BWW Reviews: Riedel Dance Theater and Rivka Dance


Rebellion and Rebirth - Modern Dance Interpretations of Rite of Spring and Vashti

On March 9, 2013, two emerging modern dance companies, Riedel Dance Theater and Ariel Rivka Dance, shared the stage at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. They presented works not only of opposite emotional extremes, but of equal performance value.

Choreographer Jonathan Riedel's piece, In Violent Circles, was presented in honor of the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Inspired by a 13th century Swedish folk ballad, "To?res dotter ? Wa?nge," the dance took a contemporary look at Stravinsky's music. Set for seven dancers, with live music accompaniment by Neil Alexander, the work opens on, what seems, a typical family morning. The two daughters of the house perform light jovial steps for the amusement of their parents. It's a very happy household. But then it becomes obvious that there are some ominous signals. Once the daughters leave the confines of their home, three malevolent dancers, "the Outsiders," approach them, fusing into an orgy of violence and murder, fighting for power over the daughters with spindly dramatic poses and piercing lifts.

This contemporary staging hit close to home, living in New York. It could have been pulled off the front page of any newspaper. I am afraid to say that I enjoyed such a horrific depiction, since the dancers were terrific in every sense of the word: Joshua Arnold, Louis Chavez and Hana Ginsburg as the Outsiders, Julia Kelly as the mother, James Brenneman III as the father, and Madisyn Madiff and Cleo Sykes as the daughters. Kudos to all of them.

The Ariel Rivka Dancers performed Vashti, based on the Biblical story of Purim, as seen through the lens of feminism and women's empowerment. To see beautiful, strong, women in a cluster, performing Ariel Grossman's lovely, fluid choreography, was refreshing, especially after the horror of In Violent Circles.

The synchronization of movement between Claire Cholak, Hana Ginsberg, Kristin Licata, Danita Shaheen, and Stephanie A. Chun presented a united front of elegance, beauty, and poetry. The women told a familiar story of antiquity through sweeping attitude turns and unique floor patterns that were distinct and strong. With a continuous flow of energy they supported and reinforced the quest of Vashti as she unraveled and solved the questions posed for women then, and for women now.

New York City is filled with great choreographers, dancers and storytellers. Jonathan Riedel and Ariel Grossman need to know that there is room for two more.

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From This Author Elisa Kimble

Elisa L. Kimble is a performing artist, freelance writer. In addition to writing for Elisa writes for Precious Times magazine as the music editor. (read more...)

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