Skip to content

Purchase Dance Company’s 2013 NY Season at the New York Live Arts….

June 4, 2013
Purchase Dance Company’s Josephine Haas (center), Andrea Farley-Shimota (back), Melanie Benker (laying down) in Claire Porter’s Out of the Question. Photo: Ted Kivitt

Purchase Dance Company’s Josephine Haas (center), Andrea Farley-Shimota (back), Melanie Benker (laying down) in Claire Porter’s Out of the Question. Photo: Ted Kivitt

Ok, curiosity killed the cat….or, so the saying goes…having known many SUNY/Purchase alumni I was curious as to what was going on with the Purchase Dance Company… so I attend their NY Season at New York Live Arts.

Bill T. Jones’ Spent Days Out Yonder is a purely dance piece set to Mozart’s String Quartet (No. 23 in F Major). There is a continuous flow to the work, its movements and phrases sliding one into the other with relative ease. Robert Wierzel’s lighting was soft and gentle. It’s an interesting work.

The Premiere of Claire Porter’s Out of the Question was a delicious bit of silliness with lots of noise and unanswered questions. Partially exploring Gertrude Stein’s quotes of “What is the Answer” and “Ain’t any answer”, answerless questions abound. As in the work of Ms. Porter, you find yourself in a maze of riddles filled with quandaries and conundrums.

The work is for 13 women who walk on and off in the most casual of manners that can just as abruptly break into moments of mania. A lesson is given on how to ask a question, for the manner in which a question is asked is just as important at the question itself…or so it is in Clair Porter’s world. Its great work filled with twists and turns that treats the most basic of questions as sophistry. Well done, indeed!

Purchase Dance Company’s Zach Enquist & Hannah Button in Bill T Jones’ Spent Day Out Yonder. Photo: Ted Kivitt

Purchase Dance Company’s Zach Enquist & Hannah Button in Bill T Jones’ Spent Day Out Yonder. Photo: Ted Kivitt

The stand out for the evening was an excerpt from Sarah Mettin’s In a Roofless Room, performed by Natalia Bizinha and Robert Lewis with Christopher Hernandez. This work was in a completely different category from the rest of the performances of the Purchase Dance Company. To say it was a stellar performance of a stellar work would be an understatement. It was beyond superb!

The work takes places on the fringes of darkness, Ms. Bizinha in seen in a square of white light. Mr. Lewis, standing just outside the light holds Ms. Bizinha’s hands as she bends forward and stretches backwards.

Ms. Bizinha moves away from Mr. Lewis and begins to flow into lyrical movements of great expression. Set to Vivaldi’s Sposa son disprezzata and performed by Cecilia Bartoli, this is a work of deep emotion. (Sposa son disprezzata (“I am wife and I am scorned”) is an Italian aria written by Geminiano Giacomelli. It is used in Vivaldi‘s pasticcioBajazet.)

Purchase Dance Company’s Natalia Bizinha & Robert Lewis in Sarah Mettin’s In a Roofless Room.  Photo: Ted Kivitt

Purchase Dance Company’s Natalia Bizinha & Robert Lewis in Sarah Mettin’s In a Roofless Room. Photo: Ted Kivitt

Ms. Bizinha is a woman, who, in her turmoil returns again and again to the source of her unhappiness. It is only in the moments in which she breaks away that she is free to express her sorrow and her longing.

Mr. Lewis is the presence in the darkness that always haunts Ms. Bizinha, he is the thoughts and fears that hamper her in life. Mr. Lewis is both anchor and tormentor. He catches her when it is needed only to throw her away after.

Again and again she runs away from him only to stop and flee back to him. Ms. Bizinha presence in this work is so powerful; her dancing is a pure expression of the soul. She melds her emotion and movements in a seamless blend of artistry. ….

In the end she finds the courage to seek salvation in the arms of Christopher Hernandez who cradles her tenderly and carries off stage. A powerful work!

This is my first exposure to the work of Sarah Mettin, but it will not be my last….I will be seeking the opportunity of see more…Ms. Mettin work can be seen in performances of Mettin Movement, a contemporary dance company based out of New York City and Philadelphia founded in 2011.

Francesca Martoccio’s performance in George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantasie was light and alive, her moves large and expressive. Your eyes followed her across the stage. Unfortunately the rest of the cast needed some work. Thalia Mara’s idiom was that “Ballerinas were seen and never heard”, so when Nicole Del Bene, Madelyn Eltringham, Lieneke Matte and Alden Phillips came on stage with their point shoes thumping with each jump, I was sadly disappointed. Ladies, you must remember to roll through your foot when landing.

Oliver Greene-Cramer has great legs but he needs to relax his shoulders and concentrate upon his épaulement. His double cabrioles were excellent and he seems a natural jumper. The capability is there, he has everything required to become an excellent dancer and a polished technician, but with that said, his stage presence needs improvement. He did not “sale” his solo, he preformed all the requisite moves correctly, but it was more of a classroom demonstration than actual performance. But all of this can be improved with classes and more performance opportunities….I look forward to seeing what he does.

There were just too many dancers on stage for Ori Flomin’s (in)Visible Spectrum. With Twenty-five dancers you did not know where to look. It had a slow start and did not seem that interesting at first, but it grew into something amazing.

Purchase Dance Company’s Kathleen Bollana & Olivier Greene-Cramer in Ori Flomin’s (in)Visible Spectrum. Photo: Ted Kivitt

Purchase Dance Company’s Kathleen Bollana & Olivier Greene-Cramer in Ori Flomin’s (in)Visible Spectrum. Photo: Ted Kivitt

The original music/sound score by Pierre de Gaillande and Gary Greenblatt, and music by Biorhythms pulls you into the work, building and matching the intensity of the choreography. There were moments when I was reminded of an assembly line, dancers doing repetitive movements in rows that moved like a continuous chain.

The performance of Christopher Hernandez was excellent. Mr. Hernandez’ solo was brilliantly performed and it was obvious the he is a person born to dance. He is a natural turner and moves with a confidence that is quite sexy. Excellent job.

Ori Flomin’s (in)Visible Spectrum was a tough act to follow so Lori Landon’s The Thought of You is Fading seemed weak in comparison. The movement consisted of a lot of falling down, running, then sliding. Dancer’s used their chins to touch other dancer’s bodies.

Had Ms. London’s piece been seen before Ori Flomin’s (in)Visible Spectrum it would have had a much better reception….

All in all, though the choreographic choices for the evening I found a bit of a let down, the actual dancers for the most part were excellent. I was disappointed that the men seemed regulated to secondary roles in many of the pieces, almost as if they were added as an afterthought.

Advertisements

From → Dance

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: