Let’s see if I can keep this up! I am so very far behind in writing up concerts and performances of all types. And some years I would write up the first night of Fall for Dance and then never get around to writing up the other four programs. I was so happy when Fall for Dance was back to in-person, although disappointed that they had not brought back the pre-performance dance lessons. This year we got both and I could not have been more thrilled.
This first night was also the Opening Night Party, being held in the small space next to New York City Center also known as 6-1/2 Avenue (an actual pedestrian throughway from West 51st Street to West 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues of privately owned public spaces). rtb and I walked in and walked out just as quickly because it was very noisy (both people and DJ) and the lines for free alcohol were too long.
This year is not only the 20th year for Fall for Dance but also the 30th year for the Encores! program and City Center’s 80th year.
Thanks to rtb getting up super early to stand on line at the box office so that those of us joining her do not have to try our luck online, we got seats in the Grand Tier for all nights. Not only that but good, if not great, Grand Tier seats. Fall for Dance is a bargain at $20/night. Most, if not all, nights were sold out, which I do not think I have seen before. The new CEO for City Center came out each night and his remarks would include a show by applause of who was at City Center for the first time and there was more applause than I thought there would be.
In the Grand Tier lobby is a new piece – Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #357, a white crayon on black wall on 12-inch grids drawn in black pencil.
But on to the dance. First up was Ballet BC and The Statement. Photo by Michael Slobodian of Anna Bekirova and Justin Rapaport taken from the 2023 Fall for Dance page.
Artistic Director: Medhi Walerski
Choreographer: Crystal Pite
Music: Owen Belton; Text: Jonathon Young
Vocal Performance: Meg Roe, Colleen Wheeler, Andrew Wheeler, and Jonathon Young
Scenery Designer: Jay Gower Taylor
Costume Designer: Crystal Pite and Joke Visser
Lighting Designer: Tom Visser
Staging: Katherine Cowie
Production Manager: Derek Mack
Premiere: February 4, 2016 at Zuiderstrand Theatre in Den Haag, Netherlands
Dancers: Patrick Kilbane, Sarah Pippin, Vivian Ruiz, and Rae Srivastava
During the dance there was ominous music with a voiceover the entire time. A large black surfboard shaped table was upstage. The rest of the stage was bare. All the dancers were dressed in men’s business attire.
For most of the other dances for all five nights, except for a riser for the musicians or sometimes for the dancers, the stage was bare. All black floor and either a black or white backdrop. The tap dancers did have special wooden floors – one a small floor and the other the floor covered the stage. In many of the dances, the lighting design played a big role in creating spaces, rooms, and scenery. And there was one dance that had a set design.
In the voiceovers, two people were arguing about what to do about a fuck-up. One woman was putting everything said on the record. Eventually the guy in charge was no longer in charge because of what he said on the record.
The dancers’ movements were exaggerated with large expressions of fear, etc, as if whatever the brain is thinking automatically comes out in the arms and legs and cannot be controlled. At first the exaggerations were funny and there was a lot of laughter but as the situation gets worse and more serious, the laughter died down. What went wrong? Was it the destruction of a nation or a people or both? We do not know.
All YouTube links are to trailers or portions of the dance mentioned above. https://youtu.be/BVzJFScUQic?si=rlDAodeyJfyF_z4D
Photo by Richard Termine of Conrad Tao & Caleb Teicher taken from the 2023 Fall for Dance page.
Next was Conrad Tao & Caleb Teicher with Rhapsody in Blue. Anyone who knows me, knows that Rhapsody in Blue is one of my very favorite pieces of music. I was very much looking forward to seeing what they would do with it.
Music: George Gershwin
Costume Design: Márion Tálan de la Rosa
Lighting: serena wong
Sound Engineer: Joseph Wolfslau
Stage Manager: Jacob Wexler
Virtual Premiere: November 2020, Library of Congress
Dancer: Caleb Teicher
Piano: Conrad Tao
This was a tap dance, so there was a small wooden stage set up downstage center. Next to Teicher was Tao’s piano. He was dressed in a black frock coat with a red design on the back, which was facing us, and colorful pants. Tao started the piece while Teicher, wearing a white jumpsuit, sat in a chair at the right-hand upper corner of the floor. Once on the floor, he tapped out the rhythm along with the piano or sometimes as percussion accompanying the piano. Teicher did splits and tumbles with his arms up like gymnastics moves. His choices were fun and funny. There was also a one-legged hop tapping. Tao played without sheet music and his version of Rhapsody in Blue was lighter than most versions, especially Oscar Levant’s. Most people copy Levant and with it comes his worries and neuroses.
Photo by Joseph DiGiovanna of Gibney Company’s Jacob Thoman taken from the 2023 Fall for Dance page.
Ending the first night was Gibney Company’s OH COURAGE!
Artistic Director: Gina Gibney
Company Director: Gilbert T Small II
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Associate Choreographer: Jenn Freeman
Music: The Bengsons
Set Designer: Rachel Hauck
Costume Designer: Márion Tálan de la Rosa
Costume Construction: Victoria Bek
Lighting Designer: Asami Morita
Stage Manager: Madison Ellis
Premiere: November 2, 2021 at The Joyce Theater in New York, NY
Dancers: Miriam Gittens, Eleni Loving, Jesse Obremski, Kevin Pajarillaga, Jie-Hung Connie Shiau, Madison Tanguay, Jacob Thoman, Jake Tribus
Musicians: The Bengsons
There were no lyrics, only vocalizations, along with instruments. The musicians stood inside a small square of kleig lights and also inside the square were all kinds of speakers. The initial solo dancer was on a dark stage until the klieg lights revealed the other dancers standing on the speakers. They would return to the speakers after dancing across the floor. Everyone wore sleeveless tops with wide legged pants. There was dancing in unison and solos by two or three of the dancers. Most seemed to be conveying anguish or pain.
By Carene Lydia Lopez