There's much to like in Exhale Dance Tribe's new show produced by Know Theatre, aren't we all but a dance of particles?: a pair of gifted choreographers in founding artistic directors Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard; a talented group of energetic young dancers who give their all; Derek Snow's onstage poetic musings woven around the 12 pieces; diverse, richly textured, hip music. Two numbers were rhythmically enhanced by Nigerian drummer O. Yemi's live djembe playing onstage.
Zimmer and Hubbard spent years performing on Broadway in Cats and more, and the polish shows in their work. The sassy, brassy movement vocabulary is primarily Jazz-based, but many numbers feature modern dance elements alongside bold Hip Hop and African stylings. I enjoyed the more idiosyncratic and theatrical moments that echoed the moody music's lyrical accents, breaking up the high volume of requisite but well-executed leaps, spins, high kicks and controlled undulations.
Large group numbers such as The Magician: The ultimate achiever and Sun: Vitality and splendor exuded a fun dance-party atmosphere, exploding with vibrant kinetic energy as dancers bend, extend and fly across the stage in wild abandon. It's exhilarating if almost exhausting to watch, and it's evident the dancers love to perform. Additional points of stillness or subtle motion would balance out the back-to-back breathless combinations.
I also longed to see more partnering work, regardless of the troupe's all-female makeup. With dancers this fit, flexible and fearless, the possibilities would be endless. But what's there works well.
Speaking of physicality, potent sensuality figures prominently into the choreography. It's pleasing to the eye, but when combined with a couple of the more revealing costumes it felt a touch much for the young gals, particularly in certain solos.
Perhaps I missed something, but I didn't really catch the title's significance or much of a connective thread, but no matter: Clearly the show focuses on showing what these skilled, mostly confident teenaged dancers can do, and it's impressive. Judging by their moves and pre-professional training, these girls could be Broadway bound themselves.
Snow recites, "Let go of fear." These dancers already have. Grade: B+
AREN'T WE ALL BUT A DANCE OF PARTICLES? continues at Know Theatre through Sunday.