Take… Taken… Taking… | Alan Obuzor & Texture Contemporary Ballet….
Being a victim of this arduous winter I have seen little dance, in fact I’ve seen little of anything being too cold to venture out into the arctic freeze. Yet, hearing that Alan Obuzor and his Texture Contemporary Ballet were performing at the Ailey Citigroup Theater I wrapped myself an a couple of coats, several scarves and thick gloves then venture forth into the frigid world.
I was very interested in both the choreography as well as the dancing of Alan Obuzor, the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for Texture Contemporary Ballet. He was named by Dance Magazine as one of the “Top 25 to Watch” in 2013, no small feat in itself.
Mr. Obuzor presented the premiere of his latest work Take… Taken… Taking…, a 25 minute contemporary ballet set to music by Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto, for five dancers, four women and one man. The work was fast paced, innovated, possessed a certain moodiness and a sense of personal introspection.
Mr. Obuzor full utilized the music of Philip Glass, expounding on the fullness of the score. His choreography is not flashy but a dancer must be technically gifted to do it justice. He melded his choreographic choices with the sense of anticipation found in Mr. Glass’s 1987 piece, allowing the ebb and flow of the melody to guide him. Tackling this score could have gone horrible wrong for a choreographer so young in his career but when youth is bolstered by talent only success can follow.
The choreographer stays true to his classical training for the piece, but because of his modernity of the movement used, the close attention to line and retention of the pointe shoe aesthetic, it could easily be considered more neo-classical than contemporary.
The second movement of the music was a solo for Mr. Obuzor. His dancing perfectly blended with the emotional tones found in the music. He expertly created a visual tapestry of movement by flowing with and through the melody of the music.
Mr. Obuzor is a superb dancer, faultless technician and has a natural lyricism that is mixed with the soul of someone who was born to dance. His long legs and powerful feet propel him about the floor in a manner that forces you to set-up in your seat and take notice. He executed a double pirouette, but before landing he extended his leg into second position then arcs his torso to the side while still turning, this created such a demanding image that it literally robbed me of breath.
In his choreography he closely adheres to the classical vocabulary while at the same time experimenting, stretching and exploring the movement, finding new ways to execute steps that are the fundamentals of classical ballet. This is where I find the work more Neo-classical than Contemporary, for he is unafraid to marry classicism with innovation much as Balanchine did.
In the third movement we find a trio of women moving in a manner that sustained a suspenseful energy, the piece as a whole exhibited virtuosity and daring, but not in a manner that is showy, it is just part of the choreographer’s vision.
Texture Contemporary Ballet and especially Alan Obuzor gave strong evidence as to why he was named by Dance Magazine as one of the “Top 25 to Watch” in 2013. But I say that he should be in the top ten to watch for 2014. Bravo to all…
Originally from Pittsburgh, Mr. Obuzor trained primarily with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School (PBTS), where in 1998 he was a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Foundation Dance Honorarium. He went on to dance seven years with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and in 2011 Mr. Obuzor founded the Texture Contemporary Ballet.