The Olney Theater Center’s summer lineup continues with Dance Around the World, a two-part series that features traditional dance troupes from around the world. The first part of the series alone included acts that represent “more than a third of the world’s population”, as Kevin Mcallister, Director of Organized Programs at Olney, explains in his introduction to the performances. An inviting and interactive evening of dance and storytelling followed.
The show got off to a great start with Kankouran West African Dance Co., a DC-based outfit founded by Assane Konte, who introduced the troupe and provided educational interludes throughout, in addition to performing. “We preserve our history through music and dance,” Konte said, explaining that this type of performance helps tell an authentic story of West African cultures.
The troupe’s impressive corps of drums started the show, warming up the stage and enthralling the audience as well. In keeping with the interactive nature of the night, the musicians repeatedly made the audience applaud in rhythm. The already high energy soared higher as the dancers arrived on stage, with the audience continuing to applaud as a rhythmic backup. All in all, it was a happy and celebratory start to the show.
…an inviting and interactive evening of dance and storytelling.
Next is Rhythmaya Dance, a DMV-based dance academy that teaches and performs Indian dance. Dressed in sparkly costumes, the opening duo was a pleasant skit, mixing traditional Indian dance styles with a Justin Bieber soundtrack.
As with KanKouran, studio teachers Nirathi Rao and Shelia Oak provided context for the dance and music traditions, both showing and telling. In a wonderful duet, Rao sang a ballad in traditional style as Oak expressed the song’s themes through dance. Rhythmaya teaches a diverse range of Indian dance styles, from traditional Kathak to Bollywood, many of which were on display during the evening. The section ended with a very fun and comprehensive lesson with easy to follow instructions.
Cristina Camacho & Co. performed last, but certainly not least, with a world premiere piece choreographed by DMV native Cristina Camacho, who is also associate producer of the Dance Around the World series.
Titled “Machismo,” the performance featured five dancers who displayed appropriate strong and flowing movements, reflecting hip-hop and modern dance styles. After the show, Camacho organized a happy hip-hop figure, a semi-circle that invited performers and audience members to show off their freestyle dance moves.
Duration: Approximately 90 minutes without intermission.
The first performance of Dance Around the World took place on July 21, 2021. The second part of Dance Around the World will take place on July 28, 2021 with Company E, Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and Charles Renato’s CHR PROJECT. All shows are FREE and presented at the Root Family Stage at the Olney Theater Centre. For more information, click here. The series is part of Olney outside.
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