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Fall for Dance: Tero Saarinen Company, Dresden Semperoper Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program V

Tero Saarinen Company

Dresden Semperoper Ballet

American Ballet Theatre

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company

At New York City Center

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Jed Wheeler, Artistic Advisor
Wendy Perron, Artistic Advisor
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Leon Rothenberg, Festival Sound Supervisor
Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 8, 2010

Tero Saarinen Company
Man in a Room (2000, US Premiere): Choreography by Carolyn Carlson, Music by Gavin Bryars and Apocalyptica, Set Design by Carolyn Carlson, Costumes by Rachel Quarmby, Original Lighting by Mikki Kunttu, adapted for Fall for Dance by Ville Konttinen, Technical manager, Ville Konttinen, Performed by Tero Saarinen.

Tero Saarinen’s Man in a Room, a US Premiere, was another work that grew on me after viewing it, but only slightly. Having seen the play Red, about Mark Rothko, I was especially drawn to the psyche of the artist, as Tero Saarinen, himself, sits on an artist’s stool, plunging his brush into bright red paint and lavishing the paint onto his neck and chest. There’s much ado about changing of clothes, as various materials that could be thrown on are pinned to his artist canvas. He paints himself, as he envisions the world, with a depressive, then hyper shift in motion. The score is bizarre, an instructional tape on playing cards, with a methodical, one-dimensional male voice moving through that unrelated process. It magnified the artist’s isolation and frenzy. This is a work I would not wish to see again, and the level of required dance talent is slim. In fact, as the performer is the choreographer, this work could also be somewhat improvisational from performance to performance, with no awareness of the audience.

Dresden Semperoper Ballett
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude 1996): Choreography by William Forsythe, Music by Franz Schubert, Staged by Laura Graham, Scenery by William Forsythe, Costumes by Stephen Galloway, Lighting by William Forsythe, Performed by Anna Merkulova, Leslie Heylmann, Chantelle Kerr, Maximilian Genov, Jon Vallejo.

In stiff green tutus, three female ballerinas are partnered by two males, all members of the Dresden Semperoper Ballett from Germany. These are very expressive, skillful, and charismatic performers, and I liked the William Forsythe piece, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, much more than on last viewing, which shows how much a work is appreciated in the context of the entire program. Tonight, it was a thrilling and most welcome addition. Schubert’s Allegro Vivace Symphony No. 8 in C major enhanced the crisp clarity of the choreography. Jon Vallejo and Maximilian Genov were outstanding soloists and partners in this potpourri of balletic styles and shapes. Anna Merkulova was the featured ballerina, and her gravity-defying extensions were remarkable. I’d very much like to see more of this Company.

American Ballet Theatre
Tha´s Pas de Deux (1971): Choreography by Frederick Ashton, Music by Jules Massenet, “meditation” from Tha´s, Staged by Grant Coyle, Costumes by Anthony Dowell, Performed by Hee Seo and Jared Matthews.

When Hee Seo and Jared Matthews of ABT appeared for Ashton’s Tha´s Pas de Deux, I knew tonight would be the most sumptuous Fall for Dance program all around. Ms. Seo arrives silently en pointe, tiny fast steps, to Massenet’s pure strings, her head in a golden veil, evocative of the nymph in Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun. Mr. Matthews is entranced, lifting and carrying her, but the communication between the two is all visual, ethereal, surreal. The audience was visibly absorbed and enthralled, a tribute to the professional virtuosity of these two ABT soloists. Every moment of this all too brief Pas de Deux was exciting and emotionally energizing, as their partnered chemistry was palpable throughout. Ms. Seo was so light in her steps that she almost flew mid-air. I’ve seen this piece several times, and occasionally with this duo, but tonight was quite special, for them and for us.

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company
Grace (1999): Choreography by Ronald K. Brown, Music by Duke Ellington, “Come Sunday”, Roy Davis Jr., and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Costumes by Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, Original Lighting by William H. Grant III, Lighting Redesign by Brenda Gray, Technical Director: Dalila Kee, Performed by Ronald K. Brown and the Company.

I had seen Ronald K. Brown’s Grace performed by the Ailey Company, but he danced with his own Company tonight, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company. This was a gorgeous finale to a very mixed bill of five programs on five nights. The music, excerpted from Ellington, Fela Kuti, and Roy Davis, Jr., is inspirational and full of life. One dancer after another appears in a measured background stage light, and then the eight dancers, plus Mr. Brown dance full force, with a fusion of Modern, African, Caribbean styling. The cultural motif, mixed with the percussive pulse, as well as studied, still entrances and exits, gave this work an edge as one of the finest contributions to the City Center 2010 Fall for Dance series. Kudos to Arlene Schuler, New York City Center President & CEO, for her organizational feat and her artistic prowess.

Leslie Heylmann, Maximilian Genov
Courtesy of Costin Radu

Ronald K. Brown
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

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