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The Dance at Bryant Park’s Fourth Annual Fall Festival

October 7, 2011

Shattered by Elisa Monte Dance Photo by Darial Sneed

Bryan Park’s Fourth Annual Fall Festival presented by Bank of America allowed New Yorkers to view some of the city’s best dance companies.  The first dance company to perform within the week-long festival was Ballet Hispanico. The company than began in the 70’s under the direction of Tina Ramirez has consistently presented work that celebrates the Latin culture though dance.

Tres Cantos Photo by Darial Sneed

The company’s first offering was Tres Cantos, a work created in 1975 by the master choreographer Talley Beatty with music by Carlos Chavez, Lorenzo Fernandez and Silvestre  Revueltas.  Mr.Beatty worked with both Katharine Duncan and Martha Graham of which both techniques are evident in his work. In performing Tres Cantos the company was well-trained and their technique crisp.There is a primalism to Tres Cantos that is reminiscent of a Rite of Spring, be it Graham, Bejart or Pina Bausch. There is an earthiness, as if the dancers were transported from another time and age,when mankind had a much more intimate contact with the earth and the elements of nature than we do today. Many dancers stood out for the singularity of performance and abilities, but none such as Min-Tsu Li.

Min-Tsu Li in Club Havana Photo by Darial Sneed

Ms. Li, who is her fifth season with Ballet Hispanico, possesses a regal bearing that
just draws the eye to her. Her technique is fluid and she easily flows from one movement to another. She is a delight! Ms. Li should be put on everyone’s bucket list, a dancer, who in performance should not be missed.

Club Havana Photo by Darial Sneed

The company also performed Mad’moiselle (2010) and Club Havana (2000). Club Havana is set to the rhythms of the Conga, Rumba, Mambo, and Cha Cha, are brought to life by choreographer Pedro Ruiz. Ballet Hispanico is an exciting and original company that I recommend to all.

Mad’moiselle Photo by Darial Sneed

The highlight of the festival was the Elisa Monte Dance Company. EMD performed a wide array of the repertory with works ranging from Ms. Monte’s signature work Treading (1979) to excerpts from the companies latest work Vanishing Languages (2011).

Vanishing Languages Photo by Darial Sneed

Vanishing Languages was a fascinating work with an original score by Kevin James and using taped field recordings and archival materials. The languages being spoken in the score are either dead are soon to die out languages that Mr. James has recorded for prosperity. The  languages spoken range in number from zero to only ten people who still speak the language. The work sheds light upon the mass extinction of many indigenous languages throughout the world. It is a vibrant, alive work that will hold one transfixed with a mix of awe at the lost of these languages and the beauty of hearing them spoken mixed with the sublime artistry of Ms. Monte’s chorography.

Shattered Photo by Darial Sneed

My favorite work of the evening and perhaps my favorite work within company’s repertory was Shattered (2000). If you only ever see one piece of modern dance choreography, this is it. It is strong and sudden, with intensity and a pulse pounding score that builds as the dance progresses. The work utilizes the full company in a tour-de-force of passion and vigor. It is a quick and fast paced piece that had me setting up in my set. Visualize a thunderstorm with lighting and then recaptured and reproduced by the exquisitely trained dances of the EMD, and you have a general sense of the might of the work. The score is by Michael Gordon.

Shattered Photo by Darial Sneed

Now to some disappointment! I was greatly grieved to discover the Tiffany Rea-Fisher
was not dancing. Ms. Rea-Fisher, the company’s Associate Artistic Director, is dancer of such grace and bearing that to find her missing from the stage is akin to taking a child to the ice cream shop but not giving them ice cream. It just not right! I have watched Ms. Rea-Fisher dance on many occasions and remember her fluidity and passion of movement and can only hope to be able to see her sometimes again in the near future.The stage is a little less bright by her absence.

To see these companies in performance please check their web-sites.

Ballet Hispanico

Elisa Monte Dance

I suggest visiting Darial Sneed’s site, Evening Song for beautiful photos of the dance performances at Bryan Park’s Fourth Annual Fall Festival.


From → Dance

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