BWW Reviews: Juilliard Dances Repertory 2014
What can I say but kudos to the Juilliard Dance Repertory's presentation on March 25, 2014? Yes, there will be a new and exciting generation of dancers. We won't have to worry. My only real concern is with the state of the art: Will there be enough companies for all these dancers to join? And what about the financial resources to sustain them? I wonder.
The evening began with Twyla Tharp's Baker's Dozen, premiered in 1979. Originally set as part of the dances Tharp created for the movie Hair, it wound up on the cutting room floor. Not to be daunted, Tharp took the dance and set it to music by Willie "The Lion" Smith. An economical and tight piece, it evokes sheer pleasure in movement, brevity and, above all, wit. There is nothing dramatic, just the sole pleasure of making movement. The structure of the work is based on multiples of 12: six duets, four trios, three quartets, two sextets, and finally 12 solos. It's been done by other companies with a stress on the dramatic; here it's reflective of a mellow, fun environment, perhaps a Les Biches for a new generation?
I have heard many refer to Lar Lubovich's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, set to Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, K622, as the first gay dance to have entered the mainstream of modern dance. I think that this may be overstating a message, but its premiere in 1986 surely brought out overtones of the AIDS epidemic. What makes this dance so special is the pas de deux between two men. Their tenderness, their interweaving of arms and graceful lifts, perfectly captures the sublime and classical form of a Mozart work: playful, sensitive, yet at the same time within the bounds of a refined sensibility, harmony and understated taste. Robert Moore and Dean Biosca both gave outstanding performances. If anything could be described as beautiful, this is it.
Eliot Feld's The Jig is Up concluded the evening. I wish I were more enthusiastic about the piece, which overstays its welcome by a good 15-20 minutes. It's a one-note dance that refuses to move, even if the dancers would like to persuade us otherwise. Willa Kim's costumes fill the eye, but costumes do not a dance make. I could also blame the Celtic music by the Bothy Band and John Cunningham. The monotonous drone does not let up. If there was any impetus for creativity behind the music, I have not put my finger on it.
As I stated in my opening paragraph, the dancers have promising futures. I hope that they will find a home for their bursting energy and talent, perhaps produce a few new choreographers of note. It's just that the political and economic climate don't seem ready to embrace them. Only time will tell. I hope we will be here to see the outcome.
Photos: Rosalie O'Connor