Performing Arts: Dance
November 1, 2018
The American Dance Guild held its annual festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, also known as The Joan Weill Center for Dance. With the objective to convene established and emerging choreographers from around the globe, the festival included works by forty choreographers. This year’s celebration was dedicated to honor master choreographers, Jane Comfort and Eleo Pomare. As the titles suggest, the evening included nine contrasting works: Cantata by Cathryn Alter, Cante Flamenco by Jane Dudley, Like Remembering: Heavy Water by Gloria McLean, For the Price of Five Cows by Sabrina Wong, Perilune by Sue Bernhard, Veiled by Cherylyn Lavagnino, Good Game, Yo! by Stafford C. Berry Jr., Howl! by Cori Kresge, and On the Night Plain by Meghan E. Phillips.

Cantata presented a reflective quintet of female dancers dressed in hooded autumn-tone garments, developing a series of arm gestures and thematic sequences forming a dialogue journey of support. Reminiscent of Martha Graham’s aesthetic, Christina Sanchez performed Cante Flamenco, accompanied by the recording of Media Granaína by flamenco singer, Chato de Valencia. Dressed in a mustard “A” cut, long dress adorn by a toreador’s sleeveless jacket, Sanchez presented an impeccable variation interlacing Spanish prototype gestures, with Graham’s spirals, epaulements, contractions, parallel attitudes, arm lines, hinges descending to the floor. While striking her closing pose, she received an “Ole!” from the audience.

Like Remembering: Heavy Water, choreographed by Gloria McLean, the dance honored its theme conveying a bound weight bearing deconstruction and constraint. The duet formed by Mariko Endo and Gloria McLeaf was dedicated to Mrinalini Sarabhai and Lucky Dragon-Five.

Within a discursive myriad of multi-language texts, Sabrina Wong made a poignant statement denouncing crimes against women. For the Price of Five Cows opened with a striking triangular wall formation constructed by eight women dressed in various red clothing facing the cyclorama. The vigorous debate consisted of bounded stillness and escaping rushes, groups creating support structures, or individuals being trapped by hidden bodies. These contemporary dance phrases incorporated Bartenieff technique, and acrobatics. It built up to a conclusion where the triangular wall formation to the proscenium was brought to the front, this time with the dancers facing towards the audience.

Courtney Lopes and Elisa Schreiber performed Sue Bernhard’s Perilune. This two-part duet consisted of an introspective austere contemporary movement conversation of fluid over-curving thematic sequences reflected in the partnering and contact gestures in part “A,” which transitioned to sudden, celebratory movement.

Veiled presented a narrative of somber female dancers dressed in post-war gray skits and brown blouses. Sequentially laying down in stately parallel column formations, group proceeded through linear floor pattern configurations accentuated by connecting gestures. Stafford C. Berry Jr. opened Good Game, Yo! designing a lighter proposal with a dab of comic satire. The opening section introduced three female cheerleaders in theatrical improvisation combining spoken language facial gestures, street dancing, twerking, and extensively sustained poses. The scene transitioned as five male basketball players occupied the stage exchanging athletic training and modern dance themes with profanity over a summertime soundtrack by Annie Lennox.

Howl! consisted of a soloist dressed in black leggings and a shimmering reflecting tank top, headed in a sustained slow trajectory diagonally across the stage accompanied by an excruciating recording of howling sounds. On the Night Plain closed the evening with a quintet of neoclassical ballet dancers dressed in black unitards and a black wraparound skirts, displaying a plethora of lines, batterie and across-the-floor sequences.

Although the performance suffered several technical issues with the lighting, entrances, and exits, the community benevolently showed their sincere appreciation to the joint effort of the organization, and the diverse participants, in supporting the preservation of dance legends and the development of emerging artists.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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