JOFFREY BALLET CONCERT GROUP
May 28, 2016
The program at New York Live Arts presented by Joffrey Ballet Concert Group (JBCG) gave several fine choreographers a chance to shine, as well as demonstrate the range and virtuosity expected of young ballet dancers today. The first challenge was Valse Fantaisie, choreographed by George Balanchine, with the original lighting by Jean Rosenthal recreated by David Moodey. So fast and precise with hints of romance indicated by the head dipping back as the girls fall out of their battements, this dance feels like a rite of passage, a test that few young ballet dancers can avoid. Immediately after, JBCG Artistic Director Davis Robertson stepped out to say he thinks of his company, not so much as a student company, as one comprised of professional dancers without a job, willing to work for low wages and experience.
The dancers looked their most polished in two commissioned choreographies: Confianza, a duet seamlessly choreographed by Roger Joffrey to music by Benjamin Brown, Steven Stern, Erik Satie and Max Richter, performed by Sergio Arranz & Victoria Santaguida in ballet slippers, and Tessellations, a fun ensemble work performed in socks, choreographed with steady invention by Gabrielle Lamb set to infectious music by The Amestoy Trio and Cat Power. Confianza opens with a solo for Arranz -- one to watch out for -- followed by a duet with Santaguida with whom he has a strong connection - re-confirmed during their dancing in Gerald Arpino’s Suite Saint-Saens that closed the program. Lamb plays with levels within her ensemble, fingers and floor work, and the image of the lone outsider quietly acting as a catalyst. Her innovative approach is oddly calming.
Dwight Rhoden’s And So It was, a world premiere (as was Confianza and Tessellations), starts with bare-chested men whose deep contractions set us up for an exhausting experience. Set to Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor, And So It Was is as fast and detailed as Valse Fantaisie, only more dense in its note by note attack.
Robertson re-appeared at the close to praise the commissioned choreographers who took no compensation, and to honor the recent passing of dance advocate and artist manager Alex Dube who had studied at the Robert Joffrey School of Ballet.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers