By Bea Wolff
Shirley Martin brings to the stage The Martin Dancers, a troupe of modern dancers she trained in the tradition of Lester Horton and his protégé Alvin Ailey, who touch the audience’s soul with their passionate virtuosity. Beautifully choreographed by Ms. Martin, these exquisite dancers celebrate rhythm, balance and the architecture of the human body. They are also storytellers, telling the universal tales of war, love, lust, beauty and community to the compelling rhythms of two percussionists and a musician who plays flute, piano and sax.
Certain moments stand out, such as a woman doing slow contortions in a graceful balancing act to dancers singing “Summertime.” There is a man on the make who finds two women to satisfy his needs in different ways — one who delivers sultry hot cravings, and the other who exhibits an explosion of physicality — and engages each in a pas de deux that highlights the depths of sexuality. Also, there is a woman who folds in front of our eyes, a battle with bamboo rods, and a stirring ensemble piece at the end that leaves the audience wanting more.
Every Friday and Saturday night on an ongoing basis, The Martin Dancers, a non-profit organization, will perform along with another act—such as the extraordinary Black on Black Environment Rhythms Ensemble that played on October 16. This new weekend program is part of Ms. Martin’s effort not only to contribute to the artistic renaissance occurring in NoHo but also to raise donations to help art-related programs for youth.
The Martin Dancers perform 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday at the MKM Cultural Arts Center, 11401 N. Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood. Reservations are required and a donation of $35 or $40 at the door is recommended. For more information call (818) 752-2616.