Koresh Dance Company presents Come Together Festival

Dancing into the spotlight

If you read my Facebook posts or my poems, you may think I live only for Aperol Spritzes and my lover’s kisses. But no, it’s when I am sitting in the dark, as I was at Suzanne Roberts Theatre for the Come Together Festival (presented by the Koresh Dance Company) that my heart leaps through my chest. These are ugly times, with confusion reigning over truth. But the body doesn’t lie. It gives us a window into honesty.

A duet from Dillon Anthony Shifferly's 'Out of Place.' (Photo by Julianne Harris.)

Roni Koresh has put this festival together on a shoestring for the past four years. This year, the Dexter F. & Dorothy H. Baker Foundation contributed, and, at his curtain talk, Koresh said that Richard Glassman, whom he met while swanning around Philly’s chicest bars, footed much of the bill. It’s a credit to Koresh’s personal charisma that he gets people involved with his company and with dance.

With Dance Advance, DanceBoom!, and much dance funding long gone from the city, Come Together gives 41 mostly unknown companies a spotlight (literally, lit by Peter Jakubowski) over five nights. Some, like Brian Sanders's JUNK, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D), and Koresh, already have a high national or international profile. Any of these companies could be on the playbill in festivals worldwide. I cannot imagine how this month’s Dance magazine article on Philly dance omitted Koresh. They’re the only Israeli-originated company in the city, a major dance force here for 27 years, and one of the four resident companies on Broad Street.

World-class showcase

The opening-night program’s unknowns and hardly-knowns could have been on any world stage. If you see the originality and sensuality of Melissa Chisena and Marie Brown’s two works, you'll ask why they aren’t famous. I’ve seen them both before; they are always remarkable. Their first work, Entrapment, had Chisena in a magenta sea of fabric flooding the stage. She performed backbends, variously supported by another figure hidden behind her in the folds, until Brown revealed herself. Was she Chisena’s darker self, her doppelganger, or a chimera? This dance opened so many questions. Their later work on the program, Axis, lacked the sensual mystery of the first but packed an almost mathematical punch with its angular floor work.

Molly B. Misgalla/Moving Image Dance Projekt used great music by Bahnhof Rumble, Special Ops, and the Chemical Brothers in a wonderful, almost synchronized line dance. Elbows pumped like the side rods on an old steam locomotive, connecting the driving wheels together.

To the sounds of Zap Mama, Philippines native Ani Gavino, of Malayaworks and KYL/D, stunned with her rippling back and arm movements. When she was joined by her collaborator, Kingsley Ibeneche, her legs scissored as he lifted her.

Matthew Schoening’s looped electric cello introduced Out of Place, a brisk and deftly crisp choreography for six women dancers by Dillon Anthony Shifferly. It showed tremendous strides in professionalism and individual artistry for the dancers of this South Broad Street-based company. The cast danced vertically almost throughout, but the variances of their stage placements offered something tantalizing to watch and even basic criss-crossing jetés had an original and athletic rather than balletic look to them.

With No Strings Attached, choreographer/dancer Gierre J. Godley tried his best to attach himself to Jarred Bosch-Watford, who rejected Godley’s advances until Godley turned the tables on him. Godley’s opening solo was more gripping.

With the Africanist and hip-hop style of Just Sole! Street Dance Theater’s Moments, choreographed by Kyle and Dinita Clark (later KYL/D’s Santuario) and, last, Koresh’s mélange of dances past, this ethnically and nationally diverse group engaged in universal gestures: hands clasping their heads in horror or sorrow, skipping with joy, backsides swaying. Dance functions as a luminous symbol of truths; this festival brings with it plenty of fresh truth for our times. 

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