REVIEW: Fall For Dance Festival 2012 at New York City Center: Program 5
The Fall for Dance Festival always seems to offer a healthy smorgasbord of dance treats. Program 5 of the festival offered the usual variety from intellectually stimulating work to compromised artistry.
To open the evening, Shen Wei Dance Arts presented their creation, Rite of Spring, set to Igor Stravinsky’s historically controversial composition of the same name. Director Shen Wei mentions in the program his avoidance of narrative influence and instead focus on the musical complexities that Stravinsky is known for. Breathtakingly precise, the work is an abstract representation of the score brought to life. The music’s power is matched equally by the choreographic creativity, often using a variety of avenues to represent musical change and maintain audience interest. Perhaps the most impressive moment in the evening is when Shen Wei decides to shed the virtuosic physicality and place his confidence in minimalism. A long line of dancers stand at the edge of the stage with their eyes closed and almost imperceptibly twitch at seemingly random moments. For what seems like two minutes, an entire audience is searching the stage for motion only to catch the tail end of what they thought was a muscle spasm. Further proof that a large statement can be made with the smallest detail.
Breathtakingly precise, the work is an abstract representation of the score brought to life. The music’s power is matched equally by the choreographic creativity, often using a variety of avenues to represent musical change and maintain audience interest.
In Laboratory Dance Project’s No Comment, choreographer Chang Ho Shin demonstrates a unique movement dynamic with little choreographic maturity. The entirely male cast lumber around the stage in loose-fitting suits as they eventually transform into “testosterone-fueled” animals. The line of men began their metamorphosis upstage and through a repeated physical phrase, the performers slowly lost control of their bodies and their shirts. Catcalls and applause from the audience also transformed City Center into Scores. The work comes to a shirtless close and fortunately, one of the dancers has enough integrity to perform Gangnam Style to the feverish crowd as the curtain is closing. A true sign of an artist.
Next, CIRCA presented incredible circus talents and attempted to compose them into an artistic vision. Hardly straying from the format of a talent show, the performers showcased their acrobatic strength and fearlessness. The imperfect acts also included unstable balances and awkward transitions from one stunt to the next. At one point, a female performer stands upstage with leg in hand and (shaking the whole time) slowly tips until she splatters onto the floor in a split. Crowd-pleasing and impressive, CIRCA was nothing more than halftime show.
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Finally, María Pagés presented Deseo Y Conciencia (Desire & Conscience), a display of flamenco mastery overshadowed by several drawn out solos and an overall lengthy production. Accompanied by live music, the company’s precise movements harmonized beautifully with the passionate vocalization. However, after three solos performed by María Pagés, the evening had a bad taste of big dresses and awkward self-promotion.
The annual Fall for Dance Festival comes to a close and despite its best efforts, program selection seems to be the weak link. Although diversity and a premier venue are admirable goals, the selection committee should pay closer attention to artistic integrity. The program selection and organization seems a random slew of companies, and with this the smorgasbord of dance becomes a trough.