Performing Arts: Dance
December 13, 2019
Buglisi Dance Theatre presented a two-day engagement of their New York City winter season at The Ailey Citigroup Theater: The Joan Weill Center for Dance. Entitled Ode to the Planet and Humanity, choreographer and founder Jacqulyn Buglisi presented a mixed bill of world premiers, original choreography, and up and coming works from young artists.

Moss Anthology: Variation 5 opened the program. Choreographed by Buglisi, the world premier of the work is part of a larger series of ballets which was created as a response to the climate change crisis. A projection created along the back wall engulfed the dancers, and guided them through the sequencing of the work. At the beginning of the piece the projection shows mosses, forests, and streams. The music, composed by Jeff Beal, contains percussion integrated with sounds of the earth. In response, the dancers’ movement quality is light as it swoops through Graham spirals.

Dancers salute the heavens and the earth in high releases and grounded gestures. However, as the projection shifts into blazing fires and desolate landscapes the movement follows. What once was radiant, transitions into anxiety. Dancers gesture by covering their eyes. Beal’s compositional tone moves into bleak chanting. However, in the final movement there is one last shift of hope. Dancers find elegance once more as the score shifts back into its original playfulness. In a reaffirmation of life, the dancers are fearless, grateful, and humble in their bodies and their spirits as the lights dim.

The other world premier on the program was a solo choreographed by Buglisi for Blakeley White-McGuire. In the Name of the Fire, and the Flame, and Grace,/i> is a sizzling juxtaposition to Moss Anthology. Full of angst, grief, and fear McGuire’s movement is stripped to the bone in a captivating drama.

Tension in her body rises to an unparalleled level causing her to shake and collapse. She screams silently, hits the ground in fits of pain and tremors. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the mood captured by McGuire’s body language is worth a thousand more. Even more so than the movement vocabulary, McGuire’s performance is thrilling, captivating, and heart-wrenching.

The rest of the program features the work of young choreographer Meagan King in her emotional quintet about the Central Park Five. Though the choreography and sequencing is under-developed, King’s work is a passionate call to arms on racial discrimination.

Unuman all male trio created by Virginie Mécène, though conceptually clear, felt overpowered by the score’s sounds of medical machinery created by Jacopo Baboni-Schilingi. Another duet by Ron de Jesus, in comparison to the rest of the program, was a very basic contemporary duet about passion. The show closed with an older work of Buglisi’s and a star studded cast of Graham principals. The work, entitled Sand was a class act of movement, design, and performance. It was a joyous way to close the program with a tremendously talented yet humble group of movers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

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