BWW Dance Review: The Juilliard School Presents NEW DANCES: EDITION 2017, December 10, 2017
Juilliard Dance Division need not worry about future applicants. Judging by the sheer amount of talent exhibited by the graduating classes of 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018 on stage, there could very well be an artistic explosion coming our way in the dance world. Talent. Is it a God given? Is it something studied? Or taught? I suppose we could discuss these for ages, but one thing is clear: the abundance of talent in the dance world is beyond comprehension. You can criticize the choreography, but the dancers themselves-no. How do you put all this into words? Maybe, WOW!! I know that it's not high toned, but what the hell else do you say?
As you entered the Peter Jay Sharp Theater you saw dancers warming up in anticipation for "The Sky Seen From the Moon," choreographed by Bryan Arias. I know, my first impression, perhaps a Jerome Robbins knockoff. Dressed in gray and blue costumes, the dancers performed in a continual whirl of nuance and high spirits. It was a nice opening to an afternoon that could have been totally memorable, but the continual emphasis on ensemble choreography robbed it of anything that could have been significant. This sounds like carping-and it probably is-but the two hours plus presentation, without showcasing or highlighting any individual or couples, lost my interest. I realize that this was not a 2018 graduating showcase-that's coming later-but I found my eyes wandering: Who's the main focus here?
.I found Gentian Doda's "This Silence" and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano's "A Thousand Thoughts" to be equally interesting, giving dancers the opportunities to really show off their very prodigious techniques. But after that, my interest waned. And I worried about that. I'm there to cheer and buoy spirits. Not criticize negatively.
Roy Assaf's "25 People" brought some needed laughter to the afternoon, with wonderful flesh-colored costumes by Fritz Masten, and even some interspersed dialogue that, except when not being heard due to poor projection, was very funny.
While I was disappointed in the overall presentation, I did come away with great anticipation. When will I see these dancers in the future? Will they become leading lights? Will they disappear into another profession? In this political climate, what can they expect? Of course, the answer is: I don't know.
And speaking of diversity-which everyone is these days-out of the 79 dancers appearing, only 3-4 were people of color. What does that say about Juilliard's selection of dancers?
More to come.
Photograph: Rosalie O'Connor