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 Post subject: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:33 pm 
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Fall for Dance Festival
New York City Center
September 28, 2010

“Xover” (Merce Cunningham Dance Company)
“I Can See Myself in Your Pupil” (Galim Dance)
“Vistaar” (Madhavi Mudgal)
“The Golden Section” (Miami City Ballet)


Of the Fall for Dance performances that I’ve been able to see over the past years, last night’s opening night program was the most successful in terms of the quality and variety of the works on the program, and the execution of these pieces by the dancers.

But while I appreciated every piece performed, and really enjoyed three of the four, the performance that most lingers in my mind was the last one on the program. “The Golden Section” was created by Twyla Tharp in 1983, and first performed by MCB this past January. It is early frenetic Tharp – essentially non-stop movement by a group of thirteen dancers (six women and seven men) to pulsating music by David Byrne, which Ms. Tharp’s choreography enhances. “The Golden Section” is not as cleverly crafted as other Tharp pieces I’ve seen, and has a tendency to look somewhat monochromatic – after awhile it all blends together. But this doesn’t matter in the least. Except for a low-key let-down of an ending, the piece, which was staged with obvious care and enthusiasm by former ABT soloist Elaine Kudo, is alive and thrilling to watch when it is well-executed.

At last night’s performance, it was. I have not seen MCB enough to comment on the company’s overall quality (many have already done so), but from my observations previously, and after seeing last night’s performance, the MCB dancers are superb, and they gave Ms. Tharp’s dizzying choreography the energy it required. But more than that, they gave the piece an unexpected intimacy, as if the choreography and its execution by the appealing MCB dancers created an irresistible centripetal force. And as good as all the dancers were, one stood out. Sara Esty, only in the corps, is a fearless little firecracker of a dancer who moves across the stage and propels from one partner to another as if energized by lightning bolts, all the while looking like the dancer next door. [Though they do not look alike, she reminds me a bit of NYCB’s Tiler Peck.] I look forward to my next opportunity to see MCB, so I can see Ms. Esty and the other MCB dancers in other pieces in the MCB repertoire.

Even more energetic, and more interesting in terms of movement variety, was the performance by Gallim Dance. “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil,” choreographed by Artistic Director Andrea Miller (and adapted for FFD), is a collage of movement that takes the already infectious music (which, as performed by an Israeli group called Balkan Beat Box, sounds like Balkan bluegrass) to another level. The choreography not only matches and is inspired by the music – it enhances it. And it’s very quirky and very strange and very funny and constantly entertaining. Beginning with the dancers lined-up along the back of the stage, lit from the front (the lighting designer was Vincent Vigilante) so their shadows were projected and amplified behind them, the movement begins with each dancer contorting as if trying to avoid a swarm of mosquitoes. The piece progresses from there through a variety of intricate group interactions and extraordinary solo contortions that I find indescribable and which look spontaneously created and impossible to replicate. It also appears to take a few good-natured pokes at ballet (including a scene that resembles Jerome Robbins’s “The Concert” as if staged at an asylum). The costumes (by Ms. Miller) added to the endearing strangeness – including outfits worn by two of the women, which looked like tutus that had been put together by an outsider artist.

But mostly “I Can See…” is exactly as described – an exhilarating suite of wildly quirky dances. It is a relatively lengthy piece, but it never sags (although the speed of the action varies), and it displays unbounded imagination, enthusiasm, and good-hearted warmth. The eight dancers, who each appeared to have more energy during that one performance than most people have in a lifetime, were brilliant and hilarious, and from my position the audience response was more enthusiastic for this piece than anything else on the program.

But the piece I found most interesting was “Vistaar.” I have not had the opportunity to see much Indian dance, so I lack any basis for comparison. And I confess no familiarity at all with “Odissi movement,” which is the style of the piece. But, as performed by Ms. Mudgal, who choreographed it, and four lovely young company dancers (Arushi Mudgal, Diya Sen, Snehasini Sahoo, and Shalakah Rai), it was both hypnotic and magical. In particular, the liquidly serpentine movement of the dancers’ arms and the in/out movement of the dancers’ hands gave the piece its overall ethereal and lyrical quality. It was like a scene from “La Bayadere,” except it was ‘real’. Wonderful.

The evening opened with Merce Cunningham’s “Xover,” which premiered in 2007. Choreographed to music by John Cage, and with décor and costumes by Robert Rauschenberg, the piece is an example of the celebrated collaboration among the three artists.

Based on the pieces of his that I’ve seen, I find Mr. Cunningham’s work to be brilliantly choreographed in terms of the bare spatial relationships and forms of movement, beautifully performed, and hopelessly uninteresting. “Xover” is more accessible than other Cunningham pieces I've seen because the typical Cunningham movement quality appears more inherently interesting in terms of patterning and the 'relationship' between the couples, though it still appeared to me to be overly academic and cerebral. There is no question that the dancers executed the piece perfectly, and if all that needed to be done was to admire the quality of the the dancers, I would join in the acclaim. But movement without soul or heart creates a void which this viewer is unable to crossover.

