+ Add An Audience Review

More Audience Reviews


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

AUDIENCE REVIEW: Axons Dance Theatre 2023 Spring Season

Axons Dance Theatre 2023 Spring Season

Axons Dance Theatre

Performance Date:
May 7, 2023

Freeform Review:

Founded in August of 2019, Axons Dance Theatre is a New York City based contemporary ballet company with a mission of encouraging communication through the art of dance. Artistic Director Joan Liu is the former resident choreographer for American Liberty Ballet and has a knack for conveying messages with a sense of humor. This was the second full production by Axons Dance Theatre.

The show started with “Soar. Glide. Flap.” in five parts. The first part I have seen multiple times and have come to know it as Axons’s signature piece. This newly extended version showed off Liu’s versatility both in terms of number of dancers and the texture of the dancing. I feel I was getting a scan of all the different species of birds and its own behaviors. Dancer Saeko (Rio) Hayashi (also serves as Associate Director) performed the solo portion with exquisite musicality, artistry, and technique. The trio that followed was calm with partnering work creating shapes with the  dancers’ bodies. The duet was a short little ditty that provoked lots of laughter from the audience. The culminating section started with floorwork (with dancers wearing pointe shoes!) and utilized motifs from each section. This 20-minute-ish version felt a lot more complete than the first section standing alone. 

Liu came out to speak to the audience after “Soar. Glide. Flap.”. What left an impression on me wasn’t the speech, but the interactions between the dancers and Liu. I got a glimpse of the creation process. It’s Liu’s quirky, fun choreography but in real life. “Refractions” followed. All eight dancers of the company started on stage with a dark, cage like lighting. The dancers moved from unison, into groups, into solos and duets. The lighting was brilliant, corresponding to the movement perfectly. I felt I was watching the European contemporary ballet creation much like those of NDT. This might be the most difficult piece I have seen of Axons to date.

After intermission, we were treated with “Dinolates”, another staple of Axons depicting dinosaurs doing Pilates, “Nostalgia”, and “Belong-ing”. “Nostalgia”, danced by Lucia Ellledge, Maia Virgil, Claire Wampler, and Lilli Wang, is an excerpt of a new piece set to premiere in 2024. It showed yet another side of Liu incorporating more floorwork and lifts than her usual choreography. There were traces of ballet, but much more leaning towards the realm of contemporary. “Belong-ing” was an old piece depicting the immigration journey that seems to be very important to Liu’s personal experience. It also served as a nice closer for the show with its upbeat ending.

2023 Spring Season was the best I have seen yet of Axons Dance Theatre. I saw the growth and evolution as this young company flourishes and collaborates with artists. I was most impressed by how cohesive the lighting, music, front of house, came together with the dancing. Bravo to Joan Liu and the entire cast!


Photo Credit:
Alice Chacon

+ Add An Audience Review

More Audience Reviews