Attack Theatre

The performer cuts open a lemon and is about to squeeze the juice over the chicken, but hesitates and empties the juice over her head, taking the wing of the chicken in her hand as the lights dim.

Forbes Center for the Performing Arts hosted the 21st annual New Dance Festival this past Friday and Saturday. The festival featured JMU faculty collaborating on five short, original performances. These performances contained different elements from newly composed music to prose to special effects lighting that wrapped around the act of “dance.” In addition, guest performer “Attack Theatre,”a Pittsburgh-based dance company, that blends traditional dance, stunts and use of props to depict a certain theme, joined center stage.

The opener, “AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN,” performed by School of Theatre and Dance faculty, Ingrid DeSanctis and Kate Trammell, immediately presented a story of a woman overcoming hardship. The dance featured original text written by DeSanctis, bringing theatrical element, such as character development and verbal dialogue, to the act. Together, JMU faculty members DeSanctis and Trammell performed a moving story that demonstrated the difficulties of life, but also the hope of further progression.

New JMU dance faculty Ryan Corriston, choreographed and performed “Pedal Harder,” which  portrayed the tragic life of Glen Lapp who died overseas while giving aid to villages in Afghanistan. With incredible lighting choices and a sparse set, Corriston displayed the struggle Lapp and others experienced when confronted with issues like death. Many elements of the choreography demonstrated the friendship of Corriston and Lapp.

Choreographed by guest Shannon Hummel from Brooklyn, New York, in collaboration with the performer, “Cluck” presented an intriguing story in a strange form of dark humor. Not your normal “chicken dance,” this act portrayed a failing marriage. Performed with several props, such as fresh lemons, a knife and a raw chicken, this seemingly humorous act was an emotional roller coaster.

As per the New Dance Festival tradition of bringing a guest performer, the School of Theatre and Dance invited Attack Theatre to showcase its dance genre. Performing “Traveling,” a 2011 original set, the company turned ordinary objects, such as a slinky, into an explosive world following the story of a traveling salesman’s son. With special effects, music and elaborate costumes, the company drew the audience in and returned them to childhood innocence.

The New Dance Festival presented dance in a very artistic manner, procuring movement dependent on interpretation, breaking the typical boundaries of programmed dance.

During a talk-back session, the performers gave insight on their inspirations for each individual act. Each of the vignettes were built off beautiful backstories, even the raw chicken dance.

From professional dancers to aspiring performers, and from JMU faculty and alumni to general audience members, the New Dance Festival brought a sampling of many different dancing arts.

Contact Jimmy McKenzie and Teresa Cummings at