BWW Reviews: Juilliard Dance: New Dances PLUS: Edition 2013
It's always a pleasure watching developing dancers. You can say you knew and saw them when. That's was my reaction after watching Juilliard Dance: New Dances Plus Edition 2013 this past Sunday. On the other hand, my response to the dances themselves did not propel me into critical encomiums, and I place the blame on Lawrence Rhodes, a truly outstanding dance educator. He didn't do anything bad-he just made a mistake.
Perhaps blame is the wrong word. Should I say admiration tinged with confusion, and that is solely on my part? He commissioned three new works by Takehiro Ueyma, Brian Brooks and Darrell Grand Moultrie for the future graduating classes of 2017, 2016 and 2015. That's wonderful; who else gets a chance to commission works for students?
But here's the problem. All three dances were what we call ensemble pieces. In other words, no one stood out. It was like witnessing one long rush after another; you never had a chance to focus attention on anyone. While I understand that the aim was to provide a chance for these future graduates to show their already impressive skills, we could not delve into the real soul of the dance. It was if I were watching one continuous commercial for the Juilliard dancers. They skipped, jumped, ran along, but to what purpose? I know they can do that. If not, why would they be in Juilliard, but when you commission three new works you look for the substance, not the shadow or a quick blink. And that's all I saw.
I wish I could offer other more useful criticism. But, as presented in rapid succession, it was hard to put critical acumen to the test. Let me just say that I would like to see new works by Ueymana, Brooks and Moultrie under different circumstances, perhaps where individuality is stressed and the onset of the ensemble is shifted to the back of the stage and to my mind.
The 2014 graduating class performed a reconstruction of Pina Bausch's Wind von West to the cantata of Igor Stravinsky. I have to admit that Bausch has always been a mystery to me. I admire her work, but don't like it. Her themes of interlocking relationships, her insights into the male-female psyches are interesting, even arresting at times, but the sense of urgency, of the need to cry out to the world is lacking. Many dancers and critics say it is there to see, just look. But I don't. I find it passionless.