One Love

Saturday, February 8th, 2014 – at the Rickshaw Theatre

In the week of Bob Marley’s Birthday, with the sun shining and a glass of wine in hand, what better way to start the long weekend than with the highly anticipated “Lovers of Marley,” – a dance show produced by the Lovers Cabaret, and inspired by the life and loves of one of the most influential musical legends of our time.

The scene when we arrived at the Rickshaw theatre last weekend was pure madness.  It was a sold-out show, and despite getting there early, it was already crazy packed.  I was, however, pleasantly amazed at the crowd.  So much energy in that room!  Before it even started, there was a buzz in the air – drinks were flowing, people were dancing in every corner, and frankly, I have never seen so many hot, young guys in a theatre in this city. Truth.

It was not unlike what I imagine a hot, dirty, Jamaican dance hall to be… and so, I suppose, it was strangely perfect.

The seating left a bit to be desired, if only because the views were pretty obstructed, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Then, with the sweet sounds of girls and reggae, the show began in what seemed like a bit of beautiful chaos…

Out of the muddle and seeming mess, unity would form, and a sort of synchronized, sensual, breath of movement emerged.  Perhaps a metaphor for Marley himself.

One thing I will tell you- these girls can dance.

The ensemble work was compelling and strong, and what was most intriguing about it was the balance of technique and freedom.  Each dancer seemed to hold a real place within the group.  There seemed to be a trust in their movement that allowed for a sense of harmony, while the choreography felt unique to each dancer.

As the show developed, despite the sound coming out a bit muddy,  the characters of Bob’s story came to life.  The story was told, and I wanted more. (Can there be a sequel…?)

It was sexy, primal and utterly visceral.  There were hints of burlesque but the narrative was so grounded in technique that the sensuality of the movement became so much more.

Each woman portrayed had a profound strength and presence.  Particularly, Marisa Gold, as young Rita.  Marisa had a fluidity and grace in her movement that was truly striking.  Her body seemed at times to be suspended in air.  Even when she wasn’t in the spotlight, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

Another standout for me was Ashley Sweett, who played Cindy, (and who also happens to be the Artistic Director and Head Choreographer.)  Every time Ashley moved, it seemed strong, deliberate, and there was a light that seemed to shine from deep inside her soul.  Her dancing was powerful, and you could feel the passion in every muscle of her body.

To be honest, I can’t say enough about each and every dancer on that stage.  They truly embodied the essence of freedom and love that we associate with the spirit of Bob Marley. Vanessa Young, Director and Producer of the Lovers Cabaret, should be incredibly proud of this powerhouse ensemble.

What began as a small group of dancers, has become a real force of artistic prowess.

The Lovers Cabaret is a perfect example of what is important in our artistic community – fearless, passionate artists who support each other through these creative pursuits.  I love what they’re doing in performance as well as creating new programs to help develop and mentor new artists.  (Check out their mentorship program here.)

Every artist in this city, aspiring or otherwise, should take note.  If you have a passion… write it, dance it, create it.  Bob said, “None but ourselves can free our minds,” and same goes for our souls, our passions and, ultimately, our art.

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