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8th Annual Fall for Dance at New York City Center, Program 3

November 2, 2011
The Australian Ballet_Campbell McKenzie, Justine Summers in Gemini _Jim McFarlane

The Australian Ballet_Campbell McKenzie, Justine Summers in Gemini _Jim McFarlane

It was an interesting evening of dance at the New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, which engages 20 dance companies over a period of ten days.I was there for program 3 of the five programs offered.  It was an eclectic mix of dance with the first offering of the evening, Glen Tetley’s Gemini, performed by the Australian Ballet.

Gemini is a historical work; it was premiered in 1973 in Sydney, Australia. This is one of the great works that contributed to what we know today as contemporary ballet. It is a break with the classical mode, allowing for a more free flow and experimentation of movement that the exactness of classical dance does not always allow. It
must have been one of the most innovative works at the time.

The Australian Ballet_Lynette Wills, Robert Curran in Gemini _Branco Gaica

The Australian Ballet_Lynette Wills, Robert Curran in Gemini _Branco Gaica

It is set of duets and well danced. I found its costumes of pale yellow unitards left me wanting more color. I kept thinking how much more I would have enjoyed the ballet with deep, richer colors that would have perhaps matched the strength of Hans Werner Henze, Symphony No.3. The music, very emotional, slides from strong and stormy to moments of quiet interludes and back again.

The duet of Amber Scott and Rudy Hawkes was a stand out. Ms. Scott has a rare quality which is blend of lyricism and quiet strength that is thrilling to watch. When she enters the stage she captured the eye and bedazzled us. Mr. Hawkes, as her partner was the perfect complement, strong, handsome and ever there for here.

Steven McRae in Chroma-3. Photo by Johan Persson

Steven McRae in Chroma-3. Photo by Johan Persson

I am not a tap person; in truth I just plain don’t like it. I was made aware that the Royal Ballet’s Principal Dancer, Steven McRae was making the U. S. Premier of his work Something Different, and to my joy (sarcasm) it was a tap piece. So, I gritted my teeth, told myself I had to get though it and set back with solemn resignation.

AND I LOVED IT! Mr. McRae approached his tapping with a tongue in cheek attitude, walking onto the stage in single pool of light, he would tap a little something and then look at the audience with an expression of “good, huh!” Then he would tap a little more, then look at audience with a knowing looking of “that was better, but wait till you see what I do next”. Then began the music of Benny Goodman with his Orchestra, “Sing, Sing, Sing, (With a Swing)” and Mr. McRae was off. His dancing was fun and he commanded the stage. He employed his classical strengths in the right places the right ways. I was left wondering if he taps like this, then what must his Don Quixote or Le Cosaire be like! I would love to see this piece again; it was a thrill, thank you Steven McRae.

Pontus Lidberg Photo by Erin Baiano

Pontus Lidberg Photo by Erin Baiano

Pontus Lidberg, of Pontus Lidberg Dance is a Swedish choreographer and dancer of international acclaim. In 2010, he was artist-in-residence at Joyce SoHo and the Baryshnikov Arts Center while working on his latest dance film, Labyrinth Within, featuring NYCB principal dancer Wendy Whelan. Mr.  Lidberg is most recognized for his other dance film “The Rain” (2007), for which he has received numerous awards around the world. I have only seen excerpts of the film, but what I saw had me looking forward to the U.S. Premier of Pontus Lidberg’s Faune.

Pontus Lidberg Dance_Photo by Erin Baiano

Pontus Lidberg Dance_Photo by Erin Baiano

Faune has a stunning opening, with the light and shadows of an over head light that reflects off the nearly nude body of Adrian Danchig-Waring, he is standing while four others are on the floor around him. It is a strong start to a strong piece. The program states that Faune, a work for five dancers set to the emblematic music by Debussy, explores identity and the inevitable question we all face: “Who am I?” That is exactly what it did, forcing us to look at the question of who am I? The dancers kept changing clothing with each other as if exchanging roles, or perhaps exploring the question that underneath all are any of so different? They seemed to shed clothing both to pursue the question but also to exclaim their true identity; it is only the faune that seems reticent to come forth. The question exists, why was the faune hiding? In the end the faune, danced by Mr. Pontus, seems trapped not just by his fellow dancers by himself as well. After seeming much inner debate do we finally see the true self of the faune, a self not just accepted by himself but by the other dancers as well.

The work was beautifully choreographed and surpassed any expectations I had. Adrian Danchig-Waring is beautiful in his dancing, with such strength and long, lean lines. Gabrielle Lamb was brilliant as she always is. Drew Jacoby and Craig Hall must be mentioned for the sheer exquisiteness of their performance. Mr. Pontus, both as performer and dancer is a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to the hoped for opportunity to witness future performances of him and of his work.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago_THREE TO MAX _Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago_THREE TO MAX _Todd Rosenberg

Three To Max, a new creation for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, is a collage of excerpts from two works by Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company. It is set to music by J.S. Bach, Brian Eno, Ohad Naharin, Rayon, Seefeel, and The Beach Boys, was created as part of Hubbard Street’s 2011 Celebrating the Art of Israel project.

When it started I was a little unsure, dancers standing, then just walking off the stage at random, something happens continually though out the piece. Mr. Naharin, a student of Martha Graham, gives evidence of his willingness to explore new moves and is brave enough to apply different studies to dance. Does it always work, sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago_Robyn Mineko Williams in THREE TO MAX _Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago_Robyn Mineko Williams in THREE TO MAX _Todd Rosenberg

The work is intense and original, but established within me a perplexity of just what I was witnessing. The work is made up, for lack of a better description, vignettes. He employs a lot of distortion and repetition that makes the piece novel but still is a bit of a head scratcher. At one point a group of nine men come onto the stage marching and stomping. Then a group of nine women whose  movements are a bite more subtle, but are just as distorted, He deploys soloist, pairs, trios groups of five and half the ensemble than the whole in amazing arrays. At one point one dancer leans into the audience as welcomes us and later another moons us. We see scrunched up faces, contorted limbs and a vast amount of choreography. The duet between Christian Broomhall and Kevin Shannon was a tender piece of intimacy, which was wonderful to witness.

Of the whole, Three To Max left me perplexed, was it bad, absolutely not, was it great, some would say so, many did. But for me it was a tad too long and seemed as if Mr, Naharin was trying too hard. I’m a big fan of Ohad Naharin work, unfortunately not this one.

Fall for Dance at New York City Center continues tonight with Program 3, then till Nov 6, with Programs 4 and Program 5. If you can get a ticket, run, don’t walk to the performances…you will be more than pleased.

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From → Ballet, Dance

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