BAR HARBOR — It’s sure nice to know that not everyone spends their lives after school or work curled up around a bowl of popcorn watching Honey-Boo-Boo on the TV.
As evidenced by the wonderful performance of the first annual Dance Festival at the Criterion in Bar Harbor on Sunday, folks have been boning up on their feather steps, ganchos, heel pulls, chasses and ronds.
All those hours of hard work and rehearsing paid off for the performers and for those clever enough to show up at a festival that truly lived up to its name.
From the opening promise pledged in “Let Me Entertain You,” danced by a group of high-kicking youngsters led by adorable 11-year-old Emily Homer, to some sizzling jazz numbers, breathtaking contemporary pieces and a couple of comic routines, the show was indeed entertaining and festive. It brought the elegant Criterion stage, with its stunning art deco backdrop, to life.
In addition to some homegrown talent, such as the aforementioned Emily, her mom, Linda, and sister, Caroline Homer, there was an impressive dance troupe from Eddington, a soloist from Camden and a couple of high-flying jitterbuggers from goodness knows where.
Especially fun was the variety of selections. There was romance, appealingly delivered by the handsome couple Skylar Cooke and Elizabeth Pouwels and MDI High School students Logan MacDonald and his two ballroom partners, Caroline Homer and Ailish Fahey. Mr. MacDonald again teamed up in a show-stopping Blues Brothers tap routine with Amos Brown, who later, along with the lovely Maureen Grub, brought the “awww factor” to the stage. Ms. Grubb, 16, also delivered one of two outstanding solo routines of the afternoon and it was no surprise to learn that she is a student of the Robinson Ballet.
The other outstanding soloist was Kea Tessman, who is clearly a pro and as good as anything we’ve seen on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” dancing contemporary-style to “I Won’t Give Up.”
Bringing the wow factor to the stage were Jitterbuggers Edward Kizser and Molly Addlestein with their amazing kicks, spins and aerial lifts.
Karen Zimmerman and hubby, Dennis Smith, who often shine on local dance floors, looked glamorous and polished in their “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number. In fact, they could give a few lessons in glam to one of the evening’s outstanding groups, The Back Door Dance Studio.
This energetic troupe of eight accomplished amateur dancers delivered 10, that’s right ten, excellent dance numbers, sometimes all together or in duets, triplets and other combos, taking on jazz, salsa, ballroom and even a fun rock n’ roll polka. The only thing missing from their performance was a touch of glamour that would have made the presentation really sparkle.
While their moves in, for instance, a sizzling, sexy dance from “Chicago” or a sultry Argentinean tango – performed by standouts Terrance Lee and his wife Annette – were hot, hot, hot, the gals’ lack of stage makeup was noticeable.
Still, it was clear that these folks are serious about their dance and their choreography, pulling off one complex routine after the other including the show’s finale, the swing number “Jumptown,” which was as fresh and lively as their first.
Bravo to all involved and bravo to the show’s producer, Sheri Kean of Bar Harbor, for making a glorious autumn day even better.