Review: 25th Season Finale, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company
by David Glen Robinson


A dancer set down on the floor in stillness holds the pose in release and surrender, perhaps finality. She holds the shape for a minute or more before the light begins a gentle,  achingly slow fade. The image takes us to full darkness and the end of a piece entitled “Dust.”


The multitalented Alyson Dolan clearly has the confidence and boldness to offer such intimate expression, as does her choreographer Kathy Dunn Hamrick. The theme of Hamrick's last dances of Season 25 at the Long Center's Rollins Theatre is obvious. The show and milestone season have been marred and marked by a rollercoaster of joy and sorrow involving loss of city funding, Kathy Dunn Hamrick’s serious health crisis, and restoration of the company budget through private fundraising efforts alone, virtually unheard of in our uncertain times.


The show is a combination of the old and the new. The old came first with “Walk On, Walk Off,” a piece originally premiered in 2016. Three of the performers came back to the company to perform it anew as guest artists. They are Jessica Boone, Lisa Kobdish, and Mariclaire Glaeser. The fourth performer, then and now, is company member Alyson Dolan. The piece itself is comprised of the heavily abstract contemporary dance movement that has come to typify the company. Comedic phrases also ran through the dance. This reviewer’s favorite movement was a cartoon animation walk one might see in a Popeye cartoon, heads and shoulders back, eyes fixed to the side, and performed straight with no chaser of irony. “Walk On, Walk Off” was an excellent reprise choice.


“Reroute” is brand-new dance. The program credits it to the  the dancers with notes and small contributions from KDH. Of course, it could well have been full KDH choreography. The piece took off thematically from our new conundrum of transportation blockages, featuring a soundtrack of airport terminal recordings and in-cabin aircraft conversations. The dancers worked improvisationally, structuring the movement that came about and moving it into narrative and form. They incorporated several current signature movement ideas, a favorite being “micromovements.” These are essentially gestures of the hands, feet, or full body, held precisely for mere moments before moving on. Sometimes the ensemble performs them in unison or performs canons with them. They require exquisite attention to detail. The finest surprise of the piece was the coda solo performed by Jairus Carr, whose ,showcase solos are always a treat. Carr has a definite style of dancing, one featuring quick bursts of energy and sudden changes of direction. Some of his direction changes take place after he launches into long, high altitude leaps. His dances are always a joy to watch and the perfect way to end a piece. The lighting design by Stephen Pruitt was excellent, as always.


“Dust” was choreographed by Kathy Dunn Hamrick, derived from the 2013 dance "The Undoing of Nonet.It's a consideration of the finest particles, their random movements or patterned shapes. The dancers performed as everything from molecules to family units. They represented in movement both the formation of families and clumps of dust. Importantly, they depicted formations falling apart. Cara Cook gave an emotional performance of a family member who struggled in great conflict with others until she left the family in stormy exile. It was a great combination of athletic dance and acting talent, well timed and cued.


Drew Silverman provided live percussion accompaniment to “Dust.” In a brief interview afterward, he explained his soundtrack and the improvisational nature of the piece. Essentially, the movement could motivate his playing of a phrase or passage. In complementary fashion, he could give sound cues that started passages or conditioned them in some way. Further, the piece was a structured improvisation rather than random or free improv; everyone expected certain movements or sounds to occur at certain points. The piece was a well-performed example of improvisational jazz dance. Kudos to the dancers and to Silverman. And then everything fell quiet for the solo tableau by Alyson Dolan. Pruitt’s lights faded to darkness as described before. The piece and the show ended.


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Season 25 Finale
by Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company

December 01 - December 03, 2023
Rollins Theatre
Long Center
701 Riverside at South First,
Austin, TX, 78704

December 1 - 3, 2023

Rollins Theatre, Long Center