Spring to Dance: 12th Annual Festival 2019

Once a year, Dance St. Louis helps put the “spring back in our step.”

The 12th Annual Emerson Spring to Dance Festival at the Touhill over Memorial Day weekend never disappoints. Once a year for three evenings, dance reigns supreme in St. Louis.

This year, as in the past, fifty companies and over 350 artists performed during the now-traditional holiday weekend event. They come from all over the US and many international locations to give the audience their “all” in the forms of rap, tap, hip-hop, ballet, jazz, modern, etc. and the audience of all ages love it! Each year, a large portion of the audience is comprised of youthful future dance performers and I can’t help but believe this annual event inspires hundreds of kids to work harder to achieve their dreams.

Saturday night, the only night of the busy weekend we could attend, was “my night at the ballet”. Christine Rocas and Rory Hohenstein, both with the Joffrey Ballet, wowed the crowd as they performed a pas de deux, “Duet from After the Rain”, choreographed masterfully by Christopher Wheeldon. The entire audience in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall was moved to their feet by this very attractive couple’s interpretation of the piece with sheer elegance, fluidity, romance, and intimacy in one of the most graceful and emotional duets I’ve seen performed.

In spite of – or perhaps because of – repeated warnings about the explicit language in their performance, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was not to be “Ignore(d)”. Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Adrienne Lipson, and Connie Shiau delivered an exciting and original performance. A one-line monologue gradually grew one line at a time, interwoven with a repetitive group dance routine that grew one movement at a time, a solo performance by each successive dancer, creating parallel poems of modern dance movement and social commentary.

“Le Corsaire Grand Pas de Trois” was enthrallingly performed by a collaboration of three Cuban dancers who have danced with various ballet companies in Cuba, Spain, Mexico and the United States. Individually and collectively in cheer-worthy performances, they made the entire audience fall in love with classical ballet all over again.

To keep this review brief, I’ve only mentioned three of the outstanding presentations yet every group gave the audiences all they had, spotlighting their particular dance style with flair and professionalism. Each night boasted five dance demonstrations in the lobby of the Touhill by various groups followed by short numbers in the Lee Auditorium, crowned by the featured performances in the A-B Performance Hall.

It seems to me that dancers are not entirely human, they possess abilities of fish and birds, gliding and flying to our amazement and enjoyment and offer us a glimpse of perfection. If you couldn’t make it to Spring to Dance this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to put it on your calendar for 2020!

Date of run: May 23-25, 2019

Touhill Performing Arts Center, DanceStL, UMSL Campus, St. Louis, MO

Reviewed by Isabelle Heidbreder

Reviewed on May 25, 2019