Ailey II Celebrates 40th Anniversary
The Ailey Citigroup Theater
Inspiring Young Company Performs 2 Programs of 3 New Works & 4 Repertory Favorites in 14 Performances
April 2 – April 13, 2014
All New Program
Adam Barruch’s Alchemies,
Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s Cuore Sott’olio
Jennifer Archibald’s Wings
Alvin Ailey’s Streams,
Artistic Director Robert Battle’ We
Benoit-Swan Pouffer’ Rusty
Amy Hall Garner’s Virtues
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 7:30pm – All New
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 7:30pm – Returning Favorites
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 8pm – All New
Saturday, April 5, 2014 (matinee) at 3pm – Returning Favorites
Saturday, April 5, 2014 (evening) at 8pm – All New
Sunday, April 6, 2014 (matinee) at 3pm – All New
Sunday, April 6, 2014 (evening) at 7:30pm – Returning Favorites
Wednesday April 9, 2014 at 7:30pm – Returning Favorites
Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:30pm – All New
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8pm – Returning Favorites
Saturday, April 12, 2014 (matinee) at 3pm – All New
Saturday, April 12, 2014 (evening) at 8pm – Returning Favorites
Sunday, April 13, 2014 (matinee) at 3pm – All New
Sunday, April 13, 2014 (evening) at 7:30pm – All New
THE AILEY CITIGROUP THEATER
405 West 55th Street (at 9th Avenue)
New York, NY 10019
During the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s 60th Anniversary at the David H. Koch Theater, the company performed 23 of Paul Taylor’s works, spanning seven decades, from 1953 to the World premiere of Mr. Taylor’s 140th work, Marathon Cadenzas. The Season began on March 11 and continues through till March 30 and includes the New York premiere of American Dreamer.
On Friday night, March 14, three works were seen, the Premiere of Marathon Cadenzas, A Field of Grass from 1993 and one of my favorite of Paul Taylor’s vast repertoire, Arden Court from 1981.
A Field of Grass from 1993, is a carefree light-hearted romp through yesteryear. A time of bellbottoms, headbands and tie-dyes…and for some… lots and lots of Cannabis! Set to songs by Harry Nilsson, with costumes by Santo Loquasto, there is sense of 60’s cool to the work. The New York Times has referred to it as representative of that pre-”Rent” crowd in bell-bottom jeans who could never say no.
The curtain rises to find Robert Kleinendorst setting cross-legged on the floor, above his head floats a billowy cloud of smoke, of which he adds more smoke as he pulls on a specious looking cigarette. It is then that you realize why the work is entitled a field of GRASS…
The work travels through the era’s blissfully stoned moments to the dissention and perhaps regret that became a hallmark of the 60’s. The choreography is ripe with tongue-in-cheek references of a time of free love and bell-bottomed anti-establishment hippies. Francisco Graciano best signified the feel of the age wearing a headband and a denim vest over his bare-chest.
In every season Mr. Taylor is known to premiere a new work or two, this year it was Marathon Cadenzas, with music by Raymond Scott. This is Mr. Taylor’s 140th work and at the age of 84 he is known as the greatest living pioneer of America’s indigenous art of Modern Dance…it’s in the program’s bio…who am I to argue….
Marathon Cadenzas is a reflection upon the dance marathons that were the rage during the Depression era. They were human endurance contests in which couples danced and often times dragged their partners almost non-stop for hundreds of hours for prize money. Is this a statement upon Mr. Taylor’s own longevity within the dance community, perhaps, if you view it from some deep psycho-analytical aspect? After all he has been in the business of dance-making since the early 1950’s, creating his first work on his own group of dancers in 1954 and this was when he was still performing for Martha Graham.
Brilliantly portrayed by Sean Mahoney, a rather dubious looking, cigarette-smoking emcee fires the starting pistol and off they go. Each dancer, wearing a number on their chest begin to dance, Mr. Taylor has cleverly referenced some of the social dances of the era such as the Charleston and the Lindy-hop.
Santo Loquasto, who created the costumes and set transform the stage into a Depression era dance hall with strings of colored lights and a mirror ball. One of many highlights of the work was the duet by two-sailors, James Samson and Francisco Graciano, not so much as a statement on same-sex couples as it was the desperation of the age and everyone willing to get in on the chance to win much needed money. Michelle Fleet’s solo has to be mentioned, for her dancing portrays such elegance that is unmatched when she’s on stage. But it was Michael Trusnovec and Heather McGinley who spun, twirled and out lasted everyone on the floor. A very slinky Laura Halzack dazzled us in a sexy red dress, but she showed questionable ethics, for as the Marathon ends she departs arm-in-arm with the equally and morally questionable emcee, Mr. Mahoney.
