BWW Reviews: THE BOOK OF ESTHER
I went to see a program with Ariel Rivka's Book of Esther at the Ailey Citigroup as the dance centerpiece and emerged from the performance with admiration for the world premiere of Take...Taken...Taking, by Alan Obuzor, named by Dance Magazine as one of the 25 choreographers of 2013 to watch, and watch I did.
This is the first work that I've seen of Mr. Obuzor, and based on this alone I would judge him a major talent. First, he's extremely musical and, like the best choreographers, the music leads and doesn't follow. The pulse of the music sets the tone and gives way to the movement. The music by Philip Glass is not easy to follow; everything I've seen done to Glass music seems to present insurmountable problems to its creators. I've always maintained that Glass's music is not particularly interesting-it's the emperor's new clothes.
There is no plot to the ballet, per se. We are presented with a group of three women in an ensemble and a female soloist whose restlessness envelops the group. Enter Mr. Obuzor as the sole male in this quartet of women and the mood changes to one of fright and anxiety. He dances a solo of angst and apprehension. The women return and dance with him. At the end he is alone on stage. Where will this lead? Somewhere, but we are never told. It is left to us to decipher all this. Something of a puzzle, but the best works always leave us wondering---just what is going to happen once the lights come up.
I don't want to pass any final judgment on Mr. Obuzor by just seeing one work. I'd need to see more, but I have a fairly good impression that the others would measure up to the impact this dance makes. I wish we could see more of Mr. Obuzor. Not working in major companies is going to limit his work, so I hope some enterprising dance talent scouts are out there. Or perhaps I should be his agent?
Caitlyn Trainor presented two works: KaitlynCaitlin and The Air Turned White. The first, performed with the wonderful Kaitlyn Gilliand, one of my favorite dancers when she was at City Ballet, presents the two dancers dressed in red, the tall and elegant Gilliand on pointe and the smaller and robust Ms. Trainor barefoot. I suppose I was looking for a meeting of the choreographic bodies, but the movement was not distinguished by anything that could really pit or bind the two together. At one point I thought I was watching an updated version of the Brecht/Weill Seven Deadly Sins, two bodies representing one human soul. But the dance was inconclusive. Trainor's solo, The Air Turned White, danced to a projected image on the back of the stage, again left me wondering as to what she was trying to accomplish. At the conclusion of the dance when the projected image shrunk to nothing, I was left feeling that the dance had shrunk with it, or perhaps this was the point: we live only to shrink at the end. Was this intention Freudian?