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New York City Center’s 12th Annual Fall for Dance, Program 1….

October 7, 2015
Mark Gindick (foreground) & Kyle Marshall in Doug Elkins’ “Hapless Bizarre.” Photo by Christopher Duggan courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow 2014

Mark Gindick (foreground) & Kyle Marshall in Doug Elkins’ “Hapless Bizarre.” Photo by Christopher Duggan courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow 2014

The overall goal of New York City Center’s Fall for Dance  is to introduce dance to new and younger audiences. Since its inception eleven years ago, Fall for Dance has presented 190 companies and artists and introduced more than 275,000 newcomers and dance enthusiasts to an eclectic mix of choreographers and performers. It has become one of the most anticipated events for the year.

The 12th edition of the 2015 Fall for Dance festival opened last Wednesday with the Miami  City Ballet’s performance of George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante. Premiering in 1956, Balanchine referred to this work as “everything I know about ballet – in thirteen minutes.”

Now I have not seen Miami City Ballet since the ouster of Edward Villella in 2012 and I was disappointed to see that the magic that Mr. Villella had brought of the company somehow missing. The dancers’ technique seemed not as sharp as I remembered, their performances not as crisp. I expected so much more from a company with such an expansive budget.

Miami City Ballet’s Patricia Delgado & Renan Cerdeiro in “Allegro Brillante” Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust Photo © Daniel Azoulay

Miami City Ballet’s Patricia Delgado & Renan Cerdeiro in “Allegro Brillante” Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust Photo © Daniel Azoulay

Patricia Delgado gave an arresting and emotionally charged performance. The manner in which she is able to flow through space with such elegance and grace was indeed a delight.

Doug Elkins’ Hapless Bizarre is perhaps one of the most strange and fascinatingly weird pieces of choreography I’ve recently seen. Six performers, including a vaudevillian clown explore the intersections between physical comedy, choreography, flirtation, and romance in ways that are sometimes hapless and bizarre.

As the clown Mark Gindick was bullied, pulled and pushed. Mr. Gindick is a bit, shall we say diminutive, in comparison to the rest of the the company. Despite his constant protestations he was again and again forced into partnering with the much taller Cori Marquis. Together they were both delicious to watch.

There was a hat, first black and then suddenly purple that Mr. Gindick seemed rather attached too. This hat became a focus for the other dancers who would swipe, snatch and yank off his head as he desperately tried to protect it.

Now was this hat and Mr. Gindick’s reactions symbolic of lost or stolen love….I have not a clue…but was this piece highly entertaining…without a doubt…bravo to all…

LA Dance Project performed Justin Peck’s Murder Ballades with music by Bryce Dessner and a visual installation by Sterling Ruby. For me the work seemed oddly out of context with the music selected and though beautiful, I did not understand how Mr. Ruby’s installation related to the work as a whole.

Murder ballads, as expressed in the title of the piece, are songs brought to America by the Scandinavian, English, and Scottish immigrants of the 19th century. The ballads tell the true story of violent deaths in which a murdered victim’s family dispenses justice to the murderer. With this said Mr. Peck’s piece seemed to be rather joyful and a bit light-hearted for such a dark subject.

LA Dance Project in Justin Peck’s “Murder Ballades” Photo: Rose Eichenbaum

LA Dance Project in Justin Peck’s “Murder Ballades” Photo: Rose Eichenbaum

I was also disappointed in Mr. Peck’s use of the body in space. I am aware of the choreographer’s classical background and his association with the New York City Ballet but I truly expected to see more innovation in the overall approach to movement both from him and from the LA Dance Project.

In fairness it must be stated that the performance itself was impeccable; the dancers are exceedingly talented and very well trained, a joy to watch. I just expected more from a company with such renown as the LA Dance Project.

Malambo is a centuries old dance traditional practiced by gauchos or South American cowboys. The Argentina based company Che Malambo, directed by French choreographer and former ballet dancer, Gilles Brinas, takes this unique tradition and transforms it into a spectacle of drums and dance.

The stage is filled by fourteen dark haired men wearing all black, standing in a group, each with a drum, the bombo criollo and also called bombo legüero, suspended across their bodies. They go from absolute stillness to explosive power in a matter of seconds.

They created passionate rhythms on the bombo and then would duel one another, either individual or in groups ,each trying to outdo the other’s  impressive footwork, their heels hammering a cadence of complicated patterns. When they started whirling their boleadoras (lassos with stones on the end) it was intoxicating, hypnotizing …No matter how I try or what words I use I will never be able to capture the sheer energy displayed on stage by this company.

It was dynamic, thrilling a fitting end for the evening. If you ever have a chance to see Che Malambo in performance do so…they are one company you do not want to miss….

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