Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review - Fall for Dance

As I'm sure you've noticed, I love dance.  When I got the e-mail reminder that City Center's Fall for Dance festival was starting soon, and that the Delacorte Theater would be hosting the first two evenings, I jumped onto my e-mail to enter the virtual ticket lottery.  I didn't win Monday's lottery, but I did win on Tuesday!  It's always such an uplifting thing to win a ticket lottery - at least I think so.  I found a wonderfully handsome guest and was on my way...

Both performances at the Delacorte featured the same program: The STREB Extreme Action Company, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, New York City Ballet and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.  I am familiar with the last two and love them both, but had (sorry) never heard of the first two companies.  I was intrigued to see what they would present.  All of the photos of the dance companies are from the internet.  I'm happy to take them down if so asked.

First up was Human Fountain, presented by STREB Extreme Action Company.  According to the program, the company members are all highly trained in ballet, modern dance, martial arts, acrobatics and the circus arts.  Well, all of the that training was on full display in Human Fountain!  It was amazing, if, maybe, a tad too long.  Again from the program, "Inspired by the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, Human Fountain takes place on a three-story, honeycomb structure that 20 dancers occupy and leap from to create ongoing cascades of airborne liquid muscle."  Actually, that describes the piece way better than I can.  It was aerodynamic, lyric and very exciting.  The shapes the bodies made, both on the structure and through the air/space, were incredible.  And at some points, they did create movement that looked like a fountain.  All of the performers had charm and talent to spare, and they kept coming up with ways to top themselves.  The audience kept gasping with excitement, especially when the performers leapt off the top rung, which was nearly 30 feet up, though I will admit that the piece became a little redundant by the end and maybe cutting a couple of minutes would really tighten things up.  But maybe I wanted it trimmed because I was cold and needed another sweater.  More on that later... ;)

They got that scaffolding down really quickly and set up a few musical instruments for the next piece, Upside Down, by Ronald K. Brown/Evidence.  This company is focused on combining traditional African dance and contemporary choreography.  I think this piece is a really good example of their focus - there was joy and exhiliaration in the group pieces and a lot of percussive movement.  The piece starts and ends with a funeral-like procession, and seems to flash back and forward on life and what happens afterwards.  There was a great mixture of celebration and loss.  The live singer, Wunmi Olaiya, was fantastic - she was performing music by Fela Kuti and Oumou Sangare, and the onstage drummers and DJ were also terrific.  I found this piece quite engaging and enjoyed seeing all the stage pictures, plus the exuberance of the dancers was wonderful.  I would definitely be interested in seeing more from this company.
After the intermission, New York City Ballet performed Red Angels, a piece I'd never seen before.  Choreographed by Ulysses Dove, with music by Richard Einhorn, the piece featured a live electric violinist, Mary Rowell.  Electric violin is always fun.  Red Angels is an abstract ballet for four dancers, and each dancer is shown both dancing for themselves and dancing for their partner.  There is a lot of strengh and beauty in the choreography.  It's not linear, but it's very dramatic and it was superbly performed by four incredible dancers.  Their movement was sharp and strong, yet still silky and seductive at the same time.  I didn't love the music, but I loved how the dancers occupied the space inside the music, if that makes sense.  I liked this piece very much.

The last, and my favorite, piece of the evening was Paul Taylor's Esplanade.  It was the perfect ending to the evening.  Set to Bach, Esplanade is fast and free, with so much emotion and spirit happening inside all of these seemingly everyday movements.  Watching the dancers run across the stage was so freeing and exciting to watch (though the gals behind me started laughing at it and left.  whatever.), and the relationships formed during the adagio sections were lovely.  There was one brief duet where the gal was dancing on top of her partner, who was lying on the stage.  It was beautiful and scary at the same time.  And then, in the last movement, as they jumped and threw themselves into each other's arms, and dived across the stage, it was like a call to the human spirit.  Be brave.  Jump right in.  I just loved it.  :)

I loved loved loved seeing this concert and I loved spending time with my handsome guest.  But, it was FREEZING last night!  Thankfully, I had taken with me not one, but two sweaters.  I wish I had taken a hat, gloves and a blanket, too.  It's amazing how cold you get on the first chilly night of autumn.  But it was a glorious night to watch such wonderful dancers in a gorgeous NY spot.  The moon was beautiful and the sky was clear.  Stunning.  I loved it and I hope the Delacorte hosts more dance concerts in the future.  I'll just know to bring a seat cushion and a thermos of hot chocolate next time...

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