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Review: CHERYLYN LAVAGNINO DANCE's VEILED Explores Physical and Societal Boundaries

By: Jun. 06, 2016
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In a cozy, familiar theater filled with memories and the history of dancers past, I took in the premiere of Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance's Veiled, held at the Jack Crystal Theater in the East Village. On the platform - literally and figuratively - where many great dancers get their professional start, the stage was set for an evening of exploration and reflection through careful, composed movement.

The first of the evening's three pieces, Nadeje instantly created a community feeling. Inverted lifts, arabesques on the diagonal and constant physical contact evolved into a theme of collective recognition, bubbling with warmth. Some dancers went barefoot and wore colorful garb; others donned pointe shoes and were dressed all in white. Yet it was their similarities, pure and fully developed, that let the piece sing. Lavagnino has a very distinct vision and is able to bring it to life through a specific movement vocabulary that is alive with repeated patterns and movement series.

The title piece, Veiled, revealed an all-female cast, first lying on the floor in a straight line. Featured dancer Christine Luciano lay down alone in a separate line, facing the company with a knowing, intense gaze of defiance. Representing oppression and complication, she remained poised and vigilant as the company came into self-awareness, finding their own sense of freedom through an interplay of static vs. dynamic motion. Repeated themes of body-to-body contact and movement along the diagonal continued. The most interesting was the reappearance of the curved spine; over and over, the dancers crouched as their spines took on a convex curve, reinforcing attention to the body and to the inner self.

But, the third and final piece of the night, Triptych, was my unequivocal favorite. Set to a moving operatic score commissioned by Scott Killian, the full company reappeared in subtle greys and blacks, dancing expertly inside and outside of the music and flirting easily with the dynamics of both the rhythm and the movements. A study of what it means to maintain true balance, this piece served as the junction between light and dark, good and bad.

While their dancing is strong and Lavagnino's movement vocabulary is set in place, the most impressive thing about this company is the way in which it maintains its identity, owning the space between ballet and modern dance with clarity and authority. Watching them dance made me feel energized and restored.

Photo Credit: Charles Roussel


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