It was the second night of the second program of Fall for Dance and the night began with a panel discussion with the FFD commissioned choreographers for the year. One piece was going to be performed that evening and the other later in the week.
Choreographer Pam Tanowitz heard a five-minute string quartet by Greg Saunier. She asked him to expand it to 15-minutes. The choreography began before she even had the completed music. The other choreographer (Michelle) was asked about using the City Center stage and said that because they had to lay a floor down (for tap dancing) she couldn’t use the entire stage. Considerations have to be made for the time it takes the Teamsters to lift up the stage for the next act. Tanowitz said she used the entire stage plus more, which we saw that evening. She also said she thinks about the City Center audience and that she doesn’t want to alienate them. When asked about new approaches, Michelle said she is using a dancer who is internet famous. As to how these new pieces will fit into their repertory, Tanowitz doesn’t have a regular company and Michelle can’t afford to tour with that many dancers.
While waiting for the show to begin, the woman next to me opened her program and said she didn’t know who was performing and wasn’t that a shame. I responded that that is what’s fun. Opening the evening was La Compagnie Hervé Koubi’s US premiere of What the Day Owes to the Night. Choreography by Hervé Koubi, music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Hamza El Din), and costumes by Guillaume Gabriel, the dance was an amalgam of hip-hop and Algerian dance. The all male troupe is bare-chested and dressed in white pants with white cloths hanging from their waists. They begin in silence, standing on an all-white stage. Suddenly there’s jumping and spinning handstands that made the audience gasp. Later there were breakdancing head spins and then throwing a dancer up high and catching him. It ended with one dancer falling back into a group of the men. I thought the piece went on a little too long – there was a lot of repetition that I didn’t find necessary. But the athleticism and grace was amazing. The dancers were Lazhar Berrouag, Hocine Chernai, Nasserdine Djerrad, Fayçal Hamlat, Nassim Hendi, Amine Maamar Kouadri, Riad Mendjel, Issa Sanou, Ismail Seddiki, Reda Tighremt, Mustapha Zahem, and Adel Zouba.
Steven McRae choreographed and danced the US premiere of Czardas. Music is by Vittoria Monti (Csárdás). McRae balleted and tapped his way around the Hungarian music – watching him spin as he tapped was heartstopping. McRae was dressed simply in a white tank top and black pants but the dancing was anything but simple. My only complaint is that it was too short.
Next was the first of the pieces commissioned especially for FFD this year. Project FFD: Pam Tanowitz uses three dancers from the American Ballet Theatre: Tyler Maloney, Calvin Royal III, and Devon Teuscher. Greg Saunier’s Quartets 1 & 2 are the music and costumes are by Reid Bartelme. The Flux Quartet (Tom Chiu (violin), Conrad Harris (violin), Felix Fan (cello), Caleb Burhans (viola)) performed with Saunier on drums. Tanowitz certainly did use the entire stage and more. The backdrop was gone so you could see the cables hanging on the back wall and the pipes. There was an opening where Maloney enters and joins Teuscher downstage. Later Royal joins them. The men are dressed in white with a few pink stripes. Teuscher is in black tights and a white shirt with a black stripe on the side. I admit I don’t know what the dance was about. There were some lovely moves and the music was new classical (not my favorite type) so I wasn’t sure what emotion I was supposed to be feeling.
The last piece is what we were waiting for all night – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Four Corners. Choreography is by Ronald K. Brown and music by Carl Hancock Rux, Vinicius Cantuaria, Ron Trent, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Yacoub. The costumes (men in tank tops and drawstring pants and women in full skirt dresses and head wraps) were by Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya. This dance was just beautiful to watch. It was graceful and athletic. There was a loud cheer from the crowd at the end. In it, spiritual seekers dance among four angels who are standing at the four corners of the earth holding the wind. The dancers are Rachael McLaren, Demetia Hopkins-Greene, Jamar Roberts, Glenn Allen Sims, Ghrai Devore, Akua Noni Parker, Sarah Daley, Fana Tesfagiorgis, Yannick Lebrun, Vernard J. Gilmore, and Jeroboam Bozeman.
By Carene Lydia Lopez