Review: iMee at Houston Dance Festival


iMEE Artists, Britt Juleen, Lindsey McGill, Andrea Dawn Shelley & Jessica Collado in Spencer Gavin Hering's & Andrea Dawn Shelley's, "Superfluous." Photo by Simon Gentry.


Reprinted from Dance Source Houston.

Don’t let iMEE‘s weird name throw you off, this is a company on the move on Houston’s dance-scape. iMEE stands for “Infinite Movement Ever Evolving;” I can’t vouch for the infinite, but it’s a “hell yeah” on the “movement” and “evolving,” which were in full evidence for their recent Houston Dance Festival show at Barnevelder.

The program opened with Superfluous, a light romp set to 1950s tunes, jointly choreographed by iMEE co-founders Spencer Gavin Hering and Andrea Dawn Shelley. The pair are well known to Houston audiences for their work with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater and more recently, Hope Stone Dance. But here, they are standing on their own as relatively new choreographers. Hering and Shelley showed off a theatrical bent in their first outing, creating a sense of community, while the dancers enacted a collection of soulful songs evoking the spirited tenor of the 1950s. Oliver Halkowich and Shelley possessed a luscious quality in the sensuous opening passage, capturing the wistful nature of nostalgia. Jessica Collado stood out for her finely honed attack alternating with a silken quality. I could have stood for a bit less drunk dancing, yet the choreographers showed a knack for narrative, musicality, and bringing out the best qualities of their dancers.

Maurice Causey changed the mood completely with Grim Eye, his raw edged apocalyptic opus, set to an electronic score by Gabriel Prokofiev. Causey’s heavy metal ballet begins and ends with the volume cranked up to full. I guess that’s the point, but it does get a bit heavy-handed and monotonic. Although I never quite understood why or how we got to this bitter place, Grim Eye did indeed keep my eyes busy with plenty of dynamic movement sharply executed by this fantastic group of dancers. Clad in white pants and black war paint, Causey conjures a tribal essence, sinister in its relentlessness. Jeremy Choate’s lighting design added to the piece’s harsh landscape.

The dancing proved to be the most impressive element to the evening. Shelley, Hering, Lindsey McGill, Britt Juleen, Cristian Laverde Koenig, Halkowich, Collado, Edgar Anido—terrific dancers all—made up for any discrepancies in the choreography. What a pleasure to see such distinguished guest artists, Houston Ballet dancers, and local dancers sharing the stage. Good move iMEE.

One thing is perfectly clear, iMEE has arrived on a solid note. Your next chance to see them is during Dance Source Houston’s annual Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance at Miller Outdoor Theatre on September 23 & 24. That’s not a plug, it’s a strong suggestion.

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