NORMAN — An opening segment of two Duke Ellington numbers, choreographed by Derrick Minter, was an exercise in playfully seductive jazz rhythms, which got the “Contemporary Dance Oklahoma” recital off on the right foot.
The University of Oklahoma's spring modern dance program, choreographed by Minter, Austin Hartel and guest artist Donald McKayle, was a delight, from start to finish.
Sky Cornwell, McKenzie Rollinson and Lyndsay Rosenkrantz wore pleated purple, red and green dresses as they danced around stools, covered with fur stoles, which they eventually put on, in the opener, “Elegance in Three.”
Equally elegant was Minter's second offering, a “suite” during which eight women in pale yellow and two men clad in pants and sheer, glittering open shirts, executed Ellington's cool jazz rhythms, in front of long pale curtains.
More athletic and energetic than sexy was the program's third work, “Syncopated,” choreographed by Hartel to music by Aaron Robinson. Ably performing this peppy “Syncopated” piece were Cornwell, Emily Oliver and Stephanie Shelton, wearing outfits whose red and flesh-toned strips suggested form-fitting exercise attire.
More edgy was “Working Flesh,” a collaboration between Hartel, Stefan Ice and Rick Reeves to music by “EDGE (Corrugated Box) for multi-percussion and tap, written by Bruce Hamilton,” according to program notes. In this nearly science fiction-like Hartel number, robotic sleepers in multicolored leotards, lying face down on top of each other, wake up long enough to tap dance and create strange human sculptural forms.