Note: Our usual dance writer Adam Castanada was unable to review FrenetiCore's Quench because he was on stage during the performance (he's a member of the FrenetiCore Dance group). Night + Day Editor Olivia Flores Alvarez stepped in.
We're having a little bit of trouble reading our notes for Quench, FrenetiCore Dance's latest evening-length program. Our handwriting is okay (even for writing in the dark), it's not that. It's that the pages in our notebook are are a little smeared. Quench lived up to its promise and got everything - and everyone - in the theater wet. We were about three rows up, so we didn't get quite as drenched as the people in the first row, but before the night was done FrenetiCore managed to splish, splash and, in some cases, soak everyone in the room.
The Set-up: Rebecca French, artistic director and choreographer for FrenetiCore Dance, promised her audience two things: One, Quench would be fun. Two, everyone would get wet. She delivered on both counts. A collection of mostly non-narrative vignettes, Quench explored, in a light and playful way, water. How we have fun in it, how we fight in it and at the end our the performance we saw, how to raise money with it. Ashley Horn provided lovely underwater film segments and SPIKE the Percussionist supplied live, on-stage drumming. Dancers became nymphs, water sprites, mermaids, happy children and at one point, thirsty dancers.
As an encore, the dancers performed their own version of the ice bucket challenge. (For $10, audience members could douse the dancer/s of their choice with icy cold water.)
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The Execution: There were several highlights to the evening, starting with the opening segment. The curtains opened to reveal three dancers and three large sacks hung from the ceiling. After a few minutes, dancers inside the sacks revealed themselves and the rest of the piece was performed by the entire group. Some stayed in the air, some on the ground. The opening silhouette was lovely and dramatic and a wonderful way to start the evening.
The duo Mermaids! showed Stacey Ramsower and Jaime Garcia as friendly and then not so friendly mermaids, complete with full tails and fins for feet. Ramsower and Garcia are delightful. The two meet, show each other a few dance moves and then finally fight over a pool float. At one point, Garcia's shimmy-and-shake dance, in sequined tail and fins, earned its own round of applause.
Other highlights included dancefilms by Ashley Horn. Chlorine featured Mollie Miller and Adam Castaneda. Shot entirely underwater, Chlorine featured the dancers in long, flowing skirts which mimicked mermaids tails. Graceful and poetic, the images added a dimension to the production that would have been impossible with an onstage performance. A second and equally lovely dancefilm, Chlorine and Sea Salt, showed Castanada, French and Danielle Artis falling, jumping and splashing in what seemed to be Galveston Beach (the water looked a familiar brown).
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Among the individual dancers, French, as always, was captivating onstage. Jamie Garcia was especially on point (no pun intended) and Lauren Hurstell showed a few particularly lovely (and strong!) extensions.
There were a few negatives to the performance. We couldn't see everything, even from our prime seats. French and company performed a good deal while flat on the floor and downstage. The first row saw everything, the rest of us saw glimpses. At one point, the dancers are flat on their backs or sides inside kiddie pools they had dragged onstage. Yeah, we really couldn't see that.
Horn's films lost some impact because the screen they were shown on reflected lots of stage lighting, making the images faint.
The Verdict: Overall, Quench was delightful. Fun and accessible, it made for an enjoyable evening.