Performing Arts: Dance
June 14, 2014
In its Brooklyn Academy of Music debut, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet presented repertory Wednesday evening. The company celebrating its 10th anniversary also welcomes Alexandra Damiani as the newly appointed artistic director. Three different programs were shown over their four-day run, including work by associate choreographer Crystal Pite. Opening night featured only one piece, the hour and twenty minute “Orbo Novo,” from choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Four large walls from designer Alexander Dodge fill the stage. They fold and extend, at times joining together to create large cages and at other points separating back space from the front, consequently entrapping whomever occupies the space. One dancer climbs the wall, calculating every step, as she contorts her body by displacing her limbs in the structured squares that make up the wall. She punctures her body through one empty square space and slinks to the other side.

Inspired by Jill Bolte Taylor’s memoir “My Stroke of Insight,” the first half of the piece is laden with text often spoken by several dancers in unison. Gesturing their hands and arms with delicate precision, their words differentiate the right hemisphere of the brain (the present) and the left hemisphere (the past and the future.)

As the words fade away, the movement picks up. Soon enough the ensemble of sixteen roll over their shoulders in a fish flop before jetting forward to spin in a squatted position. The choreography is tricky and floor work focused. These dancers are technical and strong, but it feels they are working too hard and we can sense it. In part the movement doesn’t give time for soft transitions and the sequencing has no direction.

The male dancers undress at one point and as beautiful as their bodies are the intention isn’t clear. They put back on their clothes a short time later and we can’t be sure why. Cherkaoui’s piece has entertainment value and the set gives way for exciting possibilities, many of which are fulfilled by the sheer athleticism of the dancers. However, as an evening work I’m left feeling underwhelmed.

Damiani steps into an important role in the world of American dance, and her choice of this work is interesting. But perhaps the decision reflects the left brain instead of focusing on what may be right in the present moment.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

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