BlackRock Center for the Art's 10th Anniversary season will close with the inaugural BlackRock DanceFest, a series of eclectic performances by six professional dance companies this month.
DanceFest is Friday, May 18, through Sunday, May 20, at BlackRock Center for the Arts. The venue was established in 2002 to serve as the cultural focal point of Germantown Town Center. For DanceFest, BlackRock Executive Director Charlotte Sommers, a former choreographer, brought in Karen Bernstein to be the artistic director. Bernstein is a dance educator, choreographer and consultant.
The collaboration resulted in a line-up of inventive and diverse approaches to dance.
“We were looking for artistic quality and a breadth of dance styles,” Sommers said. “We would have loved to have every genre of dance represented in the festival, but had to keep the scale manageable for our first time.”
ClancyWorks will open the dance festival Friday with “Bench Marks,” a site-specific piece that begins in BlackRock’s lobby and gradually moves onto the main stage. It was inspired from a tour of the theater.
“The palatial lobby of BlackRock and the interesting way that the floor design highlights the staircase — it made us think about stepping stones and all of the small steps it takes to grow a nonprofit arts organization over 10 years," said Adrienne Clancy, producing artistic director at ClancyWorks, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary.
ClancyWorks attempts to transform dancers into architectural elements, a kinetic metaphor for exploring the construction of human relationships, familial, friendly or organizational.
"We tried to highlight a lot of the architectural designs that are often 'unseen,'" Clancy said.
Saturday’s performers include the socially conscious urban dance company known as Life, Rhythm and Move Project and the step-dance troupe The Dance Place Step Team — which plans to teach the audience how to step during a workshop during the festival.
Saturday’s final performer, Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company, integrates film, interviews, popular music and theater into modern Indian dance. At DanceFest, Dakshina will perform “Lyric Suite” by famed modern dance choreographer Anna Sokolow; Eric Hampton's "By the Light …"; and an original work, "Vasant,” by artistic director Daniel Phoenix Singh, organizers said in a press release.
Peformances by Maryland Youth Ballet and Karen Reedy Dance conclude the DanceFestival on Sunday. Its BlackRock repertoire includes excerpts from "Sleepwalking," which features Montgomery College students and music from international lullabies; "In Memory," a duet accompanied by Arvo Part's music; and "Variations," which is also set to a live performance of Mozart's Variations in D Major, organizers said.
Karen Reedy Dance performed at BlackRock earlier this year, as part of an art reception for Above/Below in January.
If you go …
BlackRock DanceFest is Friday, May 18, through Sunday, May 20, at BlackRock Center for the Arts, at 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown. To purchase tickets, visit BlackRock’s website, www.blackrockcenter.org, call 240-912-1058 or purchase tickets from the theater’s box office, open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The performance schedule:
Friday, May 18 — ClancyWorks Dance Company (modern dance) presents site-specific work, “Bench Marks.” 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25; includes reception.
Saturday, May 19 — Life, Rhythm, Move Project (hip-hop) and Dance Place Step Team (Stepping) will perform. 3 p.m. Tickets cost $18; includes post-show workshops.
Saturday, May 19 — Dakshina (modern/Indian dance). 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25; includes brief post-show Indian dance workshop.
Sunday, May 20 — Maryland Youth Ballet (ballet) and Karen Reedy Dance (contemporary dance) will perform. 3 p.m. Tickets cost $18; includes post-show ballet workshop, in which MYB’s company director will teach steps from the performance.