BWW Review: Kyle Abraham's A.I.M Excites the Joyce Theater Audience
On opening night, October 15, Kyle Abraham, Artistic Director, presented six works, including, for one night only, Ash, a solo for American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina, Misty Copeland. Ash was saved for last on the program. The anticipation was palpable, but the entire performance was riveting. Abraham has earned numerous awards and honors for his choreography, and his work has been presented throughout the United States and abroad.
With the house lights still on, dancers began to warm-up on stage, wearing athletic sweatpants and jackets. Big Rings (2019) World Premiere was choreographed by Keerati Jinakunwiphat, a dancer with the company, to a potpourri of music which changed from Sirius by the Alan Parson's Project to The Swan from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, by Yo-Yo Ma and Katherine Stott to Space Jam by Quad City DJs to Good Ass Intro by Chance the Rapper, with additional composition, arrangement, and editing by Zach Berns. Once the house lights went down, avenues of light appeared on the stage, lighting design by Dan Scully. Six dancers began moving in their lanes. The lighting changed. The costumes changed, costume design by Karen Young. The spirit of the movement changed with each musical selection. The dancers appeared genuine, personalities shining.
Show Pony, a solo choreographed by Abraham to music by Jlin, Hatshepsut, was danced at this performance by Marcella Lewis. She wore what looked like a gold lame unitard, costume design by Fritz Masten, that reflected the lights, lighting design by Scully. Her arms and core movements were fluid. There was never a moment of a let-down, fascinating.
Choreographer Trisha Brown's 1976 work, Solo Olos, was an A.I.M company premiere. The five dancers, wearing white, began moving in unison, later changing. There was no music, but the rhythmic nature of the movement did keep the attention of the audience, which is not easy to accomplish.
Singers to the right of the stage, on the level with the audience, were soon joined by solo performer, Abraham dancing Cocoon (2019), World Premiere, that he choreographed for himself to the music of Bjork, arranged by Nicholas Ryan Gant. Giles Deacon designed his colorful costume. Abraham's movements went from contained to rippling to deliberate, all with extraordinary focus. Without using the entire stage, he consumed the space he used in a way that consumed our attention.
Another World Premiere by Abraham, Studies on a Farewell (2019), made use of live music, Four Studies by Nico Muhly, beautifully played by Katherine Liccardo and Chelsea Starbuck Smith. The nine dancers wore what looked like satin pajamas in various shades of gray, costume design by Masten. There were solos, pas de deux, and larger groups flowing through their dance and feeling the music of the string instruments. There were poignant relationships that slipped in and out of frame.
Ash (2019), a choreographic collaboration of Abraham and Copeland to music by Alva Noto and Ryuchi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern, Attack/Transition was perfectly placed last on the program. Copeland wore a costume designed by Scully that also reflected light; it seemed to be white until the end when it appeared gold. Over the bodice were strips of what looked like gossamer that ballooned out as she moved. Most striking, however, were her beautifully sculpted legs, allowing us to see the sinews of her muscles and her exquisite feet in pointe shoes, taking us with them as she took Abraham's movements to a new level. Her arms, legs, body, and soul wove a magic spell.
I was delighted to have been in attendance. A.I.M will be at the Joyce Theater through October 20, 2019.
Photo credit: Christopher Duggan