Tuesday, June 13, 2023

New York Notebook, June 2023

Gallim in state, presaging the Martianscape of June 7. Photo: Steven Pisano

I took in some shows just before the atmospheric invasion from the Canadian wildfires that transformed the city into a Martian hellscape, if briefly. While it was pretty terrible feeling, it wasn't yet nuclear winter nor a permanent situation. But it did garner attention from all the media outlets based in the city, who amplified future warnings about climate change... perhaps the one upside.

Ballet Hispánico and Gallim are staples of the New York dance scene, and both showed how they have carved out strong reputations in the most densely populated dance hub in the world.

Ballet Hispánico June 3, 2023 City Center

The program exemplified the company’s core values: telling the stories of varied Hispanic cultures, and displaying their skilled technique.

New Sleep Duet by William Forsythe tilted toward abstract and cool. Fatima Andere, paired with Antonio Cangiano, allowed a smile in contrast to the sangfroid usually assumed in Forsythe’s ballet works. They performed the angular style with a lush plasticity.

Papagayos by Omar Román de Jesus is a surreal parable on power and its privileges and abuses. Amanda Del Valle conveyed a manic energy as a parrot in a shiny fringed jumpsuit who sought her hat—the token of power in a deadly game of musical chairs. Despite her show biz disposition, it carried shades of a nihilistic Ionesco story.

Ballet Hispánico in Sor Juana. Photo: Erin Baiano

In Sor Juana, Michelle Manzanales pays tribute to a complex historical figure—poet, feminist, nun, scholar, with the lithe, elegant Gabrielle Sprauve in the lead. Moving solos and duets are sandwiched between sections of movement for the ensemble, who stay in the same formation for too long. The striking costumes (by Sam Ratelle) change from formal colonial dresses to a nun’s habit to minimal bodysuits and trunks.

Pedro Ruiz celebrates Cuban music, social dance, and cigars in Club Havana. There’s plenty of partnering with lifts of all kinds, and somewhat forced, dated air of jollity and machismo/coyness, but it’s a solid, audience-pleasing closer.

Gallim in SAMA. Photo: Steven Pisano

Gallim, Joyce, June 4, 2023

This packed program encompassed Gallim’s talent and range, led by choreographer Andrea Miller.

The trio state begins with the smallest movements, mesmerizing tiny steps and direction shifts, danced by Emma Thesing, Vivian Pakkanen, and India Hobbs. These train your focus and show that even the most minute, highly controlled movement can be expressive. Middle sections allow for big, traveling steps and leaps. Jose Solís designed the smart costumes: slate tunics, blousy on top with fitted briefs and iridescent knee patches.

Sydney Chow and Gary Reagan performed a slapstick tour de force and affably wrassle like kids for dominance of a sofa in Castles, an excerpt of a full-length work, Fold Here.

No Ordinary Love, another remarkable chamber piece, was danced by Chalvar Monteiro and Issa Perez. They delivered the fluid, powerful, and impassioned choreography with great skill, making me wonder how humans could possibly be so beautiful and poetic.

SAMA—by Miller in collaboration with Rambert II and Gallim—is an explosive closer that builds to a fever pitch. It includes acrobatic dancers on stilts doing kicks, plus a cavalcade of unfettered leaps and twists, and dynamite ensemble sections in formations, plus smaller pullouts. A crowd-rousing finish to a dense program.

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