Music and dance belong together. But for one special evening during the summer dance festival, ADF musicians and composers perform in a unique, celebratory gig for students, faculty, and a sprinkling of Durham residents. On July 3, their musical offering was dedicated to Charles L. Reinhart, Director and President of the Board. A tireless advocate for the dance, Reinhart, who will retire at the end of this season, has steered the festival since 1969 and helped catapult modern dance to the world stage. The event took place in the Reynolds Industries Theater on the campus of Duke University.
Judging from bubbly students who could just barely remain seated, the high energy percussionists seemed to grab their collective attention. Africa Unplugged, an African dance band and djembe ensemble opened the concert with traditionally rooted African music infused with contemporary style.* The work, entitled Sounds of Africa Unplugged, featured all the elements of modern jazz (call and response, "trading 8s," and improvised solos) but with the luscious timbres of African drums (djembe). With their most recent performance at The Pinhook on Saturday night, the group has made a name for itself in the Triangle.
The ADF Ensemble, led by Vladimir Espinosa, wrapped up the concert with Bata-Camparsa.** Since he joined the faculty in 2005, Espinosa has exposed listeners to Afro-Cuban repertoire filled with intricate polyrhythms that create rich, colorful textures. These two bands rocked the house.
There were delightful surprises. ADF Music Director Natalie Gilbert invited the audience to join in her Sound of Music-adapted song medley, A Tribute. Accompanying on piano, she coaxed us along in her delightful farewell to Charles Reinhart; and his daughter Ariane Reinhart, with Jefferson Dalby at the piano, sang Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and the Moon," a lovely gift for her father.
Other contributions were just plain fun. Technical wizard Andy Hasenpflug presented ("live and in real time") his composition, "Insular Whistling," and with the aid of a second microphone and voice processor, he created a 21st century "one-man-band." Jefferson Dalby performed classical shorts on his studio clavier, and John Hanks accompanied — on cymbals! — a recording of Tchaikovsky excerpts with his humorous piece, "What I Might Be Doing if I Hadn't Been Asked to be the Percussionist for the Frank Holder Dance Company in 1979."Ken Ray Wilemon sang and played Arlen and Harburg's playful Wizard of Oz-knock-off, "Somewhere," Claudia Howard Queen (piano) played her composition "June's Waltz," and Terrence Karn exuberantly kicked off the second half of the program with his own "Chula Devla" ("Sweet Goddess").
It was a wonderful evening, but I have to admit I missed the old performance space of Baldwin Auditorium. The hot, sweaty atmosphere, Charles Reinhart smiling with great satisfaction, and the glistening bodies of young dancers who stormed the top of the hall for the dance-in finale all added up to a show of great appreciation for the musicians. But before the curtain dropped on this night, I spotted a tiny, young dancer onstage, uninhibited, throwing her hands in the air — the kind of joy that makes me smile. Charles Reinhart will be greatly missed as his generous spirit moves on.
*Musicians from Africa Unplugged: Atiba Rorie, Uasuf Gueye, Dante Mitchell, Elisha Harris and Allen Boyd.
**Musicians led by Vladimir Espinosa: Bradley Simmons, Beverly Botsford, Atiba Rorie, Alfredo Morua, Patrick Loebs, Justin Hill, and Robert Cantrell.