Review: New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival Presents a Delightful Sampler
By Sheila Kogan, Contributing Writer, October 11, 2017
The marvelous Fall For Dance Festival, presented annually by New York City Center, is once again providing audiences with a sampler from various dance companies for an astounding low price of admission ($15 a ticket). On Friday, October 6, four very different companies performed in very different styles.
Sanjukta Sinha was the solo performer in the U.S. premiere of Kin-Incede. Curiously, at the beginning, I thought I had misread the program because this Indian dancer seemed to be doing flamenco-style choreography. She wore a bright red dress (with red, ankle-length tights), her hair slicked back (with jewelry) and had the attitude of a flamenco dancer. But the elements of Indian dance soon took over—her ankle bracelets made musical sounds; her bare feet kept rhythm (enhanced by microphones); and she danced to the changing rhythms of Indian musical instruments and vocals. Although her movements were often subtle, they were dramatic and hypnotic (also aided by the lighting design). Toward the end of her performance, she gestured for the audience to clap in rhythm along with her. Then her serious and severe presence lightened and her natural charm became evident. The audience participated with joy. I assume for many in the audience, this may have been an introduction to Indian dance, which is just one of the many reasons the Fall for Dance Festival is so worthwhile.
Switching to a very different style and tradition, American Ballet Theatre dancers used the technique of classical ballet tempered with some modern dance movement for their presentation. Souvenir d’un lieu cher, with music by Tchaikovsky, is a very romantic ballet choreographed by the supremely talented Alexei Ratmansky and performed by two couples. The lovely velvet dresses with halter tops designed by Keso Dekker could have been worn by the women to a party today, and so that may have helped bridge the gap to a dance performance that emphasized a classical tradition. This utterly gorgeous ballet is a sigh-inducing, beautifully lyrical example of Ratmansky’s ability to visualize music through dance. The classically trained dancers were technically brilliant and conveyed the subtle drama exquisitely. I will look forward to seeing it again.
Providing yet another change in style, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presented Open Door, choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, inspired by a trip to Cuba. The Afro-Cuban-jazz music with its strong dance beats was infectious and the movement was muscular, mixing traditions of modern dance, social dances in clubs, and African tribal movement. The lithe and limber dancers were amazing and up to the challenge of the workout. Unlike many dance companies, the diverse dancers don’t even try to look at all alike. Although most are African-American, they are very different body types and with very different hairstyles (some of the men and women sporting shaved heads), deliberately showing each dancer can be individual and yet work wonderfully within an ensemble. This piece was very accessible, and as a result, the company received enthusiastic cheers.
Rounding out the evening with the academic style of classical ballet, Paquita, is often presented at galas to show off the technique of the dancers. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo turn this warhorse into a hilarious sendup. In case you don’t know, the “Trocs” are an all-male troupe en travestie, that is, they are all men who perform as ballerinas (tutus, fake eyelashes and all). They play up the silliness, but the company is comprised of very good dancers with strong technique. The dancers take on stage names, based on the premise that Russian dancers are supposed to be superior. Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) was quite pretty and proved to be capable of many well-placed fouetté turns for which “she” received bravos. Some of the shtick was out-loud funny, and the performance was great fun, ending the evening on a bright note.
Fall for Dance Festival presented by New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, on October 6, 2017 (Festival runs through October 14, 2017 with various programming).
IceCraft Dance Company – Kin-Incede. Music: Bernard Schimpelsberger; choreography by Padma Bhusan Kumudini Lakhia; vocals: Samiullah Khan; tabla: Mohit Gangani; pakhavaj: Ashish Gangani; sarangi: Kamal Ahmed; costumes by Moh Studio; lighting by Fabiana Piccoli. Dancer: Sanjukta Sinha.
American Ballet Theatre — Souvenir d’un lieu cher; Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky; choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; costume design by Keso Dekker; lighting design by Brad Fields. Dancers: Stella Abrera, Sarah Lane; Thomas Forster,and Tyler Maloney (substituting for Alban Lendorf).
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater — Open Door; Music by Luis Demetrio, Arturo O’Farrill, and Tito Puente; choreography by Ronald K. Brown; costume design by Keiko Voltaire; lighting design by Al Crawford. Dancers: Linda Celeste Sims, Matthew Rushing, Daniel Harder, Glenn Allen Sims, Vernard J. Gilmore, Belen Pereyra–Alem, Rachael Mclaren, Chalvar Monteiro, Akua Noni Parker, and Hope Boykin.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo — Paquita; Music by Ludwig Minkus; choreography by Marius Petipa; staging by Elena Kunikova; costumes and décor by Mike Gonzales; lighting by Kip Marsh. Dancers: Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter), Colette Adae (Christopher Ouellette), Guzella Verbitskaya (Jack Furlong, Jr.), Nina Immobilashvili (Alberto Pretto), Elvira Khababgallina (Kevin Garcia), Boris Mudko (Giovanni Ravelo), Helen Highwaters (Duane Gosa), Maria Paranova (Carlos Renedo), Alla Snizova (Carlos Hopuy), Eugenia Repelskii (Joshua Thake) Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey), Ludmila Beaulemova (Roberto Vega), Tatiana Youbetyabootskaya (Laszlo Major), Nina Enimenimynimova (Long Zou), and Nadia Doumiafeyva (Philip Martin-Nielson).
Cover: Stella Abrera in ‘Souvenir d’un lieu cher;’ photo: Gene Schiavone.