Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, the artistic director of the effervescent Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD) has absorbed the disciplines of a number of dance forms: hip-hop, breaking, Latin-American and Vogue. She skillfully and wittily scanned all of these into Odeon, a 105-minute long work that showed off her six member troupe.
They—including Asherie—danced with a verve, if not native authenticity, that matched the Brazilian-tinged score by Ernesto Nazareth, here interpreted by an on stage four-member band under the musical direction of Ehud Asherie.
The shape of Odeon was defined by the nine sections of Nazareth’s score, each labeled with a Brazilian tag, beginning with the quiet “Brejeiro” and ending with the brazenly noisy “Batuque.”
Odeon opened as Asherie and Matthew “Megawatt” West faced each other in a sophisticated pat-a-cake mime which craftily evoked kids playing, flamenco, hip-hop and ballroom dancing. This segued into a playful Samba that went from standing to lying on the floor and back again to standing, hips swaying and feet delicately stamping.
A clapping quartet was succeeded by a friendly rhythmic section with the lined up dancers exchanging claps with the musicians on their South American percussion instruments. Another duet, this time more seductive than the first, morphed into a trio with cartwheels that grew into a group dance that included stalking capoeira movements.
As they danced through the nine discrete sections, sometimes separated by silent standoffs, the rhythms quickened and slowed; feet pounded the stage or skittered across it; hips twisted and undulated and the stage floor became home to crawls, twists and athletic jumps from flat to standing.
It all built to a free-for-all joyous ending in which the dancers joined the musicians in a Brazilian romp ending with all lying prone, their smiling faces gazing at the amazing band.
Each dancer contributed not only discipline but also personality. Valerie “Ms. Vee” Ho had a tough athletic approach; Teena Marie Custer, a saucy sensuality; Manon Bal, a sweetness that belied the seductiveness of the movements; Ousmane Wiles, some superb hip twisting and partnering; and Mr. West who nearly stole the show with his Vogue number wearing glittery opera gloves.
The dramatic lighting, which included a dreamy trio of dancers wondering at their large shadows cast upon the back wall, was by Kathy Kaufmann and the well-appointed workout gear was designed by Mark Eric.
The good natured musicians were Henrique Eisenmann, Chris Haney, Angel Lau and Ranjan Ramchandani.
The choreography may have been a tad repetitious and the versions of Brazilian dance forms more playful than sexy, but Odeon provided a bright, charming, vigorous interlude in months of darkness.
Ephrat Asherie Dance: “Odeon” (streaming April 15 – 25, 2021)
For tickets: http://www.joyce.org
Running time: 105 minutes