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Elisa Monte Dance Fall Showing

November 20, 2011
Elisa Monte Dance Photo by Roy Volkman

Elisa Monte Dance Photo by Roy Volkman

I was invited to Elisa Monte Dance Fall Showing and what a treat it was. Held at 890 Broadway at Gina Gibney Dance, the fall showing was an opportunity to present excerpts from three of the company’s 2012 premiere pieces plus the viewing of the resurrection of Pigs and Fishes, a work original commissioned by Alvin Ailey.

The evening began with company member Joe Celej’s newest chorographic endeavor, set to the music of Ben Doyle, a work as yet untitled. Set as a trio it begins in silence, the dancers’ movements are slow and sensual, hands on legs than expanding to more of the body, an act of exploration. Mr. Celej investigates the body’s capacity for movement and as a canvas for expressive architecture.  The dancers come together and reject each other, at times, the bodies are utilized as if a child’s jungle gym, exploring and pushing new shapes.  The work has great feeling and exhibits both connectedness and loss.

Pigs & Fishes Photo by Joyce Dopkeen The New York Times

Pigs & Fishes Photo by Joyce Dopkeen The New York Times

The next offering was the beginning solo from Pigs and Fishes; choreographed by Ms. Monte in 1982 with Music by Glenn Branca. Pigs and Fishes was the first major commission for Elisa Monte; the signature piece was commissioned by Alvin Ailey for his legendary troupe. The solo was danced superbly by Lisa Peluso, who seemed consumed by the pulsing rhythms and undulating movements. It is hypnotic and captivating. I have seen the piece dance by Ms. Monte and must say that Ms. Peluso does both the choreographer and the dance great justice.

Tiffany Rea-Fisher, the company’s assistant artistic director is also presenting a new work. It is also at the moment untitled, set to the music of Kevin Keller. Ms. Rea-Fishers choreography is always a delight. The piece, being a work in progress, at the moment begins in silence, starting as a duet that becomes a solo, then changes to three pairs of dancers on the stage. The dance is fluid in its musicality and athleticism. The dancers slide and roll, with legs extended and arms turning. There are moments of conflict and resolution. The duets are strong as the dancers leap and swing each other, twisting and exploring levels of trust. There is a great sense of humanism in the work.

Elisa Monte Dance Photo by Roy Folkman

Elisa Monte Dance Photo by Roy Folkman

The culmination of the evening was Ms. Monte’s newest work. The working title for the piece is Unstable Ground, set to music by Lois Vienk. I have long stated that Shattered is my favorite piece in Ms. Monte’s repertoire. This new piece may challenge that! The piece begins with Prentice Whitlow on the floor with Joe Celej slowly rolling onto the stage, Mr. Whitlow reaches out to him and they begin a delicious duet with Mr.Celej climbing and eventually laying across Mr. Whitlow’s shoulders. Others slowly roll on to the stage and begin to touch and join with pulses of exploration. The partners are mysterious and unexpected in their movements, coming together and separating only to rejoin with someone else. There is assistance with lifting of the dancers by other dancers. At one point it is as if they are a root system, they are conjoined with no beginning or ending in evidence. One is not sure where one body begins and another stops. All the time the piece builds in tempo and passion into a pounding energy that must be released. Even as a partially finished piece, it is a work of intensity and excitement that will be another jewel within Ms. Monte’s repertory.

The New York season for Elisa Monte Dance will be at the 

Ailey Citigroup Theater

April 12-14th

Elisa Monte – Artistic Directory

Tiffany Rea-Fisher – Assistant Artistic Director


Clymene Baugher

Liz Beres

Joe Celej

Chivas Merchant-Buckman

Lisa Peluso

Hsing-Hua Wang

Prentice Whitlow

Maria Ambrose (apprentice)

Lisa Borres (apprentice)

Lisa Greenberg (apprentice)

Elisa Monte Dance
481 Eighth Avenue, Suite 543
New York, New York 10001
Phone: 212 868-4488
Fax: 212 868-4494


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