Creative bodies in motion

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Synchronicity

By Arnecia Patterson

Photo: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company presents Synchronicity April 5 and 6 at the NCR Renaissance Auditorium in the Dayton Art Institute; photo: Andy Snow

Creativity’s role in the artist’s narrative can be cast as either protagonist or antagonist; it can be engaging, yet elusive and prone to aloneness. Though desired by many, creativity avails itself to a fortunate – or tortured – few. Even then, it can be a solo venture. Art forms are, generally, built on creativity. Yet, concert dance is one that offers pushback to its profile of solitude. Choreography can be conceived alone; however, it cannot be realized without dancers, musicians and behind-the-scenes experts. Different configurations of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s creative partnerships comprise its Synchronicity program at the Dayton Art Institute’s NCR Renaissance Auditorium on Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. DCDC will be joined on stage by dancers from Wright State University and South Dayton Dance Theatre. Central State University, where DCDC artistic director, Debbie Blunden-Diggs, has been the choreographer for the Opera Theatre Workshop, is a collaborator as well. Special guest, acclaimed jazz pianist Khalid Moss, will lead the Khalid Moss Trio featuring Eddie Brookshire on bass and Fenton Sparks on drums to accompany “Unfaithful and Unrested” by choreographer and former DCDC dancer, Crystal Michelle. The artistic focus of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Synchronicity program is its local collaborations that merge resources with area universities and artists and realize different creative points of view.

DCDC’s experience as a high-end dance-maker remains at the center of all of its collaborations. The company has been subjected to the artistic standards and demands of its past national touring schedule. Synchronicity will feature works choreographed by professional dancers-turned-choreographers and danced by their peers, DCDC2, and dancers from South Dayton Dance Theatre. South Dayton has solidified its partnership with DCDC, based on a well-known reputation for professional-level training and performance. Male dancers from DCDC are regularly cast in guest roles in the south-suburban, pre-professional company’s annual production of The Nutcracker, and seasoned teachers from DCDC’s roster of artists are found in their studios regularly. “South Dayton Dance Theatre and DCDC have ties going back so far and deep that the lines seem to blur completely,” said Nabachwa Ssensalo-Harris, DCDC dancer and associate director of university initiatives.

For decades, DCDC and Wright State University’s dance department have had a relationship of exchange and reciprocity. The dance department is the single most consistent feeder of dancers to DCDC2. Even though the younger company is featured in its own program annually, its dancers will take the stage with the professionals in the Synchronicity program. DCDC2 is known for providing a serious professional track for dancers. They receive constant contact, instruction and advice from DCDC professionals on a regular basis in the studio and at school. Gina Gardner-Walther, associate professor of dance at WSU, also danced with DCDC for eight years and knows the strenuous requirements of learning while building an artistic practice between work and school. The long-term collaboration between the two entities continues to provide many professional paths for area dancers who are its beneficiaries.

Amid performance of all the new dances choreographed specifically for Synchronicity will be a work from the DCDC repertory entitled “Unfaithful and Unrested” by choreographer Crystal Michelle. Michelle’s work uses movement that investigates the feelings associated with not knowing how life’s events may finally turn out. Its emotional deconstruction privileges the anger, sadness and tension that can be felt as potential miracles impact the human existence. When the dance was first choreographed, Michelle worked with long-time Dayton resident, jazz pianist Khalid Moss, who will provide live accompaniment to the work with the Khalid Moss Trio featuring Eddie Brookshire on bass and Fenton Sparks on drums. Moss is no stranger to composing and performing. Before resettling in Dayton, his lengthy presence on the New York jazz scene put him on stages around the world with notable jazz greats that included Grammy award winners Betty Carter, Yusef Lateef and Pharoah Sanders. Moss’ trio will perform the music that he composed exclusively for “Unfaithful and Unrested.”

Synchronicity is a showcase that drives home the premise when creativity is successfully paired with partners who share interests, albeit different worldviews, everyone benefits. DCDC uses its collaborations to mix art forms that tease out unique contributions from artists with depth of character, training and experience. By working hand-in-hand and staging the results, it can expand viewers’ creative experiences and tastes. An audience with new and varied interests piqued by new and veteran artists is a fitting salute to 45 years of dance.

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will perform Synchronicity Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. at The NCR Renaissance Auditorium in the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North. For more information, please call 937.228.3232 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Arnecia Patterson at

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Arnecia Patterson has an infinite capacity to view concert dance. She found her former career as dance executive, funder, and consultant extremely satisfying—and finds writing about dance equally rewarding. Reach DCP Resident Dance Critic Arnecia Patterson at

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