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"Mana" by Vertigo Dance Company | Photo Gadi Dagon "Mana" by Vertigo Dance Company | Photo Gadi Dagon

REVIEW: Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, Program 2

"Mana" by Vertigo Dance Company | Photo Gadi Dagon

"Mana" by Vertigo Dance Company | Photo Gadi Dagon

Program 2

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    [dropcap]T[/dropcap]onight, despite New York’s first snowstorm of the season, die-hard dance fans put on their big coats and poured into New York  City Center for the 2nd program of the Fall For Dance Festival.

    The curtain opened on Vertigo Dance Company, with a single spotlight on one man in a voluminous, multi-layered grey costume.  His body dives and swift, flinging arms are stark against a big white house-shaped backdrop. Before long, he is joined by one, and then a whole village of movers like him. Mana feels ritualistic. The dancers are donned in embellished tactile clothing with layer upon layer of fabric; the women wear bright head scarves. As they flock; they share a history and a language. They walk two by two in a processional, then they begin to leap. They elevate with such gusto that it seems they have been caught by a massive gust of wind. They gradually reveal their strength and athleticism through lifts, falls and floor sequences that make them look other-wordly. Energy hits a climax when the four Vertigo men are joined by one fiery woman, and she leads them with power and grace.

    It is clear Mana is imbued with symbolism of light. There is one dancer strung from the shoulders with a giant black balloon that I connect to both sun and moon. When she leaves the space after a duet, the balloon lingers behind the house as if signaling the passing of a single day. Through clever visual design and relentless moving, this Israeli company leaves a strong first impression.

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      Find our other Fall for Dance Festival 2011 reviews here.

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        Drew Jacoby, poster-girl for the fall for dance festival was second in the program with the premier of a new solo by Andrea Miller of Gallim Dance. Bloom was a drastic shift in the typical contemporary ballet Jacoby repertory. In true Gallim Dance style, Jacoby is overtaken by inner sensations, not always outwardly decipherable. In a neon pink tulle dress, she explores the stage, backlit by neon blue electric light. Radiohead is the soundtrack, giving the piece a sense of youth and perhaps recklessness. Jacoby eats the space with long running strides and impassioned spins, but she is intentionally off balance. She bounds around the stage, leaping with passive arms. The look on her face is one of terror and joy. There is a certain dizziness to the piece that Miller draws out of Jacoby, wiping away ballet to reveal something much more carnal. We also see a vulnerable side, when the mid-curtain falls and Jacoby runs to the side almost to hide from stage. “Bloom” is at once uncontained and shy. It is a surprise breakout from the expectations of a solo ballerina, a wild side.

        Jessica Lang’s piece Among the Stars is a very quiet an icy duet complete with a stage length fabric costume piece doubling as a set piece. The glittery and translucent silk, first attached to the female dancer, becomes a river dividing the two. It also wraps around the dancer as a cape, then at her feet as a pedestal. Their grace with the fabric matches that of their feet; there is never a sense of lost control. The best part of Among The Stars is the effortless lifts which conclude in fast cradled spins. It is not a piece you have to think about, but simply admire.

        Richard Alston Dance Company represented classic modern dance in the final piece Roughcut. The partially exposed stage was framed with two live musicians who did not play all the music but accompanied a recorded Steve Reich score. Roughcut is composed of all familiar movement: flung arabesques, tilts, lunges, parallel passes, straight-legged leaps.  The concept seems movement for movement’s sake — no concealed philosophy. For the first time in a long time, dancers are smiling on stage, displaying their enjoyment. They are high energy. In simple black and white, they bolt in and out of the space in solos, duets and small groups. The dance crowd recognizes the phrasework as fundamental movement, nothing too off track. Musicality and energy close the show on Fall For Dance’s second offering.

        Fall For Dance Festival takes place at New York City Center Oct 27 – Nov 6. Watch for continuing DancePulp coverage on DancePulp’s Blog

        Post by Emeri Fetzer

        Emeri is Managing Editor of DancePulp.com and a full–time freelance performer. Emeri most recently danced in Punchdrunk's 'Sleep No More' NYC and in original choreography for PITH Dance. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, with BA’s in Dance Choreography and English from Goucher College, Emeri loves to marry writing with a strong passion for movement. She is also a regular contributor for Theater Development Fund's online magazine TDF Stages.

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