The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC) opened their two-day residency at Denison with an inspiring performance in an unconventional space – the atrium of the Burton Morgan Center – where they presented a merging of dance, poetry, and history. The audience of students, faculty, and staff stepped out from their classes and offices for an afternoon work break and watched the company from multiple angles and heights.
The performance, Steps on the Stairs, was an excerpt from a longer piece by choreographer Dianne McIntyre, who set movement to the spoken poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, a Dayton native and son of former slaves, whose stories of plantation life often influenced his work.
When the show was over, students had time for a Q & A with the company before moving into Knobel Hall and the atrium space for a vigorous movement workshop. DCDC members divided the students into smaller groups to work with them in creating their own pieces set to Dunbar’s poetry, which they performed for each other at the end of the workshop.
These events in Burton Morgan were a bit of a teaser for two nights of performance in Ace Morgan Theatre called Africa Moves!, featuring three works brought by DCDC. The first piece was an African-influenced work choreographed by Denison faculty member Stafford C. Berry and set on the visiting company. The third piece was also a DCDC performance, co-choreographed by international artists Ronald K. Brown and Donald McKayle.
The middle piece in the program was choreographed by DCDC’s Shonna Hickman-Matlock and was set on 14 Denison students selected through a highly competitive audition in February. These students trained with the rigor of professionals under Hickman-Matlock, and the results were worthy of sharing the program with a top-notch dance company.
We can’t do justice to the performances with words, but enjoy the photos below showing some of the highlights of the Dayton company’s time here.