Avi Scher & Dancers at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
Avi Scher at 28 has a bright and optimistic career ahead of him. His choreography is defined by the dedication to his classical vocabulary, a thing few choreographers in today’s dance world are willing to do.
Avi Scher & Dancers in its third New York season at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater was composed of two works from 2010 and three World Premieres created in 2011. Mr. Scher had gathered a stellar cast of dancers from some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies, American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet.
But the two hallmarks of the evening were Phased and Dwindle. Both dances I could easily see in the repertories of ballet companies worldwide!
Phased was an impassioned duet for Misa Kuranaga and Herman Cornejo set to music written for the guitar by Hector Villa-Lobos and performed live on stage by Guitarist Nate Brown. There is an air of love and longing that is enhanced with a subtle nod to Spanish dance that runs through the piece. Both dancers become entwined in moments of passion then are pushed away in moments of denial, with Ms. Kuranaga curled on the floor in pain only to have Mr. Cornejo return to pick her up, sometimes dragging her across stage. Phased is a dance where love is hard to express with Mr. Cornejo’s in the end leaving Ms. Kuranaga on-stage alone. The only thing I did not care for were the costumes, they did not seem to be authentic to the work and somewhat miss-matched.
It is rare to see such a performer of Mr. Cornejo’s caliber in such as intimate setting. It was a powerful performance, with his impeccable abilities, lofty leaps and flawless turns and a breath taking hand aerial. Avi Scher states that the mission of the company is to present world-class dancers in intimate, affordable settings, something that he should be commended on.
Dwindle was a group piece, very musical with clever staging. Mr. Scher again and again made use of the exits and entrances both on and off the stage as a vital part of the dance, seeming as if the dance continued even when the dancers were not on stage. They would appear from the wings showing just an arm or a leg or sometimes half their bodies as other dancers performed on stage.
The women danced in light and airy blue dresses that had a Grecian feel and the men in gray jersey tights and sleeveless tops. Dwindle featured nine dancers, including three corps members of American Ballet Theater and as well as the former soloist, Carlos Lopez. Avi Scher and Dancers is a pick-up company that has utilized some of the most talented dancers around to date.
Sterling Baca was superb, with his dazzling good looks and impeccable technique, the stage lit up each time he stepped upon it. Mr. Baca was a recipient of the Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship and joined ABT II in September 2010 and American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet in 2011.
Carlos Lopez and Sean Stewart performed a duet that was thrilling to watch, perfectly partnering each other and blending their strengths in to one voice. Weaving in and out of the music, which was an electronic score by several composers.
Avi Scher & Dancers was created by emerging choreographer Avichai Scher with a mission to bring the highest quality ballet to small, intimate venues with affordable ticket prices. Debuting in June 2009 with performances at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and a showcase at NY City Center Studios.
The company danced its first NYC season at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater in 2010 to sold-out audiences. In addition the company has appeared at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Symphony Space, and over 10 festivals in New York City and California. All of the performances were at low ticket cost or free of charge and featured new works by Scher performed by the best ballet dancers.