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IMPRESSIONS: RIOULT DANCE NYC in Written for Dance at The Joyce Theater

IMPRESSIONS: RIOULT DANCE NYC in Written for Dance at The Joyce Theater
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on June 19, 2018
"Nostalghia" RIOULT DANCE NY Photo by Eric Bandiero

RIOULT DANCE NY in Written For Dance
Presented by The Joyce Theater -May 30th thru June 3
Choreography/Conception: Pascal Rioult
Lighting: Jim French and David Finley//Costumes:Karen Young, Pilar Limosner, and Naomi Luppescu //Masks by: Anne Posluszny

Dancers: Joseph Columbus, Catherine Cooch, Alesander Druzbanski, Charis Haines, Jere Hunt, Corinna Lee Nicholson, Michael Spenser Phillips, Sara Elizabeth Seger, Sabatino A. Verlezza, Chaney Briggs

Musicians: Conductor/Composer Polina Nazaykinskaya
Piano: Konstantin Soukhovetski Clarinet: Julian Milkis Violin 1: Regi Papa Violin 2: Nikita Morozov Viola: Will Curry Cello: Ani Kalayjian Double Bass: Alexander Bickard

Pascal Rioult, as much a lover of music as he is of choreography, called attention to the work of Russian composers who wrote for dance in his recently completed Joyce Theater season.

The fanciful Dream Suite (2014) danced to Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C Major, finds the company’s gorgeous lead performer, Charis Haines, bathed in golden light, stretching in and out of a pleasant sleep. She dreams up masked creatures — two birds and a bull— who, mirroring the vivacity and romance of the music, run and duck with her among floating lovers, contorting couples, and a two-headed prankster. How enjoyable to watch these surreal characters cavorting in a whimsical space as if they just leapt out of a Chagall painting.

Dream Suite - Photo by Eric Bandiero

Aurally and visually arresting with sexy details by costumer Pilar Limosner, Rioult’s Les Noces (The Wedding) (2005), set to Igor Stravinsky’s emphatic composition for percussion, vocalists, and piano, presents a contemporary dissection of the marriage ritual. The ballet’s music, originally dedicated, to Sergei Diaghilev by Stravinsky, was first choreographed in 1923 by Bronislava Nijinska. Her work, which many consider a 20th-century masterpiece, depicts the traditions of a Russian folk wedding by powerfully setting movement motifs of a large corps against the simple actions of a bride and groom and their parents. The marriage ritual is portrayed as essential to the community’s continuation — its hope and soul.

Les Noces - Photo by Eric Bandiero

Rioult’s darker take shows the wedding ceremony not as rite of a society's promise, but rather as a race towards doom. After a period of steamy shenanigans, where four men and four women aggressively preen in separate dressing rooms, the couples engage in lengthy rounds of athletic debauchery. Their orgy continues until what was once sensual becomes mechanical.  Finally, as the death knell of wedding bells arrives, the brides and grooms appear welded together and stunned, their identities lost to paralyzing wedded bliss. This matrimonial dance could have easily been dreamt up by Stephen King.

Les Noces - Photo by Eric Bandiero

For the world premiere of NOSTALGHIA, we are treated to a live musical performance conducted by Polina Nazaykinskaya, the work’s phenomenal, young composer.  Romantic, lush, and sweeping, her score feels cinematic. Indeed the piece is an ode to the poetic vision of Russian filmmaker Andreï Tarkovsky of whom Ingmar Bergman said “…he moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams…”

Hypnotic moving dreamers Catherine Cooch, Jere Hunt, and Charis Haines, respond to the breath and grandeur of the music as they slip in and out of memories of time gone by represented by the corps of dancers. Or is it the corps of dancers who are the reality and the trio simply figments?

Nostalghia - Photo by Emma Kazaryan

As I see it, Cooch attempts to climb into her episodic visions before they disappear; Hunt contemplates his reflections as they haunt him, ominously moving behind him in slow motion; Haines is carried off by her thoughts, as they collapse around her.

The corps work is stilted, jerky. Heels pound, weight slightly shifts, and small body isolations occur. At times their steps recall some type of folk dance. What lingers is the sensation of a weighted, old world, and an uncomfortable dissonance between the past and present. Can we ever truly capture what was? Cooch, Hunt, Haines and the music are all that is vital, beautiful and real in this world.

Nostalghia - Photo by Nina Wurtzel

Kudos to Pascal Rioult’s curiosity and commitment to music, dance and exploration. With each work he offers us new pleasure and shows off the versatility and brilliance of his talented dancers and collaborators. I cannot wait for the adventures we will go on when the company’s new home in Astoria is finished.

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