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Fall for Dance: Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Semperoper Ballett Dresden, Sebastien Ramirez & Honji Wang, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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Fall for Dance: Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Semperoper Ballett Dresden, Sebastien Ramirez & Honji Wang, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program II

Lucinda Childs Dance Company
Semperoper Ballett Dresden
Sébastien Ramirez & Honji Wang
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 11, 2014

Lucinda Childs Dance Company
Concerto (1993): Choreography by Lucinda Childs, Music by H. Gorecki, Original Costume Design by Anne Masset, Costumes reconstructed by Naomi Luppescu, Original Lighting Design by Jennifer Tipton, Lighting reconceived by Tricia Toliver, Production Manager: Tricia Toliver, Performed by the Company

This stark modern dance for seven performers of the Lucinda Childs Dance Company was truly fascinating. Its lightning tension gave it edge and magnetism. The mostly female ensemble, in unisex black costumes, designed by Anne Masset, executed Ms. Child’s choreography with presence and confidence. The twentieth century Gorecki score for ebullient harpsichord and dizzying strings added some spellbinding effects. Dancers moved as if tightly wound, like the ambient violins, jumping, spinning, winding their arms like propellers. No partnering occurs, exuding a sense of internalized mechanization. This ultra-contemporary work is one I’d like to revisit.

Semperoper Ballett Dresden
Neue Suite (2012): Choreography by William Forsythe, Music by G. Handel, L. Berio, T. Willems, and JS Bach, Staged by L. Graham, T. Guiderdoni, and K. Markowskaya, Scenery by William Forsythe, Costumes by W. Forsythe and Y. Takeshima, Production Manager: Frank Seifert, Performed by the Company.

The Semperoper Ballet’s presentation of a Forsythe work, Neue Suite, originally designed as the center of a three-part, Forsythe mixed bill, includes several pas de deux, one at a time, with hands held and fervent lifts, all to a mixed score of Bach, Willems, Handel, and Berio. This is an introspective work, one more thought-provoking than immediately satisfying, yet highly impressive. Forsythe’s complicated and challenging choreography requires extreme, gravity-defying balancing and physical interconnectedness. The pas de deux, alternately performed by six women and five men, are contemporary in motif, against a draped, stark backdrop. This visual effect of spotlighted dancers against darkness allows one to focus on straight, tall leg lifts and equally taut arms. Partners zero in toward one another with a direct gaze. This work has panache.

Sébastien Ramirez & Honji Wang
AP15 (2010): Choreography by S. Ramirez and H. Wang, Music by A. Noto and R. Sakamoto, Production Manager: Philip W. Sandstrom, Performed by Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang.

In sneakers, loose pants, and billowy shirts, Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang, an international duo that designed and presented its own concept, added breathtaking athleticism to the evening’s program. Unfortunately, not every breathtaking, athletic concept is a dance. AP15 was much less a worthy stage dance than a feat one might watch on a variety show or even in the street. Lighting is effective in the creation of silhouettes, but when Mr. Ramirez leaped onto Ms. Wang’s head, grasping her neck in his muscular legs, the audience gasped, as if it were a touring carnival act. Balancing tricks, backward falls, and such seemed far too dangerous for a Fall for Dance evening. I would have enjoyed this propulsive piece more if the acrobatics had been toned down and the choreography ramped up.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Minus 16 (2011): Choreography by Ohad Naharin, Restaged by Danielle Agami, Music by Various Artists, Costumes by O. Naharin, Lighting by Avi Yona Bueno, Production Stage Manager: Kristin Colvin-Young, Asst. Stage Manager: Nicole A. Walters, Performed by the Company.

It seemed surprising that the Ailey Company brought a work seen so often on this very stage, within its annual December repertory. Minus 16 is an extremely lengthy work, with much left to serendipity. First, one male in a suit, tonight it was Samuel Lee Roberts, does vaudevillian mime in front of a closed curtain, to jazzy ballads. Then “Hava Nagila” is heard, before the Company, on chairs, throws shoes, hats, jackets, shirts, pants, into a center pile of clothing, moving to synchronized musical Hebrew chants. Later on, each dancer, suited again, travels into the audience and brings back one partner for disco, then cha-cha. And so it goes, until only one woman from the audience is standing, the one who’s most romantically partnered and probably closed her eyes, as the other recruits have left the stage. Many curtain calls ensue, and the crowd loves it all. But, for Ailey aficionados, one would have hoped for a rare, early Ailey work, like “Landscape” or “The Lark Ascending”: something to whet the appetite for December. Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 is more of a “happening” than a modern dance. It represents little of the Ailey genre.

Semperoper Ballett Dresden
in William Forsythe's "Neue Suite"
Courtesy of Costin Radu

Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang
in Ramirez and Wang's "AP15"
Courtesy of The Cool Box

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