It concluded with rolling-on-the-ground spasms and fits. While some second-line-esque moves seemed familiar, dancers in solos seemed to add endless variations on its gestures and refrains, and there also were duets and group parts.
Choreographer Donna Crump's The Fun Police also had moments of joy, and dancers in abbreviated costumes mimicking formal dress seemed to unwind and let loose in solos, breaking free from a series of interludes of stiffer, almost slow-motion steps taken in unison. It was set to music by Kanye West, Young Jeezy, Outkast and Wiz Khalifa, performed on violin and saxophone. The piece had moments of humor in dialogue, as one female voice loudly declared, "I'll be a dick if I want to." But there were more ominous overtones, including the repeated yelling of "Boom" as dancers slowed in unison, hands in the air, perhaps celebrating, perhaps not.
Company rehearsal director, dancer and choreographer Maya Taylor's Selcouth Liaison was accompanied by a chamber ensemble of cellists performing music by contemporary composer Giovanni Sollima. Dancers Anna Iosipiv, Britney Kuehn, Trey Mauldwin and Curtis Thomas danced much of the piece in duets, and the work explored moments of joy, disappointment, longing, awkwardness and other aspects of relationships.
It was an impressive debut for the company, featuring three original 20-minute works by each of its choreographers. The pieces showed a range of styles, depth of talent and exciting use of live music and the Marigny Opera House's modestly-sized stage.