BWW Review: NEW MOVES 2019 at Kansas City Ballet
If there was an informal theme to this year's New Moves performance, it may very well be the use of strong visual elements. Dance of course is always visual, and the annual evening of debut works by emerging choreographers a special ground for exploring this aspect, but it seems to this reviewer that this year the visuals were particularly striking.
The evening started with "Eternal Concerto", by Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye to the music of Philip Glass, himself a familiar presence in these shows. Mr. Jolicoeur-Nye, inspired by the music, decided to create a piece for his father. The result is certainly impressive, with a poetic sinuousness to the movements. The solo dance displays impressive athleticism, actually going full-on gymnastic from time to time. The ending, further, was particularly compelling, the first of several of the evening's performances about which this may be said.
Next was "About Looking", by Haley Kostas. This was a particularly striking number, making use of the color red and a single long scarf with which was deftly interwoven a quite compelling narrative which often left this viewer with flashes of surrealism. The music of Conner Giles was used to very good effect, with a strong finish that left quite the impression on the audience.
Emily Mistretta, one of the dancers in "About Looking", choreographed the next piece, "Prism Break". Set to the music of Josh Knowles and Jamie xx, this piece had a surprisingly jagged edge to it, an almost anti-sensuality. There were parts that put this reviewer in mind of wild animals putting on aggressive mating displays. It is a sharp-edged work, but cathartic.
Next was "White Noise", by Price Suddarth with new music by William Lin-Yee. This was a definite change of pace from the previous performances, modern yet willing to meet tradition halfway. There is a definite flow to Mr. Suddarth's work, so much that even when the music doesn't move melodiously the dancers do - and still it works. The final pas de deux is particularly satisfying.
After the interval, we had "Men in Red" by Courtney Nitting (who also danced in "Parallel Lives", about which more later). Set to the music of GnuS Cello, D-eLITE Beatz, Bach and Vivaldi (and how's that for a combination?), the work is designed as a showcase for male dancers. Usually that generally means an emphasis on strength and athleticism, but in this case grace is the name of the game. Nitting's choreography is unapologetically sensual, the five dancers moving through group and solo segments with ease. A simple idea at the core, but beautifully executed.
Next was "This is Just to Say" by James Kirby Rogers with music by Bon Iver. This piece is based on the idea that direction and purpose are tied to the search for love, without which they would not exist. While this reviewer cannot agree with the underlying philosophy, they will admit the work is quite interesting. Some rather novel movements on display here, and interesting pacing.
Last was Gary Abbott's "Parallel Lives", with music by Evangelos Spanos after La Folia. Now, this is easily the most strongly narrative of the evening's works, chronicling the lives and drudgery of working women. Some very surprising movements here, very programmatic and visually captivating. At time the dancers are reduced to worker ants, drones stripped of dignity and inner life, reduced to cogs in the machine. At once terrifying and strangely engrossing, it made for a very strong finish to the evening.
This reviewer has mentioned elsewhere how this annual revue has become her personal favorite part of the season. Every year, we are privileged to see new talent emerging in fascinating and unexpected ways. This year was no exception, with several young talents on display, some new musical inventiveness, even the KC Ballet's 2nd company which performed the first number of the evening. We come away, as we have so often before, with a new list of names to remember, and talents to watch with interest. Once again the run is, we hear, sold out, or at least very nearly so. That this annual showcase can attract such interest is, we feel, an encouraging sign that it will continue to be the with us for a very long time.