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Fall for Dance: Companhia Urbana De Danca, Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo, Houston Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company
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Fall for Dance: Companhia Urbana De Danca, Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo, Houston Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program III

Companhia Urbana De Dança
Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo
Houston Ballet
Paul Taylor Dance Company

At New York City Center

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Stanford Makishi, VP Programming
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Leon Rothenberg, Festival Sound Supervisor
Joe Guttridge, Director, Communications

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 7, 2015

Companhia Urbana De Dança
Eu Danço – 8 Solos No Geral (NY Premiere): Choreography by Sonia Destri Lie and Dancers, Artistic Advisor: Renato Linhares, Music by Rodrigo Marçal, Staged by Vassia Tolstoi, Costumes by Paula Stroher and Rio Urban Outfit, Lighting by Renato Machado, Production Manager: Ton Bernardes, Performed by the Company.

Companhia Urbana De Dança, last seen in 2010’s Fall for Dance program, was once again less than exciting. This is street dance, not stage dance. Just because the dancers arrive from Brazil, they are not automatically exotic. If this had been samba–hip-hop fusion, it may have had some magnetism, but, as is, my notes indicate it looked like a school gym warmup. The Rodrigo Marçal “music” was nothing more than electronic noise for eight solos and some group dynamic. The program notes include the phrase that for this Company “it is to pay the bills”. I cannot imagine selling tickets to a full evening of more “works” like this.

Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo
Pheromones (NY Premiere): Choreography by Fang-Yi Sheu, Music by Philip Glass (“Facades”), Lighting by John Torres, Performed by Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo.

Over the years, Fang-Yi Sheu (formerly with the Graham Company) and Herman Cornejo (with American Ballet Theatre) have been reviewed multiple times, always favorably, and they are each outstanding dancers. At this point in his career, Mr. Cornejo has branched out, internationally, in small theatrical works that include dance and in guest appearances on numerous renowned stages. Ms. Sheu has been recently reviewed on these pages for her new project, called Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists. Tonight’s brief dance, choreographed by Ms. Sheu, called “Pheromones”, is a fluid, somewhat erotic work, that has both performers horizontal on the stage, winding about and sniffing each other’s torso and limbs, like primal bonding. They seem propelled by the pheromones (calming hormones). Both wear black tights, while Ms. Sheu has a nude leotard and Mr. Cornejo is bare-chested. The Philip Glass score, “Facades”, is familiar in the ballet community as the score chosen by Jerome Robbins for the central, slow portion of his 1983 “Glass Pieces”. I don’t need to see this piece again, but I do wish to see this duo in additional, new choreographies. They were well matched in physicality and persona.

Houston Ballet
Maninyas (NY Premiere): Choreography by Stanton Welch, Music by Ross Edwards (“Maninyas Concerto”), Costumes by Stanton Welch, Lighting by Lisa J. Pinkham, Performed by the Company.

The Houston Ballet brought a gorgeous work to the stage, called “Maninyas”, choreographed by Stanton Welch, the company’s Artistic Director. Mr. Welch also designed the purple, red, blue, green, and brown silky, long dresses. Ross Edwards’ “Maninyas Concerto” was the source for the score. This almost-two-decade-old ballet could have been created last week, as it’s so fresh and inviting. The dancers are introduced through the backdrop fabric, hung as breezy curtains created from huge scarves. Performers appear with their faces and bodies revealed through silk-covered details, then walk past the fabric onto the stage. The five couples, with the men bare-chested, perform elegant, sensual pas de deux. The effect is magnetic and stunning. At times the women whip their dress skirts on the floor, flamenco-style. I hope to see this ballet again, and soon.

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Brandenburgs (1988): Choreography by Paul Taylor, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (“Brandenburg Concertos #6, #3), Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Michael Trusnovec and the Company.

Any program with a Paul Taylor work is a huge success, especially when Michael Trusnovec is onstage. Those of us who have followed the seasoned Mr. Taylor over the decades know his 1988 “Brandenburgs”, with the score deriving from two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Also onstage were Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Eran Bugge, Roberta Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, and Michael Novak, all dancers (as has been noted many times on these pages) who have unique personas and physiques. One is gripped by the gestalt of the work, as well as by each individual interpretation of the music and choreography. The Company was in rare form, as always, propulsively dashing across the Koch stage, the same stage that’s now its New York annual performance home. The friezes, evocative of Taylor’s “Promethean Fire”, gather the ensemble in figures, as if sculpted in place, as Mr. Trusnovec, bare-chested in olive tights, becomes a central support. Other visuals, in planned motion, bring the male dancers together, in black, cropped unitards, looking as if they’re walking a tightrope or flying en air, arms outstretched like propellers. The aura is thrilling.

Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo
in Fang-Yi Sheu's "Pheromones"
Courtesy of Erin Baiano, Vail Dance Festival 2014

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Michael Trusnovec and the Company
in Paul Taylor's "Brandenburgs"
Courtesy of Paul Goode

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