By Tara Bennett
Contemporary dance-theatre company Of Moving Colors (OMC) will soon ‘kick off’ its first show of 2015 with its annual performance of “Kick It Out.”
Described as Baton Rouge’s version of the Rockettes, “Kick It Out” brings 90 minutes of pure entertainment performed to the music of the Rat Pack and Motown era, with songs as performed by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Nancy Sinatra, Dean Martin, and more.
This will be the sixth year Baton Rouge will be able to take part in the tradition of viewing OMC’s most popular choreography as well as brand new performances by OMC company dancers and local children from the community.
“My favorite thing is that we get to see these kids that have never danced before have a fabulous cultural activity in the city,” said OMC’s artistic director Garland Goodwin Wilson. “And we get to see our dancers who have quite a lot of sophisticated movement let go, and have fun and celebrate for the evening.”
OMC traditionally creates contemporary performances, but “Kick It Out” focuses on fusing modern dance, Broadway, and musical follies. This year’s production features choreography by Wilson, LSU professor Christine Chrest, Courtney Landry, Bethany Jones McCullough, OMC associate director Carrie Tatum and emerging young choreographer Will Bove. Chrest will open the show with the premiere of a piece performed by Ella Fitzgerald that features eight women and one man, and Tatum will feature a composition of fierce contemporary movement. Bove will present four pieces, including two children-based pieces and two company pieces. This year’s “Kick It Out” will be Bove’s second time serving as choreographer while also performing other roles for the show.
“He’s not only a soloist with the company, and a teacher for the children, and a performer with the children, but he’s also worked as an emerging choreographer,” said Wilson. “He’s done a stellar job. It’s great to give men like him opportunities to grow not only as dancers and performers, but also as choreographers.”
Bove will have four pieces, two children-based and two company-based, and is excited to present his work to the community.
“My favorite moment [of the show] is choreographing my piece to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground,’” said Bove. “I had so much fun doing it.”
Over the years “Kick It Out” has grown in numbers each year, with this year’s show seeing 80 dancers between five and 18 years old joining 20 OMC company dancers on the stage. The majority of the children in the show are on scholarships offered by OMC, which allows them to join a weekly performance camp from October through January to prep for the show. During this time, the young dancers are taught the skills they need to one day become a professional dancer.
“They’re learning choreography, they’re learning backstage etiquette,” said OMC director of development Nancy Little. “And as a performer, they’re learning that confidence of being able to perform for an audience, which in my opinion, that skillset can take you anywhere in life.”
Bove said he finds the community outreach aspect of “Kick it Out” — giving children the opportunity to learn dance when they are unable to afford regular classes — the most inspiring.
“It’s really rewarding seeing kids who have a natural ability to dance and are able to grow,” said Bove. “I’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”
According to Goodwin, it is truly humbling for her to be able to see children, both at the beginner and advanced level, grow in their confidence and ability as young performers.
“To see them take that journey of growth is actually quite an honor,” said Wilson.
Amongst the listed entertainment for the evening will be one of Louisiana’s emerging singers, Quiana Lynell, who will perform four songs accompanied by Andy Bourgeois. Other special guests include former company dancers Marlon Grigsby, Leigh Devillier, Anna Schwab and Harlee Trautman along with Macy Dunne, Aron Coates, and Brooke Fontenot, who are dancers outside of the company.
Joining the “Kick It Out” programming for the first time this year will be the “At The Barre,” a dance-themed happy hour hosted by OMC at the Jones Walker Foyer Bar at the Manship Theatre from 6-7:30 p.m. prior to Friday night’s performance. Guests can enjoy the sounds of Motown and enter to win some Bluetooth speakers by Presonus Audio Electronics. To RSVP for the event visit atthebarre.eventbrite.com.
“It’s a free event to attend with a cash bar,” said Little. “And it will allow current patrons and those who are new to the company to visit with us and have a little fun before the show.”
“Kick It Out” will premiere on Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Manship Theatre in the Shaw Center for the Arts. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Ticket prices range from $13-$35 and are available through the Manship Theatre Ticket Desk. Visit www.manshiptheatre.org or call 225-344-0334 to purchase tickets. For further information, please contact OMC at 225-338-0804.