The 10th anniversary celebrations of New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival continue this week with the last two programs of the season.
Program Four – on October 2 and 3 – features three Festival debuts, the first of which is SOUNDspace, a “joyful explosion of rhythm”, presented by New York company Dorrance Dance. Choreographed by Michelle Dorrance, with additional input by Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, it illustrates the aim of the company – to honor the “uniquely beautiful history of tap, in a new and dynamically compelling context”. Dorrance is the winner of a 2011 Bessie Award – for “blasting open our notions of tap” – a 2012 Princess Grace Award, and she’s also a 2012 Field Dance Fund Recipient. She is, says The New Yorker, “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today”.
Doug Elkins Choreography, etc, also makes its Festival debut, with a work entitled Mo(or)town/Redux, which was adapted for Fall for Dance. Choreographed by Doug Elkins, the work was inspired by José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, but set to Motown music. Established in the summer of 2009, the company provides a structure for Elkins’ dance, theater and teaching projects.
The third debut performance is also a Festival commission and a world premiere – a presentation by two dancers from Britain’s Royal Ballet. Liam Scarlett, Royal Ballet Artist-in-Residence, has choreographed a pas de deux – as yet untitled – which will be performed by Rupert Pennefather and Zenaide Yanowsky, to a score by Arvo Pärt. The largest ballet company in the United Kingdom, The Royal Ballet has a repertoire which ranges from the great classics, to heritage works – which include those of Founder Choreographer, Frederick Ashton, and Kenneth MacMillan – to new works by some of the most important of today’s choreographers. Liam Scarlett retired as a First Artist with the company in 2012 to devote himself to choreography.
The hugely popular Martha Graham Company completes the quartet of presentations for Program Four, with one of its signature works, The Rite of Spring, a restaging – choreographed by Graham – of the original ballet created by composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. The Graham company performs this work in honor of the 100th anniversary of the original performance, which caused a riot at its Paris premiere in 1913. Founded in 1926 by dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham, the company continues to promote her spirit of creativity with a repertoire of her masterpieces, as well as works by her contemporaries, their successors and current-day artists.
The final program in this anniversary season takes place on October 4 and 5, and on the bill is a Festival debut and New York premiere performance by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Entitled Faun, this duet is a reinvention of Nijinsky’s L’après-midi d’un faune, drawing on the music of Debussy with additional input by Nitin Sawhney. Costumes are by leading fashion designer Hussein Chalayan. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui debuted as a choreographer in 1999 with Andrew Wale’s contemporary musical, Anonymous Society, and has since produced over 20 choreographic pieces, receiving a number of awards. Cherkaoui is dance director of Rome’s Festival Equilibrio, and has for 10 years been an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells, the UK’s leading dance house, dedicated to attracting the best in national and international dance to London audiences.
The third Festival debut of this program comes from BODYTRAFFIC, a non-profit repertory dance company helping to establish Los Angeles as a major center for contemporary dance. o2JOY, choreographed by Richard Siegal, is a contemporary work, based on ballet, with some syncopated hip-hop thrown in. Lighthearted and fun, it’s set to some great American jazz.
The Black Swan Pas de Deux is one of the most famous in classical ballet, and in this program it’s performed by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, with choreography after Marius Petipa. Founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts, Les Ballets Trockadero was formed to present a light-hearted and entertaining parody on classical ballet. This all-male company of dancers, performing en travesti, includes in its repertoire an expansive range of ballet and modern dance – both classical and original works – true to the manners of the relevant styles of dance.
No program representative of dance in New York would be complete without the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Center’s Principal Dance Company. Its contribution to this festival is a work entitled Home, choreographed by Rennie Harris. A bold hip-hop work, set to a score of gospel house music, Home is inspired by the actual experiences of people either living with or affected by HIV. From a performance of Revelations in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y, the late Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers succeeded in changing forever the perception of American dance, leading to the establishment of a company which has in its repertoire over 200 works by more than 80 choreographers.
New York City Center has occupied an important place in the cultural life of the city since 1943. Manhattan’s first performing arts center, its mission was to bring the best in music, theater and dance to all audiences, and it is today home to many distinguished companies – Alvin Ailey, Manhattan Theatre Club and New York City Opera, and a wide range of national and international visiting artists, as well as its own acclaimed and popular programs.
The 2013 Fall for Dance Festival, which opened on September 25, runs until October 5 at New York City Center (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). Tickets can be purchased online at www.NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix at 212.581.1212, or at the City Center Box Office.
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