Preview: Phoenix Rising Dance Company’s “A Transformation”


In Indianapolis, the arts never stop. As Indy Fringe Festival wrapped up this past week Phoenix Rising Dance Company gets set to make its debut at Theatre on the Square September 2-4 with A Transformation, an exhilarating and eclectic ten-piece performance. UNITE was fortunate enough to attend Thursday’s dress rehearsal, and what followed was an emotional whirlwind through excellent dancing and superb choreography.

Artistic Director Justin Sears-Watson choreographed nine pieces for the show, while Dance Kaleidoscope’s Stuart Coleman guested to create the opening piece, “17 Years.” It is fitting that “17 Years”, a captivating dance about evolution, starts the program, as Phoenix Rising, in its second season, is growing before our eyes just as Coleman’s dancers do within his thought-provoking choreography.

Sears-Watson, a former dancer with Dance Kaleidoscope who performs in Coleman’s piece, flourishes on the other side with riveting choreography brought to life by an exciting group of dancers. Woven in his movement’s fabric is particularly impressive floor-work, exhibiting the power and passion piece after piece exudes from the company. From Kylie Williams’ intensity in her solo “Nocturne of Sadness” to the energetic and jazzy “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter”, the versatility of the dancers and their varying strengths were on display throughout.

Choreographically, it’s no wonder Sears-Watson was quick to call Dance Kaleidoscope’s David Hochoy his “mentor.” There are hints of Graham technique within, but it is also evident that Sears-Watson takes what he’s learned and creates his own brand of choreography.

Behind Phoenix Rising Dance Company is more than exquisite dancing from the professional core; they’re about the growth of their younger dancers, too, which is why Sears-Watson stressed the importance of the inclusion of two girls from Phoenix Rising’s school, 13-year-old Allera Di’Pace and 14-year-old Lexi Danielson, to get their feet wet in the world of professional dance at an early stage. Di’Pace will perform in “17 Years” on Friday and Sunday, while Danielson will perform the role Saturday night.

“I think what’s so important is that they get chances at their age now, to do things with the professional company,” says Sears-Watson. “It teaches them how things work. It teaches them the ethics behind being a dancer and knowing how it works—rehearsing, marking. I’m really proud.”

He has good reason to be proud of them and, with a weekend full of must-see dance ahead, his blossoming company that’s on the rise.

Phoenix Rising Dance Company’s A Transformation will be performed Sept. 2 and 3 at 8pm and Sept. 4 at 2:30pm at Theatre on the Square. For ticketing information, visit or call 317-685-8687.

Pictured: Phoenix Rising Artistic Director Justin Sears-Watson