Kenneth Walker Dance Project Further Beautifies the Brand

Bringing dance into public spaces has wonderful benefits for communities as it reclaims spaces renewing them with beauty and meaning that can be enjoyed both by dance fans as well as casual passersby. Kenneth Walker Dance Project anointed the Brand Library and Art Center this past week as the third program in the 2023 Brand Dance Series, hosted by the Associates of the Brand and curated by long-time dance advocate and teaching artist Jamie Nichols. 

The afternoon program featured a series of short dance offerings choreographed by company director Kenneth Walker and performed by a lovely and diverse cast of nine classically trained dancers (Andrew Alexander, Marco Carreon, Morgan Davison, Olivia Hamilton, Michael Hill, Laura Mauldin, Emma Silagy, Cecilia Vargas, and Xochitl Velasquez) The works delighted in design and playful imagery. Some were staged on the plaza where a marley floor had been carefully laid to facilitate the dancing, while others were set in and around the Spanish architecture for which the Brand is famous. 

On the plaza the audience enjoyed an elegant solo featuring Olivia Hamilton entitled Sometimes the Sun Sets Sooner Than Usual, a bold male duet, entitled Crocodile Tears, a female quartet called Not Quite Still, and a closing group work evoking imagery of office life and mundane existence, called Teletype. In these proscenium style works, Walker highlighted the classical technique of the dancers in precise footwork, long lines, and clean partnering. The works themselves were all abstract, with pedestrian gestures that nodded at possible themes, but which stayed away from explicit narratives. Instead, Walker generated movement inside the ballet idiom which stayed fresh and engaging. While the vocabulary was rooted in the familiarity of classical ballet lines and allegro footwork, the performances continually engaged interest through varied phrase structures, entrances and exits of the vastly diverse company of dancers, and generous use of the performance space with big extensions, turns, springs, and partnering. 

The aptly named Prologue, Stair Dance, and Planter Dance, each invited the audience to reposition themselves to enjoy the dances from a new perspective and with a new background. Walker created these works specifically for the Brand performance and the visual effect was thoroughly enjoyable. Seeing the dancers up close and from different angles, allowed each audience member to enjoy a unique perspective on the movement. Walker’s contemporary ballet vocabulary fit perfectly against the white arches of the veranda and the blue sky above. The use of line and design was what stood out most in these works as the dancers performed with a stoicism and equanimity in the face of the late afternoon sun. The dancers were each dressed in blues and whites, with matching tennis shoes that allowed the dancers to safely spring up and down stairs and walk along retaining walls. Through gestural design, cambrés, and simple springs, the dancers commanded the space with grace. 

Walker took time between pieces as dancers were changing shoes and catching their breath to take questions from the audience. This gave the audience additional insight into the works, their design, and the training of the company dancers. For instance, we learned that Prologue was crafted with movement vocabulary from each of the subsequent works in the program. The casual conversation with Walker made the event feel accessible and engaging while keeping the pace and flow of the show as the dancers took the short break they needed. Overall, the performance was another success story in the Brand Dance Series. bbmoves, under the direction of Bernard Brown, will close out the 2023 series Saturday May 20th at 5:00pm. Free to the public, this series is a gift to the local community and a perfect Saturday treat. More information at

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