BWW Reviews: Fall For Dance Final Evening
Fall for Dance at New York City Center wrapped up last weekend with a program featuring four companies, thrilling in their differences. Three of the four are uniquely American in their artistry, whereas one hails from England, led by a choreographer with roots all over the globe. One company debuted a near half-century ago in New York City, while another is in its infancy in Los Angeles. Yet another almost defies description as a company comprised of all male dancers who perform full length classical ballets on pointe. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/Sadler's Wells London, BODYTRAFFIC, Les Ballet Trockadero De Monte Carlo, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre shared the stage on October 5, for an evening rich in texture and artistic achievement.
Cherkaoui's Faun opened the evening with a male dancer slouched comfortably center stage as the unmistakeable lazy flute of Debussy's Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun filled the theatre. The piece instantly recalled Nijinsky's famous solo, but lacked the heavy sexuality. The quality seemed to play more into fawn-with-a-W, than the half-man, half-goat, creature of mythology with an insatiable appetite for women. Nevertheless, once the female dancer who piques the Faun's interest entered, there were a fair amount of interesting moments between them. Both dancers moved with an otherworldly fluidity, and the most pleasing moments came when their pure physicality was exploited. Daisy Phillips in particular had a signature shape in which she turned out her arms and interlocked her fingers far behind her head, effectively causing her shoulder joints to disappear. The eye relished in these moment of extreme gesture. Much of the partner work seemed cursory, which was personally disappointing as two such capable dancers could have been utilized far past the vocabulary of "I touch your arm and it moves forward, I touch your foot and you take a step."
To get a better sense of the overall aesthetic of the featured companies, I was hoping for more than solos and duets. Luckily, the rest presented group numbers. BODYTRAFFIC performed 02JOY, a quintet choreographed by Richard Siegal. Set to plucky jazz standards that conjure up nostalgia for a time before any of the dancers were even close to being born, this falls squarely into the "Feel Good" camp of contemporary dance performances - a niche not often explored by career choreographers. Siegal's movement really shined with quirky, twitching feet and articulated hands set precisely to the often intricate syncopation employed by Billie Holiday and Glenn Miller. Highlights included the hilarious Tina Finkelman Berkett (a company founder) in her solo and stealing the scene from audience favorite, Andrew Wojtal. Ella Fitzgerald's "All of Me" was given new life with his expert lip synching, and Berkett's perfectly outlandish turn as an overly ambitious back up dancer.