It is the simplicity to the style of movement combined mixed with the complexity of patterns utilized that makes Arden Court so appealing. Set to William Boyce’s Symphonies No. 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8 it is a work that one just sit back and enjoys. No deep analytical thinking or inner Socratic dialogue is needed.
Arden Court just is what it is, a fun, light and airy dance that is physical without being overly so. With a giant rose emblazoned on the backdrop, the fast-paced work flows through the melodies with a scalpel’s precision. It’s a grand work that celebrates the joy of life.
At the beginning of the season the Paul Taylor Dance Company announced that contemporary modern-dance choreographers (still unnamed) would be asked to create works for the troupe, and that “modern dance masterworks by celebrated choreographers” (also unnamed) would enter the troupe’s expanding repertory, this is in addition to live music once again be part of the Taylor season.
The Company announced that that it had commitments of $10 million to reinvent itself next year as Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance. This is being financed partly through Mr. Taylor’s sale of four postwar modernism works by Robert Rauschenberg. The paintings were gift from Mr. Rauschenberg, a friend and frequent collaborator of Mr. Taylor.
Sotheby’s has announced the paintings are expected to bring in between $5 million to $7 million. Rick Stone, chairman of the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation has announced that the money raised will be matched by the board. Mr. Taylor is said to want to remake his company so that it will last beyond his lifetime.
Igal Perry and the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company presented its New York Spring Season with three World Premiers. All three works, Igal Perry’s Blue, Robyn Mineko Williams’ Saku and Brian Arias’ Theory of Mind were a venture into the surrealist mind, a place where dreams and reality collide.
Robyn Mineko Williams’ Saku with music by the Lucky Dragons was the first offering for the afternoon. Ms. Williams tended to approach the body in space with tight, contained movement and rippling torsos. Dancers often ran diagonally, on and off the stage, creating a canvas of constant motion. Jerky movements of the body led into limbs being elongated with the dancer then leaping into a like-minded phrase of movement.
The score by the Lucky Dragons was a bit of a pill to swallow, especially during the first half of the piece. The melody was laced with repetitive machine-gun like rat-tat-tats while the volume grew, then diminished and then grew again. It became irritating quickly… But, oddly the score matched the abstract nature of the work and also mellowed during the second half of the piece.
Questionable, the dancers would walk around in a circle with the inner arm at forty-five degree with the palm down or with sometimes just with one finger, then with two extended as if counting, but counting what and why was not evident.
Eila Valls’ duet with Jason Collins became a distorted language of longing that was very touching. Mr. Collins has an exciting movement quality and is a young dancer to watch; Ms. Valls is young women with an exception gift and I was disappointed that her talents were not more fully utilized that afternoon. All in all…Robyn Mineko Williams’ Saku was an interesting, but also perplexing work…
Brian Arias’ Theory of Mind was also another interesting but also perplexing work. It was very similar to the first piece, both in feel and the choice of the score used. The score was a compilation of Max Richter, Harold Budd with some Debussy thrown in for good measure; at the beginning we heard a repetitive note over an underlying melody.
Dancers ran on and off the stage diagonally, then performing in groups or as duets. The choreography is abstract but still maintains a pedestrian feel. The performers through-out the work maintained a perplexed look on their faces and as to why, well that was never made clear….seems perplexity was to be a recurring theme for the afternoon.
Yesid Lopez is wonderful dancer who has a vast control of his body as well as being emotional expressive. A men’s trio was rather brilliant, tightly choreographed and showing innovation in the use of the body, everything about it was exceptional….
What I found fascinating is that both Ms. Williams’ Saku and Mr. Arias’ Theory of Mind were so similar, that they could easily be seen as one piece. I had to continually remind myself they were not, which is a shame; for had they been the first and second sections of a combined work… that would have been brilliant! There is a consistent flow of abstract imagery, individually created but by like minds. Without trying you can see a continual thread, a flow of intellect, choreography and vision that could be seamlessly married to create one work. Where both pieces I found lacking something, somewhere…when I visualize them as one work I am astounded by the complexity of the statement made…two sentences that are formed to express a singular thought…
Igal Perry’s new work Blue delved deeper into the surrealist mind. The music was a compilation of Gavin Bryars with selections for La Traviata, Rigoletto and L’Eliser d’ Amore. The piece was a choreographic anthology, a work of stories within stories that when fused together made a unique vision.
