Explosive moves to driving beats at Summer Stages
CONCORD - Choreographer Brandon “Peace’’ Albright may have laid the groundwork for a new generation of hip-hop: a kinder, gentler, though no less exacting and physically explosive iteration of the dance form that sprang out of New York’s mean streets in the 1970s.
On Thursday night, his Boston debut of “Impossible, IZZpossible’’ - an amalgam of tap, house, locking, popping, modern, gymnastics, and break-dancing - kicked off the 15th anniversary of Summer Stages Dance. It jolted Concord Academy’s sleek Performing Arts Center with everything from holy matrimony (complete with robed priest) to . . . holy moley! Did that guy really flip and land on his back?
Singular talents seemed to shoot like sparks out of the 20-member llstyle & Peace Productions troupe. Joseph Ingram has a spine of elastic, his arms and legs slithery as snakes, his hips an isolationist nation unto themselves. Even his eyebrows lock and pop. Hoofer Reggie Myers’s fibrillating feet eat up the floor. With other dancers, knees buckle and bang together, bodies hurl horizontally, splits rebound into backflips. Driving it all is Darrin Ross’s thumping Mega House Mix.
When Albright relied on narratives in his choreography, though, cracks showed. That wedding scene, for example, with vows but little dancing. Or the beautiful Damon R. Holley as a spurned lover, ripping up a letter while a black heart flickers behind him on a screen. Then there was Albright in black, surrounded by a throng of white-hooded figures, their fingers now flickering like rain. What was the point? You don’t need plotted drama when legs whir like egg beaters from a torso splat on the floor and spins on upper backs corkscrew into butter.
The killer finale, “KINGZ,’’ celebrating Africa and its people, alone was worth the price of admission. The piece, to music by Brazilian Beatz, is an exploration of power wrought from spirit. Our eyes pop now: Ankles of one man lock around the neck of another, slamming both parties to the floor. Four men stand straight, then, in a breath, hinge into an eight-legged table. One dancer rockets into the outstreched arms of four others, who toss him perfunctorily over their heads.
Particularly striking is the juxtaposition of hard and soft. Here are these big, muscled, “manly’’ men ripping through concussion-inducing feats with artist Robert Indiana’s iconic “LOVE’’ insignia from the ’60s branding their shirts: They are warriors - but with a hand out to a brother. You leave hearing not so much the beat in your ears as the one in your heart.
Thea Singer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.