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In the News > E-Moting, E-Volving and Tipping Toward Tap

7 Apr 2008

E-Moting, E-Volving and Tipping Toward Tap

Published: April 7, 2008
This year’s E-Moves showcase, now in its ninth year, is devoted to tap, though it represents only a sliver of the offerings. On Friday night Harlem Stage presented E-Merging and E-Volving artists, the first of two programs, which featured an array of choreographers taking on ballet, flamenco, voguing, postmodern dance and, of course, tap.

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Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times
Mina Nishimura, one of E-Moves’ E-Merging choreographers, performing her work called “Tunasolo” on Friday.
Organized by Brad Learmonth, Simone Eccleston and Charmaine Warren, the two-weekend festival seems positioned as an audience builder. On Friday’s program 10 choreographers — perhaps an attempt to find something for everyone? — made for an exhausting evening. (E-Gads.)

There are some gems, mainly confined to the less-experienced E-Merging group. Corey Baker’s “Colors on a Canvas,” performed by Ballet Noir, the company Mr. Baker directs with Leyland Simmons, is accompanied by three musicians and features eight bare-chested men sweeping the stage with virtuosic pirouettes and leaps. Though cluttered with too many steps and the occasional overwrought gesture — arms raised high, eyes directed toward the heavens — the ballet demonstrates Mr. Baker’s daring and affinity for structure.

Mina Nishimura’s “Tunasolo” is a real delight. An adaptation of her quartet “Tuna,” the solo features Ms. Nishimura, a striking figure in a billowy white skirt and an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit T-shirt who begins with the words “I’m very angry.” Emitting eerie meows and sharp, yelping barks, she moves in jerky steps, striking awkward poses. Thoroughly captivating and without artifice, Ms. Nishimura creates an imaginative and highly rhythmic inner world in which repression and self-expression battle to a charming resolution.

In “Syncopated Ladies,” Chloe Arnold’s sweet three-part work highlighted by a tap solo for the masterly Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, dancers dressed in garish 1980s ensembles click their heels in time to thumping music by Sean Paul. There is more tap on the E-Volving portion of the program with Alexandria (Brinae Ali) Bradley’s “Stono Rebellion.” Yet her dance-and-music spectacle, ending with the phrase “You need to rebel against negativity,” teems with pedanticism.

Others play with rhythm too, notably the flamenco dancer Nelida Tirado, who seemed to have trouble remembering that she was sharing a program. As sharp as her footwork was, Ms. Tirado tested the patience of the hilariously vocal audience with a false ending or two in “37 años.” One man, practically pleading, said, “Work it out, work it out.” When she finally did, though, the wait seemed worth it; the crowd, a cheering mass, leapt to its feet in euphoria.

E-Moves continues Friday through Sunday at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue; (212) 281-9240, Ext. 19; harlemstage.org.

Gia Kourlas