The Vision Thing: An Evening of Dance in Port Chester
A small suburban troupe on the outskirts of the dance capital has no business being as good as Ballet des Amériques. New York City steals all the thunder, and a big share of the lightning as well.
How does a small company outside the city attract such talented dancers? How does it compete with well-funded brand names a train ride away?
The answer is Vision with a capital V.
There has to be an artistic Vision that the dancers share with a Company Director.
It must be an artistic Vision that is clear, strong, bright and imbued with hope.
This Vision must be backed up by great choreography that captures the imagination of the dancer and reinforces the sense of mission shared with the Director.
In the case of Ballet des Amériques, the Director and Choreographer are one and the same, and the Vision is hers.
Carole Alexis shares with her dancers an artistic Vision that embraces diversity while building on tradition; nurtures talent while demanding discipline; pushes well beyond ballet while requiring excellent classical technique; expands the limits of music and movement, of color and tone, of ethnicity and gender, while respecting the pursuit of the ultimate - the essence – Art with a capital A.
On Saturday night at the March 25th Evening of Dance, this Artistic Vision was on display.
From the first of the brief modern and classical pieces that introduce us to the dancers and the dance on these evenings, we were given glimpses of the Vision – a strong performance by Irene Przywara in Legba; Ashley Cook and Jenna Simon so precise and joyous in the bit of Sleeping Beauty that always leaves us wanting more; the energy of Alex Ina Rose Bocca (who also dazzled in the Bizet piece that closed out the first segment), the majesty and grandeur of Christine Sawyer, and a bravura performance by the magnificent Isodale Alexis who has returned fully from injury and leapt to a new level, in excerpts from Don Quixote.
Jenna Simon and Garrett McCann deserve raves for their synchronicity in Évocations. They have perfected the illusion of one dancer in two bodies over the course of these Evenings.
However, the two works in progress that followed the first intermission project the Vision most Vividly.
Bolero is even more cohesive, even more engaging, even more thrilling. Last month’s version seemed finished to us but the Artist, the choreographer, Madame Alexis knows better. Always. This time the forward and upward motion was even more organic. Despite being down an injured dancer, the company reached out to the audience and pulled us in. At the end, the shouts of encouragement were spontaneous and indicative of the emotional power of this further refined work of Art.
After the second intermission came the finale, Lentil Soup.
At present, it is the dessert, though we expect someday it will be the appetizer.
Wherever it appears on the menu each night, it is hard to believe it can be any tastier. But, once again, it defied expectation.
We have learned that all dance is jazz, in that, even the most perfect classical dancer adjusts to the stage, to infinitesimal musical differences, to the temperature in the room, to the emotional engagement of the audience, from one performance to the next. So no two performances are identical. Would it not be boring, no matter how brilliant the execution, if they were?
Alex Ina Rose Bocca may have moved a bit differently in her solo than when we last saw her even if this segment has not changed. We notice because she pulls us in with her energy, her commitment, her immersion in her character, her seemingly effortless, yet excellent, dancing. So her Prayer in Lentil Soup is always fascinating. How will she engage us next time?
While Bolero seems a vertical dance, reaching, perhaps, to the moon, Lentil Soup comes from the earth and remains of the earth, though unbound, like beasts of the jungle running free.
Victoria Kress and Mauricio Zenteno, though not featured, were exemplary on Saturday night. They were powerful forces in Lentil Soup and Bolero. Mauricio's partnering is becoming a strength and Victoria is distinguishing herself further with each performance.
These dancers – all the dancers of Ballet des Amériques – bring passion, commitment and talent to the studio, to the stage, to the company, to us.
Ballet des Amériques is the premier dance company of Westchester County with a studio in Port Chester and their residence at the Tarrytown Music Hall.
Like many of the dancers, dance fans from New York City are travelling north.
They too want to share the Artistic Vision of Madame Alexis and Ballet des Amériques.
-- Frank De Ligio 3-25-17