You can tell a dance performance has done its job when someone starts grooving in the aisle. On Friday night a tiny tot was busting some moves at intermission after cheering on a high-energy break dance battle by House of Dance Twin Cities and Finisher’s Students. Someday that little guy will be spinning on his head, as well.
The event was “Drop the Mic: Let the Sole Shine!” at the Cowles Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Created by Curio Dance, the brother-sister team of Giselle Mejia and Dario Mejia, “Drop the Mic” celebrates the joyful moves of the world. While hip-hop was definitely in the house, moves from Cuban, American Indian and other sources were on display, too.
Rapper/actor/choreographer Leviticus Martin served as the evening’s welcoming host, guiding us on a rhythmic tour that had its highs and lows (accompanied by DJ Los Boogie’s beats — fresh off spinning at the Soundset festival). Artist Jordan Hamilton worked on a painting at one corner of the stage throughout the show. Daniel Zhu’s well-made short film “Stance” showed the connection dance creates around the globe.
The Secret Weaponz (B-boys Swellz, Jovi and Lalo) combined breaking, martial arts, gymnastics, House and Latin social dance into a potent brew — they came prepared with some smooth moves and plenty of charm. Likewise Yeniel Chini Perez (a former member of Afrocuba de Matanzas) and Giselle Mejia whirled through a saucy duet.
SHAPESHIFT is a particularly winning collective that brought plenty of fun and attitude. Larry Yazzie and Soleil Strickland gave fancy dancing an electric jolt. Dramatic flair defined 20/20 Collective’s performance. Young ballet students Audrey and Lucia Erickson showed their growing skills, while Michele Larkin-Wagner gave her teen performers poetic inspiration. Jose Figueroa and Patrick Morris hypnotized with a flowing display of martial arts.
There were some missteps in the evening. Works choreographed by the Mejias and Steve Durand featured some strong dancing by men but the women on stage were relegated to background roles, a frustrating display since there are so many fierce B-girls in town.
A section set to James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s World” and the Mejias' choice to dress women as hot secretaries while wheeling around the working guys in business attire didn’t come across as tongue-in cheek moments. There are still glass ceilings to smash in dance.
Caroline Palmer writes about dance.