The audience at Saturday’s Dance Kaleidoscope performance of Ray and Ella got a double treat in two vastly different performances as the company paid tribute to the elegant Ella Fitzgerald and the boisterous Ray Charles.
The program started off with Ella, a medley of Ella Fitzgerald’s music, from the sultry to the sassy, including legendary Hoosier composer Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” choreographed by DK’s Artistic Director David Hochoy.
Though somewhat entertaining, the balletic eight-song piece didn’t rise to the level of Hochoy’s signature works like Jimson Weed and Carmina Burana. The individual dances failed to deliver a unified theme and often seemed disconnected to the music.
One bright spot was Guy Clark’s costuming of the women dancers in their pastel frocks, somewhere between Dior’s look of the 1950s and tutus, giving them a sort of Audrey Hepburn chic.
Much more successful was the fresh perspective and clearer storytelling of African-American choreographer Nicholas Owens’ upbeat 10-song tribute to Ray Charles, which received a standing ovation from the nearly sold-out audience.
The audience could feel the juke joint come alive as the dancers interpreted Charles’ “Mess Around” and “Hit the Road Jack.” Jillian Godwin, in particular, stood out, as she became “Eleanor Rigby.”
One of the best of the performance was Owens’ four-man almost sculptural ode to “Till There Was You,” performed by Stuart Coleman, Brandon Comer, Justin Sears-Watson and Noah Trulock.
The humor spilled out of “What’d I Say.”
Editor’s Note: If you missed the dance performance, you can still visit the IMA and see two pieces——Girl at the Piano: Recording Sound and Heart of Joy—which inspired the dances of the same name.