Overall the work had complexity and created moments of great imagery. One of the strongest was a short section in which Max Cappelli-King slowly undresses and with each object of clothing removed he bravely revealed a little more of his soul. It was perhaps the strongest performance I have so far witnessed by Mr. Cappelli-King. Bravo Mr. Cappelli-King!
While watching the piece as a whole I was reminded of the work of Fellini, distinct in his blending of fantasy and reality. When I stopped trying to make sense of the work and let the mind’s eye view it unencumbered by association I gained understanding without understanding.
Was Blue as compelling a work as say Mr. Perry’s Conflicted Terrian, it is certainly different in approach and feel. I would like to see Blue again a year from now, when Mr. Perry has fine-tuned the work and it is allowed to mature with repeated performances.
Blue is a walk through the halls of Mr. Perry’s mind. It is a retrospective of past thoughts, experiences and the emotional response(s) to those experiences. Surrealism sought to emancipate the creative potential of the unconscious mind, release the imagery of dreams and reshape our perception of reality. Imagine Mr. Perry’s mind having a show at M.O.M.A and each section in Blue is like a painting on display…each is unique imagery, an abstract idea of reality but from a surrealist perspective.
Dancers: Janie Taylor, Jared Angle
New York City Ballet
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Philip Glass
Premiered: Sadler’s Wells Theater, 2004
Ms. Taylor’s last performance with NYCB was March 1, 2014
Baruch Performing Arts Center
55 Lexington Avenue
(enter on 25th St. btw Lexington & 3rd Aves)
Without a doubt Tom Gold is a choreographer with a lot of promise. His choreography is intrinsically musical; it flows through and around the melody in ways that are unique to his vision. His command of the classical vocabulary was in strong evidence at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater during his New York season.
The program featured two world premieres. Urban Angels with music by Karl Jenkins and costumes by Janie Taylor, The Ladies Room, to the music by Claude Debussy, a piece for three women that portray what happens when ladies meet in the lady’s room, as well as revival of La Plage, with music by John Zorn.
The press release stated that Urban Angels was inspired by the weeping angels from the Dr. Who television show where these angels might look beautiful but move with a velocity that will astound you. Well, I was never a fan of the Dr. Who series and so therefore I was unfamiliar with the show’s Weeping Angels.
The work was in three movements, the first movement ranges somewhere between Classical and Neo-classical, but not really being either. Mr. Gold, a former soloist with the New York City Ballet utilizes some of the best dancers in NYC, Sterling Hyltin, principal dancer with New York City Ballet; Nicole Graniero and Luciana Paris, Corps de Ballet with ABT; Marika Anderson, Emily Kitka, Meaghan Dutton-Ohara, Likolani Brown, Daniel Applebaum and Andrew Scordato, Corps de New York City Ballet and Stephen Hanna; a former principal with New York City Ballet and star of Broadway’s Tony Award winning, Billy Elliott.
The first movement I found predictable, little in way of innovation or creativity in the choreography. But, it was in the second movement of Urban Angels that you witness Mr. Gold’s true talent as a choreographer. He shows restraint but at the same time displays a continual mix of passion and deep emotion. He steps away from a strict interpretation and implementation of the manner of classical movement; instead he utilized his knowledge of the idiom but did not become encumbered by it. He allowed his creativity to reign free. Classical dancing became the voice in which he spoke, eloquently and with emotion. He used it to form his vowels of movement, putting them in a structure that fit his vision.
Mr. Gold’s talent also shined in the revival of La Plage, with music by John Zorn. When he let’s go and allows his creativity to shape the body in space as opposed to the politically correct strictures of classical dancing he shines.
Set in a tropical forest and within John Zorn you hear the call of exotic birds, nymphs found in nature frolic and play. You are captured in the very beginning of La Plage when three dancers, one behind the other, begin to move first arms then legs in a somewhat sensual manner that held deep mystery. I am again reminded of the Hindu Gods, Vishnu or Durga, each with multiple limbs for multiple purposes.
Sterling Hyltin shined in the work, with her crisp movements that allowed her emotionally softer undertones to blend with her musicality. Stephen Hanna’s muscular form seems to suggest a male god of nature; his every move was a stunning display of the male form in dance. His duets with Ms. Hyltin were a perfect blend of yin and yang. Together they created moments of tenderness and magic. A joy to watch, bravo to all…
Mr. Gold’s The Ladle’s Room, with music by Claude Debussy was a piece for three women, Nicole Graniero, Sterling Hyltin and Luciana Paris. There was no fault with the dancing, all three ladies performances were spot on.
