The goal of any dance performance is create a mood—certain elements must come together to create the mood of a piece. The mood of Mara Ifsu’s IM Dance show, Diamond in the Sky was one of beauty and hope, as her dancers tackled fun, sad and serious themes with a light, yet devoted sense of commitment.
Diamond in the Sky was basically a three-part suite which draws power from the expressiveness and tone of the entire troupe. The first part of the show focused on tap. Every routine, from the adults knocking out the Countdown Sister’s Our Business to all of the children’s work was top-notch–what was most impressive about these young performers was their complete joy and total commitment to the dance.
This second section segued into ballet, with dances that traversed the simple and quiet, to the incredibly complex. Most impressive was pointe prima ballerina Payton Mullaly, who, despite being tasked with a four minute Mozart etude, was clearly strong enough to meet the challenge, working through every artistic task with beauty and grace- technically, her timing, height of extensions, attitude of arms and approach to epaulement was full of depth and poetic layering.
The third section was based on Four Dance Episodes by Aaron Copeland. Mara Ifju and IM Dance is about teaching its students how to be more than technicians; but also how to be ‘performers’. Tackling Copeland can be challenging, yet all four movements were engaging and intellectually stimulating dance, made so by its ambiance and stagecraft as well as its execution by all of IMs dancers. The show concluded with the forth movement, HOE-Down, which involved every dancer. As Ms. Mara noted, it was a little bit of the wild west on the Eastern Shore, and it was delightful.
In the past, IM has purchased costumes, but this year, they commissioned Vera Miller, costume mistress for the Palace Theater, and one of the most talented and artistic seamstress on the Shore. As we have become accustomed, Ms. Miller’s costumes were, in a word, gorgeous. The main goal of the costume is to provide physical and emotional support to every dancer through the clothing he or she will wear — above all, the costume must work onstage, providing comfort, flexibility and durability. I have been working with Ms. Vera for over 10 years, and I can attest to the quality and workmanship of her craft–that is all fine, but what really sets her apart is her eye for color and beauty. She made 79 costumes for this show, and each one had her trademark ‘Pop!’.
IM’s final recital was a joy and a total success…so for now, enjoy the summer, and see you next fall!