With Program 3, the Fall for Dance Festival presented an evening of diverse choreographies that capture the multiplicity in contemporary dance. 

Companhia Urbana De Dança © Renato Mangolin
Companhia Urbana De Dança
© Renato Mangolin

Coming from Brazil, Companhia urbana de dança opened the evening with Eu Danço – 8 Solos No Geral, which translates to 'I dance, 8 solos overall'. Nine dancers filled the bare stage with various styles of urban dance that demonstrated a range of textures, set to hip hop and industrial beats. Some phrases were danced directly to the audience, like in a street performance, while other phrases played out relationships between the dancers. The duality of the audience's role as a direct recipient of the dancers' performance and a witness to the scenes that they portray prompts a connection with the real identities of the dancers. Their smiles, whether to the audience or each other, lifted the atmosphere of the performance, as did the spontaneous feel of some choreographic phrases. The reoccurring formation of dancers joining arm over shoulders with one another brought a sense of warmth and camaraderie to their relationship. The piece ended with all dancers joined in that formation, lined downstage and looking directly at the audience, as if to acknowledge the space that we share with them and the opportunity to begin a dialogue.    

Pheromones, was then performed by Fang-Yi Sheu, former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Company, and Herman Cornejo, principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre. It opened with Sheu tracing the profile of Cornejo's body with her nose as he stood in a wide stance with his back to the audience. Their relationship unfolded with the discovery of one another's physical presence. Sheu intricately weaved her limbs and body around Cornejo's static stance, which Cornejo then reciprocated as they moved delicately around each other, always close, but never touching. As their intimacy grew, so did their sensitivity to one another, expressed by the caresses of each other's presence in space and their yields and advances to one another. The momentum of their dance slipped into exquisite lifts and partnering movements that were exciting and harmonious. The depth of the relationship portrayed is a reflection of the depth of artistry of these two superb dancers. 

Houston Ballet's Maninyas, choreographed by Stanton Welch (the company's current artistic director), premiered in 1996. Striking is the earthy ferocity of the five female characters of the piece. Floor-length rectangular cloths hung from upstage, from which the dancers emerged. The women's long skirts furthered the dramatic effect of the fabric, which they manipulated –watting it to the ground, or gathering it up in their arms – to emphasize the declarative nature of some of their movements. The repeated gesture of outstretched arms with the wrists broken by the weight of the hands was a striking accent to the neoclassical style of the piece. The women play the dominant role here, by their unison with each other and by the way in which this initiated the choreography when they were paired with the five accompanying men. Still, their strength is challenged and examined in impressively articulate duets – a compliment to both the choreography and the dancers. For all tension that is explored in this piece, the women exit carried languidly on the backs of the men striding calmly upstage.

Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo © Eric Baiano 2014 Vail International Dance Festival
Fang-Yi Sheu and Herman Cornejo
© Eric Baiano 2014 Vail International Dance Festival
The evening ended with the Paul Taylor Dance Company's jovial Brandenburgs, set to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos #6 (movements 1 & 2) and #3. It premiered in 1988 and captures the common perception of baroque lightness and patterned movement without parody. The expression was emphasized by the clarity of shape and phrasings, with clean footwork and unembellished arms. Five men in dark green leotards and brocade shoulder straps provided the background to the three women and the protagonist male, all dressed in complementary shades of green. The women took turns in charming duets with the protagonist, ornamented by their infectious smiles. Brandenburgs is an unabashedly delightful piece with a lingering simplicity. 

The Fall for Dance Festival always presents a mixture of voices and styles. The quality of the diverse expression in the evening's works inspires contemplation of the diversity among ourselves.

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