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IMPRESSIONS: Neville Dance Theatre's "Celebrating Women Composers Concert"

IMPRESSIONS: Neville Dance Theatre's "Celebrating Women Composers Concert"
Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram
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Published on March 29, 2023
Kristin Klein's "The Pursuit"; photo by Andrew Mauney

Event: Neville Dance Theatre's "Celebrating Women Composers Concert"
Choreographers:   Brenda R. Neville, Lauren Settembrino, Kristen Klein
Dancers: Mackenzie Allen, Kayla Armgardt, Laura Dearman, Tori Hey, Shoshana Mozlin, Mauricio Vera Nunez, Cassandra Punzo, Charles E. Scheland, Lauren Settembrino, and Amanda Summers
Composers: Hildur Guðnadóttir with Hauschka & Reynolds, Helen Jane Long, Molly Joyce, Zoe Keating, Lo Kristenson, Valentina Magaletti, Nkeiru Okoye, Caroline Shaw, and Zamilska

Venue: Manhattan Movement & Arts Center

Date: March 25, 2023

In celebration of Women's History Month, Brenda R. Neville presented a program of women composers at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, choreographed by three New Yorkers: herself, Lauren Settembrino, a company dance member, and Kristen Klein. Among the composers included was Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, one of 19 women composers commissioned by New York Philharmonic in 2020, at that time, the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history. May these programs prompt more attention and opportunities for women composers!

Klein's THE PURSUIT set to the propulsive music of (Valentina Magaletti's Rumours of Bread) was the standout  of the evening with Settembrino being the dancer whose commitment and focus most consistently grabbed your eye. Magaletti, a young Italian born, London-based drummer who experiments with sounds, was a good choice for Klein's piece in which the movement is unpredictable and imagistic — twice, the girls paused on their behinds, their shoulders pulled back, like spiders wary of another spider entering their territory.

Seated on the dance floor, a dark-haired white woman, extends her left leg upward, held around the thigh with her left hand. Her right arm is above her head. She wears light blue calf length pants and a spaghetti strap top..
Lauren Settembrino in her solo, FLEE PORNEIA; photo by Andrew Mauney

Settembrino,  a young graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, performed her own solo FLEE PORNEIA which begs the question whether it is possible to expel or, at least, defy belief systems. Ruin and Duel two songs by Zamilska, a Polish composer of electronic music born 1989, drive this dance which begins with the soloist on the floor, tracing a half circle with a finger three times. She later sparks to life with riveting energy, provoking a WOW from the audience.

After performing with Milwaukee Ballet, Indianapolis Dance Company, Mark DeGarmo & Dancers, as well as musicals, Neville founded her dance company in 2005. This year’s program opened with her ECLIPSE set to a minimalist piano piece of the same name by British composer/pianist Helen Jane Long. Her dancers run on with naked legs on point to make a series of balletic poses, overlapping each other in generic designs.

A portion of ticket proceeds will go to the Willie Mae Rock Camp, a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls and gender-expansive youth through music education and mentorship.

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