Small dance companies come together on the big stage

Members of the Koresh troupe, Asya Zlatina (left), Joseph Cotler, and Krista Montrone perform.
Members of the Koresh troupe, Asya Zlatina (left), Joseph Cotler, and Krista Montrone perform. (ALEXANDER IZILIAEV)
Posted: July 26, 2014

Philadelphia is loaded with small dance companies, as anyone who has ever been to Fringe knows. These troupes rarely get to perform in fancy theaters, and it takes a lot of motivation for audiences to trek out to dingy performance spaces and sit on uncomfortable folding chairs all night.

For the second year, Koresh Dance Company invited its colleagues to perform in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in the Come Together Dance Festival. Over five days, which began Wednesday night, 24 companies have their 15 or so minutes of fame.

It's fun for audiences, too. Zombies not your thing? Next up are Buddhist monks. Wednesday's program ran the gamut from the wacky to the divine.

It opened with Brian Sanders' JUNK performing "Dancing Dead," which had a cast of undead dancing to kitschy tunes from the 1970s. Sanders is known for the weird and wonderful, and he doesn't disappoint, having a choir of zombies get down with Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together," and a pair of skeletons try to straighten out their squeaky joints so they can sway together to John Denver's "Annie's Song."

From there, the program took a sharp turn for Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, which presented the far quieter excerpt from "Mandala Project," about Buddhism. Its beautiful opening had dancers wrapped in yards of fabric moving slowly across the stage as one creature, before unwrapping and twisting their costumes like saris.

Chisena Danza also offered a gentle piece, "Breathe," a solo for Melissa Chisena, accompanied by musician Jonathan Cannon, who played a variety of mostly percussion instruments, and vocalist Katonya Mosley. Every time Mosley audibly breathed, Chisena scooped, twisted, or bent into deep, lovely positions.

Only DanceSpora looked like a student production. Former Pennsylvania Ballet dancer Heidi Cruz-Austin asked more of her dancers than they could produce in "Ego in Flux," a jazzy contemporary piece.

Koresh performs every night of the festival, and it was good they danced last on Wednesday, because all others would have paled after their full-on energy. They performed a selection of group dances and duets, including "Lake," an amusing homage to "Swan Lake," and "Fire," which mirrored Kun-Yang Lin's ritual dance around the same pool of light.


edunkel@philly.com@edunkel

Additional performances: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. Information: koreshdance.org, 215-985-0420.

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