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Fall for Dance: Ballet West, Tu Dance, Moiseyev Dance Company, Nan Jombang

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program III

Ballet West
Tu Dance
Moiseyev Dance Company
Nan Jombang

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 2, 2012

Ballet West
Grand Pas from Paquita (1881): Choreography by Elena Kunikova after Petipa, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Staged by Elena Kunikova, Costumes by David Heuvel, Lighting by Michael Andrew Currey after James K. Larsen, Production Director: Michael Andrew Currey, Performed by Christiana Bennett, Rex Tilton, and the Company.

The Ballet West performance of the Grand Pas from Petipa’s Paquita, re-choreographed by Elena Kunikova, was, unfortunately, uninspiring and not up to the professional level this ballet commands. Christiana Bennett’s fouettés seemed forced and reduced in number, while her partner, Rex Tilton, exuded no charisma. In fact there was an absence of chemistry almost entirely between these two leads. A Grand Pas at an event such as Fall for Dance (this ballet opened the third of five 2012 programs) requires dynamism and electricity. Yet, tonight, this Company seemed over its head, with the Corps fairly mechanical and the leads fairly monotonous. Perhaps, on their second night’s presentation, they’ll find more enthusiasm and energy.

Tu Dance
High Heel Blues (2005): Choreography by Uri Sands, Music by Tuck and Patti, Costumes by Toni Pierce-Sands, Lighting by Carolyn Wong, Production manager: Carolyn Wong, Stage Manager: Carrie Wood, Performed by Yusha Marie Sorzano and Uri Sands.

Tu Dance’s High Heel Blues was brief and astounding, thanks to Yusha Marie Sorzano’s exuberant leg lifts and Uri Sands’ accompanying dance drama. The spoken lyrics are by Tuck and Patti, and it’s a story about a woman who gazes at high-heeled shoes in a store window. Ms. Sorzano is quite a character actor, and she threw theatrics into her mime for wit and pizzazz. Mr. Sands personifies the shoe salesman who persuades Ms. Sorzano to fall in love with shoes. Ms. Sorzano flexes her foot to mimic trying on and walking in stilettos, and the audience loved every minute.

Moiseyev Dance Company
Moiseyev’s Classics (1939, 1938, 1959, 1950): Choreography by Igor Moiseyev, Music by R. Rybakov, E. Avksentiev, S. Galperin, D. Fyodov, Performed by the Company.

The Moiseyev was my favorite performance of tonight’s four selections. Between 1938 and 1959, Igor Moiseyev created the four culturally significant Russian (then Soviet) dances for his magnificent Moiseyev Dance Company. I remember seeing them long ago, and they should come to New York mainstream theaters more often. The four dances tonight were top classics: “Kalmyk Dance”, "Tatarotchka", "Dance of Bessarabia Gypsies”, “Suite of Moldavian Dances”. “Kalmyk Dance” features three performers mimicking “the flight of eagles, the running of horses and the contest of bulls in mating season” (Courtesy of Program Notes). In wild colorful costumes, fancy but masculine, these men vibrated their upper torsos and shoulders like horses racing in the wild. The three men raised their hands like eagles’ wings, whipping them against air in dizzying dervish. The audience roared.

In “Tatarotchka”, about the villages of the Tatars in the Crimea, three dancers, two men and one woman, were dressed in striking boots as they whirled about the stage in partnering shifts and solos, creating loud audience adulation. “Dance of the Bessarabia Gypsies” brought out an ensemble of nine. This gypsy dance, to have occurred in vineyards on the Romanian border, shifts from a leisurely and lackadaisical female dance to a pulsating event for the full male-female ensemble. The final “Suite of Moldavian Dances”, for full Company and three soloists, includes a female round dance, individual and group dances, and a “mass dance” called a “zhok”. Every moment of the Moiseyev performance was gripping and genuine, so authentically retro Russian, so highly trained and rehearsed, and so vigorous and vital. It’s easy to see how the Russian choreographer, George Balanchine, was influenced by the symmetrical dance patterns so prevalent in these rooted Russian folk dances. Not for one moment could I think or glance elsewhere. The Moiseyev was magical and monumental.

Nan Jombang
Tarian Malam (Night Dances) (US Premiere): Choreography by Ery Mefri, Traditional music arrangements by Ery Mefri, Set design by Barrie Baxter, Lighting by David Walters, Performed by a Company ensemble of eight.

With dancers from Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, dancing with martial arts motifs, Nan Jombang performed Tarian Malam (“Night Dances”) in a tour de force performance. This was a ritualistic and ceremonial work, with men and women carrying each other at one point. The ensemble of eight wore long red dresses (women) and bare chests with long red baggy bolero pants (men). Giant bongo-type drums were pounded and jumped upon to add to the mayhem. It’s a wild and wooly trip to an exotic milieu, and at times this indigenous dance seems so tribal and percussive that the audience feels transported, right into the pandemonium. Lunges and leaps, for these fairly short dancers, are airborne.

Ballet West
Grand Pas from "Paquita"
Courtesy of Luke Isley

Moiseyev Dance Company
Courtesy of Masalkov

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