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Fall for Dance: Jessica Lang Dance, Royal Ballet Flanders, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Sarasota Ballet
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Fall for Dance: Jessica Lang Dance, Royal Ballet Flanders, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Sarasota Ballet

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program IV

Jessica Lang Dance
Royal Ballet Flanders
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alina Cojocaru, Friedemann Vogel, Johan Kobborg
with The Sarasota Ballet

At New York City Center

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 5, 2016

Jessica Lang Dance
Tesseracts of Time (NY Premiere):
Concept by Steven Holl in collaboration with Jessica Lang, Directed and Choreographed by Jessica Lang, Architectural Director: Dimitra Tsachrelia, Music by David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Arvo Pärt, Lighting by Nicole Pearce, Costumes by Bradon McDonald, Performed by the Company of nine.

Royal Ballet Flanders
Fall (NY Premiere):
Choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Music by Arvo Pärt, Scenery and Lighting by Fabiana Piccioli, Costumes by Kimie Nakano, Performed by the Company of fourteen.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Cry (1971):
Choreography by Alvin Ailey, Music by Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, and Chuck Griffith, Restaged by Masazumi Chaya, Costume by A. Christina Giannini, Lighting by Chenault Spence, Stage Manager: Jennifer McGrath, Choreography Coaching by Judith Jamison and Donna Wood Sanders, Performed by Demetia Hopkins-Greene.

Alina Cojocaru, Friedemann Vogel, Johan Kobborg
The Sarasota Ballet
Marguerite and Armand (1963):
Choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, Music by Franz Liszt, Staged by Grant Coyle, Designs by Cecil Beaton, Relighting by Aaron Muhl, Stage Manager: Mark Noble, Costume Supervisor: Jerry Wolf, Pianist: Matei Varga, Performed by Alina Cojocaru, Friedemann Vogel, Johan Kobborg, Calin Radulescu, Sarah Monkman, Samantha Benoit, and an Ensemble of fourteen.

One of the most satisfying and engaging dances in this year’s Fall for Dance Festival was Jessica Lang’s Tesseracts of Time. Ms. Lang has always been one of my favorite contemporary choreographers and one of the few female choreographers presented on major New York dance stages. She uses visual drama to expand and enhance the project, and tonight was no exception. Steven Holl, who collaborated with Ms. Lang, created black-white videos that superimposed parts of the enormous and shifting modern set onto itself, onto dancers, and even projected pre-filmed dancers onto the images moving in real time, or so it all seemed. This is surely a work I’d like to see again soon. To music by David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Arvo Pärt (this Estonian composer is surely lucky to be heard from these days in so many new choreographies), the company of nine walked up and down, hung from by their arms, climbed, and mutually intertwined among the sensational scenic design. The four parts of the modern ballet are called “Under”, “In”, “On”, and “Over”. Mr. Holl is an architect, and this entire project should be the subject of an audience workshop, with lecture, video, and performance. Kudos to Jessica Lang, with whom I spoke after the evening’s program, at a press reception she organized.

Unfortunately, unlike the first work, the Royal Ballet of Flanders’ performance of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Fall was not up to my expectations. The word “ballet” had my hopes high, but, alas, I’d have to wait for the final work of the evening. Once again – Arvo Pärt’s music was front and center, with my favorite, Spiegel im Spiegel, included. Overlaid on the score were annoying electronics (does anyone preview these specific dances in advance?), that made the effect a cross between subways and dreaminess. Dancers fall on the stage and wiggle with attitude, mixing searing, sensuous, surreal elements. But, Demetia Hopkins-Greene’s solo interpretation of Alvin Ailey’s 1971 Cry, designed “For all black women everywhere…”, was spellbinding, a coup de grace. Ms. Hopkins-Greene was luckily coached by the Ailey pro, Judith Jamison, who was in the audience, and her emotional and physical angst and miming narrative to the Alice Coltrane, Laura Nyro, Chuck Griffin score drew extensive audience accolades. Masazumi Chaya, a former Ailey dancer, restaged this renowned modern dance, performed in a white, ruffled A. Christina Giannini dress, and Ms. Hopkins-Greene exuded the plight of hard-working, soulful women.

Now it was time for a return to New York stages by Alina Cojocaru, who had been a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre over the years, her fiancé, Johann Kobborg, who was (with Ms. Cojocaru) recently active in leading the Romanian Ballet, and Friedemann Vogel, who has appeared in New York in ballet gala events. They were featured in Sir Frederick Ashton’s, Marguerite and Armand, a one-act interpretation of La Dame aux camélias. Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor was exquisitely performed by Marta Varga. Seventeen members of The Sarasota Ballet, directed by Iain Webb, staged by Grant Coyle, joined the featured artists, plus Calin Radulescu, presumably also from Romanian ballet circles. Ms. Cojocaru was the doomed courtesan, Marguerite, who’s wracked with consumption, coughing into a lace handkerchief on her fainting couch. Marguerite disappears from the country home of her beloved, young lover, Armand (Mr. Vogel), at the insistence of Armand’s arrogant father (Mr. Kobborg), after her wealthy protector, the Duke (Mr. Radulescu) is also offstage. There’s a scene in Paris in which Armand rips Marguerite’s sparkling necklace off her neck and throws it against the floor, before he tosses cash at her as well, publicly degrading and rejecting her, as he was unaware of his own father’s manipulation of his fate. Each of these leads was stunning in the moment, and I wished we could have had more of these sumptuous, one-act ballets included in this season’s Festival. The Sarasota Ballet performers, as Maid, a Marguerite double, Gentlemen, and Footmen, were impressive and drew attention to the quality of this fine ballet company. The audience was enthralled and enthused.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre's Demetia Hopkins-Greene
in Alvin Ailey's "Cry"
Courtesy of Stephanie Berger

Alina Cojocaru and Friedemann Vogel, with The Sarasota Ballet
in Sir Frederick Ashton's "Marguerite and Armand"
Courtesy of Stephanie Berger

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