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Movement Lab presents "Just Dance"

  • Dancers Maria Babin, Melanie Branch-Edwardes, Akira Browski, Justine Capeheart, Jeremy Fitzgerald, Mathew Gravel, Danielle Kainz, Dave Lennox, Devon Perkins, Ryder Schalich, Malachi Shane, Morgan Sherlock and Sammy Wester performed "Bring on the Dancing." Photo by Robert Grant

By: Janet and Lanny Lowery
July 5, 2019

The Movement Lab returned to Spreckels with its latest production, “Just Dance.”  And once again moved to the beat of Artistic Director Bernadette Alverio-Tonks’ philosophy, “Dance is for every ‘body.’”  Inclusive, not exclusive, Movement Lab shows involve people of all ages, shapes, and abilities.  “Just Dance” brought pre-school children, teens, and adults to the Spreckels stage.

An assortment of 23 dance routines entertained the very enthusiastic and supportive audience.  Beginning and ending the show, the company production “Just Dance” brought all the participants together in what was the equivalent of an overture and an encore.  A medley of all the types and styles of dance presented throughout the evening, “Just Dance” set the tone of variety at the beginning and pulled the show together at the end.

A privileged glimpse into the warm ups showed performers just having fun.  Community Voice photographer Robert Grant noted the joy of the dancers as they readied themselves for the performance, he commented, “It’s not a chore; it’s a passion.”  The dancing in the aisles promised some audience participation near the end of the show.

One thing common to all of the dances, no matter what genre, in Movement Lab shows the arms are in as much motion as the legs.  Following the opening “Just Dance” eight teens move in a piece choreographed by dance teacher Jolene Johnson called “Get Away.”  Ten hip hoppers follow with “Old School Flava” as some little girls in bright colors demonstrate the skills taught them by Sonia Sanchez.

A number right out of the 1930s, a creative piece designed and led by Bernadette Alverio-Tonks, involves seven girls and a conductor reminiscent of “The Chattanooga Choo Choo” dancing and gesturing a railroad story.  “All Aboard!” evokes humor and depends on synchronistic cohesion.  And ends with dancers singing in unison, “Hope you enjoyed the ride!”

Nikki Griffith choreographed “After Party,” a lively number danced by some very enthusiastic and engaging performers.  Followed by “A Perfect Mess,” this comedic ballet slows down the pace only a bit.  Dancers in black slips carry on when someone appears late for the party.  The choreographer, Gabrielle Thompson, put some smiles in ballet.

“Soul Funk” brought more joy to the stage as four dancers worked out some street dance choreographed by Mario Karlsrud.  Izzy Contreras’ Tuesday Company Class followed nicely with a scene called “Lite Werq.”  This led into “Jump!” performed by Kinder Hip Hop.

“Shipwrecked,” a mystical and haunting sketch suited modern dance nicely.  It anticipates a later, more advanced piece titled “Chasing Shadows,” also mysterious and somewhat dramatic.

“New School vs. Old School” involves some teen hip hop and seems to be a foil for another piece, “Kool Kidz,” developed along the lines of break dancing.  Choreographers Brenda Lopez and Dreama Goldberg might have created a sort of dance shoot out between the two groups.

Jazz to break things up:  “Pretty One” choreographed by Sonia Sanchez employs a familiar tune to cause a change of pace.  And what dance show would be complete without some thoughts about monsters.  Led by Michella Snider, the Musical Theater group performed “Transylvania Mania.”

Add a few more routines and you have a typical dance show presented by The Movement Lab which is to say that nothing is typical.  All types of people, all types of dances, an all-inclusive dance world.

Artistic Director Alverio-Tonks transcends the dance world as she cares for everyone.  She knows that there is much to be gained by taking a chance on being a performer.  Fear can be faced on the stage.  She offers a quote from Charles Cook in the program:  “Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.”  Interested in Lab Movements’ dances, contact them at 707-206-7444 or www.dancersmovementlab.com.