When the curtain went up on Bach 25, some of the audience gasped as it seemed as though the dancers were nude. Not so—their sculpted, athletic bodies are clad in Christine Darch’s minimal costumes and set off in bronzy lighting by Michael Korsch making them look like living sculpture. The thirty-minute piece passed in an instant as the dancers stretched in thrilling poses, sometimes alone and other moments in twos and threes. This is a very contemporary work with clean line and deep pliés as well as twisting, flickering, arms and hands that lend humor.
The young dancers of Ballet Tech are a remarkable bunch—poised, fluid, comfortable in sneakers or pointe shoes and full of joy in movement. As wonderful as I found the dancers, I was not delighted with Elliot Feld’s choreography finding it highly repetitive with the same steps repeated one dancer after another. Perhaps this is deliberate, to allow each dancer a shot at the identical move or does it stem from the misguided idea that these students can’t handle more complex steps? The music selections were almost as annoying—by the third “Irish jig” my ears went on hold.
Lar Lubovitch has been making dances for fifty years creating a body of work that holds up well. Although it doesn’t always thrill it’s solid, well-danced and can be gripping.
The evening’s big attraction was Star Dust, a ballet tribute to David Bowie. But to reach that gem, the audience first had to deal with Gutter Glitter, an “abstract landscape of contrasting ideas,” the first installment of choreographer Dwight Rhoden’s Collage Series. To recognize the dancers as extraordinary is an understatement. However, the work was disjointed and danced to music that didn’t connect to it, especially the bits that sounded (intentionally) like broken glass. The movements, with many enormous extensions and sinuously stretched arms and legs, didn’t make me see or understand what was meant by “discovering the light in darkness.”
This program combines the contemporary with the classics in the first Joyce season under the Company’s new artistic director, Colin Connor. The final work of the altogether gripping evening was made in 2016 with choreography by Kate Ware. Night Light is partly set to the Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin from Biber’s “The Rosary” Sonata and partly to “A Song for Mick Kelly.” The athletic dancers, some of the women wearing what closely resembled black two-piece ‘bathing suits;’ the rest of the group in flowing dark and royal blue tops, weave and leap, almost fighting one another. The work is powerful and haunting. The other 2016 dance, Corvidae, choreographed by Mr. Connor, turns the dancers into Corvids, i.e., crows and ravens, who have been seen throughout the ages as messengers. The dark lighting and black costumes gave the six dancers an edge of menace further expressed by darting, flicking movements.
The Limón Dance Foundation was founded in 1946 and remains very relevant especially in some of the pieces that made up Program D of the International Dance Festival at the Joyce Theater.
his program, divided into three sections, showed the company in very different lights. Up first, Show. Girl, with choreography by Rosie Herrera, costumes by Diana Ruettiger and lighting by Joshua Preston, uses the "Cuban cabaret ethic" to put forth dances that don't have much relationship to each other. Show. Girl opens with a line of women in columnar pink dresses with deep slits on both sides, moving rhythmically to silence other than the occasional slaps they give themselves. It's a bit unsettling. After a time, they sing a banal song about a turtle and move in the creamy light, posing for one another and the audience.
Savion Glover's newest production, OM, is as much a mystical experience as a dancing one. The performance, which spans about seventy minutes with no intermission, begins with a lengthy jazz recording of what I think is Calling by Kenny Garrett, very improvy -sounding and full of saxophone. During this pre-performance period, the audience views the front of the stage lined with small bulbs that seem to flicker in the half-light with a head of Buddha on one side. Finally the curtain is raised, revealing the stage set with hundreds of candles of all sizes, and photos of Glover's spiritual mentors, some dance figures like Gregory Hines and others more spiritual like Gandhi. I'm not sure where Michael Jackson fits in. Glover, minus his trademark dreads, stood on a small platform in the center where he remained for the entire performance.