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Fall for Dance: Juilliard Dance, American Ballet Theatre, The Hong Kong Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program II

Juilliard Dance
American Ballet Theatre
The Hong Kong Ballet
Martha Graham Dance Company

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 30, 2012

Juilliard Dance
Fortune (2011): Choreography by Pam Tanowitz, Music by Charles Wuorinen, Costumes by Fritz Masten, Lighting by Nicole Pearce, Stage Manager: Brian Grove, Performed by the Company with a live music ensemble on clarinet, piano, violin, cello.

With silhouettes and tones of yellow, Juilliard Dance presented Fortune, choreographed by Pam Tanowitz in 2011. As an opening number for the second program of five in the 2012 Fall for Dance series at City Center, this work had just the right amount of fascination and flair. Although the Charles Wuorinen score was disturbing and dissonant, the choreography was magical and magnetic, making the music and motion merge with intrigue. The variations in rhythm were magnified in shadowed silhouettes of strikingly narrow dancers. Fritz Masten’s costumes were highlighted by Nicole Pearce in yellow spotlights, and, at one point, the visual seemed like a Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) video installation. Twenty one dancers shift direction, position, shape, and configuration. Additionally, there were four musicians offstage, on clarinet, piano, violin, and cello.

American Ballet Theatre
Sinatra Suite (1983): Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Songs sung by Frank Sinatra, Original costumes by Oscar de la Renta, Original lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Luciana Paris and Herman Cornejo.

I’m used to seeing this American Ballet Theatre (ABT) work danced by Herman Cornejo and Misty Copeland. Ms. Copeland is intense and hot in her interpretation. Tonight Mr. Cornejo was partnered in Twyla Tharp’s 1983 Sinatra Suite by Luciana Paris, whose interpretation was cool and smooth. It was different, but still fabulous. Four recorded Sinatra ballads, “Strangers In the Night”, “All the Way”, “That’s Life”, and “My Way”, filled City Center with romance and savoir faire. Ms. Paris wore heels with no straps, and it was amazing that they stayed on. She leapt about into Mr. Cornejo’s arms, and he also swung her in a semi-circle on the floor. Mr. Cornejo, a thrilling and tempestuous dancer, personifying the up-down moods of the lyrics, threw off his jacket and danced his heart out, as always. The audience was swaying, as it seemed to have viscerally absorbed a swing-foxtrot tempo. Ms. Tharp should re-create her “Come Fly Away” Broadway show for ABT and Mr. Cornejo. Now, that would be intense and hot.

The Hong Kong Ballet
Luminous (2010): Choreography by Peter Quanz, Music by Marjan Mozetich, Repetiteur: Yu Egami, Costumes by Anne Armit, Lighting by Kwok Fai Mak, Production Manager: Yuh Egami, Performed by a Company ensemble of eight.

The Hong Kong Ballet’s Luminous was my favorite performance tonight (with the Graham Co.’s following dance, a longtime favorite, a close tie). Seeing a fresh, new ballet for the first time is always exciting, and Peter Quanz’ lovely flowing choreography was elegant and memorable. The Mozetich score was evocative of Philip Glass, with waves of repetitive, oceanic musicality. The dancers created falling sensations, like they were at a cliff or ocean’s edge. They balanced on several levels, creating rolling, swirling motions. There were thrilling and beautiful surprises in this ballet.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Chronicle (1936): Choreography by Martha Graham, Music by Wallingford Riegger, Costumes by Martha Graham, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Lighting for reconstruction by David Finley and Steven L. Shelley, Production Manager: Amanda Mae Goodridge, Performed by Blakeley White-McGuire, Peiju Chien-Pott, and the Company.

As mentioned above, Martha Graham’s Chronicle, her 1936 anti-war, anti-fascist, modern ballet, is as familiar to a New York balletomane as the rising sun. It’s always breathtaking and invigorating. Tonight, Blakely White-McGuire led Spectre-1914 and Prelude to Action, with Peiju Chien-Pott leading the center section, Steps in the Street. The Company is in rare form, under the artistic direction of Janet Eilber, and I didn’t want this work to end. The energy of Ms. McGuire, on the stage platform, in the endlessly long black ruffled costume, lined in blood red, followed by her later appearance in the long, black-white dress (all costumes designed by Ms. Graham, herself), was enthralling. The Company’s (all in long black dresses) clenched fists, circular cartwheels, and thumping bare feet, brought the house down. Ms. Chien-Pott had an astounding level of angst in her muscular and taut interpretation of her renowned role. Together, both leads, with the Company, were propulsive and impassioned.

American Ballet Theatre
Luciana Paris and Herman Cornejo
in "Sinatra Suite".
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Martha Graham Dance Company
Blakeley White-McGuire in
Martha Graham's "Chronicle"
Courtesy of Michele Ballantini

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