Tag Archive | "Amalgamate Dance Company"

City Gate Dance Theater Company – Just Be

The Academy Theatre, Avondale Estates, GA
Sunday November 11 2012

By Chelsea Thomas.

On a Sunday afternoon in a small theater outside Atlanta, the new City Gate Dance Theater Company debuted its four-member ensemble with a dramatic, heartfelt evening of contemporary and lyrical ballet.

The company was founded in January 2011 by the husband-and-wife duo Robert E. and Jennifer L. Mason. Seeking to combine “performing and visual arts, dance theater and cinema into one stimulating and timeless event,” the pair pulls from their individual backgrounds in theater and modern dance.

Holding a B.F.A. in dance from Florida State University, Jennifer L. Mason is a triple threat in the dance world: muscular, flexible and graceful. With an inclination towards drama and a knack for breathtaking extensions, she also calls upon her training with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with Lester Horton-inspired movement.

City Gate Dance Theater Company Atlanta GA

City Gate Dance Theater Company of Atlanta presents ‘Just Be’. Photos by Richard Calmes.

Before marrying Robert and founding the company, Jennifer danced with Urban Ballet Theater, Dance Iquail and Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theater. She has also been a guest artist for local Ballethnic Dance Company and a soloist for UniverSoul Circus. While she is relatively new to choreography, it appears she takes no dreams captive.

Her husband Robert E. Mason brings a dramatic, theatrical flair to the close-knit outfit. Also sharing instruction under Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, he mostly received formal training with Atlanta Ballet. Recently, he was a member of New York’s Amalgamate Dance Company and he has toured with the cast of Oprah Winfrey’s National Tour of The Color Purple.

The couple’s company is clearly their love child, making evident his theater experience and her contemporary balletic style. Opening the show, the couple performed a short, yet extremely intense pas de deux.

Set to the music of Carmina Burana, the work Bold was certainly just that. Fusing solemn expressions with many jumps, lifts and tricks, the Masons exhibited their clear trust in one another. Unfortunately, the small stage size limited their ability to feel and dig into the work. The space constrictions left the piece feeling restricted and somewhat jilted. This attendee is left wondering how Bold might have appeared in a larger venue.

Yet, for all the constraint evident in Bold, the next work, perhaps the most natural and seamless of the evening, Transformed, held a graceful, freeing sensitivity. Even though more dancers filled the stage, audience members forgot about the small space and were allured into the vulnerable, aching movements.

Perhaps the most memorable image is that of the dancers pulling upon their loose dresses’ soft fabric, almost Martha Graham-esque. When pulling the thin fabric from their bodies their hips would jut out to the opposite direction and their heads would fall back, portraying a deep, burning desire to be liberated of the dresses’ emotional bondage.

Although the meaning was left broad and undefined, Transformed still accomplished an intimate rendering of the classic redemption story – women struggling, women triumphing. In the end, the dancers removed their dresses, representing their burdens, and welcomed life free of guilt and pain. If City Gate Dance focuses on this work’s vulnerability and its soft, organic storytelling, they will have a successful, relevant company that will make it through the rough economy.

Next on the bill was Loved, a humorous, albeit strange, duet. Regine Mayter, an experienced modern dancer hailing from Haiti, joined Robert for a back-and-forth love affair that first introduced him as a drifter and then as a desperate lover. Set to a montage of various love songs, the three-part work climaxed with Mason’s dramatic, gesture-heavy pleas for Mayter to come back to him. At its worse it was playing the border of interpretive dance as Mason cried and plunged to the floor with the lyrics, yet at its best, the work gave the show passion and the audience a good chuckle.

The last two works of the evening were contextually confusing, one vague and bewildering, and the other somewhat unrelated. However, the Masons managed to pull them into the broad theme of Just Be with heart and candor.

The work Fearless came first, with a contradictory and ominous underlying subtitle of “broken hearts” in the bulletin. At first introducing the recently-transformed women dancers as confident and reaching for the stars, the piece took an unexpected turn with odd adulterous sentiments and manipulative ties. While the movement was strong with smooth transitions, the context distracted from the evening’s larger tone.

The shows final piece, Healed, was a reworked dance originally performed at Atlanta-based Dance Canvas’ fourth annual showcase in January 2012. Interestingly enough, Healed resulted in death when the protagonist passes away from breast cancer. It was a touching, yet an unusual choice for ending the company’s debut performance. At once it exhibited the company’s strengths – lyrical, tender movement with strong extensions – and it’s weaknesses – the tendency to push too far for the theatrical and the predictable.

All in all, keep an eye on this company. The Masons have drive and passion that may mold and breakthrough with the times.

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Healing through Dance

Honoring the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 in New York City

By Katherine Moore.

September 11th, 2001 was a tragic day we will all remember forever. Now, 10 years later, New Yorkers honored the anniversary of this tragic event in a myriad of ways. Some chose to stay home with their families. Others attended church services and memorial events. Artists of all genres produced work and organized their own events to reflect upon and remember 9/11, and the dance community was no exception.

Uptown to downtown, dancers and choreographers honored those who died on 9/11 with the movement of their bodies. Jacqulyn Buglisi, artistic director of Buglisi Dance Theater, orchestrated The Table of Silence Project at Lincoln Center Plaza in partnership with Dance/NYC and The September Concert.

