BWW Reviews: The Dance Theatre of Harlem Celebrates 45th Anniversary
The Dance Theatre of Harlem Celebrates its 45th Anniversary at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
This is the second season Jazz at Lincoln Center presented the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company. The Company's return to the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2014 is part of the celebration of Dance Theater of Harlem's 45th Anniversary.
The evening opened with choreographer Robert Garland's ballet New Bach, a delightful fancy free piece danced in three sections: I. Allegro Moderato, II. Andante and ending in a crescendo of energy in the third act III. Allegro Assai, performed to Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor.
As soon as beautiful dancer Lindsey Croop clapped her hand to start the Allegro Moderato you sensed right away that something new, fresh, and contemporary was ripening within the classical ballet tradition. Every pas de chat, glissade, or beat danced by Dylan Santos, Francis Lawrence, Darius Barnes, and Anthony Savoy was crisp and spirited, making way for Frederick Davis, Emiko Flanagan, Chyrstyn Fentroy, Stephanie Rae Williams, and Alexandra Jacob to take it to another level with deep contractions, a finger snap and a sprinkle of street cred for attitude. This ballet respected classical tradition, yet put a clean stamp on contemporary movement, synchronizing discipline and playfulness while honoring a great violin concerto.
Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, Odes to Love and Loss was choreographed for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 1993 during a challenging period in choreographer Ulysses Dove's life. Dove lost thirteen close friends and relatives, among them his father. Dove himself explains, "I want to tell an experience in movement, a story without words, and create a poetic monument over people I loved."
I remember watching this ballet on the PBS station in the 90's, and I was left with a heartbreaking impression that touched my personal grief and transformed it into something of ethereal beauty. The dancers Ingrid Silva, Ashley Murphy, Jenelle Figgins, Da'Von Doane, Samuel Wilson, and Dustin James recaptured that haunting quality of mourning the loss of loved ones while casting an angelic presence on the stage. The outstanding dancers breathed new life into a pristine piece of work that will last forever in my soul.
Donald Byrd's piece Contested Space, was an awesome array of power, contortions, infinite splits and incredible lines reaching far into space. The robust beat of the drum set the mood for a hard hitting futuristic experience with incredible choreography exploring the unknown. The choreography challenged everything that is familiar, and the dancers performed with power, strength, connection, and courage. Whether the dancers were coupled or dancing solo, you never knew what to expect.
An evening to long remember.