Uptown Dance Company Explores “Hidden Dimensions”

Uptown Dance Company explores “Hidden Dimensions” in an intimate celebration of live music and dance

As light slowly encroached on the darkness, a woman dressed in burgundy lay in the middle of the floor, moving as if she were traveling from one dream to the next.

It was a simple moment, and yet its impact was breathtaking. Guest choreographer Andre Silva, who is a dancer with Texas Ballet Theater, created an expressive image in perfect harmony with the mesmerizing score by Phillip Glass.

Before long, four other dancers joined artist-in-residence Amy Phillips onstage, and the profound ambience shifted into a light-hearted, poetic world of playfulness.

At times, dancers were in arms reach of the audience, their breath visibly guiding them through their movement. The intimacy of the black box theater, however daunting, reflected the nature of the entire evening in which Uptown Dance Company premiered three new works, all performed to live music by Houston’s impressive Axiom Quartet. Alongside Silva’s “Hidden Dimensions,” which was also the title of the program, the dancers presented “At first sight” by artistic director Beth Gulledge-Brown and “Entanglement” by company manager and ballet master Alex Pandiscio.

The purpose of the evening, however, seemed greater than the performance itself. It was a refreshing celebration of the arts, an inviting experience that began immediately upon walking into the studio-turned-theater by way of stage right where the dancers would soon take their places. Audience members were welcome to appetizers and wine before finding a seat among two rows of white folding chairs at the front of the room.

The program, which took place at Uptown Dance Centre, began with “At first sight,” a sweet pas de deux between new parents filled with adoration. Dancer Claire Westerman demonstrated lovely lines with legs that seemed to extend well beyond her beautifully pointed toes, as guest artist Rupert Edwards III partnered her with ease.

Before the next piece – Pandiscio’s “Entanglement” – the choreographer together with Axiom cellist Patrick Moore shared insight into their artistic process, providing the audience with a greater understanding of the mentality behind the work. Moore even demonstrated a few of the key sound characteristics that contribute to the haunting tone of Benjamin Britten’s solo “Cello Suite No. 1.”  

The nine-section piece is one of boldness and strength, each movement representing a different theme expressed in the music, from fate and separation to love and triumph. There seemed to be an overarching story further connecting each section into a single narrative, and a second viewing would have been helpful to fully grasp it. Regardless, the dancers commanded the stage as they worked through intricate choreography that embodied the tension in Britten’s score.  

Music played a large role in this piece, as it did in the entire program, and the Axiom Quartet performed superbly. A musical interlude, featuring the country-folk hit “Wagon Wheel” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies,” solidified the feeling that this collaborative performance was just as much a musical concert as a dance performance. The musicians, situated in clear view on one side of the stage, played with such passion, a passion that spread throughout the room in both the movement of the dancers and the animated applause of the audience. 

“Hidden Dimensions” ended in nearly the same way it began. Most of the cast – Florin Adrian Ciobanu, Katie Trevino Lammers, Ruben Nicholas Trevino and Claire Westerman – exited the stage, leaving behind Phillips curled on her side with her knees tucked into her chest, lying in the center of the space.

The room faded to darkness once again, but the end of the performance was only the beginning of the conversation. The artists mingled with audience members, discussing what they had seen and demonstrating the power of art to form such intimate connections between those who share in its beauty.

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