by Lewis Whittington for The Dance Journal
Friday, July 25, 2014
Roni Koresh told the audience on day three of the Come Together Dance Festival that he had some concern about people showing up for a dance festival mid-summer and was experiencing no small amount of relief and appreciation for this night’s sold-out house. The lengthy first half of a program of eight pieces was too much for some audience members who fled during intermission.
Onstage Brian Sanders’ Dancing Dead, one of the festivals few repeats, opened the evening with those charming corpses dancing amok and their acrobatic hurls looking ultra-savage this time.
It was followed by choreographer-dancer- Raphael Xavier’s Still, with Xavier in a duet with Jerry Valme in which the men are dressed exactly alike and mirroring each other’s moves, the theme being a mature man dancing with his younger self. Xavier’s hip-hop vocabulary in this piece has more contemplative angles that alternate with the intricate body corkscrews, inverted torso freezes, backward dives, and piston foot patterning. Xavier matched the younger Valme on all the strength move inversion freezes and he only bowed out of a few moves like head pirouettes, but only to make a narrative point.
Next, Derling Dance Arts’ tableau Green Machine choreographed by Alyssa Derling scored to a classical orchestral by Derling and Robert Allaire. Not sure if ‘Green Machine’ had specific meaning, but the five women onstage, though earnest, looked a lost in predictable modern movement phrases that had the rote feel of a studio exercise.
Performance presence was not a problem in choreographer Tyger B’ Chapter 72 but narrative flow was for the ensemble of 10. It opens auspiciously enough with a series of explosive solos by both the men and women. Tyger’s supple body sculpting on these dancers on these dancers, with scintillating micro-moves is just as impressive as his dynamic aerials and hip-hop theatricality. But the full company section comes off as too static and lacked ensemble tightness. More focus comes in the last section with the choreographer’s lusty and inventive salsa moves danced by KYL/Dancers’ Vichy and Brandi Ou, partnering his smoldering duet that in fact burned the floor.
Opus 1 Contemporary Dance Company Canon choreographed by Lina McMenamin and Tim Early a quartet for four women, has overwrought feel from the start. Some compelling group configurations and free dance expressionism didn’t overcome sloppy phrase exits and anemic unison work.
AJ Garcia-Rameau, who danced in ’Chapter 72’ earlier, takes the stage in her solo to Celine Dion’s version of Ave Marie, choreographed by Troy Powell. Garcia-Rameau in a black satin dance gown ala Graham commanded with unfussy turn patterns are both balletic and flamenco accented, with upper body expression that is dramatic in its reserve in telling a very human, naturalized dance story of this hymn.
Nora Gibson Performance Project’s ‘Simple Restrictions,’ a ballerina quartet that underlines the treacherous beauty of dancing on pointe. Gibson’s four dancers, in bone white tunics, go through trance inducing paces of razor-sharp ballet training routines- releve, plie, battement, develop, etc. while a rather diabolical piano music by Gyorgy Ligeti engulfs the room. At some point each stand alone in 5th position point frozen on the pin-point balance. Midway through Ligeti’s music lightens up as Gibson releases the dancers and they get to dance full out phrases, in eerie spot-lights that make them look airborne. The precision and control in this piece is fascinating, disturbing and finally spellbinding.
Koresh Dance Company closed with two sections of longer works, which Wonderful World a dreamlike ensemble combining island dance and yogic meditations followed by 8th Ave. driving Israeli communal dance vocabulary to contemporary Hassidic music.