Thunder Rumbles Under Heaven

Thunder Rumbles Under Heaven
November 19, 2014 W. Celeste Davis Stragand
Photo by Wang Xiaojing.

Photo by Wang Xiaojing. Image courtesy of Newman Center Presents.

Last night, the Newman Center at DU shook, shifted and rumbled to the movements of Beijing Dance/LDTX.

Kicking it off with two dancers on stage while people entered to find their seat, you could sense both the appreciation of something new and the bewilderment of the audience. Now, it made me wonder if this bewilderment would have been as rampant had the audience had more diversity.

In my second year of writing for Presenting Denver, I have had the pleasure of viewing a wide variety of performances. Beijing Dance/LDTX was excellent. The speed and range of the dancers was athletic, technical and new. From the set design or lack thereof to the stoic faces of the dancers, the company brought psychological tension, compassion, love and discomfort.

Photo by Wang Xiaojing.

Photo by Wang Xiaojing. Image courtesy of Newman Center Presents.

The first piece, Standing Before Darkness, choreographed by Sang Ji-Jia, reminded me of the individual paths we all follow yet combine when on mass transit. I guess I likened the piece to mass transit as the prop was a chair per dancer continually moved and replaced with the dancers performing in, over and around the chair. They also moved to and fro in unison to the offbeat of the electronic music produced by Dickson Dee. The piece comprised the entire first act before intermission and ended with a dancer coughing viciously. Throughout the piece, dancers swirled, pulled slug-like on the floor and shook their hands as if shaking off gum. There were men moving as if contorted as well as pained moves coupled with sounds like chains. That section almost evoked the binding and debilitation of slavery. The industrial frenetic-mannequins used the entire stage with precision and speed.

Photo by Zhang He-Ping.

Photo by Zhang He-Ping. Image courtesy of Newman Center Presents.

After the 15 minute intermission, the company opened with October, choreographed by Song Ting Ting & Lui Bin. The duet of lovers in unison was, well, lovely. They offsetting part was the end of the piece in silence. It seemed again, my audience neighbors experienced discomfort and unknowing, while I sat at the edge of my chair in delight. Taking control of expectations and then deviating adds intensity and intrigue in my book.

Piece 3 entitled Waiting Alone, choreographed by Xu Yi-Mingshowcased a singular male dancer, Xu Yi-Ming, moving to the sounds of horror music with blood curdling screams, and then it transitions into a piano with Xu’s movements reminding me at times of hip-hop, though completely misaligned given the musical accompaniment.

Waiting Alone. Photo By Wang Ning.

Waiting Alone. Photo By Wang Ning. Image courtesy of Newman Center Presents.

The company closed with Treading on Grass, choreographed by Li Hanzhong, and Ma Bo. Again, the entire company fills the stage and moves with speed, clarity and precision. The culmination is a group formation reaching to the sky as red heart confetti drops to the ground. My sentiments exactly, lots of red hearts fluttering around the stage with full beat and pulse.

Beijing Dance/LDTX founded in 2005 and is the first officially registered independent professional company outside the Chinese government system. To learn more or to consider wold-wide adventure and see them again, please visit their website: Kudos to the Newman Center for breaking the norm and reaching beyond our borders to fill the stage with ferocious dance. It truly was as if thunder from the heavens did rumble.



W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and local Denverite, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board. Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!