In the world of film, slow motion is a no-brainer for building tension. Where slowing footage with a mouse click is simple, real people performing slow motion rarely reads as realistic and is difficult to sustain. These considerations do not strike fear but rather interest for choreographers Jiří Kylián and Michael…
Many loyal dance-goers often focus their attention on performances within Manhattan and Brooklyn. But Montclair State University’s unique series Peak Performances gives us more than one reason to consider a short bus or train ride to Jersey.
This past weekend, I traveled to the Alexander Kasser Theater to see the US Premiere of Gardenia, a collaboration between Alain Platel, the artistic director of Les Ballets C de la B, theater director Frank van Laecke–both influenced by renowned Belgian playwright Vanessa Van Durme. Gardenia is more abstract theater piece than dance. But a close look reveals that movement is certainly at the core of this tale of transgender performers and their closing cabaret club. Platel’s trained eye for space, gesture and physicality brings a richness to a story that would be quite difficult to convey only in dialogue.
When “Prophets of Funk” opens at the Joyce Theater, Dorfman himself is the torch-bearer: the first mover we see. At first we are distracted by glitzy bell bottoms, afro-wigs and fringed vests, swept up in familiar sequences of ponies, grapevines, and snappy step-touch footwork. As if at a party suspended in time, we tap our foot to the familiar tunes and smile at the performers dancing together. It’s not all laymen’s steps– moments of line dancing are fluidly integrated with smooth turns, drops, and balances à la modern dance. Dorfman’s choreography calls for technique, theatricality, rhythm and charm. Video footage of the band is projected on the back screen and Sly himself is present (played by Raja Kelly). He has everyone in the palm of his hand.