Friday, March 30, 2018

New York Amsterdam News: Dance Theatre of Harlem spring season sizzles

Dance Theatre of Harlem's 'Dougla'

March 29, 2018

Zita Allen

African drummers fill the air with compelling Caribbean rhythms. Dancers, male and female, appear dressed in floor-length skirts festooned with red balls accenting every movement of their swiveling hips. On the beat, dancers thrust one arm forward wagging an index finger as if to say, “You can’t touch this!” In an instant, we are mesmerized by the rhythmic, color-infused spectacle that is Geoffrey Holder’s masterful “Dougla” created for Dance Theatre of Harlem back in 1974 and now scheduled to be presented during the company’s upcoming City Center Season April 4 to April 7.

It’s been several years since DTH performed “Dougla,” and because Holder died some years back, remounting this dynamic ballet involved a process best described as a family affair.

“‘Dougla’ is genuinely a magnificent work,” said DTH Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. “And, it’s an immensely popular work, so everywhere we go on our extensive touring schedule we get requests for it.”

Because it was created when the DTH Company was a bit larger than it is today, Johnson said it was necessary to figure out how the company could perform “Dougla” in its current configuration. “It’s something I personally wanted to bring back,” she said, noting that the work truly satisfies a sense of spectacle and magnificence and it does so in such a simple way. “Geoffrey’s costumes are gorgeous and there’s a scenic element, with lighting, that creates such a unique atmosphere, so clearly ‘Dougla’ was something we could manage. Also, I certainly enjoyed dancing it all those years.” 

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