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Washington Post 5-11-09

DAKSHINA/DANIEL PHOENIX SINGH DANCE COMPANY

Almost 50 years after its debut, Anna Sokolow’s “Dreams” looks as fresh as ever. An intense work that reflects on the atrocities of the Holocaust, it was presented at Dance Place by Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company on Saturday.

Sokolow’s choreography strikes just the right note: She manages to capture the terror and the magnitude of that event without veering into the melodramatic. The dancers, too, are sober and earnest but never over-the-top in their depictions of concentration camp prisoners.

For much of the dance, the stage is dark save for a single square of light, making the dancers constantly appear confined. The music intentionally skips on and off, abruptly leaving them to push through uncomfortable silence.

Near the end of the work, the dancers bend at the waist and nod their heads forward and back, eventually allowing those nods to grow into violent thrashes. They stretch their arms out in desperation while their mouths hang wide open as though they were screaming. These images at once call to mind the abuses the prisoners experienced and the anger and injustice they surely felt. The piece closes with the dancers huddling close together and dropping slowly to their knees. In unison, they let out a quiet, chilling whimper.

The company also presented two short Indian dances, a modern work and another piece that combined those two genres. All were finely danced, especially the traditional Indian works, but none was as impassioned and provocative as “Dreams.”

– Sarah Halzack

Washington Post (5-11-09)