Dance the month away

Dance the month away

Upcoming shows from Dayton Ballet and DCDC

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

What do the celebration of African-American heritage and Tennessee Williams have in common?

Dayton Ballet's 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' Photo courtesy of Scott J. Kimmins.

At first glance, not much at all. But when it comes to two of Dayton’s most-loved performing arts companies, Dayton Ballet and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the similarities are obvious in the making: Sheer talent, audience-favorite performances, ah, and of course, all the right moves.
On the roster: DCDC will present “In the Spirit of … the Spirit Within” on Feb. 12 and 13 at the Dayton Masonic Center; Dayton Ballet will present Karen Russo Burke’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” in addition to “Freudian Slip,” also choreographed by Russo Burke, Stephen Mills’ “Five Flights Up” and “Basics” by Dermot Burke from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13 at the Victoria Theatre.
“It’s one of the most challenging and exciting repertory shows I’ve done in my seven years at Dayton Ballet,” said dancer Erika Cole about the upcoming performance.
First premiering in 2008, “A Streetcar Named Desire” includes timeless choreography and a hot original score, playing on the themes of Williams’ 1940s play. Audiences will also delight in another favorite, “Freudian Slip,” in which Russo relies on the oft-regimented lifestyle of a dancer and shows what might happen when she lets her subconscious take hold instead.
“Think of the Degas statue,” Russo said in a 2009 interview, referring to the Little Dancer statue crafted by Edgar Degas which features a poised and proper ballerina. “And then, picture these dancers shedding that image. What happens when they come unraveled?”
The events that follow during the flaking of that image highlight the personification of the meaning behind Freudian slip, a lapse of the tongue that is thought to reveal an unconscious aspect of the mind.
As if those pieces aren’t exciting enough, the ballet will also perform “Five Flights Up,” a fun and cheeky vaudevillian ballet, and the final ballet on the program, will be “Basics,” featuring fast-paced, physically challenging choreography performed by the company’s dancers.
Out of breath? Well, don’t stop just yet. Leave room, instead, to pack in two performances in one weekend, adding to the to-go-see list: DCDC’s “In the Spirit of … the Spirit Within,” a celebration of the African-American heritage of liturgical worship which will include, in addition to dance, song and praise for the spiritual roots. This performance will be DCDC’s fifth presentation of “In the Spirit of … the Spirit Within,” a show the company deemed perfectly appropriate for February’s Black History Month.
“Last year, DCDC completed the first leg of its ‘Highest Praise’ tour, visiting Louisville, Memphis and smaller towns,” DCDC Artistic Director Debbie Blunden-Diggs said in a news release about choosing to host the upcoming performance for the fifth year in a row. “’Highest Praise’ is the abridged touring version of the ‘In the Spirit of … the Spirit Within’ production and it was a great success.”
“The next leg of our ‘Highest Praise’ tour has already begun with the New Year. Knowing how much our audiences enjoy the abridged version on tour, it’s really going to be something to see the full home production at the Dayton Masonic Center, where we are very pleased to be presented again.”
And the show comes packed with performers – approximately 140 to be exact, including the DCDC dancers and an 80-voice choir assembled from members of the Miami Valley community churches. Two additional vocal ensembles will also perform: Central State University Male Ensemble and Dayton’s Ebony Heritage Singers. Both evenings will also feature nationally acclaimed R&B and gospel vocalist Shirley Murdock.
Tired yet? Yeah, so are these ultra-talented performers. It’s OK – you can take a breath now.

For information on purchasing tickets to “In the Spirit of … the Spirit Within,” please call (937) 228-3232, x.100 or online at Tickets for Dayton Ballet’s show are on sale now and start at $20. Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or (888) 228-3630 or visit online at

Reach DCP freelance writer Caroline Shannon-Karasik at

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