Roberta on the Arts
Fall for Dance: Black Grace, San Francisco Ballet, Russell Maliphant/Sadler’s Wells, Mark Morris Dance Group
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Fall for Dance: Black Grace, San Francisco Ballet, Russell Maliphant/Sadler’s Wells, Mark Morris Dance Group

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NY City Center
Fall for Dance – Program I

Black Grace
San Francisco Ballet
Russell Maliphant/Sadler’s Wells London
Mark Morris Dance Group

At New York City Center
www.nycitycenter.org

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Stanford Makishi, Associate Producer
Ilter Ibrahimof, Artistic Advisor
Clifton Taylor, Festival Lighting Director
Leon Rothenberg, Festival Sound Supervisor
Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 8, 2014


Black Grace
Minoi (1999) - Pati Pati (2009): Choreography by Neil Ieremia, Artistic Director, Music traditional and original by N. Ieremia and Juse, Lighting by M. Burlace and N. Janiurek, Technical Manager: Bonnie Burrill, Performed by the Company.


Opening night of Fall for Dance is always energized and pumped up. The four dances for each of five programs will showcase dance styles and genres of historical and contemporary choreographies from around the globe. This opening work of Samoan dance, divided into Minoi for men and Pati Pati for women, includes “Fa’ataupati”, a slap dance. The bare-chested men, in black sheeted skirts, clapped, stomped, and slapped thighs and legs in rhythmic fashion, while singing in traditional, guttural tones, amidst a bit of electronics. They jump, leap, and form symmetrical patterns with stretching arms and twisting necks. The women, as well, slap fists on arms, clap hands, and slap their sides, with blended, monotone harmonies. Black Grace was a fine choice to introduce the 2014 Fall for Dance series.


San Francisco Ballet
Variations for Two Couples (2012): Choreography by Hans Van Manen, Music by B. Britten, E. Rautavaara, JS Bach, and A. Piazzolla, Staged by Rachel Beaujean, Scenery and Costumes by Keso Dekker, Costumes constructed by T. Amundson, Lighting by B. Dalhuysen, Production Director: C. Dennis, Stage Manager: J. Green, Performed by Sofiane Sylve with Luke Ingham and Vanessa Zahorian with Carlos Quenedit.


It was good to see San Francisco Ballet again, although only four dancers were featured. Sofiane Sylve, known in New York for her former performances in City Ballet, was partnered by Luke Ingham in Variations for Two Couples, choreographed by Hans Van Manen. The other female dancer was Vanessa Zahorian, partnered by Carlos Quenedit. One couple at a time, then two side by side, performed in the most sublime staging, to a mixed compositional score, from Britten to Piazzolla. Purple and blue costumes enhanced the music’s striking and searing atonality (including a bit of Bach’s St. John Passion). The women’s legs wound about the men, who were often in dizzying spins, and the pointe work and ultra, leg lifts were stunning. Time and again, San Francisco Ballet never disappoints. This Company has shown refined form and sophistication on each visit to New York in recent years.


Russell Maliphant/Sadler’s Wells London
Two x Two (2009): Choreography by Russell Maliphant, Original Music by Andy Cowton, Lighting by Michael Hulls, Rehearsal Director: Dana Fouras, Production Manager: Adam Carrée, Performed by Fang-Yi Sheu and Yuan Yuan Tan.


When I saw the words: Sadler’s Wells, Fang-Yi Sheu, and Yuan Yuan Tan, my anticipation rose, remembering extraordinary performances, produced by the London based theatre, as well as featured dances over the years from Ms. Sheu, a former principal dancer of the Graham Dance Company, and Ms. Tan, a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet. However, the Russell Maliphant work in which these two artists were showcased was shockingly simplistic. The lighting, by Michael Hulls, seemed to be the only interesting element, as one dancer, then another was revealed. Electronic, then percussive music, by Andy Cowton, added little but annoying tonality. Ms. Sheu and Ms. Tan swung an arm here, stood up from the floor, rolled about, bent arms or legs to some internal rhythmic cue, and so on. This appeared as if it were improvised in the moment, except that the lighting drove the momentum.


Mark Morris Dance Group
Words (World Premiere): Choreography by Mark Morris, Music by Felix Mendelssohn, Costumes by Maile Okamura, Lighting by Nick Kolin, Production Manager: Johan Henckens, Musicians: Georgy Valtchev on Violin and Colin Fowler on Piano, Performed by the Company.


Along with the San Francisco Ballet’s all too brief showpiece, the Mark Morris World Premiere, Words, was a huge success. The sixteen-member ensemble, joined by a violinist and pianist, danced to Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words”. Some of the individual dances, separated by a visual interlude of a strolling, lifted curtain, were accompanied by piano, and some by the virtuosic duo. Various motifs exude improvisation, casual frolics, and spontaneity, but the matching of a tonal phrase reveals Mr. Morris’ synchronized choreography. Maile Okamura’s colorful shirts and Bermuda shorts give this work a feeling of self-expression, a vacation mood, a joyfulness. Kudos to Mark Morris.



San Francisco Ballet's
Sofiane Sylve and Luke Ingham
in van Manen's "Variations for Two Couples"
Courtesy of Erik Tomasson




Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble
in Morris' "Words"
Courtesy of Ani Collier



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net