Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, California.
August 5, 2017.
The Capezio A.C.E. Awards are always a highlight on the summer dance calendar for me. It’s a feast of new movement and the pushing of choreographic boundaries by a host of talented up-and-coming dance creators. As always, the 2017 competition, hosted by Dance Teacher Summit and Dancer Palooza in Long Beach, didn’t disappoint.
The evening started strong with a tap piece by Nick Young titled “The Light”, performed by Rhythmatic Tap Co. It was rhythmically beautiful, taking us on the journey of a couple’s relationship. Young deservedly took home third prize for the work.
The next piece to pique my interest was Terry Tansey Schulke’s “The Value of Nothingness”. With poignant staccato-like movement to a spoken soundtrack and the clever use of an elastic string, Tansye Schulke talked to us about how we are all born with nothing, and no matter what happens in between, we all leave with nothing. It was a reminder of the fragility of life and about focusing on what’s really important.
“Falling” by Lukas McFarlane was a personal favorite and an obvious standout, taking runner up. It took us on a journey with a couple in the midst of a painful break-up, with ingenious and daring partnering work, which morphed unexpectantly into the break-up stories of all the dancers in the piece. It was full of passion and real conviction with every movement.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Jared Jenkins’ “The Move” and Erica Marr’s “Dangerous”, but the highlight of the evening was Rudy Abreu’s “Creeks”, with the stunning Audrey Case amongst a cast of fierce male dancers. It had a captivating ebb and flow, and every movement in perfect unison had such intention and energy. I was shocked that Abreu didn’t place.
The talented team of Will Johnston and Marissa Osato took home the top prize with their intoxicating “Peel”, performed by Entity Contemporary Dance. Fitting of the prize, this piece felt like it was just the beginning of a much larger work, and it had us all intrigued and wanting more. I was unsure of the symbolism of seven glass bowls that were featured heavily in the piece, but I wanted to understand and go on the journey with the dancers, who gave us some unique and vibrant movement. I look forward to seeing how Johnston and Osato build on this piece to create a full-length show with their prize money.
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.