Dozens of high-kickers, huge leapers and hip-hopping homies shredded the stage of the El Portal Theatre on Friday night under the banner of the Praxis Project. Founded in 1999 by Kacy and Craig Keys, the project (“praxis” is Latin for “practice”), brings the local dance community together each summer through workshops, master classes and performing opportunities.
For the last two years, Praxis has partnered with Lula Washington Dance Theatre. This year’s result is “Affirmations ... of Mind and Place,” 11 new works by nine choreographers, and though not all the dance-making was successful, most of the turbo-charged movers raged with talent.
Frit and Frat Fuller scored a double whammy with “To James” and “A Man’s World,” the former featuring an octet of funksters getting down in Afro wigs and business suits, the entire bunch popping, arm-whipping and knee-knocking. The latter, an outrageous soul showcase for Melvin Clarke, Jeremiah Tatum, Maurice Watson and Kenji Yamaguchi, wowed: Think gorgeous gazelles bounding through the air before landing split-legged.
Tamica Washington-Miller’s joyous “Thanks and Praises” saw 16 dancers explode in floor slides, Lindy hopping and manic group spins, with Micah Moch and Norman Follosco shining in their tilt-a-whirl duet. Also rocking and rolling: Maya Guice, Adama Ideozu, Perris McClacken and Olivia Miles in Winifred R. Harris’ “On Solid Ground,” a romp bristling with arabesques, deep lunges and crazy cartwheels.
Rogelio Lopez G.'s more lyrical “A Hint of a Prayer” offered fine unisons and strong partnering among five women in push-pull, love-hate dalliances. Another quintet, Christine Chrest’s “Compression,” featured Follosco slithering under, over and among four women, occasionally surfacing to assume an Atlas-type pose.
Seda Aybay’s “Detachee” had the choreographer and Robin Conley deftly executing a duet of mirror-imaging gambits; her “Sentimientos,” unfortunately, proved a bloodless neo-tango with 10 grinning dancers flitting about aimlessly. Also contributing to random acts of blahness: Philein Wang’s “Circling to Peace,” a martial arts homage that highlighted a beautiful but fervorless Nicole La Cour leading 13 performers through vapid yoga-like paces, and Ronald E. Brown’s “Dark Blue Circumstance,” a nonet that went nowhere.
Happily, the Fullers’ exuberant “Protozoa,” a riff on blue-collar workers, capped off the evening with two dozen dancers swooshing, pirouetting and crawling until finally rising up as one glorious hoofer organism.