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Rioult Dance NY Presents "Te Deum" and "Fire in the Sky" at The Joyce
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Rioult Dance NY Presents "Te Deum" and "Fire in the Sky" at The Joyce

- Onstage with the Dancers

498 9th Ave (37th-38th)
New York, NY 10018
(646) 918-6542
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Rioult Dance NY
246 West 38th Street
NY, NY 10018

Co-Presented by The Joyce Theater Foundation

Pascal Rioult, Artistic Director and Choreographer
Joyce Herring, Associate Artistic Director
Amy Harrison, Executive Director
David Finley, Jim French, Lighting Design
David Dalrymple, Patricia Field, Mondo, Costume Designs
Harry Feiner, Set Design
Spencer Anderson, Production Manager

Marketing: Penelope Gonzalez

Catherine Cooch, Jake Deibert, Brian Flynn, Charis Haines, Jere Hunt,
Melanie Kimmel, Corinna Lee Nicholson, Michael Spencer Phillips,
Sara Elizabeth Seger, Sabatino A. Verlezza

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2017

Pascal Rioult, Artistic Director, from Normandy, France, was a Principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company. In fact, Miss Graham created special roles for Mr. Rioult, such as the Death Figure in Eyes of the Goddess. Mr. Rioult began to choreograph his own works, while still a member of the Graham Company and produced concerts in the early 1990’s. Ms. Herring also danced as a Principal with the Graham Company from 1981 to 1994 and as a guest artist until 1999. Ms. Herring was Director of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and stages and coaches the works of both Graham and Rioult. Mr. Rioult created Rioult Dance NY in 1994 to fulfill his vision and purpose, which include mounting works that are lyrical and powerful. DanceREACH, Mr. Rioult’s educational outreach program, involves students in NYC and beyond to experience modern dance. (Company Notes).

Te Deum (1995): Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Arvo Pärt, Te Deum, Original lighting by David Finlay, reconstruction by Jim French, Costumes by Mondo, Performed by Michael Spencer Phillips, Jere Hunt, Charis Haines, and the Company.

Fire in the Sky (World Premiere): Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Deep Purple, “Smoke on the Water”, “Child in Time”, “Lazy”, “Highway Star”, Lighting by Jim French, Costumes by Patricia Field and David Dalrymple, Performed by Jere Hunt and the Company.

The French-born choreographer, Pascal Rioult, restaged his 1995 Te Deum for this Joyce Theater season. A former Graham Principal, there were many allusions here of Mr. Rioult’s biography as dancer turned choreographer, with Graham’s signature pelvic thrusts and torso contractions, wide arm expressiveness, and intense drama. One of my favorite composers was included for the score, Arvo Pärt, and this recorded choral work with mysterious cadences was mesmerizing. In fact, the entire work was magnetic, as Michael Spencer Phillips took the role previously danced by Mr. Rioult, himself. Mr. Phillips was costumed in a dark suit, early on, and he moved within a smoky stage. The remaining dancers, early on, wore street clothes, a stark contrast to the gold briefs and leotards in the latter section. Kudos to Mondo for costuming, and kudos to Jim French’s reconstructed lighting, moving from ethereal dimness to brighter optimism.

Mr. Rioult’s soft, quiet choreography included a male duet for Mr. Phillips and Jere Hunt and a pas de deux for Mr. Phillips and Charis Haines. Ms. Haines’ silky white dress fell about Mr. Phillips’ shoulders, as he lifted her about the stage. The scene evoked the Graham genre. Other choreographic highlights were quirky gestures, like a foot finding a spot on the floor, that leads the leg into motion, snapping back, returning again, like a solo ballroom dance. The full ensemble imagery was stunning and strong, with some athletic falls, perhaps evoking Mr. Pascal’s history as a track and field star in France. This is a work I’d like to revisit.

In complete turnaround, the second work on the program, Fire in the Sky, a world premiere, seemed more evocative of Studio 54, with propulsive 1970’s rock from a group called Deep Purple. I admit I had never heard of this band, but the music was contagiously rhythmic. You could feel your heart beat faster when the piece began. The Joyce was rocking through the roof. Purple haze and sparkly costumes filled the stage, and four songs, “Smoke on the Water”, “Child in Time”, “Lazy”, and “Highway Star”, seamlessly kept the ensemble literally on fire, like the dance’s title. Jere Hunt appears as a Mick Jagger type, slick, hip, and energized. You just wanted to be invited to this party onstage. The audience loved it, and so did the cast. Kudos to Pascal Rioult for this terrific program.

Michael Spencer Phillips and Charis Haines
in Pascal Rioult's "Te Deum"
Courtesy of Sofia Negron

The Cast of Rioult Dance NY
in Pascal Rioult's "Fire in the Sky"
Courtesy of Sofia Negron

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at