Performing Arts: Dance
  Fall For Dance Progrmam #5
October 5, 2022
New York City Center’s annual Fall for Dance Festival has continued to ramp up its in-person programming since its entirely virtual 2020 season. This year many international companies are welcomed back to the stage, and Program 5 showcased this with three delightfully different dances.

First was Poornarati, a collaboration between the traditional Indian Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and Sri Lankin Chitrasena Dance Company, which simultaneously performed Odissi and Kandan styles of dance with exceptional focus and talent.

Accompanied by a mesmerizing ensemble of live musicians, the dancers were ethereal as they floated about the stage with their arms and legs catching exquisite contortions. Huge barrel roll jumps were matched with wide eyes, their whites surely visible from nosebleed seats, and dexterous fingers alighted with precise mudras.

The Dutch National Ballet’s contribution to the program was Hans Van Manen’s Variations for Two Couples, in which all four dancers were truly powerhouse performers executing the virtuosic choreography with ease, its immense difficulty betrayed only by their sweat-slicked unitards.

The dance was full of lifts and glides that mimicked flight and legs reaching skyward, all while retaining a degree of humor such as when the dancers’ heads bobsled back and forth in time with the vibrato of the stringed instruments that filled the score. As the two couples enter and exit, their motions mirror each other -- although never in perfect symmetry -- a reminder that precision does not require uniformity.

Closing out the program was the Martha Graham Company’s new work, Cave, choreographed by Hofesh Shechter. Driven by a throbbing techno track (by AME and Shechter) the twelve dancers churned with molecular dance-club rhythms, a sea of limbs that bent and snapped like chemical reactions coursing through liquid.

Lighting by Yi-Chung Chen elevated the performance in unexpected ways, as the dancers were often only half visible in the saturated light puddled on the stage, evoking the energy of a fantastic party where something breathtaking was always happening just out of sight.

A solo by Leslie Andrea Williams rounded out the piece, wilting and grooving along with the deep music. Her long braids tumbling down her back brought incredible texture to the near darkness. Each performance was met with raucous applause, beckoning the dancers back for multiple rounds of bows, and culminating in a standing ovation for Cave.

With a crack and burst of light confetti rained down on performers and audience alike, marking a truly joyous afternoon of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

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