Piccolo finale flush with dancers, reggae

Sophia Jamison, with the Wo’se troupe of Charleston, was among the high-flying dancers Saturday who performed during the Piccolo Spoleto finale at Hampton Park.

Paul Zoeller

The Piccolo Spoleto finale ended the 2013 festival Saturday with reggae and dancing in Hampton Park.

Mayor Joe Riley and festival producer Ellen Dressler Moryl kicked off the event with a welcome, followed by a performance by the percussion ensemble of Sumter’s Lemira Elementary School. Hundreds of people already in the park by late afternoon also enjoyed the reggae music by the Brooklyn-based band New Kingston. The event eventually drew about 8,000, according to organizers.

The finale’s biggest attraction was MotownMadness, a group based in Bowling Green, Ky., which came to the festival for the fourth consecutive year. A new element this year was the motley mix of performances by dance companies based in Charleston and surrounding areas.

“Dance hasn’t been able to really come together in this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival,” Moryl said. And having the city-run festival fund a larger dance presentation was not feasible, she added. “It wasn’t fiscally possible (because of a limited budget) with the lack of ticket revenues and sponsorship. So we brought this together on a smaller scale, in our limited way.”

The dance event was coordinated by Jenny Broe, executive director of local dance company Dancefx Charleston, with scheduled performances by dance troupes Wo’se Dance Theatre, Dancefx, Annex Dance Company, Hot Jazz Dance Club, Daft Concept and United We Dance.

While most of these companies perform regularly on stage, for some the finale was a public debut.

Dabria Aguilar, 9, and Chloe Ladi, 10, were the youngest dancers in this program. Popular for their circus-themed aerialist acts on stage, they were preparing to perform a mix of contemporary and jazz styles to the dub-step music of District 78.

“I think it’s fun,” Dabria said, commenting on their piece “Vanishing.”

Annex Dance Company presented for the first time at the finale its modern dance pieces “What Lay Upon the Surface” and “2x2,” according to Artistic Director Kristin Fieseler Alexander.

“There’s a lot of great energy from the people here,” Fieseler Alexander said, “It’s exciting.”

Moryl said she hopes the dance tradition can continue next year with better funding.

“It’s Cirque de Piccolo,” Moryl said. “It’s fun, energetic and excellent.”

Eesha Patkar is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.