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Jodie Gates & Peter Quanz: Gotham Dance Festival at the Joyce

June 7, 2012

Peter Quanz’s Luminous. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Gotham Dance Festival will be at the Joyce all this week with a surprising array of talent. I spent Sunday afternoon totally engrossed and very impressed (for the most part) with the endeavors of choreographers Jodie Gates and Peter Quanz.

Peter Quanz opens the evening with In Tandem with music by Steve Reich’s “Double Sextet“. The piece was performed by Mr. Qaunz’s company Q Dance, which is affiliated with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Calgary. This is a well-constructed ballet, asethically beautiful. The work is for six dancers, four women and two men. It is a study in connection between people, connections and the fear of those connections at the same time, it is about acceptance and rejection, a longer for either or both.

In Tandem, Choreography by Peter Quanz. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Mr. Quanz uses the wings and edges of the stage in novel ways. From the wings we see a single leg extended, sometime later one dancer is partially suspended at a precarious angle, but we do not see how, and then dancers come and sit on the edge of the stage. In doing he is shattering any barrier between audience and performance.

Mr. Quanz second work, Luminous was that…it was luminous. The work fully explores Marjan Mozetich’s “Affairs of the Heart” by marrying it with a classical vocabulary that is both lyrical and light.

Peter Quanz’s In Tandem. Photo by Matthew Murphy

In Luminous Mr. Quanz explores explores the consept of love and relationships. It is a deconstructed view of such lovers as found in the romantic classics akin to Coppélia or La Sylphide. But it is the twisting and restriction of that love and loss, the ever present threat of the pain of rejection that is examined.

With the sounding of the first few notes, when Harrison James starts to move he holds you transfixed. He flows effortlessly from movement to movement, making a song with his body. There is a sheer poetry in his dancing. Sophia Lee, enough cannot be said about her. She is stunning; she possesses everything that makes a ballerina great, faultless technique, long exquisite lines and such lyricism of movement that she brings joyful tears to the eyes. Ms. Lee and Mr. Harrison’s duet is captured in my mind’s eye, so touching was it and such a joy to watch.

Peter Quanz’s Luminous, Photo by Matthew Murphy

Luminous was created for the Hong Kong Ballet, which will perform it July 18 to 22 at Jacob’s Pillow, where the Royal Winnipeg Ballet  performs “In Tandem” from August 1 to 5.

Jodie Gates, former ballerina with both the Joffrey Ballet and Frankfurt Ballet is known for her unique style of neo classical dance which utilizes and explores the balletic vocabulary and marries that with rich musicality. Delicate Balance, which had its premiere at the Laguna Dance Festival this year, is an a deeply emotional work and Ms. Gates association with American choreography William Forsythe’s influence is evident.

Peter Quanz’s Luminous, Photo by Matthew Murphy

The work is performed brilliantly by Philadelphia’s BalletX and set to the music of Arvo Pärt, Max Richter and Henryk Górecki. Delicate Balance possesses a subtle tenderness, a sense of connectedness between dancers, especially couples. There is a lot to feast the eyes upon, dancers twisting and leaping, in groups, couples or alone.

But the real meat and potatoes of the ballet were the first duet between Jamie Lennon and Jesse Sani and the last duet with Chloe Felesina and William Cannon. Here are four exception dancers! Jesse Sani has become my new favorite male dancer. He possesses such athleticism of movement done with such confidence and grace it just plain sexy. Chloe Felesina, wow,  every step, every lift of the arm is an exercise in elegance and beauty. She is like a liquid stream of movement, flowing from one shape to the next.

BalletX Jamie Lennon & Jesse Sani in Jodie Gates’ Delicate Balance. Photo by Matthew Murphy

…My only complaint about this piece was the use of Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel. It is a beautiful piece of music but is so overused… I can think of three piece of the top of my head that use the music…

Ok, now let’s talk about Jodie Gate’s Embellish, and I will try not to over embellish how I feel. It may have been a good piece but I was so distracted I could not enjoy it. I must say that it was well performed by the Colorado Ballet . I had never seen them before and glad I had the chance. Thank you, Colorado Ballet; I look forward to any opportunity to see you in the future.

Jessi Sani with BalletX in Jodie Gates’ Delicate Balance. Photo by Matthew Murphy

My problem with Embellish was Christine Darch’s costumes. They were so disturbingly out of sync with the ballet I could not enjoy it. Every time I looked at the stage I winced. First off the men looked like “broke Cossacks”, all wearing ill-fitted pants and long-sleeve tunics that were decidedly of the Russian influence. I expected anyone of the guys, in mid-pirouette to stop to pull up his pants, so saggy in the crotch were they… I have never seen a costume that made male dancers look out-of-shape and a little over-weight that was not meant to, (especially the “what looked like velvet” blue pants, those were the worst).

The women fared better with blue or rust colored tunics except when they would exit stage to only reappear with a piece of draping fabric attracted to either side of their bodies. The attached fabric reminded me of deflated peacock feathers, just being dragged along. Not an attractive look. Why not do the ballet in just unitards or tights and a top?  PLEASE, Ms. Gates or Colorado Ballet or both, NEW COSTUMES, I beg you…

with Chloe Felesina & William Cannon from BalletX in Jodie Gates’ Delicate Balance. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Gotham Dance Festival returns for two weeks, presenting five programs that feature the work of more than ten choreographers, including a program celebrating the choreographic work of American women, both established and emerging talents. May 30 – June 10, 2012 at The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, NYC. Tickets are $10-$39 and are available at 212-242-0800 or

From → Ballet, Dance

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