Beginning at 8:15am on Sunday, September 11, 2011, 100 dancers from various dance institutions, including Buglisi Dance Theatre, The Julliard School, STEPS on Broadway, and several others, performed this site-specific work. The dancers, all dressed in flowing white costumes, moved in geometric patterns surrounding the fountain, using intermittent gestures of pain and prayer, until they finally found themselves seated with arms raised.  At 8:46am, the exact time the first plane flew into the World Trade Center’s North Tower, the dancers  were entirely still with their arms lifted to the sky.

The Table of Silence Project was a collaborative work between Buglisi and Italian artist Rosella Vasta.  Vasta’s sculpture 100 Terra Cotta Plates, a work symbolizing the banquet table that unites humanity, gave Buglisi inspiration for this piece. According to Buglisi, the dancers at Lincoln Center Plaza were intended to be the personification of the plates. “I wanted to create a work where people could come to the table to listen,” Buglisi said.

Buglisi hoped that through her movement, she could bring about healing energy to the community of New York and beyond. “I have a very strong, powerful belief in the universal language of movement to promote peace and tolerance,” she said.  “The energy we send out can change the world.”

Farther downtown, The Joyce Theater, one of New York’s premiere dance performance venues, presented two concerts at Nelson A. Rockefeller Park on September 10th and 11th at 5:00pm. These commemorative performances featured the Limon Dance Company with Voices of Ascension and the Paul Taylor Dance Company with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Also on the program were Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Matthew Rushing, and a world premiere by choreographer Jessica Lang featuring dancers Clifton Brown and Jamal Roberts with musicians Yacouba Cissoko and Sam Dickey.

Lang said that it was an honor to have been asked by The Joyce to choreograph for this event. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the audience to recognize how important the presence of art is in the efforts to rebuild the community,” Lang said.

Lang mentioned that this piece was very important to her, and she also noted that choreographing a commemorative work like this had altered her typical approach to choreography. “I want to carry the message of hope, but I also want to be respectful to all the emotions that come along with the memories of that day.   Most of the time when I make a piece it might be something of a personal idea to me that carries universal images which speak to the audience.  But this time, it is a universal event that everyone experienced and there is a different sort of responsibility I am feeling.”

Taking her work all over the city, choreographer Sarah Skaggs presented “9/11: A Roving Dance Memorial” at Union Square Park, Washington Square Park and Battery Park. These 11-minute dance installations occurred at various times throughout the afternoon on September 11. The installations, based on a solo Skaggs choreographed after the attacks in 2001, also took place in Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA.

Dance New Amsterdam, one of New York’s most progressive and prominent downtown dance centers, moved to their current location shortly following the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago. Part of their larger mission was to revitalize the Lower Manhattan community after 9/11. DNA commemorated the 10th anniversary by asking dance artists how 9/11 affected their work and then showcasing their video submissions on a flat screen in DNA’s lobby.

Dancers all over New York found ways to use their art form as a way to honor the victims of 9/11. Amalgamate Dance Company even honored working dog teams, veterinarians, and VMATs who served during 9/11 with their work In the Beginning at Liberty State Park.  Dancers and dogs alike were affected by the tragic events 10 years ago, and the anniversary offered an opportunity for dance artists to reflect and remember how their lives and their work has changed.

Jacqulyn Buglisi was in New York when the towers fell.  “Artists here in New York have a deeper appreciation of our freedoms since 9/11,” she said. “Art always reflects the time in which we live. We are making that imprint in many different ways. “

Top photo: Buglisi Dance 9/11 Tribute. Photo by

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Have choreography?

Opportunities to show your work in New York.

By Katherine Moore.

Living and working as a dancer in New York City can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re new to the city. Young dancers arrive in the Big Apple full of dreams, but often with very little concrete information about how to begin their dance careers.

This task can be even more daunting for aspiring choreographers looking for venues to show their work. In many cases, young choreographers have just graduated from college dance programs, where they had unlimited space, resources, mentorship, and guaranteed venues and performances to demonstrate their burgeoning creative talent. Making the big leap to showing work in New York can be extremely challenging for a multitude of reasons, but for emerging artists and for those who hope to gain an MFA in dance and enter higher education, choreographic experience outside of undergraduate work is an essential component of a career in dance. 

Luckily, the dance scene in New York is vast and varied in its opportunities for young artists. With a little pre-planning and organization of application materials, choreographers can find themselves performing and showing work all over the city in venues specifically designed for emerging artists and new work. These venues allow choreographers to gain exposure, feedback, and networking opportunities with their peers. For some dancers who have been unlucky in their search for dance employment, these venues give young artists the ability to take their performance career under their own control by creating opportunities to be seen doing what they love most: dancing.

These opportunities take creativity, organization, and initiative to bring to fruition, and in an effort to make the task more manageable for our inspired readers, we have compiled a listing of some choreographic opportunities suited for emerging dance artists and works-in-progress in New York. Each has its own set of requirements and dynamic character, some requiring fees and extensive documentation, but with a little pre-planning and, of course, some talent, young dance artists could be performing all over the city before they know it.

The Steps Performance Lab


 Green Space

-Fertile Ground Performance Series

-Take Root Performance Series


Dance New Amsterdam

-RAW material


-Works in Progress


Movement Research

-Open Performance


-Movement Research at Judson Church


Danspace Project

-Draft Work


Amalgamate Dance Company

-Amalgamate Artist Series


Williamsburg Art neXus



Chen Dance Center



Jennifer Muller/The Works

-HATCH Presenting series 

Dance Theater Workshop

 -Fresh Tracks 


Harkness Dance Center, 92nd Street Y

-Fridays at Noon 


-Sundays at Three


Photo:  © Patrick J Hanrahan | Dreamstime.com

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