Presented as a concert that merged song and dance, the program “Dance the World ‘Round” presented by the Women’s Voices Chorus accomplished so much more than just that. While featuring six choreographed dances of all different styles, the concert also included a myriad of instrumentalists, and every single piece was unique, or had a surprise twist. This extremely diverse program was united by the unbridled joy of the singers and their director Allan Friedman. The concert space at Judea Reform Congregation was nearly filled to the brim – when chairs ran out, concertgoers were content to stand, and a front row of sitting children formed around the dance floor. Besides the performances themselves, this additional aspect of the concert fostered a sense of community and audience involvement.

Dancers Carol Ryner and Beth Hoke stole the show right away with their heartwarming swing dance to the song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” while the Women’s Voices Chorus introduced their enthusiastic and full sound. In this song and throughout the concert, with pieces such as “La Pantera Mambo,” the brass players on this program really dazzled – Kyle Santos and Kim McCorkle on trumpet, Tim Smith on tenor sax, and Andy Kleindienst on trombone. This ensemble was the perfect addition to enhance the chorus on their jazz-inspired pieces. “Braided Light” (by Joan Szymko) was a highlight of the overall concert and a complete contrast, with a graceful modern dance trio illustrating themes of connectedness and gentleness. The song itself was wordless, and with this texture the chorus created an atmosphere that emanated light and color.

“Barso Re,” (“Let it rain”) a Hindi piece by A.R. Rahman inspired by both Classical and Bollywood styles, featured dancers from the Ishanya Dance Company in Cary. For this piece, the chorus traded the “traditional” Western choral style in favor of the vocal fluctuation and unrestrained technique of Hindi and Bollywood music. When combined with the energetic elegance of the Ishanya dancers, the overall experience was refreshing and unique to watch. Oscar Escalada’s arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango” was also a unique meeting of styles – performed by the chorus’ Chamber Choir and featuring dancers Murielle Elizéon and Cecil Ho, the singers, instrumentalists, and dancers worked together to create the spirit of the meditative and mysterious Libertango with an unconventional texture.

“Libertango” highlighted the chorus’s dynamic range and control, which was also illustrated with Rosephanye Powell’s “Ogo ni fun Oluwa” (“Glory to God in the Highest”). For the latter piece, the chorus spread out around the dance floor, still maintaining a balanced sound and phrases that were full of forward motion. Friedman’s leadership and direction here, as always, was extremely expressive and became another interesting component of the concert. Overall, this concert was full of joy and vibrancy, becoming an uplifting journey through diverse music and dance genres.