Ephrat Asherie Dance blends various styles of hip-hop, African dance, and elements of samba in Odeon at the Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago.
Odeon is a collaboration between choreographer and musical director, the sister and brother team Ephrat and Ehud Asherie. The vibrant and exuberant original work brings together seven dancers and four musicians performing a variety of street and club dances taken out of their original context and transposed for the stage. These dances are performed to music by Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth to create a performance that takes the audience on a journey all across the world through music and dance.
The Dance Center at Columbia College Hosts Dance Blending Styles
Ephrat Asherie is a New York City b-girl, dancer, and choreographer, who brings street and club dances including breaking, hip-hop, house, and vogue, together with jazz, samba, and African dance styles to bring something fresh and new to the stage that embodies where that dance originates, while combining the styles and transforming them into something new.
Predominantly, the movements are quick paced and rhythmic, reflecting whichever instrument is being played by the four musicians sharing the stage with the dancers. Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, does exactly as her name suggests. As she break dances, she moves swiftly up and down from the ground, one moment spinning on her head and the next back on her feet, as if she is weightless.
Ousmane “Omari Mizrahi” Wiles combination of vogue and African dance also stands out as part of this blending of styles throughout the performance. In some of the more subdued moments he is low to the ground, undulating and articulating through his back and then shortly after seen vogueing, moving his arms at lightning speed around his face in small and intricate motions.
The dancers interact together sometimes in dance battles or stand-offs, trying to show one another up with their individualized moves, and sometimes partnering as if they were dancing as a couple in a ballroom, or as friends on the street or in a club. The dance styles transition smoothly from one to the next, one style never feeling more prominent or out of context.
Performed to the music of Ernesto Nazareth, a Brazilian composer known for mixing early 20th century romantic music with samba and Afro-Brazlian rhythms according to the program, the musicians play an important role in setting the scene on stage. The four musicians play a variety of instruments including the piano, bass, pandeiro, drums, and even the accordian, to set the tone of the movement and take the audience on a journey.
The musicians interact with the dancers sometimes moving around the stage with them, feeding off of one another’s energy. This is when the performance feels like it is transporting the audience to the streets of Brazil, a dancer and musician coming together spontaneously to perform together, or to a club in New York City.
The combination of Asherie’s solo accompanied by accordionist Vitor Goncalves in a single pool of light is interesting and innovative, enhanced by Asherie’s technical expertise and execution in her breakdancing movements.
The dancers also create their own intricate rhythms— clapping and stomping in different patterns bringing stepping and a little bit of tap into the mix. In these moments, they create a sense of community amongst themselves as a group and invite the audience to join their community as well, clapping and cheering along.
A Joyous Journey
For this writer and likely for most in the audience, the feeling of Odeon is one of joy and exuberance. The performers are vibrant and exciting, and the music keeps the audience moving in their seats along with the performers. The troupe brings social dancing out of its original context in a way that is engaging and fun for both audience and performer alike. It is exciting to watch the dancers and musicians so completely in their element and moving so cohesively as one.
Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, Manon Bal, Teena Marie Custer, Valerie “Ms. Vee” Ho, Linda “LaNaija” Madueme, Matthew “Megawatt” West, Ousmane “Omari Mizrahi” Wiles
Eduardo Belo, Vitor Goncalves, Angel Lau, Sergio Krakowski
October 13 at 7:30PM
The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago
1306 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
$30 (discounts for students, seniors, active military, & groups available)
For tickets visit the online The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago webpage
Photos courtesy of Ephrat Asherie and The Dance Center.
About the Author:
Hayley Ross graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with degrees in Dance and Journalism. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hayley began dancing at the age of four. She has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, and African dance and regularly can be found taking dance and Pilates at Chicago's Lou Conte Dance Studio. Hayley has completed internships at CityScene Media Group, OhioDance, the Chautauqua Institution, and American Dance Festival. She currently works in the Marketing department at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the Marketing Manager. Learn more about Hayley at hayleyross.weebly.com