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Leonard Ajkun’s Revolution | Akjun Ballet at MMAC…

May 29, 2014
Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ & the Akjun Ballet at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ & the Akjun Ballet at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

I am a big science-fiction buff…well, geek really…I practically live for the stuff…diligently watch TV’s Continuum and I am anxiously awaiting the return of the Syfy channel’s Deviance …I’ve read all the Dune books, devoured all of Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet Series…and the list goes on…What can I say, I am just waiting for Scotty to beam me up…So when I heard that the Ajkun Ballet was premiering Leonard Ajkun’s newest, science-fiction contemporary ballet Revolution at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, well I had to be there.

The Ajkun Ballet has been on my list of companies to see for a while. The company was founded in New York City in 2000 to support the creative vision of Artistic Directors Leonard and Chiara Ajkun, Ajkun Ballet Theatre presents classic and contemporary ballets with a roster of 35 Artists, and an average of five new programs each year.

Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ & the Akjun Ballet at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ & the Akjun Ballet at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Mr. Ajkun’s choreography gives strong evidence of Russian influences, both from the Vaganova Methodology and the Bolshoi’s, his early tutelage was under Bolshoi Ballet teachers. It lies in his approach to story-telling and in his application of balletic steps, in his manner of movement combinations and in the use of the body in space.

Revolution began in darkness, the sound of thunder heard, dancers run on and off the stage in torn and ragged costumes holding pieces of plastic or cardboard over their heads. The choreography is clever and athletic, dancers hoping across the stage like insects.

Brittany Larrimer dances in a manner that enables you to find her when she is on stage, strong, confident and assured. Ms. Larrimer strength and confidence when paired with Morgan C. Stinnett natural lyricism made for a very interesting combination. Each feed of the other’s energies…both gave delightful performances.

Ramon Thielen commands your attention whenever he is on stage, he portrayed the Spirit Guide. He was mysterious, intense and kind of scary. He appears in a hooded cloak with a long pole that he places before him majestically, he wears a gold chain from his ear to his nose. His solo was a subdued form of Kathak, a Classical Indian dance form created for story-telling in ancient northern India, his foot carefully placed, his arms extended palms first.

Morgan C Stinnett & Brittany Larrimer in Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Morgan C Stinnett & Brittany Larrimer in Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Momoko Sasada and Marcello Bernard performed a superb duet. Mr. Bernard comes on stage with a small white music box, a revered treasure from another age. When he opens it, the ballerina, Ms. Sasada begins to dance, first stiff and toy-like then with grace and lyricism. She is such a beautiful dancer, emotional and at times so fragile while at others impish and playful. Mr. Bernard dazzled us with his extraordinary leaps and his strong masculine presence, the perfect yin to Ms. Sasada’s feminine yang. Bravo to both…

Luca Rimolo has to be mentioned, he is mite of a fellow, slight, thin and long limbed…I worried a strong wind would sweep him off stage…but that opinion changed quickly when he performed an all too brief solo. First, Mr. Rimolo has an exquisite line, plus he is a natural dancer, movement flows through him with great fluidity. Secondly, he is fearless with a natural presence that makes you sit up and take notice of him when he begins to dance. Bravo Mr. Rimolo…

Marcello Bernard & Momoko Sasada in Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Marcello Bernard & Momoko Sasada in Leonard Ajkun’s ‘Revolution’ at MMAC. Photo: Rachel Neville

Leonard Ajkun’s Revolution is an interesting work, is it perfect, no…but what new work is. His idea is interesting as is the way he presents his visuals, but something was lacking, it needing more. Perhaps a dramaturge would help; his story-line needed developing, given a depth that was absent. The storyline was also convoluted and at times hard to follow. I did not understand how some sections of the dance related to others, I realized that the Music Box duet was a remembrance of happier times before chaos befell mankind. Yet, at the same time I could not grasp how a woman appearing in a red dress or a section where a photographer seemed be shooting a fashion spread tied in with the whole. Nor did I grasp, though I enjoyed it, how Mr. Thielen moving in a Kathak manner related to the whole…

The work needs more of an ambience of devastation, of ensued chaos….I wanted to see a back drop or projections of catastrophic end-of-the-world imagery.  I said I was a science fiction geek; I wanted the destruction and mayhem that was seen during Planet of the Apes, both the original and the Mark Wahlberg remake, the destroyed cities, the Statue of Liberty lying broken on its side.

I hope Mr. Ajkun continues to sharpen his vision of an apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by mankind’s own greed and arrogance. The story ballets are on a huge upswing and Revolution deserves a place of pride in that genre…but with some polishing….

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From → Ballet, Dance

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