BWW Review: DANISH DANCE THEATRE Returns to New York with Black Diamond
Does evil trump goodness? Does darkness dim the light of mankind? These questions set the stage for Danish Dance Theatre's New York premiere of Black Diamond on Thursday, October 13th, the first of a four-day engagement at The Joyce Theater. The company's first time back in the city since 2013, the full-length program meditated on the duality of nature and human existence through elaborate drama - in choreography, costumes and scenery - to create a complete alternate reality. But you know the saying: Sometimes, less is more.
The piece began like a slow burn, the curtain rising steadily to unveil a flurry of glittering confetti "exploding" at center stage, mirroring the set design's striking geometry. Methodically, dancers began to take the stage, twitching with an alien-like sensibility, clad in mesh bags covering their faces. The deliberate anticipation and sluggish cadence only continued throughout a series of score changes. From the soothing sounds of Balanescu, to the whimsical tones of Glass, to the electronica synth beats of Trentemøller, the company's timing and synchronicity was off for the first twenty minutes of the piece, Rushton's spacing choices only emphasizing the imperfections. There was no notable sense of urgency to the movement until the first act's pas de trois, which all at once ignited the company's collective energy and brought vigor to the surface.
Upon this striking change of pace, the dancing became more vibrant as the dancers started to sense each other's bodies and rhythms with a confident knowingness. They explored the ground and the air, carving out levels of the space with assurance through suspended extensions and repeated shoulder undulations. It was precisely the absence of things that let the dancers' talents shine through.
Though a talented troupe that exhibits tremendous technique, the cohesion of every moving part was lacking. It was only at the piece's final moment - a female dancer stripped naked, slowly walking toward the audience - that clearly showcased the power and individuality of humanity, a place where the light can not be dimmed.
Photo Credit: Henrik Stenberg