This is the seventh year that producer and curator of dance Jodi Kaplan has brought the variety of American dance to the Fringe with this "festival within a festival". Deciding this time to only focus on three companies, Jeanette Stoner and Dancers, Metamorphosis Dance Company and Versa-Style Dance Company, this was definitely an attempt to concentrate the quality of the dance pieces involved.
Booking Dance Festival continues to be at the forefront of bringing international dance to the Fringe.
This festival is a showcase whereby Kaplan invites dance companies to participate, based on what she has seen of them in the past year. What's great about the programme is that you get a mixture of all three, so you don't settle within one style for too long.
Jeanette Stoner has been working in New York on some really interesting and abstract contemporary dance. During a brief Q&A after the performance we are told that the improvisational and discovery stage for these pieces can be a long drawn out process until Stoner gets what she wants. The use of cloth as a motif was striking and there was a definite narrative of "struggling for freedom" throughout her pieces. Being abstract dance, perhaps its not to everyone's taste, yet they were thoughtful and visually well put together.
Versa-Style quite literally schooled the audience on the elements of hip-hop dance. Their dancers are stylish and effortlessly cool and their narrative was fun and engaging. My one criticism is that a more defined point of difference between their 3 pieces would have shown us a lot more of what they can do.
From their Q&A, Metamorphosis appear to be doing amazing things for people's perceptions of dance in Trinidad and Tobago but here, seemed to miss the mark. What they gave us wasn't a caribbean-contemporary fusion that had elements of their point of view at all, but a straightforward contemporary piece that at face value could have been a lot tighter and better executed.
All this being said Booking Dance Festival continues to be at the forefront of bringing international dance to the Fringe. Kaplan seems truly passionate about showcasing what the other side of the Atlantic is all about and I really respect that. Whether taking the programme down to three groups was the best decision is unclear. It felt that some of the charm in the variety was lost. However this remains to be a fantastic show that was well put together and performed stylishly in almost every piece.