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Choreography aims for gut, not head

By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

Artistic director/choreographer Roni Koresh sometimes cherry-picks the best-received sections from his earlier dances, gathers them into a sequence, then gives the whole a title and a vague raison d’etre, as he has with his new Through the Skin.

“Don’t intellectualize this dance, feel it viscerally,” he said before Thursday’s performance at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, which launched Koresh Dance Company’s 20th year.

Like Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin (with whom he worked last year), Koresh in recent seasons has found this formula – linking choreographic nuggets that otherwise wouldn’t make a golden coronet on their own – to be a good way to showcase minor work among the company’s showpieces.

His Sense of Human and Somewhere in Between, both from 2010, had 14 sections each, and he said Through the Skin grew out of his plundering of those two works. Showman though he is, however, he might have found a better way of setting it.

Why not program the full-company, two-part chair dance “Alarm” and “Ease” sections from Somewhere in Between as an excerpt in the first half of the show? The company of 10 dances the first section with stunning precision to Hugues Le Bars’ pulsing music, then repeats similar choreography at a slower pace to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 4. It’s long enough and strong enough to be a stand-alone piece. But as one of the 16 sections of Through the Skin it broke the momentum Koresh had going with much of the newer work.

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- Merilyn Jackson

Merilyn is a guest contributor to the Dance Journal. She writes regularly on dance for The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1996 and writes on dance, theater, food, travel and Eastern European and Latin American fiction for many publications. More than 800 of her articles have appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Warsaw Voice, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix New Times, MIT’s Technology Review, and Arizona Highways, Dance, Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines, Broad Street Review and www.exploredance.com.

She was awarded an NEA Critics Fellowship in 2005 and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1999 for her novel-in-progress, O Solitary Host. A chapter of that novel, “A Sow of Violence,” appeared in the Massachusetts Review in the Fall 2004 “Food Matters” issue. In 2012 she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux, respectively. Several of her poems appear in Exquisite Corpse, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. She likes to say that dance was her first love, but when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although, she also writes poetry. Much of her writing can be read on her personal blog Prime Glib.

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