Echo Park Contemporary Ballet presented its second program at Dance Place this past Friday. It was an evening of solo works by Shylo Martinez, Oscar Hawkins, Ann Behrends, Rasta Thomas, Cedric Tillman, and Kelly Mayfield, as well as a quartet piece by members of the Bad Boys of Dance.
Martinez smoldered in opening number “Art,” which provided a first glimpse of Tillman’s characteristic juxtaposition of bursts of energy and explosiveness with slower sections or pauses. And if there was any doubt about Martinez’s flexibility, Hawkins surpassed even that in his self-choreographed “Strange Fruit,” a haunting interpretation of the Billie Holiday song. Aerialist Behrends evoked more than a couple gasps from the audience with “Gravity’s Angel,” combining grace and musicality with stunning dives that stopped just a few inches from the ground. In Tillman’s untitled solo, he showed a vulnerable sensitivity that seemed utterly personal.
The highlights of the evening for me were Thomas’ “Bumblebee” and Mayfield’s “From Within.” Vladimir Angelov’s choreography was lots of fun and Thomas brought a great deal of panache and springiness to the part. Although perhaps the least acrobatic of the lineup, Mayfield danced “From Within” with beautiful lines and sensitivity– no fancy tricks needed.
The one piece that did little for me was “Maps,” the closing number, and interestingly, the only ensemble piece on the program. Jason Parsons’ choreography was thoughtful and in a way mesmerizing, but something in the execution fell flat for me. Perhaps the dancers need to build greater chemistry or trust.
While presented under the umbrella of Echo Park, the sense of this evening was really the display of individual talents, many of which were tied together by Tillman’s choreography. If the technical ability, personality, and expression of the company members and the entertaining choreography are anything to go on, it will be interesting to see what can be done in more collaborative projects.