“The music of Motown was made for dancing,” explains Laurie Eisenhower, who co-choreographed Motown in Motion performed by Detroit’s Eisenhower Dance Ensemble at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Sunday, April 14, 2013.
The Chicago premiere included Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up; Ball of Confusion sung by the Temptations; Stevie Wonder’s You Haven’t Done Nothing and Signed, Sealed, Delivered; Smokey Robinson’s You Really Got a Hold on Me sung the the Miracles; The Tears of a Clown sung by Smokey Robinson; I Want You Back sung by the Jackson 5; and Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough, among other Motown hits.
“Rather than attempting to recreate the dances originally associated with these songs, my goal was to use their incredible and iconic rhythms and melodies to create something new and exhilarating for contemporary audiences,” continues Eisenhower, founder and artistic director of the dance company.
In addition to Eisenhower, Motown in Motion featured choreography by Associate Artistic Director Stephanie Pizzo, Gregory Patterson, Ginger Thatcher, Joel Hall, Mary Bischoff and Ahmed Simmons performed by ensemble dancers Andrew Cribbett, Alicia Cutaia, Thomas Fant, Katharine Larson, Molly McMullen, Matthew Schmitz, Morgan Williams, Emily Zatursky, apprentice Lindsay Chiro, and guest dancers Jonathan Alsberry, Jasmine Page-Cox, and Will Jordan Peake.
Now in its 22nd year, the critically-acclaimed dance company knows how to strike a successful balance between offering audiences esoteric artistry and accessible entertainment. The former refers to the first half of the program which included contemporary pieces: No Angels in My Kamikaze Heaven choreographed by Michael Foley and Excerpt from Begin with the End in Mind choreographed by Ron de Jesus—both of which reminded viewers of the simple beauty begotten from movement sans bells and whistles and all the interruptions of the technological world in which we live.
Unfortunately the afternoon’s pieces performed in front of projected videos proved distracting since the imagery was not at the same level of expertise as the dancers it upstaged. Fortunately this is a small and subjective criticism of an otherwise enjoyable program.
After an intermission, Motown in Motion kicked off and picked up as dancers performed seemingly effortless feats onstage in colorful costumes designed mostly by Shari Bennett and Leslie Littell. A faux flash mob dance by enthusiastic youthful plants in the theater seats helped spread the already contagious rhythm and appreciation for the pure joy of dance onto the audience which echoed the engaging effect of the entire show.
For more information on the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, visit www.ede-dance.org.