BWW Review: Gemma Bond Dance Presents Her Ballet Choreography
The Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival, continuing through July 29, 2017, is an opportunity for young dance groups to perform at this venue. On Wednesday evening, July 26th, I saw Gemma Bond Dance. Choreographer Gemma Bond is a member of American Ballet Theatre, as are her sixteen dancers. Bond, born in Bedfordshire, England, got her first taste of choreography at 13 when she competed in the Royal Ballet's (where she trained) Sir Kenneth Macmillan Choreographic Competition. From 2010 to the present, she has created new pieces for ABT's Choreographic Company as well as for other companies and competitions.
Then and Again, to music of Alfredo Piatti, 12 Caprices for solo-Cello, Op. 25 opened the program. Stephanie Williams entered first, wearing a loose, red mini-dress, costume design by Ruby Canner. After her solo, other female dancers entered wearing the same dress, some in a slightly different red. Men wore grey tights cut off below the knee and sheer deep purple tops. Of the six female and two male dancers, the one dancer who stood out to me was Lucianna Paris. Her technique and artistry make her the total package, which was on display in her pas de deux with Jose Sebastian. From the others, I'd have preferred to see a more centered performance.
Second on the program was a pas de deux, The Giving, performed by Christine Sevchenko and ABT principal dancer Cory Stearns, wearing flattering beige/grey/ivory costumes designed by Ruby Canner. The lighting design, important to the meaning of this piece, was created by Serena Wong, who did the lighting design for all three pieces on the program. The stage was, at times, divided by a square of light. This work to beautiful music of Lori Scacco, The Giving, is a vehicle for the ballerina. Stearns partnered Sevchnko well, but it was Sevchenko who shone, giving a moving performance. It seemed like an unfulfilling relationship, although there were no program notes assuring that this was intended.
The closing ballet was Impressions, music by Jennifer Higdon, a major figure in contemporary classical music. In 2010, Higdon won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Award. Seven accomplished ABT dancers performed this work wearing grey and white costumes designed by one of the dancers, ABT principal James Whiteside. Bond choreographed every note, giving this piece a frenetic feel at times.
It is a good thing for the classical dancers of a major ballet company to have the experience of dancing smaller choreographies in a smaller venue. It offers them an opportunity to work on their individuality and to stretch their abilities beyond that usually demanded of them. Dancers can grow when offered challenges. I look forward to seeing more growth.
Photo credit: Rob Brayman