But, though The Ladle’s Room was a pleasant enough piece it still lacked substance. Supposedly a tale of what happens when ladies gather in the Ladle’s Room to share the private moments of what is happening in their life. It read well in the press release, but it did not have the depth I had hoped for.
I was hoping for more detail, the solos for the women, though charming, lacked an inner dialogue, I did not see enough of a difference in the characterization. But this is things that more rehearsal time could have resolved.
In hindsight, I remember the excitement I experienced with Mr. Gold’s 2013 work Fauré Fantasy, a classically contemporary work set to the music of Gabriel Fauré. Mr. Gold, though speaking with his own voice, present were the influence of Mr. Gold’s New York City Ballet background, that of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. But he was speaking in a manner and style that is unique in tone of his generation. Nor, let us not forget Mr. Gold’s witty and somewhat tongue-in-cheek Gershwin Preludes that utilized the music of George Gershwin. He dazzled us with fast footwork and his natural lyricism.
Arnie Zane once truthfully said “Dance eats money…” I think that if Tom Gold could maintain a group of dancers, say for 28-32 or 4o weeks, then he could really invest the time to shape and mold each of his works without the constraints of limited studio time and a looming performance date.
Then I think the world would witness an artist of wonder who creates Neo-classical and contemporary ballets that Petipa or Balanchine or Béjart would be proud to see born….
There is just something very special about DanceBrazil…it is more than the superb dancing or the unique ways in which Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian movements are incorporated into the choreography. It seems that the stage is brighter place when are dancing; there is an aura that shines from each performer when they dance.
The first offering of the night was an excerpt from Jelon Vieira’s 2013 work, in which he collaborates with composer Marquinho Carvalho, Fé Do Sertão. The work is a celebration of the culture and people of Sertão, a dry, rural area of Northeastern Brazil dependent on seasonal rains. On June 24 of each year, a festival is celebrated that was originally introduced by the Portuguese during the colonial period, Festival of São João (St. John). It is a centuries old celebration to give thanks to the end of the rain, the precious corn harvest, and the beginning of “winter”.
The piece starts with five men and two women, hunched over, we only see their backs. It’s as if they are inspecting the crops or perhaps just in trying to find some kind of shelter from the rain. Micheal Korsch’s lighting is reminiscent of the beginning of dawn, dark but warm.
The dancing for this work is intensely physical. Frankly you can say that all the choreography performed by DanceBrazil is intensely physical. Immediately you get a sense of camaraderie, a sense of a community where both joy and sadness is shared.
It is easy to visualize this celebration that has occurred for six centuries. The festival, with roots in pagan courtship rituals, has as a custom the hitting of each other either with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. Neither garlic flowers nor plastic hammers were used in the dance, but the same sense of courtship/kinship is present.
The dancers of DanceBrazil move as each is controlled by a central brain. That is how tightly their dance as a group. I have seen world famous ballet companies whose corps de ballet was not as tight or as in sequence as those dancers on stage.
There is joy in the choreography, bodies twisting in space, groupings of two or three often pull away to celebrate together as a unit. Mr. Vieira is not shy to his approach to the use of the body in space. His movements are continuance, the body seldom still. Each movement of the body is propelled by the movement before, the bodies’ move with fluidity but still possesses such astounding strength.
Marquinho Carvalho score was performed live by Marco Dos Santos, Naiton Dos Santos and Gil Oliveria. Now when I say performed, I do mean PERFORMED… The musician’s energies matched and even fueled that of the dancers on stage…
DanceBrazil is uniquely composed of eight men and two women. But never think for one moment that the two women, Dalila Leal and Joely Silva allow themselves to be intimidated or out performed by the men. They matched the men in physicality move for move. They were both intoxicating to watch.
Guilherme Duarte returns to the company both as a dancer and choreographer with the premiere of Búzios. Búzios explores role in everyday life that jugo de búzios, a form of divination used in many African religions and religions of the African diaspora.
Wearing Luciano Santana’s costumes, the ten dancers are all in white with round or oblong objects around the waist or over the shoulders. The round or oblong objects were symbolic of the cowrie shells and customarily white clothing is worn by practitioners during Candomble ceremonies. The cowrie shells are used as a tool through with the Orixas speak.
Mr. Duarte approached Leo Jesus and Mauricio Lourenço score with choreography that was quieter in tone when in comparison to the first work seen. There is a more meditative stance to the work, with their backs to the audience the dancers lunge forward then shake their hands over their shoulder often moving concentrically as a group around the stage.
Mr. Duarte’s takes an abstract approach to his use of the body in space. His is a more contemporary vision of dance and though it is still present, he utilizes less of the Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian movement. Over all, I thought it an excellent work.
