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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Celebrate Brooklyn | LeeSaar & Batsheva
LeeSaar The Company and Batsheva Dance Company
August 6, 2015
Originally published on: http://kathrynsauma.wordpress.com
An evening with pink, glowing clouds, a soft breeze, and low-riding airplanes sets the scene for the outdoor theater in Prospect Park. A summer festival, Celebrate Brooklyn works hard to offer free arts and cultural events in the park. I am thrilled to experience not only dance by LeeSaar, but a duet by Ohad Naharin of Batsheva Dance Company, with two members flown in from Israel. Quite a treat for an evening of art, not to mention free of charge! I thought to myself, "what kind of seats might we have and will there be any visibility?" Due to a raised stage and chairs set in the equivalent arrangement as the orchestra of a theater, we had full view of everything. The food choices were healthy and the beer, generous. It doesn't get much better.
B/olero, performed by Bobbi Jean Smith and Rachael Osbourne is a dance of all hips and a twist on Latin social dance. Keeping with the music, "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel, Ohad Naharin's choreography kept with the feeling of a sexy groove while integrating a wider base into standard Latin dance steps with lunges and squats. He pairs footwork with quirky, repetitive arms. Hips would bounce, feet turn in and out, one at a time, hands circle at the elbow, and the head intermittently changed focus. It is undeniably Naharin's style to have thrusting hips and backward bends, impulsive hits on the beat with movement that creates sharp imagery. High legs and quick changes of direction, sweep across the stage in a moment's time. A play on accumulation is paired with repetitive rhythmic movement, adding one idea at a time, and surprising the audience with what came next. A motif of hands grabbing a fist by the heart and reaching out gives a sense of yearning or unrequited love, popular in Latin music lyrics. I find myself giggling to well-timed evolution of rhythm and movement in-time with the music. Plain black dresses and hair pulled back, Alla Eisenberg's costume design had no frills, all sensuality. A piece that reminds you of why bodies desire to dance. http://batsheva.co.il/en/home
A plane flies low over the loud crowd, bubbling over the last piece. A group of people on all fours is hidden in the dimmed natural light as the evening descends. Lee Sher and Saar Harari of LeeSaar present Grass and Jackals. Harari's soundtrack is atmospheric, the dancing becomes aggressive. A long piece, of about four or five sections, is danced by Hyerin Lee, Motrya Kozbur, Yasmin Mahmoud, Hoyoung Shin, Jennifer Payan, Bria Bacon and Nami Kaigashi. The women were decked out in "oil slick," black unitards, as a friend described, with thick-blocked eyebrows drawn on. Quick, strong, and confrontational, the dancers attacked. Their hands and feet stand out amongst the black outfits chosen by Naomi Lupprescu, which is interesting because the movement is so externally reaching from their centers--they looked like floating pieces in space. A frontal focus, unison, and hyper-sexualized attention to posture leaves a bit of a "put on for the show" kind of feeling. Then, I am drawn back into the changes that are happening. I remember most, the happenings between sections, wondering what group formation would set in next. The actual manifestations of phrase work are sometimes lost to music that is a bit lulling and spaced out. On the other hand, what is striking about the performance are the solos in gold unitards and the use of the group to accompany a solo. Group work with a common task is what tied my focus down. One woman in gold just stunned me. She is taller, stronger, and less petite all around when compared to the other dancers. Her character, artistry and development of an African aesthetic into the movement felt so genuine and honest. This I understood as the Israeli company joining American culture and I think there is opportunity to explore more fusing of aesthetics. Some editing could be done in terms of length and succinctness. All-in-all the piece is tightly structured and holds no hesitations in the performance of the movement. http://www.leesaar.com
It is amazing to think, there is an opportunity where one can sit and be surrounded by what seems like 90% dancers. I look around and recognize most dance friends in the area, including ones I met in high school at American Dance Festival--those of whom I had no idea are living here. It is an exciting energy and truly inspiring to see the community embrace such a high level of dance art. The work is abstract, edgy and surrealistic. I am happy Celebrate Brooklyn did not just pick a crowd-pleaser for popularity, but rather for talent and artistic pursuit.
For more information about the festival, visit http://bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn