PREVIEW: Igal Perry’s Peridance Contemporary Dance Company
It was 1983 when Igal Perry first opened the Peridance Capezio Center and began a ballet company, the Peridance Ensemble. Since it’s formation, Perry’s ensemble has performed 50 works around the world and has seen very active seasons and some less rigorous. This coming weekend, 29 years later, the company now dances at the Salvatore Capezio Theater under a new name: Peridance Contemporary Dance Company. With the Center running like a well-oiled machine, with both established and new talents in the dance community teaching daily, Perry feels he now has the space to concentrate on PCDC and its promising members.
At a rehearsal at Peridance near Union Square, the company works to refine Perry’s latest work to Henryk Górecki’s “String Quartet # 3.” Without his instruction or prompting, the dancers go over phrases in duets and trios, correcting their own lifts and timing. Perry sits in a chair against the mirror, facing them. Soon as if by silent consensus, an official run begins and dancers have moved from casually marking movement to full extensions, balances and turns. Perry gives a few direct corrections to the group : “there, don’t spread your fingers” and “come in there earlier.” He whispers or sings sounds to give them cues for a specific movement quality. But for the most part, he lets them take ownership of what they do. He trusts them with what he has given them.
Beginning with three consecutive duets, Perry’s new work seems quite balletic at first glance. The motif of hovering attitudes seems to hint at suspicion or the anticipation of something approaching. Górecki’s score is patient, but plodding. Its circular repetition is echoed in the movement composition. There are definite signs that begin to emerge of a more contemporary side of Perry’s work. Male duets, percussion, aggressive floorwork and pedestrian sections all challenge a typical ballet format. Undertones of nostalgia, estrangement and longing come through the dancers expressions. “In this piece, I explore movement that is unusual for me,” Perry tells me. “I want to go beyond boundaries that I tend to fall into…challenge my typical forms” He explains that at times in the work he deliberately works in opposition to the grain of the music, which will be performed by a live quartet at the NYC season. “When I use live music it presents its own challenges,” Perry says “It becomes a much more important element in the work.”
The program will also include Perry’s “El Amor Brujo” performed with a live Chamber Orchestra and live flamenco singer. Guest choreographers Sidra Bell and Kristin Sudeikis will also present works custom made for the company. These selections reflect long term relationships formed between Peridance’s School and its guest artist faculty. PCDC is an eclectic mix “directly inspired by whoever/whatever is happening at the time in the school,” as Perry puts it.
As an example of this mission, PCDC takes several of its dancers directly from its Certificate Program and International Student Program, where dancers may travel for an intensive period of study at Peridance. Midori Nonaka is one such dancer originally from Japan who honed skills at Peridance and now performs with the company. Other dancers formed relationships with Peridance during summer intensives, master class series or in public auditions. Many come directly from other prestigious companies such as Shen Wei Dance Arts, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
What is perhaps most fascinating about the trajectory of this renewed Ensemble is Igal Perry himself. Known in the community for education and valued mentorship, it is exciting to see him actively back in the director’s seat. He is a powerful presence in a room because of the students he has reached and helped to grow. While many aspiring choreographers race to build a body of work and a company to perform it, it is only a handful that have also built a living home for their philosophies.
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company will perform May 5 and 12 at 8:30 PM and May 6th and 13th at 7:30 PM. All performances are at Peridance at the Salvatore Capezio Theater. For tickets visit www.peridance.com.