• Dance Review: Dance showcase shows real promise
    By Jim Lowe
     | November 11,2013

    Stefan Hard / Staff Photo Montpelier dancer-choreographer Hanna Satterlee rehearses for Saturday’s “Vermont Choreographers Showcase” at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio in Montpelier.

    MONTPELIER — Modern dance is thriving in Vermont if Saturday’s “Vermont Choreographers Showcase” at Montpelier’s Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio is an indicator.

    Four local choreographers — Heather Bryce, Hanna Satterlee, Isadora Snapp and Clare Byrne — showcased most diverse and intriguing works in progress. The high quality of dancing also bodes well for the future of the art form in Vermont.

    Most ambitious was Satterlee’s “Animal,” which seemed to reflect our animal natures, both physical and emotional. Satterlee, a tall elegant Montpelier dancer, opened with a lithe and athletically expressive solo that seemed to represent the machinations of the “inner animal.”

    Satterlee was then joined by dancers Maura Gahan, Sharyl Green and Avi Waring representing the physical animals, not so much imitating — though there was a bit of that — as the spirit, including stalking and mating. Members of Satterlee’s talented Teen Jazz dancers skillfully represented the pack.

    Told through a series of vignettes, with music ranging from garage band to African singing to electronic to Chopin, the line of “Animal” isn’t quite clear yet, but every moment proved intriguing. A short film by Michael Fisher of a rough human in nature was interesting but its significance wasn’t obvious.

    Satterlee plans to present the completed work at the end of February, and this preview proved promising indeed.

    Most concrete was Bryce’s “To You, Around You, About You,” an already effective piece about aging, by the Burlington choreographer. Three parts represented a marriage, illness and memories, all to an original folky score. Able dancers Jenny Peterson and John Bennett began with classic coupling dance, affectionate and elegant.

    Then, while Bennett observed from the sidelines, Peterson sat and writhed in a chair behind a projected film of her being frenetically and uncomfortably cared for. The work closes with the two in another coupling, albeit quieter and more reserved. Although the film was a bit too busy to deliver the requisite emotional weight, the dance proved a moving experience.

    Most focused was Byrne’s “White Church,” in which the Burlington dancer-choreographer, dressed as a rock star, struggles with a guitar, first to come to grips with the instrument, then to begin moving and playing — seemingly drawn from the music and look of the flutist at the other end of the stage. Effectively a struggle that at one point erupts into song that eventually concludes face-to-face with the flutist, the work proved simple and visually riveting.

    Snapp’s “27 Weeks + 5 Days,” chronicling the progress of her pregnancy, was delivered in unconnected parts. After video snippets of the Waitsfield dancer-choreographer dancing expressively at various stages, Montpelier dancer Chelsea Palin dances pretty much in the same way as Snapp, but more athletically — according to the choreographer, like she wishes she were dancing. It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes.

    Vermont is developing an intriguing professional dance scene, one that certainly bears watching.

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