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Fall for Dance: Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Pontus Lidberg Dance, Aakash Odedra Company, The Sarasota Ballet

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program V

Wayne McGregor/Random Dance
Pontus Lidberg Dance
Aakash Odedra Company
The Sarasota Ballet

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 18, 2014

Wayne McGregor/Random Dance
FAR (2010): Conceived and Directed by Wayne McGregor, Choreography by Wayne McGregor, Music by Ben Frost, Costumes by Moritz Junge, Rehearsal Director: Odette Hughes, Rehearsal Asst. Catarina Carvalho, Technical Director: Christopher Charles, Performed by the Company.

Wayne McGregor’s FAR, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells, London, has ten dancers picking each other up, then throwing each other down, dragging, lifting, amidst other seemingly unpleasant action. This is a well-known choreographer of reputation, but, with Ben Frost’s electronic score, FAR seemed like a waste of an opportunity to make a choreographic impression on a diversely attuned audience. To be fair, this piece is supposed to have a super-electric backdrop of LED lights, and it’s a shame that this set couldn’t be staged, as were sets for the National Ballet of China and today’s final work from Sarasota Ballet. The Age of Enlightenment and “mind-body” relationships are said to be the premise of this conceptual piece, but it looked more like a woozy, after-hours club scene, in leotards.

Pontus Lidberg Dance
This Was Written On Water (World Premiere): Choreography by Pontus Lidberg, Music by Stefan Levin, Scenery by Pontus Lidberg, Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, Lighting by Carolyn Wong, Stage Manager: Carolyn Wong, Musicians: Arianna Solange Warsaw-Fan on Violin I, Francesca Depasquale on Violin II, and Meta Weiss on Cello, Performed by Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside.

Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside are two recently promoted principals with American Ballet Theatre, here as guest artists with Pontus Lidberg Dance, and they were outstanding. Unfortunately, this piece, like the Mearns ballet on another program, was all too brief. Tiny lighted bits of paper fill the dark sky backdrop, with sublime, impassioned choreography, by Pontus Lidberg, a commissioned World Premiere, called This Was Written On Water. Three musicians performed Stefan Levin’s sensuous score on cello and two violins. Carolyn Wong’s lighting shimmers amidst Mr. Lidberg’s evocative scene. This is a ballet that should be seen again, soon. Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung’s green dress for Ms. Boylston and silver-grey costume for Mr. Whiteside were perfectly designed for this lush evening imagery. This ballet was like an ocean-side interlude, a summer night’s romance. Mr. Whiteside lifts and carries Ms. Boylston, as she woos and wiles him. This dance will be absorbed into Pontus Lidberg’s upcoming film, Written On Water.

Aakash Odedra Company
Nritta (2011): Choreography by Aakash Odedra, Music Arranged by Aakash Odedra, Produced by Anand Bhatt, Rehearsal Director/Production Manager: Lewis Major, Performed by Aakash Odedra.

Aakash Odedra is one of the most talented dancers of Indian classical dance. The program notes that Nritta is a Kathak variation, one for timing and style, not emotion or subtext. The audience was enthralled with the tiny, rapid footwork, en air jumps, and the effect of Mr. Odedra’s heels propelling him toward front stage, with his torso almost immobile. At one point, he twirled about on his knees, in dervish speed. He also arranged his own enchanting music. I would like to see this again, maybe with live musicians. Most solo Indian dance is by females, and this male solo was spellbinding.

The Sarasota Ballet
Les Patineurs (1937): Choreography by Frederick Ashton, Music by Giacomo Meyerbeer, arranged by Constant Lambert, Staged by Margaret Barbieri and Iain Webb, Scenery and Costumes by William Chappell, Lighting Design by Aaron Muhl, Production Manager: Jeff Ellis, Stage Manager: Mark Noble, Head of Scenic Presentation/Hire Coordinator: Doug Nicholson, Costume Supervisor: Michael Brown, Performed by the Company.

A perfect finish to the 2014 Fall for Dance Festival was Sarasota Ballet’s production of Ashton’s Les Patineurs. An entire Victorian skating party, set with brightly lit lanterns, adorned the City Center stage. Fifteen dancers slid as if skating, slipping on imaginary ice, always with a smile. In fact, the work was joyous and ebullient, led by Logan Learned as Blue Boy. This 1937 work looked retro, yet enchanting and inviting. William Chappell’s sets and winter costumes, with pointe shoes worked into boot designs, with ladies in coats and muffs, and with men wearing woolen caps, seemed copied from a historical card. A couple in white (Victoria Hulland and Jamie Carter) and four couples in brown entertain with ravishing flair. Two “red girls” in look-alike red coats and hats (Danielle Brown and Sareen Tchekmedyian) looked just like twins, crisscrossing the stage in swirling fashion. Some dancers danced-skated so smoothly to the Meyerbeer score I wondered if roller skates or conveyors were occasionally used. The imagery was entrancing. This Florida Company is filled with eager young talent, each dancer exuding warmth and personality, balance and poise. The chemistry between partners was remarkable as well. Kudos to Ian Webb, Director. And, kudos to Sir Frederick Ashton.

Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside
in Pontus Lidberg's "This Was Written On Water"
Courtesy of Daniel Robinson

The Sarasota Ballet's Logan Learned
in Frederick Ashton's "Les Patineurs"
Courtesy of Frank Atura

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