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BWW Reviews: Juilliard Dance Division's New Dances

Shouts and sighs intermittently filled The Peter Jay Sharp Theater on Sunday, December 14th in response to Juilliard Dance Division's New Dances: Edition 2014. Choreographers Austin McCormack and Loni Landon (both Juilliard Alumni), Kate Weare and man about town Larry Keigwin each presented a work on each class of students. The Juilliard family represented alumni, teachers, and choreographers from several decades filled the house.

McCormack described La Folia (for the 1st-Year Class) as "Neo-Baroque". Perhaps it should be considered as baroque gone rogue with the men in shimmery black pants and suspenders, the women in black corsets and fishnet stockings; all in heeled shoes. The floor patterns of baroque dance gave the work a very tight structure. McCormack's movement stretched the walls of baroque confines. The dancers stepped in and out of coupe, whipping their heads. Their arms shot forward, hands clasped together. In closed partner holds, McCormack extended the push-pull as the dancers (male or female) led with their head or their foot on their partner, rather than a hand. They stomped and crawled. A group of women lying prone on the floor jumped straight up to their feet. The men executed a similar airborne feat. Baroque became vaudevillian at items, the women kicking and prancing around the men. Sometimes moving to music and sometimes in silence, the bodies continually unfolded and recoiled.

and then there was one, by Loni Landon, for the 2nd-Year Class, proved the magnificence of grand plié. The elastic depths to which the bodies descended honored one of the most primary steps of vocabulary that is often thrown aside. Dressed in dusty blues, greys, and browns, the 2nd-Years' rolled and swooped across the stage. The echoing synthesis of the string quartet amplified the liquidity of movement from the gargantuan grand plié in second position to melting of the spine. The looseness of articulation halted periodically; dancers stopped mid-roll, rotation, or turn, and rocked back and forth to redirect their momentum. When partnered, dancers mirrored each other's energy rather than exact movement. It ended in stillness, with an expulsion of breath.

The 3rd-Year Class embraced Kate Weare's experiments with intimacy in Night Light. Focusing on relationships, Weare continually redistributed the dancers into couples, trios, and quartets. In loose blue tops and black shorts, two lines of dancers kept reappearing to frame the central focus of movement. Their heads tilted, and they fell away from the line. Their balance teetering, sometimes they returned to the line formation. Some dancers reemerged simply in their black undergarments, while others remained "more clothed" in their blue shifts. Weare isolated intimate moments, such as a head resting on a shoulder or hands grasped around the waist and tested the confines of proximity. Such closeness might seem to limit range of motion, but here, dancers shook and stomped. Poses that might seem trite (head on shoulder) filled with possibility and became the initiator of movement rather than a reaction. Sometimes intimacy is an in-your-face kind of feeling.

Larry Keigwin likes to put on a show and have a good time. He also really likes Juilliard dancers - look at his past and present company members. Exit Like An Animal, certainly contained his slick showmanship but it also highlighted a relentlessness and intensity not always present in his work(s). The 4th-Year Class and the 1st-Year Class had something in common: uncertainty. The 1st-Years' might still be figuring out how make the most of their impressive facility or which train to ride but the 4th-Years' know they are about to hit the real world, whatever that is (for dancers, it's quite a ride). A scrim lit red (and at times other colors) hung three-quarters down; dancers ran into the darkness behind it. The dancers moved at furious pace; running, leaping, dodging. In the calisthenic nature of the movement, Keigwin added a few vogueing essences. A salsa basic was present as well. He made a grapevine en tournant. The dancers navigated an invisible obstacle course; such is the life of an artist. Some chased their movement, some were chased by it. As a "breather" and comic relief, dancers strutted in hot walks. Dancers slithered under the dropping scrim, to leave a quartet behind. Three men played hot potato with one woman. They began running back and forth and suddenly the players changed. Isn't that true of the dance world? The players constantly shift, choreographers one day, dancers the next. Keigwin may have given the 4th-Years' the best orientation possible: there is no stopping point, an exit is just an entrance to the next thing.

3rd-Year Class in Loni Landon's and then there was one by Rosalie O'Connor.

From This Author - Melia Kraus-har