Ephrat Asherie (USA): Odeon brings underground dance to the stage

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Ephrat Asherie and crew perform a unique dance style for audiences. Photo courtesy of Christopher Duggan.

By Mohan Xu
Staff writer
@XuMohan1

 Ephrat Asherie Dance performed a live music performance to show the relationship between music and dance. Ephrat Asherie (USA): Odeon attracted more than 200 people at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Kay Theatre on Wed., March 4. 

Ephrat Asherie Dance is named for its choreographer and artistic director, Ephrat Asherie. “Odeon” is the second collaboration with her brother, jazz pianist Ehud Asherie. Ehud is also the musical director of “Odeon.” The music piece was composed by the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth. 

“I think a lot of the movements for me that I felt were really interesting was the juxtaposition between one street style and another street style, like someone voguing while another person was whacking, or two people were whacking, while the breakers were on the floor,” said senior dance major Gabriela Grant. “I thought that seeing the different shapes of both styles within the same umbrella of a hip hop really stood out.” 

“Odeon” is a hybrid of dancing styles including hip hop, breaking, house and vogue. It brings social and street dance onstage. The whole performance was with Afro-Brazilian rhythms or Latin rhythms like samba.  

“At the heart of it all, ‘Odeon’ is a story about relationships— between siblings, between music and movement, between European classical traditions and contemporary sound and movement,” according to Clarice’s website notes. 

“Odeon” was performed by six dancers and four musicians. Musicians played instruments such as pandeiro and piano and interacted with dancers at times. 

Dancers changed their movements a lot of times. Such as fast feet, acrobatic scrambles, slashing arms, scissor arms and pirouettes. 

“I liked the parts where the dance was really upbeat, and the reason I like that is they are closing together and were doing a lot of different movements, but they never touched each other,” senior psychology major Qasim Gadiwalla said. 

During the Q-and-A section, the moderator, Maura Keefe, who is also the associate professor in dance performance and scholarship, asked how Asherie gave herself permission to investigate things that she did not know about. 

“I think one of the things as I get older, I want to make sure that I keep pushing myself to do things I can not do,” Asherie said. “I want to get out of my comfort zone and challenge ourselves and leave room for improvisation, so that I can have that opportunity to take those risks every night.” 

 When asked how to balance building the sense of community and also giving people their moments because dancers are different from each other, Asherie said they know how to be a community and how to gather together when they need to do. Asherie said the underground dance community in New York City, “that’s like my dance home.” 

“That’s what you see at the club, like the collective consciousness, celebrating the unique individual and their movements,” Asherie said. “So that is what we all came from, in many ways, it is organic for us and it is just like our world.” 

 “I think overall the performance was fabulous and filled with a lot of high energy,” Grant said. “The dancers were enthusiastic and had a sense of community.”  

 Gadiwalla said he was impressed by this performance. 

“They were always smiling and sweating really a lot, but it was impressive to me,” Gadiwalla said.