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Deconstruction, Testosterone & Flamenco: Fall for Dance, Program 5

October 22, 2012

Laboratory Dance Project. Photo by Yong Hoon Han.

The closing night of New York City Center’s 9th Annual Fall for Dance presented a mixed spectrum of dance from around the world. Dance companies came from Spain, South Korea, Australia and here in NYC to participate in the event.

Shen Wei Dance Arts, located here in NYC presented Shen Wei’s Rite of Spring; the piece was originally commissioned by and premiered at the American Dance Festival in 2003. Was this the most rousing and soul-stirring Rite of Spring I have seen, sadly no. It was more an intellectual exercise in deconstruction and truly robbed Igor Stravinsky’s work of its primal earthiness and pagan imagery of sound.

Dancers, dressed more or less uniformly in shades of grays and subtle blues walk on stage in silence and stand, then someone will turn and move to another place on the stage, this happens several times by different dancers. The dancers moved in automaton fashion with no life in their faces and with stiff bodies, with each step taken the knees were slightly bent and the toes flexed.

When movement did happen, there seemed no logic or reason, but more random occurrence then planned actuality. At one point everyone on stage was jumping around like they were in a percolator.

Rite of Spring. Photo by Bruce R. Feeley.

I appreciate deconstruction; it is a wide movement within today’s generation of Dancemakers, it is the questioning of what is form and technique in conjunction with the structure of the actual dance. I find it an exciting movement and I am watching it grow with great interest. But Mr. Wei’s treatment of the Rite of Spring was more of an intellectual exercise and with that it lost the beauty in the rawness of the original work. The piano deconstruction of the Stravinsky score was scandalous, I just found myself shaking my head and asking why?

Of LDP-Laboratory Dance Project I do not know what to say except, WOW! Nine young men from South Korea took to the stage like a force of nature. Choreographed by Chang Ho Shin, No Comment was a testosterone laden tour-de-force. When these gentlemen starting moving, they moved, flinging though the air in any and all directions, bodies twisting in mid-air and upside-down.

Plus, once it started it did not stop, the men went flying through the air, rolling on the floor, back-flips and front aerials. LDP-Laboratory Dance Project is based in Seoul, South Korea and was founded by graduates of the Korean National University of Arts and Dance. Their performance drew from breaking and other hip-hop forms, martial arts, and contact improvisation creating a wide range of movement ideas. Simply exhilarating!

Circa, from Brisbane, Australia is a contemporary circus that seeks to redefine and stretch the practice and perception of what is circus. Two men escort a woman wearing dazzling red high-heels on stage, one man is assisted with laying on the floor and the woman, in her red high-heels proceeds to stand on his chest, she then lowers herself down and pulls the man by the hair to a sitting position and climbs onto his shoulders. She basically walks all over his body as he contorts into various positions.

Justin Nicholas ‘Atmosphere Photography’ (2010)

The performers then proceeded into great feats of strength and balance, piling people on their shoulders, and not just women on men but men on women’s shoulder as well. At one point two men swing a woman like a jump rope.

One woman is given a hoop; she looks at it in amazement as if she had never seen one before. She then proceeds to hula-hoop with it, not just that one but adds six more to it. She dazzled us with her antics and we loved her for it. In the end there were four curtain calls with the entire house on their feet and everyone screaming till hoarse.

María Pagés Compañía, from Spain presented the U.S. Premiere of Deseo Y Conciencia (Desire & Conscience), a mixture of awesome Flamenco with several rather long and somewhat self-indulgent solos for Ms. Pagés. Accompanied by live music it was a display of great passion and precision with three men and three woman creating rich saccadic tempos. The voices of Ana Ramón and Jaun de Mairena were magical, lending a surreal beauty to the whole. I am not a big Flamenco fan, but I truly enjoyed this performance.


MARÍA PAGÉS. Photo by David Ruano.

With the close of the 9th Fall for Dance Festival I can only hope that next year’s program is much more exciting than this years. The wide variety of countries and culture is admirable, but the selections being chosen for presentation were rather weak. Three of the five programs I could not even be bothered with seeing. There is so much rich dance out there it’s a shame it’s not being shown at Fall for Dance.

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