H2 Dance Co. hits the stage

WHO AM I? — Choreographers for H2 Dance Company’s fall concert explored the idea of “Identity.” Through the four pieces, the audience is encouraged to ponder questions like “What does it mean to have an identity?” while also enjoying critically acclaimed performances. (Photos by Kelly Ocock)

H2 Dance Company’s fall concert at Hope College, opened on Friday, Oct. 28 and will continue Fri.-Sun., Nov. 4-5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre. It features the U.S. premiere of “Dieser Ort,” the work that the company performed to critical acclaim this summer during the international Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, as well as three other pieces.

While at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, H2 Dance Company was the only group out of the 22 in its venue to receive three professional reviews. Broadway Baby described “Dieser Ort” by saying, “the music alone is worth going to hear and its intensity is amplified and powerfully interpreted in this deeply expressive work.” TV Bomb said that the dancers “have a huge energy and throw themselves into what is, after all, a challenging work, with great panache,” and one4review said that “the dancers are clearly talented, and particularly so in the acting aspect of the performance.”

“To get a singular review is extremely hard at the Fringe, let alone three,” said Matthew Farmer, an assistant professor of dance and department chair who is co-artistic director of H2 Dance Company with faculty member Crystal Frazier, who also choreographed “Dieser Ort.” “This is important because the Fringe makes no distinction between professional and college companies. So audiences and reviewers come to shows expecting professional work.”

As an additional indication of “Dieser Ort’s” positive reception in Scotland, H2 Dance Company hosted 70-80 audience members during each of its performances when the average audience attendance in mid-size venues such as H2’s site at the festival is approximately 50. At any point, audience members had 308 venues from which to choose with more than 50,000 shows at the event.

H2 Dance is comprised of students and performs a wide assortment of styles by a variety of choreographers. The company strives to ensure that there will always be at least one piece in the concert that is relatable to viewers, while another will challenge the audience members.

The theme for this year’s concert, “Identity,” centers on questions such as “What does it mean to have an identity?,” “Can an individual maintain her/his own identity separate from, or in spite of, their social, cultural, religious, historic and political surroundings?” and “How is our identity shaped by our past, and can our identity reshape our future?”

Act 1 will open with a piece from guest choreographer and Hope alumnus William Crowley. Crowley’s piece, “Surrender,” is a classic modern-style trio. “Surrender” is inspired by Richard Wilbur’s quote concerning the struggle between control and submission: “What power had I, before I learned to yield?”

The first act will continue with pieces from Farmer and Frazier. Farmer’s work, “Experience(s),” is a flowing and musical dance piece that explores how the experience of the work might make a person feel and how that feeling might change a person. Frazier’s work, “Mandela” is a celebration of and homage to the life of Nelson Mandela, and showcases how one’s identity can be shaped by the life and actions of another human being. The piece is high-energy and mixes elements of Hip Hop, Afro-Caribbean and Frazier’s own dynamic dance styles
The second act will consist entirely of “Dieser Ort.” “Dieser Ort” is German for “this place,” and explores the issues of identity of self, identity in society/culture and, ultimately, one’s own identity in life.

During its touring year, H2 Dance will also be traveling to several cities, including Farmington Hills, Mich. for the Oakland Dance Festival; Chicago, Illinois, for the Chicago Tap Theater’s annual winter concert; and Big Rapids, Mich. for the Big Rapids Arts Festival.

Tickets for the performances are $10 for regular admission, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for children and students and are available at the ticket office in the Events and Conferences Office. Tickets are also available online at hope.edu/tickets.

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