Dancers skimmed across the stage of Clarence Brown Theatre, balancing fellow dance members above their heads and holding them individually around their torsos. The blend of aerial arts and modern ballet marked the show's production in an innovative and original manner.
GO! Contemporary Dance Works, a local Knoxville nonprofit dance company, performed Oct. 12-13 at the Clarence Brown Theatre to an excited crowd of friends and family. The group performed mainly modern dance, combining contemporary music with more traditional ballet-esque choreography. They fused this style with aerial and trapeze-centered pieces reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil.
This gravity-defying movement is indicative of physical prowess and the dynamism of the dance members united in movement.One of the pieces, "In Progress," featured four dancers depicting a stroke. Denise Njuguna choreographed this piece because the bass line of the song reminded her of the gait pattern of someone who was a stroke victim.
"My background in dance and experience in physical therapy helped me think about the process of a stroke, the emotional grieving process and rehabilitation," Njuguna said.
Athleticism and aesthetics are combined in their performances to draw audience members that may not consider themselves to be connoisseurs of performing arts, according to Jill Frere, a guest artist choreographer of GO!
"Dance isn't just fun; it is inspirational," said Frere, a guest artist choreographer of GO! "You should leave a dance performance ready to do stuff – like leaving a rock show. You feel empowered. Some pieces can be cathartic and help process emotions."
In 2002, GO! started through the efforts of Lisa McKee, the artistic director of GO! The dance company reaches out to a wide age range of dancers."
GO! Contemporary Dance Works is for middle school and beyond and is an opportunity for girls who really love to dance," said Marilyn Sease, an exploratory freshman.
The studio that houses the company is Studio Art for Dancers, of which McKee is also the artistic director. Many of the members from GO! are also students of this dance studio. "Go! elevates enthusiasm for the arts and brings people into theatre," McKee said. "We hope to go beyond what's expected and be progressive."
"Angst" was the final performance of the night, and it was set against the backdrop of Metallica's "Apocalyptica." With black and white costuming and aerial moves, dancers explored the themes of good and evil that framed the performance.Frere, who has a history of work with dance companies in New York, aims to keep Go!'s performance at the highest level possible.
"The company is a unique opportunity because the level of the work is so high quality," Frere said. "The work blends modern and aerial dance, so it's very rare and very versatile."