VICTORY DANCE PROJECT
June 6, 2015
Victory Dance Project presented its first anniversary celebration at Ailey Citigroup Theater during a special one-night-only program that featured the works of Artistic Director Amy Jordan - including a world premiere - and the first ever Artist for Peace Award.
This movement-centric project is incredibly personal as it evolved following Jordan's journey back from a near fatal car accident. The program host Grant Cooper asks the audience, "What happens when a dancer one day can no longer dance?" In a short video excerpt we see her struggle in the hospital - "everything about my identity, gone" - and make her long-awaited return to the studio where she begins to learn a new way to teach and choreograph.
With the dedication of the Victory Dance Project company members she has built a modest repertory and presents a new work in the one hour program entitled "People, Power & Possibility." It opens with “Big Fun,” a jazzy work, danced by four male and four female dancers, which uses classic body lines, repetitive patterns, and token technical moves - from fouette turns to hitch kicks.
The second dance, "Imaginarium," proved one of the most memorable. Soloist Florient Cador glides to the classic song, "My Funny Valentine," with an impressive fluidity and enviable leg extensions. Here the style is far more contemporary. A loose storyline of longing is carried through the song and minimal props (a bench with a blazer strewn atop it), but it's the beauty of Cador’s execution that really captivates.
The world premiere follows, which is an excerpt of a work titled "Thru the Looking Glass." The contemporary style continues as the dancers gravitate towards and pull away from the light of four distinct spotlights. As the music builds in intensity, the choreography follows with harsher accents, before they ultimately return to the confines of their spotlight.
Prior to the closing work of the program, the First Annual Artist for Peace Award is presented to dance legend Renee Robinson who spent over three decades performing for Alvin Ailey. In her acceptance speech, the eloquent Robinson notes that while she may have brought inspiration and hope around the world - as the award so honors - it was only possible thanks to others inspiring her along the way.
“Human Revolution,” a contemporary ballet in five parts, completes the program. Five male dancers give the most clean and synchronized performance in the first section of the work, set to Afro Celtic Sound. Here the choreography welcomes new dynamic in its structure and highlights the individual strengths of the dancers in subtle ways. Soon a male and female dancer encounter one another, in a playful struggle for a singular black hat.
Kelly Clarkson’s “Addicted” takes the work to an unexpected place with five female dancers in red dresses swirling through the technique-based moves, a sash of black fabric in one hand. A sultrier, less poised vibe comes in the fourth section, and by the fifth all the dancers grace the stage for a high energy, ensemble-driven finale. The girl gets the hat in the end.
EYE ON THE ARTS, New York, NY – Jenny Thompson