Fall for Dance: New York City Center 6 October 2012

Third program of Fall for Dance for me and the third program of this Saturday. This time it was Peter and me at New York City Center.

Dinner this evening was ziti Bolognese and broccoli rabe. Some female Hawaiian dancers were teaching some dance moves to anyone who wanted to learn. Peter and I found a place off to the side and out of the way.

Our tickets were again in the orchestra – this time audience right and much closer to the stage. There was only one piece where this was a problem (and a small problem at that). All the pieces this night used live musicians on stage. One of the pieces had the band stand stage left and they were out of our view so we didn’t see them until they came out for their bow.

First piece was the New York premiere of Shiva Ganga, choreographed, conceived, directed, and danced by Shantala Shivalingappa. This was traditional Indian dance – both the dance and music felt familiar to me since I’d done sound for a lot of South Asian dance companies. The dance begins slowly and softly with a meditation and then Lord Shiva dances wildly in order to keep the world spinning. Ganga drops the water on Shiva’s head before it hits the earth because only his head is strong enough to keep the water from destroying the earth. The musicians were J. Ramesh (singer), B.P. Haribabu (nattuvangam (bell/cymbals) and percussion), N. Ramakrishnan (mridangam (two-headed drum)), and K.S. Jayaram (flute).

Next piece was the Pas de deux from Carousel (A Dance) danced beautifully by Carla Körbes and Seth Orza of the Pacific Northwest Ballet (artistic director Peter Boal). William David Brohn arranges Richard Rodgers’ wonderful music into a short piece that Christopher Wheeldon choreographed into the entire history of a doomed romance. Alan Moverman played the piano with so much passion that I thought the piano was going to move along with the dancers. The last song in the medley was “If I Loved You,” which is one of the most beautiful songs in musical theater. Even without a singer you can hear the words.

After intermission was Jodi Melnick and her Solo, (Re)Deluxe Version. Dancing with Melnick were Hrisotula Harakas, Jon Kinzel, and Kayvon Pourazar. The musicians were Steven Reker and People Get Ready (Luke Fasano, James Rickman, and Jen Goma). Here the instruments were electronic instead of acoustic and you could feel the difference – most of the sound came out of the speakers instead of from the stage with the dancers. Which is interesting because this piece is all about movement and it would have felt better if the synchronization sounded and looked more organic. The male dancers didn’t look like dancers – they looked like guys off the street with not very toned bodies. Still it was very interesting to watch with the movements going from synchronized to not to synchronized.

The last piece was really spectacular. It was the world premiere of Hula Kāne: The Ancient Art of Hawaiian Male Dance by Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā (artistic director/choreographer Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad). Upstage was one male singer with drums and on each side were female singers playing hollowed out gourds. The women wore wreaths around their heads and heavy cotton dresses with pantaloons. The male dancers had wreaths around their heads and leis and tiny green thongs. They called out and danced while their naked torsos started to sweat. The second part was a dance with what looked like giant yo-yos. Then a dance with poles and sticks. The thongs were partially covered with what looked like big yellow and green bows. The bows moved quickly as the men shook their hips in a traditional hula style. This was quite a turnaround from the expected woman in a hula skirt. They also did some of the dance with legs stretched out and jumping from side to side. The woman did the same move, which is when I learned they were wearing pantaloons. As with most ‘ethnic’ dances, there are cheers from the audience from people from that ethnic group. This time there were also cheers and a standing ovation from many of the women in the audience and quite a few of the men. The dancers with Trinidad were Allona Baron, Kaopua Borge, Guyton Galdeira, Lihau Gouveia, Vern Kapoi, Lanui Leslie, Tauarii Nahalea-Marama, Kalama Souza, Gabe Spencer, Cody Valeros, and Kaihi Wong. The musicians were Sheila Allagonez, Alyssa Cannella, Kanoe Elvenia, Malia Fox, Tiana Lukela, Summer Manuma, Jenna Matsuura, Kinimaka Nitta, Kim Shibata, Katy Tanaka, and Chelsie Van Buren.

I can’t wait to see what Fall for Dance has in store for me for the last program.

By Carene Lydia Lopez