Performing Arts: Dance
May 19, 2019
Absolutely remarkable! Celebrating New York Dance Project’s second year, Davis Robertson, Co- Founder and Artistic Director, and Nicole Duffy Robertson, Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director, showcased a series of choreographic treasures from America’s unique dance scene at Symphony Space on May 13, 2019.

Curated by both directors, former Joffrey dancers and répétiteurs for The Gerald Arpino Foundation, the program titled “Beyond Ballet” offered a gamut of styles ranging from Bournonville’s Romantic ballet to neoclassical repertoire, as well as post-neoclassical and contemporary dance works created for their company.

With a commitment to artistry surpassing any expectation, the program was embellished through an array of fine and audacious dancers demonstrating a profound investment in the style and choreographic intention of each signature choreographer. From the breathless delicate grace expressed in Napoli’s Romanticism to the rampant ground-shaking afro-contemporary Battlefield, the audience erupted in a mix of gasps and shouts of praise.

The evening was graced by the elegant chivalry displayed by guest artist, Joaquin de Luz, New York City Ballet Principal dancer and upcoming director of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, whose appointment will start this summer.

The program opened on the cutting-edge slick Sonnaufgang (Sunrise - 2019), choreographed by Davis Robertson with music by Joseph Haydn, exploring the musical motifs of unpredictability, conflict, and harmony resolved through defiant contemporary dynamism within a post-neoclassical ballet aesthetic.

Robert Joffrey’s Gamelan (Excerpts - 1963), dormant since its 1968 revival, was welcomed back. His harmonious compositions were enlivened by Maria Gabriela Perez Quintero in the role of the Warrior Goddess, and the delicate trio of The Bird, The Wind and The Hunter, performed by Brittany Larrimer, Joseph Peñaloza, and Ivan Tocchetti respectively.

Work in Progress drafted shape-flow-bold trio compositions by Dwight Rhoden, Founding Artistic Director/resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

The dance community happily celebrated Nicole Duffy’s restaging of one of the most popular works by Gerald Arpino, Birthday Variations (1986), a work created to Giuseppe Verdi’s score commissioned as a gift to the Chicago Opera House owner. Embellished with costumes designed by Stanley Simmone the versatile ballerina quintet comprised Megan Foley, Cheyenne Fitzsimons, Maria Gabriela Perez Quintero, Jenna Torgeson, Ashley Eleby, and Francesca Kraszewski was supported by Steven Scarduzio’s elegant partnering.

After a brief pause, A Suite of Dances (1994) paid tribute to the chameleonic choreographic talents of Jerome Robbins. The three variations honored Bach’s emotive solo cello suite composition, masterfully interpreted by NYCB former Principal, Joaquín de Luz, in alliance with the solemn performance of internationally respected cellist Sujin Lee. Each suite evolved as a heart to heart conversation between Joaquín’s pensive pizzazz, Sujin’s melodic embroidery, and each patron.

Peace Piece (2018) shifted the evening’s tone with a contemporary work collaboratively choreographed by Tyler Gilstrap and the cast’s dancers. Soloist, Ivan Tocchetti, eloquently melded rich movement qualities against the conglomerating the corps as they morphed through contrasting jazz tones from Bill Evans’ album “Everybody Digs Bill” and the interjected percussive beat by Chemical Brothers.

Delightfully, the company’s youngest talent, Francesca Kraszewski, brought to life August Bournonville’s Napoli (1821) which relays the story of a young Italian girl in love, admirably conveying the beautiful aesthetic essence of Denmark’s ballet legacy.

Robert Battle’s Battlefield (2001), a contemporary choreographic uproar amazed everyone. Thoroughly invested in the piece, the dancers unleashed earthy African and Caribbean movement references. It was amazing to witness the young company’s versatility, commitment, and stamina as they concluded their second evening’s back to back program.

A remarkable amount of artistic investment fueled the NYDP pushing forward our rich ballet and modern dance heritage. Certainly, the transcendence of their work will endorse the future legacy of the dancers who embellish their vision. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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