writers on dancing


Wednesday Night

Limón Dance Company; Tania Isaac Dance; Tania Perez-Salas Compañia de Danza; Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company; Houston Ballet
City Center
New York, NY
September 28, 2005

By Susan Reiter
copyright ©2005 by Susan Reiter                                      

This second program of the second annual truly festive, all-embracing Fall for Dance Festival was full of visitors from near and far. The sole "home team" representative was the Limón Dance Company, which opened the two-and-a half-hour evening on a solemn, ritualistic but ultimately uplifting note with "Psalm," José Limón's powerfully communal 1967 work in the revised 2002 version. It has been seen recently during the company's Joyce Theater season, but on this occasion the dancers had much more space to fill and took advantage of it, letting Limon's breath-propelled, deeply rooted phrases unfurl and travel with their full power.

After the surging ranks of that piece, Tania Isaac demonstrated how to hold a big stage all alone, performing her juicy, reggae-flavored solo, "letter home/Bam Bam." Originally from the West Indies and now based in Philadelphia,Isaac had danced with Urban Bush Women and Rennie Harris. An excerpt from a longer work, this brief but captivating solo opened with a voiceover about loving and hating the place where one lives, followed by a lilting song to which Isaac, with her long, powerful legs, dug deep and got inside the groove. Wearing an odd get-up of a boyish cap, a wrap-around orange top and tight short shorts, she seemed to inhabit an ambiguous realm between urban jungle and island paradise. Her body's earthy connection to the rhythm suggested her true home remained the place where she came from, rather than where she might find herself.

An intriguing contemporary dance troupe from Mexico making its New York debut, Tania Perez-Salas Compañia de Danza, performed "Las Horas," which offered strong, sensual imagery and a distinctively different take on Baroque music. These excerpts from a longer work by Perez-Salas found a pulsating, rich source of inspiration in the lush, reverent Lully selections, an a churning vigor in selections form Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons."

Eight dancers with notably fluid, clear phrasing animated the sometimes overwrought scenarios of Prez-Salas, and the later portions of the work seemed to over-reach, with many lighting shifts and the addition of projections. (This was certainly one of the more highly produced selections seen on any Fall for Dance program.) But the choreographer has a way with rich fabrics and luxuriates in elemental feminine force in her choreography for the six women who did most of the dancing. The section for three pliant women in ivory corsets and creamy long skirts, set to a gorgeous Lully melody for countertenor and lute, was striking, as was a swiftly paced double duet.

Making its U.S. debut, Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company from India accurately summed up its piece with its title: "Rhythm and Sound." The choreographer works in the kathak tradition, with the emphasis on intricate, rhythmic footwork, and the five dancers performed in clear, simple formations with a cheerful demeanor, giving us more that was interesting to listen to than to watch. The miked floor made their deft, busy feet resound as though they were wearing taps, and after a brief interlude by the two fine musicians who sat at the side of the stage, they returned to perform with thick bands of bells at their ankles. The engaging performers and the brisk, ever-shifting rhythms they produced clearly captivated the audience, which responded with great fervor.

The Houston Ballet, not seen in New York for years, ended the evening with Stanton Welch's "Nosotros," which had its premiere earlier this year. This is an expansive, old-fashioned program closer, intended as a portrait of the company at this time. With a cast of eleven couples, a backdrop of an inky night sky filled with an almost absurd number of stars, and romantic, gleaming costumes in pale rose/flesh colored material, it is big and busy. Welch packs in an abundance of pristine, crisp classical steps, which are not always seen to best advantage due to the pretty but intrusive women's gowns, with their loose, flowing overly long skirts. Set to the familiar strains of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, it serves to celebrate a certain tradition of expansive, straight-to-the-audience presentational showpiece, and the Houston dancers tore into it with freshness, vitality and precision.

Volume 3, No. 37
October 10, 2005
copyright ©2005 Susan Reiter



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last updated on October 10, 2005