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BWW Review: THE ASHLEY BOUDER PROJECT Shines with Versatility

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On March 17 2017, excitement buzzed at the Peter Norton Symphony Space during the season premiere of The Ashley Bouder Project. A powerful collective that celebrates the beauty and strength of female dancers (and the resilient support of their male counterparts!) the showcase more than proved Bouder's mantra that At This Dance, Women Take the Lead.

The show opened with the world premiere of Bouder's "In Pursuit Of", a four-movement piece each inspired by a different international dance style. With striking partner work and repeated series of complex lifts, the three couples, led by Ashley Hod and Devin Alberda, brought intricate nuance to every moment. Taken from the energy of Masai jumping, Warrior set the stage with heightened action, each dancer ping-ponging off of one another with unique jumps, pas de chats, and dynamic acrobatics. Harvest cooled the energy with a meditative quality influenced by Polish Mazurek dancing, as the artists drew closer attention to the flicks of their wrists and the points of their feet.

Based off of Sufi dancing, Ceremony built upon the previous movement's tranquility, this time featuring Hod and Alberda to their fullest extent in an eight-minute pas de deux. The result? A transcendent study in impulse and in the exciting highs and lows of rotational movement. Hod's impossibly long limbs were beautifully supported by Alberda's strong physique, providing the perfect foundation to introduce movement four, Freedom. Influenced by the expressive quality of contemporary dance, the three duos came together through gorgeous celebratory movement, painting the stage with vibrant color and joy.

The second piece was the world premiere of Liz Gerring's "Duet," danced by Ashley Bouder and Sara Mearns. An arresting piece set to a hauntingly sparse score by Anna Webber, the choreography experimented with opposition, oscillating between tense, spastic jumps and syrupy, sustained leg extensions and balances. While the movement lagged in telling a complete story and the dancers' journeys often felt disjointed, Bouder and Mearns beautifully complemented each other in both movement quality and stature. And when they're on stage, you can't take your eyes off of them.

But the final piece of the evening, the ever-so-charming "Blossom Got Kissed" by Susan Stroman was the true highlight. A piece playing with the charm and glamour of Broadway and both its similarity and difference to ballet, Bouder absolutely delighted as Blossom, drawing in Andrew Veyette's The Musician with her storied poise and natural grace. Their partnership overflows with ease and affection, and it was a privilege to watch, especially within the context of the larger group of the corps de ballet.

Congratulations to the entire company on a job well done, but especially to Ms. Bouder, who continues to prove her incredible talent and passion with every passing year.

Photo Credit: Diana Mino

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