And most of the time the piece appeared to have no connection at all to Mr. Cage’s music - which was a good thing, because the ‘music’ sounded like a random cacophony of grunts, rumbling noises, nasal and gastro-intestinal sounds, and bird chirps. I liked Mr. Rauschenberg’s backdrop collage of light and color, but it had no relationship to anything on stage – except perhaps that it looked meaningless. I would have enjoyed the piece more if it had been danced on a bare stage, in silence.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:19 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Robert Johnson previews the Fall for Dance 2010 season in the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

NJ Star-Ledger


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:35 pm 
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Posts: 12389
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, September 28 program at City Center in the New York Times.

NY Times

Leigh Witchel reviews the same program in the New York Post.

NY Post

Apollinaire Scherr reviews Tuesday night's program in the Financial Times.

FInancial Times

Marina Harss in The Faster Times.

The Faster Times


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:49 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Gia Kourlas reviews the Thursday, September 30 performance at City Center.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:26 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Roslyn Sulcas reviews the Friday, October 8, 2010 program of Fall for Dance at City Center. The program included Carolyn Carlson's "Man in a Room," William Forsythe's "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude," Frederick Ashton's "Meditation from Thais," and Ronald K. Brown's "Grace."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:00 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Jocelyn Noveck reviews the Fall for Dance series for the Canadian Press.

Canadian Press


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:18 pm 
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Robert Gottlieb reviews the Fall for Dance series -- and the New York City Ballet Fall Gala and Pina Bausch's "Vollmond" -- in the New York Observer.

NY Observer


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 Post subject: Re: Fall for Dance 2010
PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:23 pm 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
Fall for Dance program 4
City Center, New York City; October 8, 2010


by David Mead

The last of this year’s four Fall for Dance programmes certainly packed in variety with a European contemporary and very theatrical solo, followed by two ballets, quite different in nature, before rounding things off with a popularist piece of American modern dance that sent most of the audience home happy.

Undoubtedly the most impressive work of the evening was Carolyn Carlson’s “Man in a Room,” performed by Finnish dancer and choreographer Tero Saarinen. It was inspired by the life and works of Mark Rothko who committed suicide in 1970. But Carlson goes way beyond his abstract expressionist paintings as she delves into the deeper, nightmarish recesses of his mind.

Much of the movement is awkward. Saarinen climbs repeatedly on and off a stool next to his drawing board on which lay clothing and tubes of paint. He moves back and forth, staring out as if crazed or paranoid; forever on edge. Against Gavin Bryars’ score a man talks about poker. A novice will always win his first hand but end up losing, we are told. We hear how to cheat, deal an extra card and hide cards. Are art and gambling closer related than we think? As the voice starts to explain that the gambler’s thrill comes not from winning but the game itself, Saarinen starts to daub paint on his body with his fingers, similarly revelling in the process and the sensation rather than the finished art work.

Saarinen had magnificent presence. His gripping performance took us right into the artist’s irrational mind. He was totally haunting and engaging. That he held the attention for nigh on 25 minutes speaks volumes.

William Forsythe’s “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude”, performed by five dancers from the Dresden Semperoper Ballett, provided a complete change of tone. It is very much a look back as he pays homage to Balanchine, Petipa and his classical ballet roots. Unfortunately Forsythe is no Balanchine and it shows in the choreography, which although pleasant enough, rather lacks invention. Even so, with the music provided by Allegro Vivace of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major, “Vertiginous” is a work that should be playful, and be danced with sparkle and fizz. Here the whole thing fell oddly flat. Enjoying themselves seemed to be the last thing the dancers were doing, although the whole mood was not helped by the dreadful sound quality of the recording used. The best thing about it were Stephen Galloway’s costumes, the women in lime-green pancake tutus and the men in purple costumes, both with bare looking backs.

Ballet of a very different nature followed with Hee Seo and Jared Matthews of American Ballet Theatre in Frederick Ashton’s “Thaïs Pas de Deux.” Seo was totally captivating as she extracted every ounce of emotion from the dance. Right from the moment she bourréd on, her face covered by a veil, all sinuous and erotic, she had everyone in the audience holding on to her every move. Everyone it seems except Matthews, who while as solid partner as anyone could hope for, was somewhat less convincing and never really came to life.

Closing this year’s Fall for Dance was Ronald K. Brown’s “Grace”, originally made for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, but here performed by his own Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company. The audience lapped it up. The music of Duke Ellington, Fela Kuti, Roy Davis Jr. and the hymn “Come Sunday”, is certainly upbeat and uplifting. The choreography is full of the expected cultural references with its hip hop and West African influenced American modern dance. For a while it more than holds the attention, but on closer inspection it is quite repetitive with little change of mood or vocabulary, regardless of the music. The dancers, though, could not be faulted. An interesting mix of body shapes and personalities, each brought a bundle of energy and enthusiasm, and a very individual approach to their dancing, that in many ways really did reflect the real, wider, community.

This review, with images, will appear later in the magazine.


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