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BWW Dance Review: NEW CHAMBER BALLET Regales with Musical and Choreographic Treasures

Amber Neff and Sarah Atkins in "Djazz"
Choreographed by Miro Magloire
Photo Credit: New Chamber Ballet

A ring of clothing surrounds two svelte beauties on the floor of City Center's Studio 5. These sock wearing ballerinas are staring up at the ceiling in search of... something. Soon ramblings about lost and found articles of clothing are heard as these two stand and swirl around one another with a stop and go flow. Is this a William Forsythe technology improv session? No, this is a new contemporary ballet. We've all seen them before and resident choreographer Constantine Baecher's contribution to the canon looks exactly how you'd expect a non angst ridden contemporary ballet to look. While a noble experiment, happily we were soon returned to our regularly scheduled program.

Since premiering twelve years ago, Miro Magloire's New Chamber Ballet has commissioned and presented over 100 new works. Sixty of these works have been created by Mr. Magloire himself. In addition to his duties as choreographer and artistic director he is also an award winning composer - and at one time the most beloved classroom musician in the city - which goes a long way towards explaining his special appreciation for music. All of his concerts are accompanied by accomplished musicians; the fantastic pianist Melody Fader and violinist Doori Na performed for this season closing run.

Shoshana Rosenfield and Tracie Finch (seated) in "Quartet"
Choreographed by Miro Magloire
Photo Credit: New Chamber Ballet

While an engaging creator, not everything that Mr. Magloire crafts is meretorious. "Quartet" was a mere study that evoked Martha Graham's "Heretic" whereas "Voicelessness" was a ponderous duet that never quite took off. But then, when he has a hit the results sizzle. In "Silk" - set to Guiseppe Tartini's "Sonata No. VII for solo violin" and gorgeously played by Mr. Na - a trio of elegant women gave praise to life. They could have been the Three Graces of Greek lore. These dancers - Traci Finch, Elizabeth Brown, and Cassidy Hall - were assigned specific variations that seemed to reference the sparkling spirit of the recently departed Violette Verdy. Of them all, Ms. Brown best succeeded at evoking Ms. Verdy's wit and joie de vivre. Rather than rushing to land on top of the music, Ms. Brown played a game of rocking back and forth with time to illustrate her pleasure in moving and to create the illusion of weightlessness. In her telling, this was a private moment and we just happened to be present to savor her beauty; dance like noone is watching incarnate. Traveling rond de jambe; soutenu en dehor to attitude allongé; deep cambré; entrechats; pique ronde de jamb to développé a la seconde; and all at her own pace. Ms. Brown understands that life is like silk; it will slip out of your hands if you try to hold onto it too firmly.

Introducing the final piece of the evening, Mr. Magloire explained that sometimes it takes him two or three attempts to get a work right. This third presentation of "Djazz" was a resounding success. Maurice Ravel's "Violin Sonata No. 2" has never sounded or looked so good. Though initially hesitant about Sarah Thea's costumes - black leotards with flapper dress strings hanging from the front and back - once the dancers started moving I was immediately swept up in their wave-like effect. Much like the movement, the music is a whirlwind of energy and these costumes perfectly captured that feeling as they swished in response.

Mr. Magloire is an absolute magician when it comes to trios. He explores every possibility of movement through the rule of three, all the while furthering our understanding of music. The way that he has these dancers partner each other - as one dancer partakes in a solo, a second dancer kneels and offers a hand for balance while the third dancer taps her supporter's head with a pointe shoe and then envelopés that leg through passé to arabesque - draws on the playfulness of this music. They could have been playing "duck, duck, goose" or "tag, you're it", though really the balancing dancer is doing what the violin is playing. All three of these dancers - Amber Neff, Shoshana Rosenfield, and Sarah Atkins - were glorious but it is Ms. Atkins who walked away with the piece. With her gorgeous face and figure - think of a sleeker Julie Newmar as Stupefiyin' Jones in "Lil' Abner" - and sensual quality turned up to 1000% one couldn't possibly peel their eyes off of her. Yes, Ms. Neff's and Ms. Rosenfield's had crisper double pirouettes and attitudes turns, and yes they were all smashing dancers, but Ms. Atkins had the insouciantly luxurious manner that says "djazz". Add this piece to your must see list; it is definitely a gem.

New Chamber Ballet returns to City Center in September. Tickets will be available in Mid-August. RSVP in advance. I imagine that Mr. Magloire is following the path of Seán Curran and Christopher Wheeldon, who parlayed their success with their own companies into international acclaim. Catch him now before he launches into the stratosphere.

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