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Fall for Dance: CCN De Créteil et Val-De-Marne/Compagnie Käfig, Tao Dance Theater, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
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Fall for Dance: CCN De Créteil et Val-De-Marne/Compagnie Käfig, Tao Dance Theater, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba

- Onstage with the Dancers


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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program IV

CCN De Créteil et Val-De-Marne/Compagnie Käfig

Tao Dance Theater

Royal Ballet of Flanders

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 3, 2011

CCN De Créteil et Val-De-Marne/Compagnie Käfig
Agwa (2008): Choreography by Mourad Merzouki, Music by AS’N, Scenery by Mourad Merzouki and Benjamin Lebreton, Costumes by Angele Mignot, Lighting by Yoann Tivoli, Performed by the Company.

Agwa, meaning water, from Compagnie Käfig, includes a stage full of plastic cups, which are filled and emptied of water, in various structured configurations and rows, and later made into a tower of empty cups, with a score by AS’N and hip hop styled choreography by Merzouki. This was far from my favorite piece of the evening. It seemed to be a gimmick, and it also seemed incredulous that this company was based in Lyon, France, with the country’s long history of exceptional performance dance. Eleven male dancers perform various kinds of acrobatics and athletics in between the rows of cups, even stacking or collecting them along the way. How this is dance totally eluded me. The notes say that water is a symbol of renewal. Truly this was performance art, with little dance.

Tao Dance Theater
Weight X 3 (2009, US Premiere): Choreography by Tao Ye, Music by Steve Reich, Costumes by Tao Ye, Lighting by Wang Peng and Tao Ye, Production Asst., Cody Chen, Performed by Duan Ni, Wang Hao, Tao Ye.

The Tao Dance Theater brought a work they premiered in Beijing. It’s divided into two sections, very structured, very automated. The first section has Duan Ni, a woman with very short hair, in a black unitard, exposing bare back and arms. Ms. Ni never reveals her face and stands stage rear, turning to Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase”. As she turns, she whips a spotlighted rod like a baton, around her head and back, in exactly the same repetitive motions. The concentration required for this feat is astounding to ponder. The second section has Wang Hao and Tao Ye dance in white Chinese robes, also in structured fashion, holding torsos and heads in parallel but not connected motifs. At one point they purposely touch torsos, during Reich’s "Drumming Part IV”, but this second half was not at all as gripping as the first solo segment. The second dance, partnered, was visually interesting but not of great import. To be fair, Mr. Ye choreographed both, and Ms. Ni is a wonder of endurance and focus.

Royal Ballet of Flanders
The Return of Ulysses (2006, NY Premiere): Choreography by Christian Spuck, Music by Henry Purcell and songs from 40’s and 50’s, Scenery and Costumes by Emma Ryott, Lighting by Peter van Praet, Performed by Eva Dewaele, Ernesto Boada, and the Company.

As it turned out, tonight, my last night of the festival, due to the busy scheduling of the season, generated two favorite works. The first was Royal Ballet of Flanders’ The Return of Ulysses. This Belgian-based company presented seven suitors (seven male dancers) for Penelope (Eva Dewaele), plus her husband, Ulysses (Ernesto Boada). This was a contemporary, surreal ballet, dreamlike, captivating. It was evocative of Kenneth MacMillan’s 1993 Manon, as Manon dances at the balls, being passed from one to another male guest. However, this was no melodramatic ball, but rather more like Balanchine’s La Valse, with the death figure dancing the heroine in frenzied dervish. Here, in The Return of Ulysses, the score was by Henry Purcell, with enhancements of 1940’s and 1950’s popular songs. The stark contrast of darkest intent and carefree melodies was psychically arresting. But, more importantly, Ms. Dewaele and Mr. Boada were gorgeous, impassioned dancers, who threw themselves fully into the moment and brought the audience with them. The seven male suitors were skillfully engrossing, as well.

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
Pa’ Cuba me voy: Choreography by Lizt Alfonso, Music by Reynier Marino, Lizt Alfonso, Denis Peralta, Consuelo Velazquez, Costumes by Erick Grass and Lizt Alfonso, Lighting by Carlos Repilado, Musicians: Ensemble of six on piano, bass, cello, vocals, and two on percussion, Performed by the Company.

My second favorite work, the final presentation of the evening, was perfectly planned, as I adore Cuban music and dance. Lizt Alfonso’s Pa’ Cuba me voy brought out an entire Cuban band, with live musicians on piano, bass, percussion, vocals, and cello. Their tones were contagious, transporting us right to Havana. Three lead dancers, Carmen Rosa Lopez, Claudia Valdivia, and Vadim Larramendi, used personality, gesture, and outsized energy in combinations of Flamenco, Ballet, Afro-Cuban, and Cuban rhythms. The chorus of thirteen females, in quickly changing costumes, exuded infectious charm and thrill to be on this stage. Travel to and from Cuba is still difficult, and it was very appreciated to be able to experience this virtuosic ensemble. The ballroom partnering in the Cuban genre of son and rumba added some comedic theatrics to the mix. My Fall for Dance season was complete with this final Latin flourish.

Kudos to Arlene Shuler, President and CEO of City Center for the fantastic revitalization of City Center, and kudos to her, as well, for another eclectic Fall for Dance festival.

Tao Dance Theater
in Tao Ye's "Weight X 3"
Courtesy of Duan Ni

Royal Ballet of Flanders
in "The Return of Ulysses"
Courtesy of Johan Persson

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