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Groundwork Suites is Outstanding Performance by Kenyettá Dance Company

My 8-year-old daughter and I almost didn't go to the Groundwork Suites by the Kenyettá Dance Company. We had originally wanted to go to Blunder Construction, but they were sold out. We stood on the sidewalk in front of TOTS, and I wavered. Do we go, do we do something else? I borrowed someone else's program, saw that Groundwork Suites was playing in 8 minutes.

My daughter is from Haiti, and we have taught her to be proud of being black. She also loves to move, and has taught herself some basic gymnastics and dance moves, and is constantly in motion. She would, I reasoned, love to see a black dance troupe. So we raced down to the Earth House, got our tickets, and found our seats three minutes before show time.

When the entire dance troupe entered — no, flowed — into the room, my daughter grabbed my hand and started squeezing frantically. It was her signal for "I see other black people, and I'm feeling proud." (We worked this signal out when we first moved to Indianapolis, after she saw a black woman in a Starbucks, ran up to her and shouted, "MOMMY, SHE'S BLACK LIKE ME!")

Usually, her signal is just a simple squeeze, a quick message while we're holding hands, but tonight, it was firing like an acupressure telegraph.

I cannot begin to describe the beauty of the dancers' fluidity. If water could wear clothes and move to music, this was it. As I watched the dancers, I could understand what my daughter's hand squeezing was all about. I could use words like "graceful," "flowing," or "lissome." But those are just words, and dance is about vision. And when the professional wordsmith can't find the words to describe what he saw, you just need to see it for yourself.

I was torn between trying to take pictures and watching the dancers. I tried to capture some poses, but without a flash, many of them were blurred. So I would put down the camera, thinking it was better to experience the moment. But then they would hold a beautiful pose for a brief second, and I would wish they would do it again, so I could take one picture, and capture that perfect moment. I'd snap a few, put the camera down, snap a few more, put the camera down.

All told, I took 75 photos during the first three numbers of the performance, before I finally decided I'd taken enough, and wanted to experience this beautiful movement with my own eyes, not through the screen of a digital camera. (I snapped a few more near the end, not wanting to forget what I had seen tonight).

I've seen more than 12 shows over the past two years of the Fringe Festival, and I can say without hesitation that this is one of my two most favorite performances ever. My only disappointment is that I waited until Friday night to see this performance. I wish I would have gone much earlier in the week, so I could tell more people about the show. As it is, there are two more performances over the weekend: Saturday, 6:00 pm, and Sunday, 1:30 pm. This is truly a Do Not Miss show.

The dancers are (from left to right):

Tiara Clarke
Erika Casey
Taylor Greene
Nicholas Owens, artistic director (front, center)
Adrian Jackson
Gregory Manning II
Teriya Vorhis
Layla Hazelwood

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  1. "I cannot begin to describe the beauty of the dancers' fluidity. If water could wear clothes and move to music, this was it..."

    What a way with words! The visual and mental imagery conjured up by your review is enthralling and appealing. Makes me want to jump into my car and drive straight down to Mass Ave. Thanks, Erik. That's a GREAT review.


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