Monica Huggins Dance Theatre
by Gretchen Collins
December 9, 2007 -- Nightingale Theater, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Although an icy evening outside, inside the Nightingale Theatre, Monica Huggins Dance Theatre was hot to trot. The Nightingale is among Tulsa’s most happening independent theatres. Located in The Pearl, it welcomes the new, the experimental and the controversial. It was a perfect setting for MHDT’s diverse program entitled “Sediments.” Also on hand was award-winning poet Deborah Hunter who performed “Sediments” and “Gypsy.”
Monica Huggins Dance Theatre was founded in the summer of 2005 under the direction of Katherine Feiock. Formerly with the Tulsa Contemporary Dance Theatre (now defunct), Feiock organized the MHDT under the not-for-profit umbrella of the Oklahoma Performing Arts, Inc. She wanted to keep professional contemporary dance alive in the community. “I could not accept Tulsa as a city with only one adult professional dance company.”
Monica Huggins, a deaf Tulsa artist, was Feiock’s grandmother and a tireless promoter of the arts. She died in a 2004 car accident. Currently, the company bearing her name has nine performers and contributing choreographers including Feiock, who is director/choreographer/dancer.
The first selection of the evening was a barefoot performance of “Finding Reclamation (a work in progress).” It was set to the first movement of Concerto No. 2 in C Minor for piano by Rachmaninoff. Choreographed by Feiock, “Finding Reclamation” was a work that included the physical and emotional responses of balance, renewal, and change. As the music shifted in texture and tone so did the dancers. There were a few problems with this piece, but the solo by Lacy Frees in this piece was lovely.
With the butterflies now at bay, the company took off with “Remembering Fosse,” using music from the original Broadway show. Additional choreography was created by Feiock and Jennifer Dunham. Feiock led the way with a vamped up solo. The Nightingale’s black box helped set the mood with red lighting. This small touch had the right amount of tawdry edginess to remind us of what makes Fosse’s work so exciting. “Remembering Fosse” was a very good work danced by Katrina Bailey, Katherine Feiock, Lacy Frees, Laura Keaton Norman, Julie Rupe, Kristen Somerville, and Jamie Sparks. Their steps were confident and they looked like they had a lot of fun to boot.
“Nomadics” featured music titled “Un tiempo fue itálica famosa,”performed by Manuel Barrueco and conducted by Placido Domingo. It was a portrayal of gypsy women. MHDT dancers were appropriately clad in dresses with layered skirts and sparkling fabrics. Flamenco music was punctuated by snapping fingers and clapping hands. Laura Norman Tyson’s choreography displayed an array of pirouettes and graceful back bends. This was an engaging work done by women about women.
The final segment by Feiock contained the most interesting movements of the evening. Her interpretation was gathered from the music of Buena Vista Social Club, Bebel Gilberto, and Santana, and began seductively, making beautiful use of “en couronne.” As the pace picked up, the company incorporated slides and turns and finally full energy Latin dance. Feiock’s choreography included emotional hand movements and some inspired “four-legged” dancing.
Companies that play the Nightingale Theater must be fearless. There is no stage to hide on. Performers are only a couple feet away from the audience members. The Monica Huggins Dance Theatre took up that challenge and succeeded in creating an experience that Tulsans don’t often get to witness.
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