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BWW Review: CCN de la Rochelle / Cie Accrorap, Ayodele Casel, Hong Kong Ballet, & Bangarra Dance Theatre – Falling in Love for City Center's Dance Festival

BWW REVIEW: CCN de la Rochelle / Cie Accrorap, Ayodele Casel, Hong Kong Ballet, & Bangarra Dance Theatre - Falling in Love for City Center's Dance Festival

On the fall evening of October 1, 2016, it was City Center's 'tis the autumn season for the Fall for Dance Festival event. Four dance companies were headlining at this midtown venue-CNN de la Rochelle / Cie Accrorap, Ayodele Casel, Hong Kong Ballet, and Bangarra Dance Theatre. Each company was like the plethora of delicious international restaurants of Manhattan-the flavors and spices were unique and delightful to the senses.

CNN de la Rochelle / Cie Accrorap - OPUS 14

Based in Lyon, France, this company was more than just breakdancers. I was perpetually astonished by their cohesive moves of unnamable breakdancing movements, the music, and the pace of their thirty minute plus performance. To begin, the company was dominated by men and two women who didn't strike me as "dancers." Their normal body shapes, scruffy beards, tattoos, and costuming of slacks and button-up shirts were one of the surprises. All were strong individuals with their "tricks", which could have been a challenging factor when performing as an ensemble. Pleasantly enough, their togetherness and precision was even more surprising when my initial perception proved me wrong. Music by Regis Baillet of Diaphane had elements of sound to the eerie and zombie-trance of the film, World War Z. Its music and dancers could easily be part of a pop star's tour. The company was daring with no wasted space nor wasted time. One of my favorite dancers breakdanced as if he was constantly getting jolted by electricity. Their millennial-trendy style even translated electrically for me, a balletomane.


The late Gregory Hines greeted us before Ms. Casel danced. A short video of Mr. Hines being interviewed described her and the heights he believed she would go. Well, our sorely-missed tap legend was correct as Ms. Casel began her tapping at City Center. Throughout her various tap patterns, a recording of her voice told us a story about why she wanted to be a tap dancer, how she achieved a spot in the Funk Academy with Savion Glover, and her persistence to be recognized within a male-dominated tap industry. The essence of Ms. Casel's Black and Puerto Rican heritage became fully connected through the infinite sounds of two pieces of metal on each shoe. Fascinating, inspiring, and music to my ears.

Hong Kong Ballet - SHAPE OF GLOW

I think these ballet dancers are the happiest people I have ever seen. Bright smiles and pure enthusiasm emanated from them. Their US premiere of SHAPE OF GLOW was choreographed in a neo-classical manner. However, at times the dance had bouts of not knowing its identity with odd arm configurations and misplaced body positions. Even though I believe this piece could be edited, the strength of this company created something marvelous. Each person had the same classically-trained technique, which never allowed my eye to pinpoint one to either extreme. Their male dancers were incredibly strong, artfully skilled in partnering, and as sensuous and graceful as their female counterparts. There is chemistry between all the dancers and even though that sounds hard to believe, when they are in New York again, you will see what I see in them. Jessica Burrows and Jun Xia had legs for days and extension that was the envy of any dancer. This is the second time I've seen this company and honestly, I was worried that their last superb production at The Joyce Theater, would have overshadowed this evening's performance. With all the disappointing companies I have seen over the years, the Hong Kong Ballet is certainly not one of them. We welcome you with à la seconde arms back to New York.

Bangarra Dance Theatre - SPIRIT

The piece began with a soulful chanting by an Aboriginal Elder who brought our attention to the importance of heritage and place in the Universe. The male followers created movement behind clumps of brush which gave the effect of a hidden sphere of influence. As the Elder retreated into the shadowy background, the young warriors stepped out into the LIGHT of the plains. These men danced the energized preparations to meet the world head on with their short wooden spears as the Elder surreptitiously interjected himself into the groups with his long spear designed to keep the group in tow. The white chalk on his body combined with the bare chested, muscle bound sweat of the Aussie dancers gave a very primal masculine sense of presence. The "down under" was brought up yonder to our American audience.

Photo Credits: CCN - Région Poitou-Charentes / Francoise Roch : Hong Kong Ballet - Conrad Dy-Liacco

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From This Author Marsha Volgyi

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