music originated in the large Jewish arts scene of the Ukrainian port city Odessa (as well as other Eastern European cities) early in the last century. Here, played and sung live in Yiddish by The Klezmatics
, the dancers don’t quite feel at home, yet moments in this extended version of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’
s BALAMOUK ring true. When everyone else leaves the stage and dancer Ingrid Silva surveys the space alone, her focus and stillness draw me in. Authenticity in the community also transpires briefly when the women of the cast assemble around her. But as soon as the men rejoin, the work meanders between trying very hard to please the audience and trying even harder to reassure one another that a good time is being had. Extending this “shtetl shtick” for the dancers of DTH simply was not a good idea.
Dance Theatre of Harlem in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "Balmouk" Ingrid Silva in Front ; Photo by Christopher Duggan
s HIGHER GROUND
opens the program and listening to Stevie Wonder’s tunes guarantees a good experience. Garland’s love and respect for the artist is evident and he illustrates the songs with care. The dancers look well rehearsed and make their way through changing patterns; the work itself moves along without a glitch.
Dance Theatre of Harlem Company Artist, Anthony Santos in Robert Garland's "Higher Ground." Photo by Theik Smith
The dancers who looked timid in Tuesday’s performance, relax into the more laid-back style of this particular Garland work on Friday. With their shoulders dropped, they connect with one another. I am grateful I had the opportunity to see it again.
Dance Theatre of Harlem Company Artists Kouadio Davis and Alexandra Hutchinson in Higher Ground. Photo by Theik Smith.jpg
Dance Theatre of Harlem Company Artists: Alexandra Hutchinson, Ingrid Silva, and Amanda Smith in "Odalisques Variations" from Marius Petipa's Le Corsaire. Photo by Theik Smith
A glitch at the end of the first of Petipa’
s “Odalisques Variations” (from Le Corsaire
) proves to be the most exciting moment of the gala evening. After an engaging performance of her solo, dancer Yinet Fernandez
ever so briefly balances before her pointe shoe seems to collapse under her. Within a split second she recovers and beams happily in a glorious final pose on one knee. Taking on the "Odalisques Variations" is a noble task. Here, too, the respect for the work seems to stiffen the dancers’ necks and shoulders. This should be easily remedied. The Limón Dance Company which emphasizes the freedom of these parts in their daily classes is housed on DTH’s premises.
Dance Theatre of Harlem in Claudia Schreier’s "Passage" : Photo by Theik Smith
On Friday’s program Claudia Schreier
’s ensemble work PASSAGE
replaces the Variations. Jessie Montgomery
’s score played live by an octet under the baton of David LaMarche
supports the dance’s traveling trio and quartet formations. In each grouping one performer swims through space ingeniously suspended by their peers. All too soon the magic dissolves into more conventional partnering routines and patterns. Yet Schreier moves the skillful dancers around with ease. Nicole Pearce
’s lighting and costumes by Martha Chamberlain
complete a look that is intriguing, even if it might further contribute to the work’s somewhat heavy-handed spirituality.