W-I-P it real good

Over at Jump-Start Performance Co. you never know what to expect — you could play groupie to two vulgar vamps in As Filthy As It Gets or travel back to 1930s Harlem in Blues for an Alabama Sky — but if you’re a dance enthusiast you should check out Works-In-Progress/Wednesdays-In-

The monthly collaboration with San Antonio Dance Umbrella is an informative dialogue between artists and audience members that offers insight into the artistic process. S.T. Shimi, Jump-Start’s artistic director for company programming, designs the evening as a three-part critical-response format based on the model developed by Liz Lerman at the Dance Exchange in Washington, D.C. It’s a simple, informal process that allows the audience to witness, as Shimi says, “a crazy idea in someone’s head” develop in response to feedback.

February’s lineup was as diverse as they come. The first performers up were St. Lorraine Dance Co., a neo-modern dance troupe new to the San Antonio scene. Company members Britt Keel and Deborah Andersen performed an excerpt from “Sugar Bumps,” a two-part work similar to interpretative dancing but with a twist.

Audience members young and old (a few Girl Scouts were in the front row, showering the performers with praise) enjoyed the music selection, which began with a slow, dramatic tune and blended into a fast, drum-heavy number that allowed the dancers to unleash more emotion. Following the excerpt, a young woman in the audience asked Keel and Andersen whether the piece was about women not being happy in their bodies. They replied that there is no concrete interpretation, but the crowd did snap their fingers to the audience member’s analysis (when audience members agree they’re asked to snap their fingers instead of applaud — Beat-like!).

The second performance was an excerpt from Irish/Chicano, a play written by Max Parrilla. The younger crowd seemed divided between being bored with the historical references or completely digging the mid-1800s attire. Most people weren’t too familar with the Mexican-American war so confusion was in the air, but audience members didn’t unleash terror on the performance. They provided suggestions such as working on the dialects, which tended to be overly Chicano — borrowing from Carlos Mencia rather than Edward James Olmos.

The Ballet Conservatory of San Antonio ended the evening. The young professionals, ranging in age from 11 to 18, showed great work ethic, as they were added on the bill as last-minute performers. They performed “Techno Tango,” an energetic quick-step ballet featuring Latin-flavored music. Done in three movements, the piece was a crowd favorite, and for good reason. The performance featured an ideal combination of elegance and exuberance — the dancers swiftly moved across the stage, into position then launched into grand jetés.

At the March W-I-P, you can expect fandango dances and student performances from Palo Alto and Northwest Vista colleges. Even if you’re not into dance, it’s nice to drop by and see what offerings W-I-P will, well ... whip up for the crowd.

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