You have to hand it to the planners of Fall for Dance , New York’s annual buffet table of dance. Each of the five festival programs offers a diverse sampling of dance; on Thursday evening, Miami City Ballet, LA Dance Project, Doug Elkins choreography etc and Che Malambo shared the evening. The festival’s greatest strength may be that no program seems markedly stronger than any other – for every lesser-known company or middling work, there’s a showstopper.
On Thursday, the program seemed to gain strength as it went on. Miami City Ballet’s performance of George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante felt joyful – the dancers all wore beaming smiles – but a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto, rather than a live orchestra, greatly diminished the dancers’ zest.
Doug Elkins’ Hapless Bizarre made light of relationships and unexpected pairings. Oana Botez’s fabulous costumes, with long-legged rompers in zany mod patterns for the ladies, added a nice splash of color to the stage. Elkins proved himself a formidable master of both unexpected partnering and intricate floorwork – his dancers moved with such ease through clearly detailed, tricky weight shares that I wished more than once we’d been able to see a bit more of a struggle. Swimming so easily from one leg-locked twist to the next occasionally made the piece feel as if it lacked dynamics. Deborah Lohse is Elkins’ most talented comedienne (or comedian), able to reach even the back of the house with her rubbery facial expressions and swift command of musicality.
L.A. Dance Project performed Murder Ballads, a flung-limb work by Justin Peck (from New York City Ballet) that makes clever use of canon and spatial patterns and carefully highlights specific musical passages. Though the cast is certainly up to the technical challenge of Peck’s rapid-fire delivery, I occasionally found myself wishing for more performance quality maturity. So much of Peck’s choreography in this piece requires appendages to travel far distances in very short spaces of time; rather than fully completing the dense movement within the pocket of time allotted, and the dancers seemed rushed – one phrase often bled sloppily into the next. The standout of this group is Julia Eichten, who alone brought the necessary gravity and control to the piece.
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