BWW Reviews: Pentacle's FALL FURTHER II at Citigroup Theater
As I sat in the half filled house at the Citigroup Theater to watch Pentacle's Fall Further II, I could not help buzzing with excitement from the success of last year's show, and Pentacle's reputation at hosting such exciting and diverse performances. Unfortunately, I started to feel my excitement waning as the evening progressed. There were a few standout performances and moments that were sometimes upstaged by unclear artistic direction and technical issues.
Clancyworks Dance Company opened the evening with an excerpt from 'Benchworks,' presenting very diverse and athletic dancers using strong partnering skills in their play with benches. Choreographer Adrienne Clancy worked with the dancers to create an interesting flow, providing moments of collaborative brilliance. The overall piece fell short in its ability to use these props in new and innovative ways. I kept thinking that I have seen better use of props before. In section two of the work, there was a duet occurring at the same time as a trio. This was, often times, more distracting than complimenting. The final section, although engaging, could have worked better if the dancers were more together in their execution.
Ramya Ramnarayan continued the evening with Atmanubhav, which, as she explained during her performance, was a soulful experience, reflecting poetic ideas of wellbeing and prosperity. Ms. Ramnarayan, as a performer and choreographer, had a brilliant subtlety in the way that she was able to pull an audience into her nuances of simple isolated movement and gestures. A movement storyteller, she transported us to the south IndIan Temples with strong acting, technical precision and intricate costuming. This made it unnecessary for her to break role to explain her work to the audience on a microphone that stayed on the stage for the entire performance. A program note would have sufficed.
Lorraine Chapman The Company (LCTC) followed with "The Solemn Movement." MS. Chapman chose iconic music, including Shubert's 'Ave Maria', which at times, seemed to outdo the dancers' technical ability to match the works' intended intensity. The work invited me on an inspired fear-conquering journey for transformation but, in the end, seemed unclear and awkward. I was not sure if the work was intended to be satirical or not. The dancers were also used as dramatists and vocalists, with very little success. But I can say that there were a few lights in "the solemn movement," as seen in an engaging solo danced by Li-Ann Lim.
Prashant Shah in his work "Anubhav" invited us to have 'an experience' in which he displayed, with clarity and precise musicality, the pure technical aspect of Kathak, one of the forms of Indian classical dance. Mr. Shah displayed intricate and well-executed footwork, turns and storytelling artistry, which sometimes was lost by his positioning at the front of the stage. Mr. Shah added some intricacies to his performance by displaying rhythmic vocalization to the music. The performance was again distracting with his explanation at the microphone about what we are seeing, as well as his stage directions to the sound team.
Jessica Gaynor Dance intrigued me with its play with geometry. "Hero" (an excerpt) choreographed by Jessica Gaynor, used angular movement and patterns that made viewing the work interesting. There were strong dancers with good partnering skills, making the duet section's play with the vocabulary clever and fluid. The choice of music by Devin Maxwell also added character to the work. Although the work was an excerpt, I wanted to see further development of these interesting patterns that challenged the dancers to connect more to the work and the audience.
Prashant Shah and Ramya Ramnaryan coupled up for the penultimate performance, which saw more of the precision they both individually displayed in their perspective solos. The work, "Nivedana," explored with vivid imagery and technical prowess the love connection between Krishna and Radha. The piece at times relied heavily on hand and head gestures and pantomime elements to tell the story, rather than the technical flair displayed in their earlier works. Mr. Shah, however, was stellar in his chainé turn around the stage.
Barkin/Selissen Project ended the evening's performance with "Reflective". Choreographer Kyla Barkin created an engaging tension between the music and dance vocabulary, allowing the dancers to have an authentic connection that flowed seamlessly throughout the piece. Though the choices of vocabulary were interesting, I was not impressed with the choreography as a whole. I am still trying to figure out the connection between Ms. Barkin's artistic voice and the improvising connecting bodies. It will be interesting to see how Ms. Barkin will develop as a choreographer.
Overall, Pentacle has organized yet another successful display of talent and variety of dances. I look forward to the development of the "Fall Further" series, and I hope they continue to do audience development for its upcoming performances.