BWW Reviews: The Victory Dance Project

The Victory Dance Project celebrated its first anniversary on May 11, 2015, with a program that, if not stirring or original, at least caught my interest in the well trained and very passionately committed young dancers.

The Project was founded by Amy Jordan, whose career spans three decades of performances in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, studying ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop. After overcoming a multitude of serious health issues, one being diabetes, and an almost fatal bus accident, she founded the Victory Dance Project to celebrate her recovery, proving that, in her own words, "the impossible is possible through the power of movement."

What should have been a celebration, proved to be a desultory evening of choreographic aptitude that could not defeat the dancers 'appetite for movement and momentum, many times providing it by sheer will and techniques that overly compensated for tepid dance creation.

There were some bright spots: Renee Robinson, former Ailey principal dancer, received the company's first annual artist for peace award. A beloved figure in the dance world, Ms. Robinson's speech was so heartfelt, that I had the urge to go on stage and hug her, which is quite unusual for me. Kudos to Ms. Robinson for your unstinting work in the dance community as performer, teacher and mentor. We will always be in your debt.

While awards are always gratifying, we were there to watch a dance concert. To begin, I would like to single out Florient Cador, a French dancer who won France's "So You Think You Can Dance " 2012 award. Classically trained and currently working with STEPS on Broadway and the Westchester Ballet, he deserves more recognition. Not only does he possess technique, but a mind that works in tandem with his feet. What a pleasure to watch someone with a sensitive head and a thinking heart, who knows that steps can convey meaning when coupled with a mental apparatus. Nowhere was this more apparent when performing Amy Jordan's "Imaginarum" to Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine." I hope to see more of him. Is there a company that would be interested in this talented dancer and perhaps hire him.

It's difficult to be more positive about the program since one dance segued into another without a break or even a bow from the dancers involved. Note to the choreographer: if you are going to present such an ambling program, pause every now and then so the dancers can take a bow and make the critic's life a bit easier to distinguish one from the other. And please, don't blast the music until one's ears start tingling and the only recourse is to put your hands over your ears. It just puts you in a physically awkward position, especially when trying to take notes.

I want to extend my congratulations and admiration for the other dancers appearing, all from different companies and Broadway shows, among others: Christopher Jackson, Martell Ruffin, Ryan Rankine, William Briscoe, Karen Niceley, Alicia Lundgren, Erin Moore, Jessica Israel, Kara Zaoni, Karen Niely, Magdalyn Segale, Danielle LaRauf, Martell Ruffin and Raquel Cohen. I want to thank you for your hard work and for your immense talents.

Victory Dance is indeed a celebration, a rejoicing over the human spirit and the will to survive and defeat all adversities that life throws your way. In this, Ms. Jordan has succeeded brilliantly. But I question her choreographic talent. Perhaps it might be more prudent for Ms. Jordan to take on the role of entrepreneur and mentor for choreographers and dancers. Certainly she has shown me that in that she has few rivals when it comes to perseverance, commitment and the capability to found a company that can attract some of the best talent in New York.

I'm curious to see what the future holds.

Photograph: Jordan Hiraldo

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From This Author Barnett Serchuk