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Fall for Dance: Boston Ballet, Sara Mearns, Caleb Teicher & Company, Cie Herve Koubi
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Fall for Dance: Boston Ballet, Sara Mearns, Caleb Teicher & Company, Cie Herve Koubi

- Onstage with the Dancers

NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program I

Boston Ballet
Sara Mearns
Caleb Teicher & Company
Cie Hervé Koubi

At New York City Center

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Stanford Makishi, VP Programming
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Danny Erdberg, Festival Sound Supervisor
Joe Guttridge, Director, Communications

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 1, 2018

Boston Ballet
Bach Cello Suites (NY Premiere):
Choreography by Jorma Elo, Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Costumes by Charles Heightchew, Lighting by John Cuff, adapted by Brandon Stirling Baker, Production Manager: Ben Phillips, Stage Manager: Craig Margolis, Sergey Antonov on Cello, Performed by an ensemble of ten.

Sara Mearns
Dances of Isadora Duncan – A Solo Tribute (March, 2018):
Choreography by Lori Belilove, after Isadora Duncan, Music by Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Costumes by Lori Belilove, after Isadora Duncan, Lighting by Robert Brown, Production Manager: William Knapp, Cameron Grant on Piano, Performed by Sara Mearns.

Caleb Teicher & Company
Bzzz (World Premiere)
Choreography by Caleb Teicher with dancers, Music by Chris Celiz and Caleb Teicher, Costume by Marion Talan, Lighting by Serena Wong, Company Manager: Becks Gilhooley, Chris Celiz on Beatbox Vocals, Performed by an ensemble of seven.

Cie Hervé Koubi
The Barbarian Nights, or the First Dawns of the World (excerpt) (2015):
Choreography by Hervé Koubi, Music by Maxime Bodson and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Staging by Hervé Koubi, Costumes by Guillaume Gabriel, Lighting by Lionel Buzonie, Production Manager: Bernard Schmidt, Performed by the Company.

Tonight’s Program I of New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival 2018 drew, once again, a highly enthused, packed audience of dance aficionados, and the program did not disappoint. As a born-Bostonian, it was great opening the five night series with Boston Ballet, a truly extraordinary company, led by Mikko Nissinen. Sergey Antonov, a seasoned cellist, sat on a stage chair for this live accompaniment of Bach’s “Cello Suites”. And he played beautifully. The five couples join and separate, men in groups with raised arms; dancers lift one woman to create a small ensemble effect of a sailboat, and all in black leotards. Lighting is vibrant, expanding the warmth and sublimity of this ballet, by Jorma Elo, Boston’s Resident Choreographer.

Lori Belilove, Founder and Artistic Director of The Isadora Duncan Foundation & Company, and a Duncan trained dancer and performer, herself, choreographed Dances of Isadora Duncan – A Solo Tribute for New York City Ballet Principal, Sara Mearns, a familiar figure on these pages. This is my second viewing, having seen this work during the March Paul Taylor season. Ms. Belilove’s staging includes ten brief dances to piano scores by Chopin, Brahms, and Liszt, all performed by Cameron Grant, also a familiar name on these pages, and one who has accompanied Ms. Mearns on piano for years during City Ballet’s seasons.

Ms. Mearns, in Ms. Belilove’s own set and costume design, requisite Duncan-styled scarf included, was equally elegant and ecstatic during this exquisite series of dance vignettes, each set to its own music, its own mood, its own rhythms, with barefoot dance and arms uplifted in prancing, skipping, hopping, leaping, twirling, and even butterfly motifs. Ms. Mearns’ long golden hair and flowing, silken, peach costume, with pale peach scarf, gave each vignette a sense of sensuality and surrealness. The work opens with Chopin’s “Prelude, Op. 28”, and continues with his “Op. 64” (Narcissus Waltz), “Mazurka, Op. 33” (Capture), “Etude, Op. 25” (Butterfly Etude), “Etude, Op. 25” (Harp Etude), “Mazurka, Op. 33” (Death and the Maiden), and “Mazurka, Op. 68” (Gypsy Mazurka). Brahms’ “Waltz, Op. 39” (Flames of the Heart) and his “Waltz, Op. 39” (Rose Petals), are performed with the Liszt “Les Funérailles” in between. Mr. Grant’s piano score was sophisticated and purely eloquent.

Next, after intermission, was Caleb Teicher and his Company in Bzzz, with seven tap dancers, including Mr. Teicher, dancing to the sound and rhythms of only a “beatbox”, vocals that emanated from Chris Ciliz’ microphone. I must say I have no desire to ever hear a beatbox again, even though this was my introductory experience, as it was a coarse and grating, all too long, all too loud, concept. Electronic music at least has a pleasant dimension, at times, but this was like rap, plus humming, buzzing, and thumping. However, the dancers were outstanding, muscular, fluid, athletic, and ebullient. Maybe next time they’ll bring some music.

Hervé Koubi and his Company closed the evening’s Program I with Mr. Koubi’s The Barbarian Nights, or the First Dawns of the World, music by Bodson and Mozart. Thirteen bare-chested, gym fit men, with wide-legged pants, barefoot, tossed each other into the air, somersaulted, landed upside down and spun like tops, and so on. If you took a summer walk in a New York park, you might see street performers doing just the same moves, but this high hormone group from France had professional lighting, a smooth stage, and a ready-made audience cheering it on.

Kudos to New York City Center for its annual Fall for Dance Festival, always a high point of each new dance season.

Boston Ballet in
Jorma Elo's "Bach Cello Suites"
Courtesy of Stephanie Berger

Cie Herve KOUBI in
"The Barbarian Nights"
Courtesy of Stephanie Berger