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BWW Reviews: BALASOLE Celebrates 5th Anniversary

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BalaSole Dance Company celebrated its fifth anniversary this past weekend at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. For the past five years and sixteen concerts, BalaSole (which stands for "Balance" and "Solo" has given dancers, who would have otherwise been shunned by the concert dance world, a chance to share their passion.

The opening group number showed the dancers' mastery of modern dance, as they swept and swayed to the sounds of techno-tango. The seven soloists built up much anticipation and the four emerging/ re-emerging artists looked promising as well. Before the start of the solo presentations, Executive & Artistic Director and Founder Roberto Villanueva came onstage to reiterate and instill in the audience not only his mission but also shared a glimpse of his passion (there would be more to come later on).

The first solo of the evening was a fun, a whimsical piece by Laura Assante, who had a keen sense of musicality as she pranced around to Nina Simone. Anna Cuffari followed with a piece of despair, highlighted especially through the expressiveness and fluidity of her movement. The first guest artist of the evening was Dance Theatre of Harlem's Fredrick Davis. His regal presence, met with effortless, elegant dancing, created an ethereal performance.

The next two solos were beautifully done. Andrea Samonilova paid homage to her heritage by dancing to poetry in Czech. Paired with little gestures and idiosyncrasies, she savored sweet moments through her dynamic use of time, catching the audience's attention. Xavier Townsend followed with a piece that portrayed struggle, yet was wonderfully displayed with such ease. His incredible athleticism was featured with movements that seemed to define gravity. His movements were vigorous and frenetic yet he exuded such humility that any audience member would be smitten by his charisma.

The second act opened up with a piece by Camille Schmoeker that mixed tap and modern dance, creating a little flurry of obscurity. This was followed by Elijah Laurant, another standout of the evening. His ability to manipulate his body through space through sharp, sustained, and precise movement turned each moment into an artistic sculpture. He portrayed both intensity and passion, even within moments of stillness. He truly captivated the audience, who held their breath with each beautiful move.

The second guest soloist of the evening, former Dance Theatre of Harlem dancer Alexandra Jacob, was absolutely divine, breathtaking in her pointe solo. The moment switched gears as powerhouse Briana Butler graced the stage and rocked the house with a remarkable performance. The final solo of the evening was Mr. Villanueva himself. His solo seemed to reflect the jadedness and fatigue of his early efforts in concert dance, yet he remained resolute and victorious. His redemption manifested through his impeccable embodiment of the music through his movement.

The evening ended the way it began; however, this time it was stronger than ever. The group, who were virtual strangers, had become a real company. Their "corporate exercise" was not only a true collaboration but also a chance to come together - to expose their differences and realize they are no different at all. Mr. Villanueva managed to turn soloists, who may have otherwise been going through hardships in concert dance alone, into a tight-knit community of dancers, who supported and respected each other equally.

Photo Credit: Brian Mengini


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Jessica Abejar is an artist with a love of storytelling. As a dancer/choreographer, she most recently performed at World Youth Day in Brazil, where she (read more...)