The last event of a very full weekend – three Fall for Dance events, one New Yorker Festival event, and dinner with friends at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar. Luckily this was a matinee performance so I would have Sunday evening to rest up. And before the dances we got to do our own dancing with a lesson from Urmila Mallick, a classical (Odissi) Indian dancer. Like I always do, I choose a spot in the back and this time it was a severe disadvantage. The dance tells a story through very specific hand gestures and I could not see over anyone. There was a funny moment when an older woman wearing a sports headband – did she think we were going to do aerobic dancing? – scolded two young women because they were taller than her and they had taken spots in the front of the line. But then the older woman stood off to the side for the lesson and never tried any of the steps. Before we began we blessed the earth. Most of the gestures involved nature – bird, tree, flower bud to flower blooming, the wind, etc. and then beautiful people. She taught them in a certain order for us to perform a short dance – first slowly, then a little more quickly, and then so quickly, which really was not quickly at all, that I pretty much gave up and just waved my hands around and moved my fingers. When she added some steps for our feet, I just laughed because I was not getting any of it. After that she went through just about every hand gesture possible to tell a story. My body stiffened when she said swastika and then said it again with a prefix. But I quickly remembered that different types of swastikas were religious symbols around for centuries before it became a symbol of hate in the 20th and 21st centuries. Afterwards, one woman asked Mallick if we could bless the earth again at the end and before we broke up to go to our seats.
The first dance was SITĀHARAN performed by Bijayini Satpathy. Photo of Satpathy by Shalini Jain taken from the Fall for Dance page.
Choreographer: Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra; Reimagined by Protima Gauri
Music: PT Bhubaneswar Mishra & Ashit Desai; Adapted from an Original Composition by PT Raghunath Panigrahi
Costume Designer: Gulam Rasul Tailor
Lighting Designer: Sujay Saple & Itohan Edology
Premiere: March 1997, Nrityagram, India
Dancer: Bijayini Satpathy
Musicians: Bindhu Malini Narayanaswamy (vocals); Anjib Kumar Kunda (violin); Sibasankar Satapathy (mardala); Srinibas Satapathy (flute)
Satpathy is an older woman, but you would never know that with the energy and moves that she uses on stage. Sitting upstage were the musicians. I swear I could hear a sitar also but there was not one on stage, so I am not sure if that was recorded or my imagination (I do not hear it in the rehearsal videos below). This was another bare stage, where you had to use your imagination to see everything the dancer was seeing. Satpathy wore orange and yellow and the musicians wore black tops and white pants. I recognized some of the hand gestures from our dance lesson and tried my best to follow the story, not that I expected to get all or even most of it. But it was beautiful to watch as Satpathy became different animals and forces of nature before our eyes.
Next was Germain Louvet & Hugo Marchand from the Paris Opera Ballet dancing Songs of a Wayfarer. Photo of Louvet and Marchand by Yonathan Kellerman.
Choreographer: Maurice Béjart
Music: Gustav Mahler; Recorded Singing: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Staging: Maina Gielgud
Costume Designer: Joëlle Roustan (Paris Opera Ballet)
Original Lighting Designer: Roger Bernard
Lighting Recreation: Carolyn Wong
Premiere: March 11, 1971, Forest National in Brussels, Belgium
Dancers: Germain Louvet, Hugo Marchand
Another bare stage, where lighting plays a key role. Since the singing is in German, for me, it all sounds very heavy – there is no lightness in this piece. Louvet is wearing a light blue leotard and Marchand is in a purple leotard and both have short sleeves – both are strikingly – preternaturally – handsome. They are both standing in the back. Marchand stands silently in the back while Louvet dances. Then Marchand steps forward and follows the steps but is at least two steps behind. There is a lot of back and forth between the two with Louvet trying to pull away from Marchand sometimes and other times Marchand seems to be taking care of Louvet – at one point literally cradling him. Louvet looks to be okay with Marchand as they walk arm-in-arm but in the end, as Marchand pulls Louvet into the blackness upstage, Louvet turns towards us in an almost ‘help me’ gesture before they disappear into the darkness. Louvet was, for me, by far the better dancer. When they danced in unison, his lifted leg was higher and his turns nearer to perfection.
Here is an excerpt with two other dancers (Friedermann Vogel & Oscar Chacon): https://youtu.be/H8j9iULq8Ik?si=cEH3738jZUsXhsER
And Rudolph Nureyev & Paolo Bortoluzzi – the originators of the dance – rehearsing: https://youtu.be/fHnA_15QIYY?si=0uRjbtew8mQQEfc0
The final dance of this year’s Fall for Dance was Group Corpo performing Gira. Photo of Dayanne Amaral is by Luiz Pederneiras and was the photo used for this year’s Playbill and posters. The other photo was taken from the dance review site fjord and taken by Steven Pisano.
Artistic Director: Paulo Pederneiras
Choreographer: Rodrigo Pederneiras
Music: Metá Metá
Staging: Grupo Corpo
Scenery Designer: Paulo Pederneiras
Costume Designer: Freusa Zechmeister
Lighting Designer: Paulo Pederneiras & Gabriel Pederneiras
Stage Manager: Gabriel Pederneiras
Dancers: Ágatha Faro, Bianca Vital, Davi Gabriel, Dayanne Amaral, Débora Roots, Edésio Nunes, Giulia Madureira, Isabella Accorsi, Jônatas Itaparica, Jonathan de Paula, Karen Rangel, Luan Barcelos, Luan Batista, Lucas Saraiva, Maul Figueirôa, Rafael Bittar, Rafaela Fernandes, Tris Martins, Vitória Lopes, Walleyson Malaquias
Premiere: August 2, 2017, Teatro Alfa, São Paulo, Brazil
Both the men and women in this Brazilian troupe wore long silk skirts with some having a bit more material hanging down. All the skirts had belts of the same material tied on the side and everyone’s necks were painted red. I confess I spent too much time trying to figure out if the women were truly as bare-chested as the men or if they were wearing see-through tank tops. It was not until the end that I could see there were skin-colored see-through tops. The set design was interesting. The walls on all three sides were black (no place to enter or exit offstage) and there were seats against all the walls. On the seats were black coverings – not quite opaque but not transparent either. At first the entire ensemble dance and then they would break off into small groups or duos or solos. The dancers who were not dancing would take a seat and wrap themselves in the covering so that they blended into the wall, and you could not see them or their very white skirt. Also against the walls was a line of bare bulbs. It was a shame the music was recorded because I bet this dance was even better with the dancers being able to play off the quick rhythms. The dancing was very athletic. Also, very sexy but not because of the bare chests but because of the moves. I am not familiar with Brazilian dance, but you could see the southern central African influences. As they took their bows and we gave them a standing ovation, there was a sudden BANG! and confetti cannons went off and there was confetti as high as the Grand Tier and covering the stage.
One of several excerpts from YouTube: https://youtu.be/DYX4VQsGmLY?si=EXKMJ4B9gLWvrN5x
By Carene Lydia Lopez