Performing Arts: Dance
August 12, 2022
REJOICE - RECLAIM - REMEMBER… words on banners framing the stage were important reminders of New Yorkers’ celebration of dance following the pandemic, as five iconic companies joined together in the second BAAND Together performance on Thursday, August 11. BAAND Together Dance Festival, (which is an acronym for Ballet Hispánico, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem), showcased all five companies on a spectacular summer evening.

One for All, a World Premiere by Colombian/Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, featured fourteen dancers from all five companies, set to music by Dizzy Gillespie & Funky Lowlives, opened the evening. Costumed in white fluffy tutus, black tights and formal long sleeved black gloves -- men bare chested and women in nude colored leotard tops -- the dancers enveloped the stage in various formations of solos, duets, trios, sextets, and a final unison grouping, preening, posing, and flirting with the audience to the sexy rhythms of the music.

Pedro Ruiz, Cuban born and trained choreographer, used ten Ballet Hispánico dancers in his signature work, Club Havana (2000), with Afro/Cuban/Latin musical selections by Israel Lopez, Rubén Gonzales, A.K. Salim, Perez Prado and Francisco Repilado. The rhythms of the conga, rumba, mambo, and cha cha helped bring to life scenes of Cuban night clubs and mating rituals. Five men and five women embraced, swaggered, and tangoed, in sensuous dreamy duets, trios… lifting, draping, and surrounding their partners, while cigar and cigarette smoke embellished the atmosphere. Costume designer, Emilio Sosa, dressed the women in dramatic gold, red, green, blue, and magenta cocktail dresses and the men in stunning suits to match.

Pas de Duke, An Ailey classic, originally choreographed in 1976 for Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov by Alvin Ailey, is set to classic music by Duke Ellington, (“Such Sweet Thunder” (1957), “Sonnet for Caesar” (1957), “Sonnet to Hank Cinq” (1957), “The Clothed Woman” (1948), “Old Man Blues” (1930)). It featured performers, Jacqueline Harris, one of Ailey’s finest, dressed in black, who found her match with ABT’s Herman Cornejo, in white. They enjoyed the ease of a friendly, competitive partnership in five sections: solos and duets, which showcased their technical brilliance and light hearted self assurance.

New York City Ballet’s Red Angels, choreographed by the late Ulysses Dove in 1994, was absolute perfection on stage as four exquisite, flawless dancers: Emilie Gerrity, Ashley Hod, Davide Riccardo, and Peter Walker, all costumed in flattering red unitards by designer Holly Hynes, and lit in red by Mark Stanley, embodied technical magic on stage to composer Richard Einhorn’s unrelenting score (Maxwell’s Demons) which was performed live by Mary Rowell on electric violin. The stunning ending silhouetted the dancers at the back of the stage, lit in white from above, truly angels on earth.

When Love (2012), a duet by choreographer Helen Pickett partnering with composer Philip Glass’s "Knee 5" from Einstein on the Beach, repeatedly asked the question “How Much Do I Love You?” Dance Theater of Harlem’s Daphne Lee and Kouadio Davis achieved a fast paced, sometimes frenzied connection, in Pickett’s desire to represent timeless love and devotion.

Love Stories (2004) (excerpt), the finale of the evening, choreographed by Ailey Artistic Director, Robert Battle, did not disappoint and was the highlight of the evening. Nine prolific dancers in shades of red and orange jumpsuits banded together to express imagination, playfulness, joy, enthusiasm, the power of community, and the power of dance, to Stevie Wonder’s riveting rhythms and inimitable harmonica. A standing ovation followed the performance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

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