Performing Arts: Dance
December 14, 2019
Juilliard continues to mesmerize audiences with their conglomerate of extraordinary artists. Honoring the description on Juilliard’s dance program, New Dances Edition 2019 showcased four world-premieres by four innovative professional New York-based choreographers: Sight & Sound by Amy Hall Garner, This Great Wilderness by Jamar Roberts, Desde by Andrea Miller, and #PrayerforNow by Stephen Petronio. Damian Woetzel, President of The Juilliard School since 2017, graciously welcomed patrons and guests, and Alicia Graf Mack, Director of Juilliard’s Dance Division since 2018, proudly recognized choreographers Any Hall Garner and Andrea Miller as Juilliard’s alumni.

Sight & Sound showcased the high caliber of the Class of 2023. Rippling cannon phrases and peeling formations elegantly drew out the malleability of the dancers whose lines and costumes glowed like golden brushstrokes in the darkness. Cambrés grew into deep arches that melted into the floor, resuming in off-balance suspensions. Flexed feet gestured alternatively and accented needlepoint light strokes created by the dancer’s jetés. The work’s abstract dynamic narrative accelerated into a crescendo. Transitions were marked by the spatial arrangements of the thick golden horizontal rim of the translucent backdrop. The work ended with the cinematic effect of a descending line of golden light beams crossing against the last dancer to approach center stage.

This Great Wilderness augmented the melodic lines of "The Song of the Silent Dragon" composed by Oded Tzur and played by Juilliard Jazz. The Saxophone’s soothing protagonism was lusciously conveyed by the dense movement quality maintained by the Class of 2022. In counterpoint, sharp gestures highlighted the cymbal’s crisp timbre counterbalanced by oozing isolations, visually amplifying the base’s vibrations. The pleasing simplicity of the geometric floor pattern defined by dancers bordering the stage’s periphery were maintained through subtle merging transitions of effortless shape-flow phrases.

Desdetook the audience on an extraneous fiction journey. Dancers from the Class of 2021 progressively appeared upstage as they crossed through a thick fog curtain contained within an abysm of darkness indirectly lit by an irradiating circumference of backlights suspended center stage. Throughout the storyline, dancers continually dripped into space advancing in intriguing twisting bent shapes in high relevé dramatically enhanced by minimal expressive gestures. Tall figures conveyed by duets carrying their partners in a standing position over their shoulders followed.

As the storyline’s tension built up, massive amorphous trio compositions entered the scene carrying partners wrapped over their torso while dragging another partner by one of their limbs. Some concentric dragging partners gained momentum lifting in mid-air, transitioning into a dialogue of sculpture counterbalance compositions.

Petronio’s legacy furthered the reference to New York City’s post-modern heritage. His choreographic statement was conveyed through a bright white stage occupied by three vertical blackboards, like the ones flanking the house doors of the Peter Jay Sharp Theater’s lobby. The piece started as three dancers entered the space to write on a board a word of the choreography’s title: #PrayerForNow.

As the work progressed, its creative discourse was enhanced by lively suspended prances conjugated with vertically elongated body lines combining straight arms reaching in fourth position decorated by angular attitudes held à la seconde. The costumes for the Class of 2020 designed by Fritz Masten consisted of flowing short A-shape gowns in shades of grays and beiges, reminiscent of Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection, which added a unique touch of playful elegance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriella Estrada

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