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Avi Scher & Dancers - A Company Debut at The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater

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Avi Scher & Dancers
(Avi Scher Website)

Presents Its Debut New York Season
The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
(Ailey Theater Website)

Avi Scher, Director - Choreographer
Seth Bernstein, Lighting Designer – Technical Director
Kay Lea Meyers, Stage Manager

Guest Stars (Principal Dancers):
Marcelo Gomes (ABT), Veronika Part (ABT),
Abi Stafford (NYC Ballet), Ashley Bouder (NYC Ballet)

Guest Pianist: Melody Fader

Michelle Tabnick Communications, Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 5, 2010



No Matter What (2009): Music by Aphex Twin and Adam Lewis, Costumes by Avichai Scher and Merrin Trombka, executed by Mer-Wear, Performed by Kelsey Coventry, Jennifer Goodman, Nancy Richer, Robert Colby Damon, Ralph Ippolito, Victoria North, Ja’Malik.

Mystery in the Wind (Ext. Version Premiere): Music by Rachel Portman, Costumes by David Quinn, Performed by Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes, Nancy Richer, Abi Stafford, Elizabeth Claire Walker.

Little Stories (2009): Music by Jason Mraz, Performed by Jennifer Goodman and Robert Colby Damon, Kelsey Coventry and Shane Ohmer, Savannah Lowery and Christian Tworzyanski.

Touch (2009): Music by Alles Wie Gross and Alarm Will Sound after Aphex Twin, Costumes by Yumiko and Bebe, Performed by Veronika Part and Arron Scott, Ralph Ippolito, Savannah Lowery, Eric Tamm.

Utopia (Premiere): Music by Sergei Rachmaninov, Costumes by Janie Taylor, Pianist: Melody Fader, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Marcelo Gomes.

Inner Voice (Premiere): Music and lyrics by Genevieve Labean, Costumes by American Apparel, Vocals: Genevieve Labean, Piano: Chris LoPresto, Guitar: Wes Hutchinson, Percussion: James Williams, Performed by Nancy Richer, Abi Stafford, Eric Tamm, Christian Tworzyanski, Genevieve Labean, and an ensemble of six.

There’s a buzz in town, and it’s the Avi Scher & Dancers Premiere event at The Ailey Citigroup Theater. Avi (also known as Avichai), New York born, was raised in Israel and returned to New York to study ballet. He has danced and choreographed for major dance companies around the globe, and, at 26, he is creating a sensation. His Premiere weekend event features la crème de la crème of Principal ballet stars of American Ballet Theatre (Veronika Part, Marcelo Gomes), New York City Ballet (Ashley Bouder, Abi Stafford), and Soloist, Savannah Lowery (NYCB), as well as ABT Corps dancers (Arron Scott, Eric Tamm) and NYCB Corps dancers (Christian Tworzyanski, Ralph Ippolito). The remaining dancers in tonight’s Premiere program, the last night of a three-day, introductory weekend, were exceptionally poised and presented, as well, and this Company certainly has a future. All three performances were sold out.

The strength of this intimate setting, with dancers warming up, before the lights dim and during intermission, is the sense of intimacy with stars, who are usually on the other side of the orchestra pit and many rows forward. I learned so much more about Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes from this close-up, focused opportunity. “No Matter What” was a lush, melodic work with expressive gestures, burgundy and blue leotards, outstretched arms, and intense, elongated physicality. “Mystery in The Wind”, however, surpassed my expectations, with Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes in a deeply emotion pas de deux. The floor was used for support of intertwining choreography, while the lush Rachel Portman score, with flute and guitar, added inspirational ambiance. The lighting had reddish effects, and the entire piece was elegant and ethereal, while robust and gripping. Three female dancers spun about closer to front stage, Abi Stafford, Nancy Richer, and Elizabeth Claire Walker. Ms. Stafford seemed unrestrained and joyful in this more intimate setting.

“Little Stories” featured three different couples, in three differently colored costumes, to three different songs by Jason Mraz. There’s a decidedly contemporary quality to Avi Scher’s choreography, and each work seemed influenced by current culture as well as his classical training at School of American Ballet, the Balanchine effect. Of the three performances, the most captivating was the third, with Savannah Lowery and Christian Tworzyanski in “Our Love’s Defense”. Their dramatic effects included throwing gym gloves and work-out shirts in romantically infused theatrics, adding kicks, embraces, and attitude. “Touch” featured Veronika Part and Arron Scott, with Savannah Lowery, Ralph Ippolito, and Eric Tamm in support roles. A metronome-like, electronic pulse score added edge and electricity to this work. Ms. Part, in a navy unitard, danced a long solo, searchingly, yearningly, with Mr. Scott gazing from stage right in a brief, burgundy costume. Touching took on new meanings, involving arms and shoulders, and all five dancers were intrinsic to the concept. Yet, it was Ms. Part’s featured solo that mesmerized the audience. She received many accolades at the finale.

“Utopia” was to have been danced by Sara Mearns of City Ballet, but, due to an injury, Ashley Bouder filled in with Marcelo Gomes. Ms. Mearns and Ms. Bouder are two very different dancers, with two very different styles and personalities. I would very much like to see this work again with Ms. Mearns. However, Ms. Bouder made a valiant effort as a last minute substitute. Her rapid footwork, coy flirtation, and buoyant bounces into Mr. Gomes’ arms, were all entertaining and well timed, but she does not exude the sensuality or depth of emotion that’s Ms. Mearns’ signature strength. Ms. Bouder is girlish, while Ms. Mearns is womanly, and with Marcelo Gomes as the partner for this long pas de deux, a woman is needed to draw out his striking chivalry and searing masculinity. With Ms. Bouder, however, he turned playful, exuberant, and attentive, and the piece was well received. Melody Fader, who has been reviewed on numerous occasions in this magazine, is an artist to watch. Her piano skills, poise, and stage persona are uniquely geared to ballet accompaniment, yet she can command a stage of her own, as a virtuoso classical pianist. Rachmaninov’s music never sounded better.

“Inner Voice” was choreographed to Genevieve Labean’s music and lyrics. She sang live, with a live band, for this final work. Silk wraps, leotards, and the folk-music genre combined for breezy, rapturous, dreamlike dancing, and Ms. Labean even danced a bit here and there. I saw some Balanchine – styled lifts and flying leg motifs, but Avi Scher’s dance design was all his own, unseasoned, transporting, and youthful. Kudos to Avi Scher, and kudos to his ensemble of stars and stars-to-be.

Marcelo Gomes, Ashley Bouder
in "Utopia"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Ja’ Malik, Victoria North
in "No Matter What"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Marcelo Gomes
in "Mystery in the Wind"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Veronika Part in "Mystery in the Wind"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Marcelo Gomes, Veronika Part
in "Mystery in the Wind"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Veronika Part, Arron Scott
in "Touch"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Ralph Ippolito, Savannah Lowery,
Eric Tamm in "Touch"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at