RIOULT Dance NY to Celebrate 20th Anniversary with Performances at 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, 2/14-15

RIOULT Dance NY, a leading American modern Dance Company with a classic sensibility, kicks off a year-long celebration of its 20th anniversary with performances on February 14-15, 2014 at 8pm at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center (92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, NYC). Tickets are $20 and are available at www.92Y.org/dance or 212.415.5500.

In 1992, The New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning wrote, "If Pascal Rioult keeps on creating the kinds of dances he has been choreographing with such authority for a mere three years, he may have to leave his job as a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company and become a full-time choreographer." In 1994 Rioult officially incorporated his company. Twenty years later, he will pays homage to his mentors May O'Donnell and Martha Graham with this unique program, providing insight to the evolution of an artist and an art form. It marks a rare opportunity to see the works of these dance pioneers in an intimate setting complete with video montages exploring the relationships between the pieces. Additionally, the program also offers an exclusive sneak peak at part of what RIOULT will present at its 20th Anniversary New York Season this June.

The program will open with a restaging of May O'Donnell's Suspension (1943) that has been set on the company by former May O'Donnell Dance Company dancers Lynn Frielinghaus, Barbara Allegra Verlezza, and Nancy Lushington. The evening also includes Martha Graham's El Penitente (1940) set to music by Louis Horst, with Mr. Rioult, Joyce Herring, and Kenneth Topping all teaching their former roles to current dancers. Two pieces by Pascal Rioult complete the evening: Views of the Fleeting World (2008) set to J.S. Bach's "The Art of Fugue" and Wien (1995) set to Maurice Ravel's "La Valse."

"I am thrilled to be presenting this program at the 92nd Street Y. I began my work as a choreographer there, including the creation of Wien," said Pascal Rioult, Artistic Director of RIOULT Dance NY. "The evenings will honor two of my cherished mentors, May O'Donnell and Martha Graham, and will illustrate how their works have influence my choreography."

El Penitente premiered in 1940 at Bennington College in Vermont, part of the Bennington School of the Dance, now the American Dance Festival. The dance has the look of primitive folk art come to life. Born out of Martha Graham's fascination with the American southwest and specifically a sect of Penitents who believed in purification through severe penance, the dance has a simple formalism, episodic structure, and naïve, archaic gestures. Constructed as a play within a play, El Penitente opens with the entrance of a troupe of strolling players. They don their costumes and enact a series of vignettes from the Bible. Audiences see a childlike pageant that includes flagellation, revelation, seduction, repentance, crucifixion, and salvation - a stylized meshing of dance of celebration perhaps meant to inspire the generosity of the onlookers.

The dancers move in a state of suspended balance and order in which the harmony is maintained by the independent patterns which join, separate, energize, and become tension points for each other to maintain the order and balance of the whole. The idea and ideal of Suspension uses the dance as a medium where harmony and balance are maintained between individuals. It might be said that Suspension is like the planetary system existing in space and eternity, where each planet maintains a position of independence and balance in relation to the whole.

Views of the Fleeting World was inspired by the ancient woodblock prints of the Japanese master Hiroshige and the ingenious structure of Bach's musical score. The ephemeral quality of all living things and the eternal cycle of life are the themes that Rioult found common, and explored in this contemporary dance work. Each of the nine short vignettes - "Orchard," "Gathering Storm," "Wild Horses," "Dusk, Rain," "Night Ride," "Summer Wind," "Moonlight," and "Flowing River" - captures a moment in time and nature through the colors, lines and rhythm of the dance. These moments reflect the depth of emotion that can be found in such seemingly spare and simple elements.

Wien turns the Viennese waltz's revered image of grace, clarity and social refinement inside out, using it as a metaphor to expose the decadence and moral disintegration of a society. Six dancers create the illusion of an entire city, moving continuously in a large, clockwise path, alternating in their portrayal of victims violently swept to humiliation, imprisonment, and death, to aristocrats aloof and detached from the horrific reality.



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