16 October 2009

Flashback Friday: Fall for Dance (10.1) Review

A few weeks back I attended two Fall for Dance Festival performances. This is my review of Program 4.

From socialites on the Riviera to a primitive world, Program 4 of the Fall for Dance Festival featured exhibitions with a variety of slice-of-life themes.

As soon as the curtain opened for Ballet West’s “Les Biches,” the dancers exuded mannerisms of French socialites on the Riviera and displayed poise from a time long gone that was reminiscent of an Audrey Hepburn movie. As the piece began, it became apparent why this dance was risqué for its time. The women did everything to attract the attention of the athletes, and who could blame them. Compared to the women’s ladylike personas, the athletes displayed strength and power.

The storyline of this piece made it enjoyable to watch, as did the easy interaction among the cast. It was playful and had all the elements of a well-written soap opera – drama, comedy and romance. The dancers various groupings worked well. When certain characters were in the spotlight more, the rest of the cast did not take away from their moment.

The costuming for this piece was beautiful and really allowed the performance to come to life, as did the set.

Dendy Dancetheater’s “Afternoon of the Faunes” is not to be confused with “Afternoon of a Faun.” Although both pieces use the same music composition, these dances are highly different. This piece is more of a slice of life in the busy afternoons of the fauns, complete with play, rest and food while the original was about the interaction among the nymphs and the faun.

This excellent variation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s classic piece is a classic in its own right. It was interesting to see a different dance done to the same piece of music. The motif of the piece was the characters’ constant running. The way they executed this movement was intriguing. The dancers did not run like they were running on a treadmill or running after a missed bus. Their movements were animalistic in nature, perfect for the fauns they portrayed. As the dancers were able to hit every mark, it was apparent that much practice had gone into this number. At various points during the dance, one could liken some of the movements to break dancing. The energy level in this routine did not wane at any point. It was high energy from beginning to end.

To give the dancers even more of an animalistic feel, they wore shorts made of a fur-like material. The lighting also played a part in this performance. The stage was dark as the dancers danced in the spotlights. As the stage grew brighter, their movements were not as intense and slightly more playful.

In “Grand Duo” the dancers brought a primitive world to life. The dancers’ movements were weighted. This worked well with the tribal rituals they emulated. The color palette of their costumes was very earthy, which was brilliant for this dance.

As in “Afternoon of the Faunes,” “Grand Duo” also made full use of the lighting. The stage was dark for the most part, but there was a stream of light above the heads of the dancers in which they placed their hands. The effect looked like fire which was perfect for the primitivity they portrayed.

This Fall for Dance program featured diverse dances that were very enjoyable to watch from beginning to end.

(photo from nytimes.com)

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