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XCape Dance Company at the Hult Center: October 7, 2016

Xcape Dance Company presented X last night, at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theatre. Artistic director and choreographer Vanessa Fuller offered a high-energy evening, with her own company, and visiting guests.

            The first half of the program’s highlights included a salsa number, well-executed by Jenna Trotter and her partner. Nathan Boozer’s Work Dance Company made a splash with Pitbull, featuring Boozer himself on a leash. Ari Zreliak-Hoban and Cindy Zreliak’s ZAPP offered a cheeky entrée to HipHop. And the Dance Factory had fun with their tribute to Michael Jackson, with choreography by Roshny Bhakta.

            Fuller’s work is confident and stylish, as evidenced in Candy, and All About Dat Booty. Her dancers, of varying ability and technique, all work hard for her, expressing exuberance and joy of movement.

            Pieces, a group number featuring singer Isaac Turner and a projected film, suffered a bit from staging issues, as the various components fought for primacy.

            Singer Shelby Trotter brought the exciting element of live music to the stage for Latch,and while her performance took a few pitches, it was earnest and complimentary to the dancer’s freestyle explorations.

            Mason King’s solo was the standout in the first half. Thoughtful, compelling, and with an inherent structure.

            After intermission, Fuller offered her version of Cell block Tango, from the 1975 musical Chicago. Bob Fosse left some pretty big shoes to fill, and the question is: Do we imitate his unmistakable style, or do our own thing? Well-danced, this piece somehow felt disjointed, like a combination of sexy pedestrian movement, and dance tricks.  

            Drops of Jupiter, along with Say Something in the first half, expressed a more lyrical side for Fuller, with younger dancers gamely delving into the balance, extension and form required.

            Flex offered Urchin by Angela Dunham, a meditation on shape and relationships.

             And throughout the second act, Fuller’s work expressed a variety of moods.  Her solo for a young dancer in Hot Note was lively and appropriate, for the dancer’s age, and abilities.

            (Note: Individual dancers have not been credited in the program, except where they were also choreographers.)

            Aesthetically, Fuller’s work is vibrant and fun, but throughout a whole evening, one sees the same recurring lexicon of moves that she relies on.

            And the overall effort seems to focus on creating a multitude of shorter pieces, rather than on developing any one piece beyond the length of a piece of popular music. Throughout, dancers mouth the lyrics to songs.

            Most pieces are in unison, which is difficult to pull off with a variety of technical levels, and front facing.

            Izikuala Huntley presented a solo last night that underscores his technical artistry, and strong musicality. It would be interesting to see what he would do with a group work.