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December 9, 1997

Dance Review

by Edward Nichols

Parapluie is a French word for umbrella. Parapluie is a non-profit dance company formed in 1994 to provide performance and educational opportunities in the Mobile area. It has no permanent members because the dancers are chosen from an open competition each production. Aside from the major performances, they also give select student presentations.

The Parapluie Dance Company presented its production of Seasons Greetings on November 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mobile Civic Center Theater. The presentation was made up of six different pieces.

The first piece was choreographed by Ray Collins and set to the music of Symphony IV by Peter Tchaikovsky. It was called "Christmas Spirits" and featured thirteen dancers.

The next piece was really incredible. It was called "Caribbean Blue" after the music it was set to, which was written by Enya. The choreographer, LaVonne French, was also one of the three dancers in this piece. The whole scene was washed in a blue light, and the dancers made the whole scene an ethereal fantasy.

The last piece of the first half was called "Pre-Cracked Nuts" and was kind of a romp through downtown Mobile sites set to music adapted from The Nutcracker. It had four different parts with costumes unique to each one and two lead dancers who were very talented. This piece was choreographed by Daryl Foster.

After an intermission came a performance called "Ornamotion," which was choreographed by Elizabeth Hoar and featured ten dancers. This was a fun piece in which the dancers were actually parts of a Christmas tree. All this was done to Concerto in G.

Next came my favorite. LaVonne French was back in another piece she had choreographed called "Red Wind." There were four other dancers, and the music by Gabriella Roth sounded like the title of this piece. I had never seen anything like this before. These exceptionally talented dancers would occasionally mimic each other's movement, one right after the other, in a way that very much reminded me of the wind.

The last piece was called "Winter Wonderland" and it was choreographed by Tamara Lysenko and set to music from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The costumes were very "Christmassy," white with little icicles on them. Ten dancers in toe shoes spun around the stage in a performance that made for a wonderful grand finale.

Okay, so I don't know much about dancing. Parapluie's Seasons Greetings made me want to know. I went from mildly interested at the beginning of the evening to moved and excited by the time the curtain came down. I couldn't help but think that I'd found some kind of secret gem. I'll be back. I want to see more.

No one quite adequately explained all the fish on an enormous Christmas tree backdrop painted for the performance by Randy Moberg though.

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