I was pretty excited for my first Philadanco show on Friday evening, never having seen the company before, but always hearing great things about them. On the program were Christopher Huggins’ “Bolero”, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “By Way of Funk”, Ray Mercer’s “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, and Huggins’ “Enemy Behind The Gates”. I could go on and on about how great the dancers were, and how balletic the movement was. Anybody could have seen that these dancers have very solid ballet training that they maintain constantly. In fact, much of the dancing (though non in pointe shoes) looked like contemporary ballet instead of modern dance or pure contemporary.
At the risk of sounding a bit creepy, though, one of the things I liked most about the dancers was their bodies, especially the women’s. They were fit and trim, but visibly powerful and muscular, which was necessary, given the breakneak pace of most of the evening’s choreography. Watching the dancers doing all that balletic movement made me think about how nice it would be to see those kinds of bodies onstage with major ballet companies, which does not seem to happen. The women of Philadanco are not ballerina-thin, true, but that gave them a more forceful and commanding presence onstage. I would love to see the directors of major ballet companies and schools opening their minds to include a more womanly, powerful body type, the kind of which I saw on Friday night. Even I, one of the biggest bunheads of all, thought they would not be out of place on a ballet stage, and as I write, I’m picturing them in tutus, tights, and pointe shoes. And you know what? They look beautiful.