Camille A. Brown’s “Mr. TOL E. RAncE” responded to African-Americans’ involvement in 20th century commercial entertainment.
(Photo: Christopher Duggan)
January 19, 2015
BURLINGTON — Dance theater was certainly what Saturday’s performance by Camille A. Brown & Dancers was all about. On the Flynn Center’s main stage, the performance’s success varied, but proved fascinating throughout — in part, because of an unusually high degree of musical collaboration.
The most evocative music was expertly created by pianist Scott Patterson and bass guitarist Tracy Wormsworth.
“Act I: What It Is” worked its way up through 21st century television, mimicking to a degree, then abstracting the essence in dance that ranged from energetic to quietly introspective. There was even humor, as one dancer stepped away to recreate vaudeville stereotypes tongue-in-cheek.
Giving the performance much of its power was Patterson’s onstage performance of his score on a Steinway concert grand piano, its electronic amplification so subtle it sounded real.
The soundtrack was appropriately derivative, incorporating styles matching the eras — but there were real virtuoso licks stolen from the likes of Chopin and Liszt. It was sheer virtuosity.
Dancing and music merged seamlessly, creating an emotional and dramatic arch. This was truly effective dance theater.