Gin Dance Company
Fredgren Theater, Falls Church, Virginia

Oct 21st, 2017

by Christina Lindenmuth

The Fredgren Studio Theatre at the BalletNova Center for Dance was bustling with commotion on the evening of October 21st, 2017. Gin Dance Company celebrated its seventh season with an evening of “Dance, Champagne & Chocolate with Gin,” a program showcasing four pieces from the company’s repertoire, including the premiere of two new works.

The dancers took the stage for their first piece, Burgundy, and immediately I became aware of Gin Dance Company’s movement style. The choreography is characterized by a mixture of classical ballet and avant garde contemporary, creating sharp edges with bent elbows and flexed feet. The ballet aspect of the movement was pleasing; the performers had superb body control and beautiful lines. The contemporary style was new and innovative, not like anything I’ve seen before. It was almost comparable to urban style tutting, where the dancers create tight angles with their arms and hands at a quick pace.

Gin Dance in Burgundy, photo by Ruth Judson

Gin Dance in Burgundy, photo by Ruth Judson

This style was prevalent throughout the night, along with playful attitudes and dramatic facial expressions. In all of the pieces, the formations would change and the dancers would hit complex poses, perfect for a photo shoot, but they weren’t ever held long enough to be appreciated. I almost wish I had a camera so I could go back and review the intricacy. With their knack for patterns and lots of A/B choreography, the group often moved like a kaleidoscope, symmetrical and ever changing.

Most of the pieces had a storyline that I can’t say was easy to follow. The choreographic style had glimmers of pedestrian movement, such as putting their hands on their head or resting a chin on one’s fist, but the rest was so arbitrary and sporadic that I found myself exhausted after trying to connect the dots between phrases. I had a bit of trouble figuring out the “why?” behind the movement.

Watching the last piece of the evening, The Other Side, was more of a roller coaster ride. This was by far the most entertaining piece of the show, but the storyline was a bit recycled and the imagery was obvious and cliché.

Gin Dance in The Other Side, photo by Ruth Judson

Gin Dance in The Other Side, photo by Ruth Judson

The story followed three groups of friends: two duets and a trio, each in their own world as they moved and demonstrated their relationships. The movement was intricate and entertaining, and I absolutely loved the first half of this piece. I particularly enjoyed watching the duet in the middle, sitting across from each other at a café, pushing invisible menus across the table, and miming their silverware and cups. The other groups were equally amusing, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was loving this piece, until very suddenly, one member from each group fainted and died.

The whole mood of the piece changed and it became like the other pieces of the evening: dramatic and offbeat. Each group danced their mournful sorrows at the loss of their friend, and then one by one, each of the deceased members reappeared on stage dressed in all white and danced a ghostly reprise. It was very drawn out, and I was hoping for another mood shift, but the somberness continued on until at last the stage went all dark, except for one light in the upper corner, and the three ghosts literally walked off into the light.

The evening concluded with a lovely champagne and chocolate reception. Artistic Director and Choreographer Shu-Chen Cuff was also a performer alongside the other company members. She emits a genuine love for the creative performing arts, an elegant stage presence and charismatic charm. Gin Dance Company is a non-profit company that performs for different charity events such as Feed the Hungry Children in Sierra Leone and different senior homes and community centers.