The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017
I was nervous. I sat in my seat front and center as my friend and her daughter were adamant we do so. I felt naked, which was odd. I always want the front row at shows, but oddly enough at concerts, I never get that opportunity, unless I really work for it. Tonight, however, we were first in line. The theatre was ours. My dream of just walking up to the front row and sitting center stage came true—with hardly any effort. This is how I knew I was in the right place. That this, what I thought was an impossible dream of being involved with the tap community no less a (new) dancer myself, was now my reality. I was Home.
I believe in being at the right place at the right time. That the universe gives you things when you are ready. Although sitting in a particular seat in a theatre may seem like a very small thing, almost insignificant. But for me, being right there to watch the dancers—some I knew, most I didn’t, but it was like I was there to see my favorite band and they were playing just for me. I got to watch their feet fly, drag and flutter. Hear the click-clack, scrapes and soft shoe slides. How awesome would it be to tap like that one day? And in a moment, I was inspired. I watched the almost hour performance with a smile on my face, laughed at times and was in awe of the art of dance. My nervousness passed.
But then, there was the music. Music from JT Bates, the first commissioned piece, was playing before the show. It was percussive, beautiful and intriguing. As I listened, I could picture the choreography, but how? Some of the music was all over the map and I had no idea how it would be incorporated into this dance that was created BEFORE the music was even written. The entire idea blew my mind when I heard about it, but being there to witness this show, this performance, this beautifully choreographed, yet created-on-stage-in-certain-moments dance was beyond what I could have imagined.
Not knowing what to expect (and I wanted it that way) the dancers arrived to the stage dressed in all white. An extremely beautiful touch. Their shoes were unique to each of them, but white shorts and white button-up shirts was the costume style of the evening.
But of course, this all leads to the dancing. The tap. The tap–offs, the music, everything. The connections between each dancer and the group was palpable. They spoke with their eyes, nods, smiles, smirks and the sound of their taps. THIS is what my soul yearns for—the connection of artists to other artists and then that transfer of energy flows to their fans that love them and embrace their craft. There’s no other feeling like it.
The skill of this group—not being able to truly tell what was improvised and what was choreographed— was astounding. Solos were had, duets were argued, trios and quartets were arranged… Sextets and septets were loud, beautiful and joyous; intense, fun and symphonic.
Each dancer, their own personality, their own “way” of tapping, yet, it all melded together perfectly. Like the most beautifully written song, it must contain a solid melody, deep lyrics, a shocking bridge and the perfect resolution.
THIS was night one of SHIFT.