The entrée, choreographer Thang Dao’s “Roked,” whet the appetite for the rest of the program. He helms his eponymously-named Los Angeles-based company of renown and he’s set work on Philadanco! in the past. To music by Paul Guy Stevens, he used the concept of dancing in the masculine form called Roked (in the present tense in Hebrew.) But another definition is “a vein of ore” and Dao struck gold for this dance for nine of the company’s 11 members. The men come out jumping jacks, landing in squat-legged, crab-like sidesteps, heads rapidly bobbing down as they move along. The women become more involved, and whenever anyone begins to fall backwards, someone is there to catch and balance them again. Genders don’t matter, all help each other to stand up. Brandi Pinnix helps William Burden jump before she lands backwards on his bent back, a neat sequence. In silhouetted line, the full corps march to the footlights confronting the audience, they peel off their blue or green jackets (by Jill Peterson) waving them like flags.

Merilyn Jackson

Photo Credit: Julieanne Harris

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