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Seven New Hues: Juilliard’s Class of 2013 Senior Dance Production….

May 17, 2013
 Les Ved’s The Cadence Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Les Ved’s The Cadence Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Seven New Hues was the title for Juilliard’s class of 2013’s Senior Dance Production. Having begun in the 1980’s, the Senior Dance Production is the culmination of a year-long creative and educational process focused on launching seniors into the professional world. The Juilliard dancers work in close collaboration with lighting design teams, costume designers, and composers as they create their original works.

The process began in the junior year. Dancers who have shown rigor and dedication as choreographers in their first three years apply and then are selected to create a work for the following year’s Senior Production concert. For this year seven choreographers were chosen, hence the title Seven New Hues.

Jason Collin’s So Close, So Far was a bit of a head scratcher. When entering the Meredith and Rosemary Wilson Theater you find four dancers, Gillian Abbot, Kristina Bentz, Lindsay Harwell and Ingrid Kapteyn on stage. Wearing loose fitting sand colored costumes their movements are slow and controlled. But there seems no direction or purpose and I become more bewildered than intrigued. There are elements of Butoh but without the makeup and focus.

Jason Collin’s So Close. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Jason Collin’s So Close. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Just slow dreamlike movements, two dancers standing, two knelling on the floor. One male dancer will just stare out at the audience every so often in a rather perplexing manner. There are moments of great tenderness as the dancers come together but for the good five to ten minutes since I have taken my seat, basically nothing has occurred but a slow snail-paced transit across the stage.

Suddenly a burst of movement phrasing occurs, the dancers all moving in sync. A soft rumbling is heard in the background. The energy of the piece is now sporadic, sudden movements, abrupt stops to slow gestures. There is a dialogue, a conversation of movement being had between the dancers. But still, a clarifying statement seems lacking. The abstraction of the work is perhaps too abstract. At the end I am once again more bewildered than intrigued. To Mr. Collins I must say that if I had seen this piece without the long, slow, drawn out prologue I think my experience of the work would have been much more enjoyable.

Parallel Progress, choreographed by Raymond Pinto, the 2012 Princess Grace Award recipient was set to the music of Steve Reich’s Autechre. Taylor Drury, Gia Mongell, Evan Schwarz and Taner Van Kuren were costumed in all black.  This is a work of great energy that matches Steve Reich’s score perfectly. The movement choices and phrasing is fluid. The first male’s solo is saccadic and yet still possessed a beautiful lyricism.

Raymond Pinto's Parallel Progress. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Raymond Pinto’s Parallel Progress. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

This is a testosterone driven work but has a bit of humor in the mix and I say this admiringly.  Both Ms. Mongell and Ms. Swiatkiwsky bring a feminine energy that balances out the work. It is a greatly enjoyable piece in which Mr. Pinto seems to announce he is serious minded but not without a sense of humor…Great job Mr. Pinto.

David Norsworthy’s The Foozle Defenestration was brilliantly original. Think Pina Bausch meets Groucho Marx on the Lawrence Welk Show(If you have no idea who Lawrence Welk is, well, you should…as an artist one must be well-rounded…).

First, let us break down the title of the work…

Foozle – The act of bungling, especially a poor stroke in golf.

Defenestration – (1) – throwing of a person or thing out of a window or (2): a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)

David Norworthy’s The Foozle Defenestration. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

David Norworthy’s The Foozle Defenestration. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

We are instructed via the program notes: As you watch this piece, trust your interpretation…

Also, the program lists John Harnage, Troy Herring, Niall Lessard, Robbie Moore and Ellie Swiatkiwsky not as dancers but as interpreters.

Ji-yong Kim, the pianist who is to play Aaron Severini’s Bedlam, crawls under the piano with his sheet music in had to get to his piano stool. Crawling under the piano is to be the ingress and egress for this work.

A young man comes forth and begins a rabbling diatribe that made more sense than you would think. More interpreters in varying states of array, two men have on stripped turtleneck sweaters with very long arms, come on stage via the piano’s underbelly.

Julia Headley’ Glimpse. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Julia Headley’ Glimpse. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

The piano is the base of operations in which every so often an interpreter would rush over to check a piece of paper that had been taped to the side of the piano,  it is the hand-written instructions for the evening’s work. Perhaps everyone was too busy learning everyone else’s work that poor Mr. Norsworthy had to resort to handwritten instructions…

Aaron Severini’s Bedlam is a rather intense little ditty that requires Mr. Kim to not only play the piano but also a kick drum. Have no fear if you follow Mr. Kim on Facebook or Twitter because he was actively texting away when not actually playing…

David Norsworthy’s The Foozle Defenestration was child’s play that had been deconstructed via exhausting exploration and examination. In case anyone was in question that this was in essence a dance piece there was a whole section devoted to Modern Dance 101, flexed arabesques and twisted torsos galore.

An audience member suddenly had a spotlight on her and was asked to read the instruction aloud for the next section which was to “role and bite”. In which the interpreters began to roll about and bit each other, some yelping from pain.

Garth Johnson’s Three Empty Buildings. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Garth Johnson’s Three Empty Buildings. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

David Norsworthy’s The Foozle Defenestration was a delicious piece of nonsense. Clever, original and very enjoyable….. It must be noted that both Troy Herring and Robbie Moore shined during the performance….bravo to all for a job well done….

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Julia Headley’s, but after seeing her work Glimpse, I have graduated from fan to devotee!

Upon the stage is found nine dancers attached to elastic cords hanging from the rafters. In a moment of upheaval all dancers but two disengage from their cords. These two stretch and manipulate the cords creating interesting diagonal lines.

There is a mix of motion and lines created in space, the dancers tying themselves into knots that require assistance from each other to unravel. Glimpse is a work that explores that which sometimes will hold someone back from something desired. Well done indeed.

Lilja Rúriksdóttir’s Ends. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Lilja Rúriksdóttir’s Ends. Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Garth Johnson’s Three Empty Buildings is a work of great passion and athleticism. At first I did not care for the work but the longer I watched the more I was pulled in. There is a sense of loss and fear of loss that is prevalent in the work. Reed Tankersley must be mentioned for the brilliance of his performance.

Lilja Rúriksdóttir’s Ends I just did not get. The work seemed to lack a direction, there was too much stopping and starting, a dancer would stop, stare into the distance then start moving again. Frédéric Chopin’s Waltzes was heard playing in the background, but this seemed more an afterthought.

There was a comedic flare to the piece that the audience greatly enjoyed. In all fairness Lilja Rúriksdóttir’s Ends was not a bad work, it just did not work for me.

 Les Ved’s The Cadence Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Les Ved’s The Cadence Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Lea Ved’s The Cadence was an apt piece to finish the evening. Ms. Ved’s approach to choreography is current and fresh. You see the influences of Hofesh Schecter, Crystal Pite and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui in both her phrasing and movement choices.

Ms. Ved’s approach to movement is almost pedestrian in that simple actions and gestures are colored and expanded into larger movements. She creates a sense of tension that is held, even explored during the work.

Kyle Scheurich is young dancer to watch. He has a delicious lyricism of movement that is intrinsic to his dancing, it as much a part of him as his flame colored hair. Mr. Scheurich is dancer of whose career I will be following with great interest!

The performance of Juilliard’s Class of 2013 Senior Dance Production was wonderful. Juilliard gives evidence, with not only these seven choreographers, but the dancers and musicians involved, as to why it is one of the foremost bastions of dance in the world. To the entire production team I say a job well done indeed…………..

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