Review: DEMO: Place with Damian Woetzel starring Lil Buck at The Kennedy Center

Damian Woetzel’s DEMO Place starring Lil Buck uses art as a platform to explore geographical locations in the midst of authentic human emotions. A 90-minute jam session of dance, music, and dramatics, the demo culminates our initial locations and how they are synonymous to cultures around the world. Every dancer and musician that graces the stage at The Kennedy Center always brings forth their environment in which cultivates them.

Cristina Pato, Johnny Gandelsman, David Teie, Kate Davis, Lil Buck, and Ron 'Prime Tyme' Miles. Photo by Teresa Wood.
Cristina Pato, Johnny Gandelsman, David Teie, Kate Davis, Lil Buck, and Ron ‘Prime Tyme’ Miles. Photo by Teresa Wood.

In Lil Buck’s case, Memphis, Tennessee ingrains a unique style of dance, “Jookin.” He zooms into the spotlight with a charismatic smile and youthful enthusiasm. His body configures that of a ice skating ballerina influenced by Michael Jackson. Ron Myles, also known as “Prime Tyme,” joins Lil Buck in equivalent choreographed movements.

Musicians such as Sandeep Das, Kate Davis, Johnny Gandelsman, Cristina Pato, David Teie and Wu Tong accompany the dancers. Sandeep Das creates an alluring musical selection of “Part Zero from Playlist for an Extreme Occasion.” The tempo and rhythm of his fingers and wrist motion on the tabla duplicate his vocals within the music. The musical scene and dance journey through location based on cultural art.

The DEMO is inclusive of layers of creative intellectual realms, all the while coinciding with its previous theme Time. The timing of Jookin’ is impeccable, with unforeseen rhythms and shapes that exemplify the musical selections. Lil Buck dances while Kate Davis plays intricate chords on the piano, her voice looms with an eccentric style resembling that of an original artist. The lullaby effect of “I Prefer Not to Fly,” creates clarity in purpose and movement as Lil Buck dances to a slower tempo, in contrast to other sections.

Lil Buck, and Sandeep Das. Photo by Teresa Wood.
Lil Buck and Sandeep Das. Photo by Teresa Wood.

There is a way in which, this DEMO travels through location and emotion, all the while creating a ballet. “The Swan,” danced by Lil Buck to the beautifully played cello of David Teie is obviously a rendition of the “The Dying Swan,” which is extremely popular in the ballet world. The Jookin’ movements are so similar to ballet, it is hard to disconnect the two. Lil Buck rises to pointe easily in tennis shoes, bourrée and even pirouettes in attitude derrière to Camille Saint-Saëns ballad.

Each artist portray exquisite skill in their artform and instrument, ranging from the body in dance to Cristina Pato’s Galician bagpipe. Art is apparent through the translation of life in this DEMO. Damian Woetzel’s vision comes to life with various people from all walks of life.

Emotionally striking, the artists of the DEMO pay tribute to Prince with “Little Red Corvette.” The spirit of Prince eludes through everyone’s heart as the journey of one’s emotions commence in honor of an icon.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

DEMO: Place with Damian Woetzel starring Lil Buck performs one more time tonight 23, 2016  at The Kennedy Center Terrace Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call the box office at  (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.

Choreography: Lil Buck, Ron Myles and Damian Woetzel

Directed By: Damian Woetzel

Performers: Lil Buck, Sandeep Das, Kate Davis, Johnny Gandelsman, Ron Myles, Cristina Pato, David Teie, Wu Tong

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Yasmeen Enahora
Yasmeen has a magnetic personality and dynamic spirit. As a Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream and Reach for Excellence Scholar, Yasmeen is a senior at Howard University majoring in Sports Medicine with a minor in Dance. Yasmeen currently serves as a reviewer for DC Theater Arts as a Freelance Writer. Having been awarded numerous opportunities since she was young, Yasmeen is very passionate about her endeavors. Before entering college, Yasmeen trained with the Ailey School’s Professional Division for a six week intensive. During her years at Howard University, Yasmeen performed at the Kennedy Center in "Carmen" with the Washington National Opera, “Keuchen” choreographed by Royce Zackery at the International Association of Blacks in Dance in Cleveland, Ohio, and was featured in Howard University’s “28 Days of Dance” online exhibition: a collaboration with Brown Girls Do Ballet. All the while Yasmeen has taken on positions as a Howard University lifeguard, Genesis Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Intern, a Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program Assistant, and has regularly volunteered helping kids in the Metro DC area at 826DC. She studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico as a Lucy Moten Scholar after being awarded money from Howard University to research ballet and traditional dance in Oaxaca. Yasmeen constantly brings warmth and joy with her infectious energy. She is always striving for new adventures and opportunities.


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