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Fall for Dance: Dorrance Dance, Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc., The Royal Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company
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Fall for Dance: Dorrance Dance, Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc., The Royal Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program IV

Dorrance Dance
Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc.
The Royal Ballet
Martha Graham Dance Company

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 3, 2013

Dorrance Dance
SOUNDspace (2013): Choreography by Michelle Dorrance, Costumes by Mishay Petronelli, Lighting Design by Kathy Kaufmann, Production Manager: Tony Mays, Performed by the Company.

If you love tap dance, then the Dorrance Dance group’s SOUNDspace will catch you by pleasant surprise. This is not vaudevillian or Broadway tap, nor rap tap or Fred Astaire. Michelle Dorrance’s tap dance company performs tap as a foot percussive, listening experience. The ensemble of twelve takes turns, solo, duo, and so on, onstage and on raised dance platform, increasing the energized momentum as the sequences develop. The rhythms are contagious, and when they overlap, they’re like a percussive symphony of tap. The program says solo improvisation, but the piece is obviously well rehearsed to create the patterns and effects that complement each other.

Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc.
Mo(or)town Redux (2012): Choreography by Doug Elkins, Musical Soundscape by Justin Levine and Matt Stine, Dramaturgy by Anne Davison, Costumes by Naoko Nagata, Lighting by Heather Smaha, Production Stage Manager: Amanda K. Ringgep, Performed by Alexander Dones, Cori Marquis, Kyle Marshall, Donnell Oakley.

This modernized version of Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane, just reviewed in the previous Fall for Dance program, seemed poorly scheduled, as how many times do we need to see a woman beaten and strangled onstage, just for musical effect. At least the Limon version of a “variation on the Othello theme” is set to a score by Purcell, with gravitas and weight. The Elkins version is set to Motown, with songs like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, as Kyle Marshall, as a quasi-Moor, twitches and shakes in the belief his woman has betrayed him. Remaining cast are Alexander Dones, Cori Marquis, and Donnell Oakley. This modern work opens in playful attitude, and turns quickly ugly, like so many news stories of sudden, late-night violence in a bar.

The Royal Ballet
Fratres (World Premiere): Choreography by Liam Scarlett, Music by Arvo Pärt, Staged by Ricardo Cervera, Lighting by Brad Fields, Musicians: Kate Shipway, Piano, Peter Adams, Cello, Performed by Zenaida Yanowsky and Rupert Pennefather.

The Royal Ballet’s Fratres, choreographed by Liam Scarlet, to a score by Arvo Pärt, was sheer eloquence and ingenuity. Zenaida Yanowsky and Rupert Pennefather dance a balletic tango of “close embrace”, that is ballet that winds about the partner in sensual and surreal imagery. They lean on each other, arms about each other’s waist. When live cello and piano are atonally played by Peter Adams and Kate Shipway, the dancers twist to staccato and legs circle the air and each other’s limbs. These tall, narrow performers were perfectly cast for this elongated, echoing score. They resembled figures in a Modigliani painting. Brad Fields’ lighting was superb, shifting from spotlighted dancers to ethereal stage illumination.

Martha Graham Dance Company
The Rite of Spring (US Premiere): Choreography by Martha Graham, Music by Igor Stravinsky, Costumes by Pilar Limosner after Martha Graham, Lighting by Solomon Weisbard, Scenery by Edward T. Morris, Projection by Paul Lieber, Projection Design Associates, Erik Pearson and Olivia Sebesky, Performed by Xiaochuan Xie, Ben Schulz, and the Company.

It was thrilling to see the Martha Graham Dance Company in such fine tone and form. The crème de la crème of the Company appeared, including Xiaochuan Xie, as The Chosen One, Ben Schultz, as The Shaman, and Peiju Chien-Pott, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, Natasha Diamond-Walker, Iris Florentiny, Lucy Postell, Blakely White-McGuire, Tadej Brdnik, Abdiel Jacobsen, Lloyd Knight, Gildas Lemonnier, Lloyd Mayor, Maurizio Nardi, Lorenzo Pagano, and Oliver Tobin. Most of these Company dancers have been widely reviewed in this column, over the years, and they never disappoint.

Janet Eilber, Artistic Director, keeps the Company fine-tuned and filled with fortitude. The rhythmic Graham choreography, with elbows on necks, as women dash by to the beat, includes the Graham gestures of pelvic contractions, jump-kicks, leaps, and barefoot pulse. Mr. Schultz is an ominous Shaman, tall and muscular, with outsized charisma. Ms. Xie faces the audience, quivering and trembling, arms outstretched and pleading, before she’s lifted by the male ensemble, also muscular and iron-like. In fact, this renowned modern ballet, barefoot against Stravinsky’s magnificent score, is inherently imbued with iron will. So Graham, so satisfying.

Doug Elkins Choreography, etc.
in "Mo(or)town Redux"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Martha Graham Dance Company
in "The Rite of Spring"
Courtesy of the Graham Company

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