DANCERS DOMINATED THEATRE LAST WEEKENDBy Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted October 8, 2017)
Dance Centre Kenya is not yet three years old, but it’s already attracted choreographers from all over the world. This we saw over the past weekend when DCK presented a dance showcase entitled ‘Urban Groove’.
First on Saturday at Purdy Arms in Karen, then on Sunday at Braeburn Theatre in Lavington, the performance featured dances newly choreographed by Kenyans (most of whom are also teachers at the Centre), Americans (including DCK’s Artistic Director Cooper Rust), Dutch, Finnish and Israeli.
What was especially charming about this program was that it showed off the diverse genres of dance that are taught at DCK. For while the Centre’s is best known for its ballet performances of classics like ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Giselle’, ‘Les Sylphide’ and ‘Pas de Quatre’, classes are also taught in everything from Jazz, and gymnastics to hip hop, contemporary dance, tap and musical theatre.
What was staged at the weekend was mainly a marvelous mix of hip hop and contemporary dance. The exceptions were a lovely ballet blend called ‘Ballerina Remix’ choreographed by Cooper and an extraordinary solo piece that combined contemporary dance with gymnastics. It was both choreographed and performed by Anat Greenburg, the stunningly expressive dancer visiting from Israel.
The other solo piece that was also choreographed and performed by the same dancer was ‘Stranger’ by Raymond Ochieng. Ray’s break dance-style of movement capsulized the spirit of ‘Urban Groove’ which was innovative, experimental and street-friendly.
There were nine dances in all, each very different. For instance, the opening piece entitled ‘Next’, conceived by the Dutch dance instructor Caroline Slot Wamaya, managed to include over 20 young dancers who are well on their way towards taking the Royal Academy of Dance exams that Cooper’s students have a shot at every year.
At the same time, many of the Centre’s star pupils had opportunities to shine on stage. They included all the girls who danced so well in toe shoes in ‘Ballerina Remix’, but also those who clearly had fun doing contemporary dance pieces like ’24 Hours in the City’, ‘Feel it Still’ and ‘Save the Streets’.
What was also impressive about ‘Urban Groove’ was seeing how many Kenyan guys are keen on contemporary dance.
The one thing we missed in Urban Groove was the chance to see Cooper perform. In fact, she’s the reason DCK came into being in early 2015. But her students represented her well as did the choreographers who’ve been drawn to DCK.Divine Ballet Dancer and co-founder of DCK Cooper Rust didn't perform in Urban Groove 2017