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Of Moor’s, Hats and Irish Step Dancing; New York City Center’s Fall for Dance, Program 3….

October 6, 2013
American Ballet Theater in Jose Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane

American Ballet Theater in Jose Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane; photo by Gene Schiavone.

The third program seen during the 10th Anniversary of the New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival began with Jose Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane. The Moor’s Pavane premiered at the Connecticut College American Dance Festival in 1949 and the American Ballet Theatre was the first company outside the Limón Company to include the work in its repertory in 1970.

On loan from the Limón Company, veteran dancer Francisco Ruvalcaba was stellar as The Moor. Julie Kent, Stella Abrera and Thomas Forster from ABT completed the cast. Though subtitled Variations on the Theme of Othello, and is not intended as a choreographic version of Shakespeare’s play.

The ballet was choreographed by José Limón with music arranged by Simon Sadoff from Henry Purcell‘s AbdelazerThe Gordion Knot Untied, and the pavane from Pavane and Chaconne for Strings, the work utilizes the pavane and other dances of the high Renaissance while the four dancers represent The MoorDesdemonaIago, and Emilia.

Dressed in flowing red, Stella Abrera dances the role of Emilia who steals Desdemona’s handkerchief so her husband, the main antagonist Iago, excellently portrayed by Thomas Forster, can use it to falsely accuse and convince Mr. Ruvalcaba of his wife’s infidelity. Julia Kent, seen in white, gives a strong performance of woman whose innocents is ignored and leads to such tragic consequences. It must be stated that Thomas Forster is someone to keep an eye on with his faultless technique and strong handsome stage presence; I expect the dance world will hear much of him in the future.

American Ballet Theater in Jose Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane; photo by Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theater in Jose Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane; photo by Gene Schiavone

I have stated again and again how much I absolute abhor tap dancing and it seems no matter how much or how loud I say it, someone always seems to come alone and make me question my view! Last year it was the performance of Royal Ballet’s Principal Dancer, Steven McRae making the U. S. Premier of his tap piece Something Different, this year it was Irish step dancer Colin Dunne in the U.S. Premiere of The Turn.

Mr. Dunne is a leading figure in the world of traditional Irish dance and is recognized internationally for his performances and choreography in Riverdance and Dancing on Dangerous Ground, In 2007 he was nominated for a UK Critics Circle National Dance Award (best male: modern dance) for performances at The Barbican in Fabulous Beast’s production of The Bull. His first solo show, Out of Time, premiered in January 2008.

Colin Dunne; Photo: @ Maurice Gunning

Colin Dunne; Photo: @ Maurice Gunning

Linda Buckley created the score for the The Turn which included live sound processing as a string quartet from the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Katherine Hunka (Violin), Anna Cashell (Violin), Cian Ó Dúill (Viola) and Rudi De Groote (Cello) accompanied Mr. Dunne on stage.

Mr. Dunne, dances on a raised and amplified platform, he is casually attired in black jeans and a white shirt. His presence of stage is infectious, you want to like him, you just can’t help yourself. His torso and arms are more relaxed than traditional Irish steppers but his foot work is a thing of marvel. During his performance he unrolled a carpet that allowed him to enhance his dancing with an electronic echo as well as the sound of the wind when he moved his leg quickly back and forth that was manipulated by Ms. Buckley.

All I can say is that as someone who would rather have a root canal minus anesthesia than sit through a tap performance, I loved it….Why must the Fall for Dance Selection Committee continually force me to reexamine my long-held righteous views of Tap Dancing….not to be paranoid or anything….but are they reading my posts…

I am on the fence when it comes to the work of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Ms. Ochoa has exhibited moments of genius as in the 2010 work she premiered at the Youth America Grand Prix and danced by Rubinald Pronk, L’Effleuré but her creation for Ballet Hispanico of that same year, Mad’moiselle just seemed jumbled and confused.

Ballet Hispanico performing Sombrerísimo; photo by Paula Lobo.

Ballet Hispanico performing Sombrerísimo; photo by Paula Lobo.

Ms. Ochoa’s Sombrerísimo, a Fall for Dance commission and performed by six men of Ballet Hispanico to the music of Banda Ionica featuring Macaco El Mono Loco, Titi Robin and various artist has me again on the fence, for the work ranges somewhere between genius and a big question mark.

The six men, Christopher Bloom, Mario Ismael Espinoza, Jamal Rashann Callender, Alexander Duval, Marcos Rodriguez and Joshua Winzeler were fantastic. Their intensity and physicality of movement renewed my respect for the vision that is Ballet Hispanico. All wearing black hats, they traded, transferred and tossed them about during the piece liberally. But, this is what I mean by saying I am on the fence with Ms. Ochoa’s work, the hats were too gimmicky and perhaps were not needed at all.

Mr. Ochoa created a compelling piece, her use of lights to alter and enhance the moods during the work was brilliant and in reality, if the work had used just one hat it would have been the highlight of the festival, but as it is I have to say it was my least favorite of the three works commissioned for this year’s festival.

Introdans, a Dutch company not seen nearly enough in the states, gave the U.S. Premiere of Nacho Duato’s Sinfonía India. Created for the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1984 to the 1930s score by Carlos Chávez (Sinfonía India, Symphony No. 2) this is my least favorite of the works of Mr. Duato I have seen.

Introdans in Nacho Duato's “Sinfonía India”; Photo by HansGerritsen

Introdans in Nacho Duato’s “Sinfonía India”; Photo by HansGerritsen

Mr. Duato followed the lead of Carlos Chávez and allows the inspiration for the work to be the ritual dances of Mexican Indians. The work seemed dated and just not up to par with the more recent works of Mr. Duato. Expertly performed, the dancers of Introdans were amazing to watch, I remember the company’s performance Nils Christe’s Fünf Gedichte during their run at the Joyce last year and knowing what the company can achieve, I felt somewhat let down.

The Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center presents performances by 20 acclaimed dance companies and artists from around the world, including three new works from today’s most exciting young choreographers, commissioned by New York City Center in celebration of the tenth anniversary, Sept. 25th – Oct. 5th.

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