Jamildo Alencar was excellent. He does not move with but rather allows the choreography to flow though his body. Where with the other dancers you could see them start and stop as the choreography dictates their dancing, Mr. Alencar movements are fueled by the inhalation and exhalation of his breath. He has a slinky sensuality to his dancing that must really be seen to fully grasp. Bravo Mr. Alencar….
The third work seen was the premiere of Jelon Vieira’s latest work, Gueto. Gueto’s score is also a collaboration with the award-winning Brazilian composer Marquinho Carvalho and is Mr. Vieira’s testimony to the abiding vitality and humanity that sustain the people living in the many marginalized, disenfranchised communities in Brazil and around the world.
In Gueto the dancers excellently portrayed the sense of disenfranchisement and the marginalization felt by some of Brazil’s populace. They constantly ran on and off the stage or appeared out of the total darkness of the back of the stage and ran to the front. Sirens were intermixed within the score.
There was a sense of desperation, but also of grit, a determination to survive regardless of the odds. It was a strong work that I hope to see it again……..
Being a victim of this arduous winter I have seen little dance, in fact I’ve seen little of anything being too cold to venture out into the arctic freeze. Yet, hearing that Alan Obuzor and his Texture Contemporary Ballet were performing at the Ailey Citigroup Theater I wrapped myself an a couple of coats, several scarves and thick gloves then venture forth into the frigid world.
I was very interested in both the choreography as well as the dancing of Alan Obuzor, the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for Texture Contemporary Ballet. He was named by Dance Magazine as one of the “Top 25 to Watch” in 2013, no small feat in itself.
Mr. Obuzor presented the premiere of his latest work Take… Taken… Taking…, a 25 minute contemporary ballet set to music by Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto, for five dancers, four women and one man. The work was fast paced, innovated, possessed a certain moodiness and a sense of personal introspection.
Mr. Obuzor full utilized the music of Philip Glass, expounding on the fullness of the score. His choreography is not flashy but a dancer must be technically gifted to do it justice. He melded his choreographic choices with the sense of anticipation found in Mr. Glass’s 1987 piece, allowing the ebb and flow of the melody to guide him. Tackling this score could have gone horrible wrong for a choreographer so young in his career but when youth is bolstered by talent only success can follow.
The choreographer stays true to his classical training for the piece, but because of his modernity of the movement used, the close attention to line and retention of the pointe shoe aesthetic, it could easily be considered more neo-classical than contemporary.
The second movement of the music was a solo for Mr. Obuzor. His dancing perfectly blended with the emotional tones found in the music. He expertly created a visual tapestry of movement by flowing with and through the melody of the music.
Mr. Obuzor is a superb dancer, faultless technician and has a natural lyricism that is mixed with the soul of someone who was born to dance. His long legs and powerful feet propel him about the floor in a manner that forces you to set-up in your seat and take notice. He executed a double pirouette, but before landing he extended his leg into second position then arcs his torso to the side while still turning, this created such a demanding image that it literally robbed me of breath.
In his choreography he closely adheres to the classical vocabulary while at the same time experimenting, stretching and exploring the movement, finding new ways to execute steps that are the fundamentals of classical ballet. This is where I find the work more Neo-classical than Contemporary, for he is unafraid to marry classicism with innovation much as Balanchine did.
In the third movement we find a trio of women moving in a manner that sustained a suspenseful energy, the piece as a whole exhibited virtuosity and daring, but not in a manner that is showy, it is just part of the choreographer’s vision.
Texture Contemporary Ballet and especially Alan Obuzor gave strong evidence as to why he was named by Dance Magazine as one of the “Top 25 to Watch” in 2013. But I say that he should be in the top ten to watch for 2014. Bravo to all…
Originally from Pittsburgh, Mr. Obuzor trained primarily with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School (PBTS), where in 1998 he was a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Foundation Dance Honorarium. He went on to dance seven years with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and in 2011 Mr. Obuzor founded the Texture Contemporary Ballet.
“Conversation With Myself”
Written and choreographed by Adrien Ouaki
Directed by Cristina Mameli and Sami Benyoucef
Music By Olafur Arnalds
Film shot a “Les Chaudronneries de Montreuil”
“Dust of Life”
Written and choreographed by Adrien Ouaki
Directed by Fernando De Azevedo
Light design by Vincent Canal and Arthur Vitorino
Music: Armand Amar – To warn the world
Armand Amar and Levon Minassian – Ar intch lav er
Film shot in “Theatre du Jardin”