2023 Capital Fringe Review: ‘A Moment in Time’ with Sharp Dance Company (3 stars)

The six dancers conveyed Diane Sharp Nachsin’s choreographic ideas with finely executed technical finesse.

Philadelphia’s Sharp Dance Company aims to connect people and communities through what it calls “story-driven movement.” In a program of five works presented at Cafritz Hall in the Edlavitch Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center, some of those stories proved more effective and expressive than others. But in all five pieces, the six dancers conveyed company founder and artistic director Diane Sharp Nachsin’s choreographic ideas with finely executed technical finesse. Nachsin crafts her movement with the underpinnings of balletically infused technique: pointed feet, straight, stretchy arms and legs, an upright torso, and an underlying elegant lift, even in weighty and grounded phrases.

The opening piece, an excerpt from Sharp-Nachsin’s 2010 “Blind Faith,” has become somewhat of a signature. Three women enter and step onto the stage floor swathed in orange-and-black–striped fabric. Amid a momentary blackout, the dancers don the fabric as three connected skirts, intertwining, bending side to side, like wheat grass, lifting and supporting one another. Alas, sound problems marred the accompaniment by Kate Bush.

Most memorable, “669” from 2017, reflects on Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 Jewish children from Prague during the Holocaust. The dramatic interpretation, retold in four sections and perspectives, drew resonant performances from the dancers in the guise of parents, a seductress, and, at last, the saved children.

Throughout, technical prowess was emphasized — many of the performers trained at Philadelphia’s prestigious University of the Arts. Sharp-Nachsin values leggy, limber, balletically endowed dancers, their hair slicked into perfect buns; they are expected to evoke grace and beauty, even amid the sensitive and emotion-laden themes of the works. While at times the group choreography feels slick and competition-ready rather than artistically grounded, dance lovers may not mind.


Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

A Moment in Time plays July 13 at 8:00 pm and July 15 at 3:15 pm at DCJCC – Cafritz Hall. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online. 

Genre: Dance
Director: Diane Sharp-Nachsin
Performers: Juliet Bernstein, Linnea Calzada-Charma, Wren Coleman, Sandra Davis, Kate Lombardi, Rosemary Scalise
Age appropriateness: Appropriate for All Ages

The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.

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Lisa Traiger
An arts journalist since 1985, Lisa Traiger writes frequently on the performing arts for Washington Jewish Week and other local and national publications, including Dance, Pointe, and Dance Teacher. She also edits From the Green Room, Dance/USA’s online eJournal. She was a freelance dance critic for The Washington Post Style section from 1997-2006. As arts correspondent, her pieces on the cultural and performing arts appear regularly in the Washington Jewish Week where she has reported on Jewish drum circles, Israeli folk dance, Holocaust survivors, Jewish Freedom Riders, and Jewish American artists from Ben Shahn to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim to Y Love, Anna Sokolow to Liz Lerman. Her dance writing can also be read on DanceViewTimes.com. She has written for Washingtonian, The Forward, Moment, Dance Studio Life, Stagebill, Sondheim Review, Asian Week, New Jersey Jewish News, Atlanta Jewish Times, and Washington Review. She received two Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Arts Criticism from the American Jewish Press Association; a 2009 shared Rockower for reporting; and in 2007 first-place recognition from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. In 2003, Traiger was a New York Times Fellow in the Institute for Dance Criticism at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C. She holds an M.F.A. in choreography from the University of Maryland, College Park, and has taught dance appreciation at the University of Maryland and Montgomery College, Rockville, Md. Traiger served on the Dance Critics Association Board of Directors from 1991-93, returned to the board in 2005, and served as co-president in 2006-2007. She was a member of the advisory board of the Dance Notation Bureau from 2008-2009.


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