Performing Arts: Dance
October 25, 2020
As time goes on during the pandemic, and especially in the wake of the election, I have found it difficult to get excited over online dance. Nevertheless the show must go on, and in a completely COVID-friendly setting New York City Center managed to pull off its first ever digital Fall for Dance. Though hushed and scaled back, the festival no doubt produced stimulating new work.

Opening with a trio of women from Ballet Hispanico, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s 18+1 was a gestural and flirty number. Though there were solo moments of silence and seriousness, the piece served to be the largest of the program, making for an adequate opener in an otherwise subtle festival lineup.

The second piece was a standout solo from Alvin Ailey’s resident choreographer Jamar Roberts. Marani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God) was self choreographed and performed, and commissioned by New York City Center for the virtual festival. The movement certainly carried allusions to the title, with Roberts’ presence fluctuating from wrathful and vengeful to understated and gentle. A timely reflection on the black male experience in America, Roberts’ solo was filled with graceful strength, and ended with notes of optimism.

Thirdly came a powerful and historic rendition of Lamentation by Martha Graham. Originally set in 1930, there are hallowing parallels to the economic and emotional depression we face now as a country. This was the first time the solo has been performed by a black woman in the United States, and Natasha Diamond-Walker performed the iconic role with elegance. Graham herself described the work as the “personification of grief”, and it is only fitting that the work continues to take shape 90 years later.

Closing the program was the highly anticipated duet between David Hallberg and Sara Mearns. Having never danced together before, the dancers met in a folkloric union choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Floating along to the gruff sound of Joni Mithcell, Mearns exuded soft joy while Hallberg was a stoic presence in The Two of Us. Together in their pas, their moments of synchronicity left me wanting more.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

©2001 Eye and Dance and the Arts | All Rights Reserved