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AUDIENCE REVIEW: The NYC Dance and Music Festival: Meeting New Faces

The NYC Dance and Music Festival: Meeting New Faces


Performance Date:
April 2, 2018

Freeform Review:

In a turbulent time where funding for artists seem to be hitting an all time low due to government funding and new tax laws making it harder for artists, it is refreshing to see there are still outlets with the mission to bring artists professional oppurtinities. I had the pleasure of witnessing thirteen new artists in one evening at the NYC Dance and Music Festival on April 2, 2018.

DETOX MOVEMENT opened the evening in a duet that was interesting and thought provoking. A young man and woman seemingly going side to side on the stage throughout the performance in a chase. It was done in silence but you could hear their breathe and the sound of water splashing. They kept the audience engaged with their partner work that entangled themselves on the floor multiple times. They performed with cups filled with water and my favorite moment was when Stefanie Noll smacked it out of Garret Parker’s hand. I would say most dancers may have a tendency to be more graceful than violent on stage but they held their prowess remarkably, and displayed both throughout the work.

THE HERACLITUS PROJECT’s Into the River was performed on a duo. I can see the intent of the movement but would love to see the performance done with more experienced dancers to dive into the nuances of the movement. The choreography by Sofia Forero was literal and abstract at the same time. I would like to see more transitional flow in her next works, which I would enjoy seeing again.  Her ending of displaying the dancer’s red skirt as she twirled under the light until it faded was a nice ending and seems as if the piece is open ended to the audience.

MIGNOLO showed intricate movement to a song that was much resemblance of gibberish. It was very interesting in the first minute of the piece and an upbeat change from the previous works, but I would have like some variety within their performnace. It became monotonous and the performance had the same tone and movement style throughout the work. One dancer in particular really shined in her abilities to start and stop movement entrancingly, the auburn dancer held an upside down pike and then exploded with a kick which gave texture. Their lighting choices helped break up the piece in sections which helped visually but a way to expand the work would be to add some variety in movement quality so it is not one note throughout.

ALISA IOCAVELLI in Open, Discover, Release was refreshing. As a solo work with minimal accessories, I could really see the movement and her intent in her dancing. It was a pleasant mix of interesting hand gestures, floor work, and facial expression. Subtle turns of the feet, hands, and arm made this work visually interesting and unexpected. The warm lighting captured the emotional tone of the piano music. There were moments where she would dive her head into a big wave roll that were impactful. Small nuances such as little slaps to her own face kept the audience awake and interested. I would like to see a longer work. To expand on her piece I would like to see it with more dancers to create a visual effect of ebs and flows of the choreography that are naturally there already.   

JIYON SONG performed a riveting emotional number titled Leave/Live. I was impressed with her ability to capture an audience from her facial expressions alone in the beginning of her self choreographed work with music also self produced. A one woman show that had just enough changes in dynamic, expression, and speed of movement to keep the audience engaged. She used a long white cloth throughout the piece that was first used as an extension of her night gown, it was used again bunched up in a ball and as she layed over top of it and expanded it with her body. She really told a story as she held her hands up high above her head in surrender as you could hear people talking. She paced around the stage as if she was trapped between walls. Her piece was effective and heart wrenching.

WIT WORKS performed a trio of women by choreographer Jes Wittig. I liked her interesting use of time and space during the silent sections of the performance. Her dancers began spoken word during the piece which I felt could have been more effective all in silence. Her visual lines and simple movement were clear, concise, and created a picture. As if we were looking at a photograph on the wall that left the audience to our own perception. I would like to see less spoken word in this number to allow us to connect to the movement more. Some of their interesting shapes were when one woman had an  upside down prayer hands kneeling on her knees and another dancer with an arm up near her heart in a fetal position. The third dancer was moving behind them rather quickly until she comes fleeting to the floor, and all dancers change their position.

SO YOUNG PARK performed The Light which was a nice contrast to the silent piece before. Her movement was graceful and flowy. There were many moments in the piece where the light of the stage created a shadow effect behind her on the cyc and it was exquisite. I loved her take on using light and added such a dynamic element to her dancing. The shadows followed her around the stage and accentuated her hand shapes and luxurious head rolls throughout the piece. The simplicity of the costumes and lighting with unique shadow concepts really made this piece standout.

KINECTIONS DANCE GROUP performed a female pas de deux that displayed interesting woman to woman dynamics in dance. Impressive lifts and partnering were complimented by beautiful extensions by two young dancers. In one moment one dancer lifted the other dancer impressively off the ground. Another moment they reached out to hug eachother to counter balance on each other into where one dancer body rolled down through their arms into the other dance. Interesting partnering included a fleeting moment when they ended sitting back to back, then flipped over to where they were head to head with one hand on the floor with bent knees, into being on the floor head to head the opposite way. A nice change of levels, body parts, and a fun twist. I would like to see more rehearsal time on their unison turns but their luxury extensions for two nimble dancers were a plus on any technical shortcomings.

LOGOS DANCE COLLECTIVE created a dynamic shift in the program with sharp stark graham inspired beginning to their piece entitled Noesis. Choreographer and dancers Gregory Kollarus and Barbara Gail Montero created a more aggressive dance work with stark second positions plies and stark arms in reflections of their legs. In one moment Montero held Kollarus on her back which was impressive and in another moment they created a visual effect where Montero stood behind Kollarus in a memoir of arm movements used throughout the piece. Some of their movements were seemingly out of place with the theme of the dance such as when they shifted their weights from one foot to the other and used arms what were in a wave effect, but other movements offered something we could connect to such as moving your hands in a following position towards one self. With some editing to a few sections this work could show great ideas, I would also recommend tighter fitting costumes to be able to really decipher the movements intent.

MAGGIE GOLDER & DANCERS performed Sweet Sunday Brunch with a larger cast of 4 dancers. They used a robe throughout the work which was passed from dancer to dancer multiple times, accentuating their theme of morning time. In one moment two dancers were holding a dancer and flipped her around by her neck onto the floor into a push up position. I hadn’t seen something like that before which was a nice surprise. In one of their music changed it resembled much of a German or Irish beer hall with chanting men singing that led into what sounded like background noise of people talking. Golders choreography offered choreographic elements and creative staging. I enjoyed the first music better than the second but overall – I got the point of a sweet Sunday boozey brunch.

GUIDONG ZHOU was a showstopper. His stage presence and interesting movement was another standout for the festival. He constantly shifted between proximal initation and distal initation of his movements and it kept you looking and twisting your head to follow where he was going with this movement. He started in all nude ensemble and felt more of like a birthing or figuring out his body, then he slowly began to dress throughout the number. His spine was malleable and sharp arm and leg lines. His floow work offered a slithering snake effect. One moment he had one hand in a push up position with one knee on the floor with the other leg wrapped around behind him and his back in a curve. He pulled himself to the very downstage and put his head ever so slightly off the stage which was intriguing. His conviction to the movement was enthralling and in one moment he was in a simple push up position with his body swirling around underneath him, his torso moving in a clockwise position. I would like to see this work again as its hard to capture it all where there were so many intricate details. Bravo.

KELSEY HEAD AND COMPANY performed A Lady and Her Lady and these ladies were nothing but sweet. A bright floral dress and picnic table style dress were perfect costumes to this flirty, uplifting, feel good sweet number. I felt as if I was watching a field of flowers play in the summer time. They offered classic modern movements in a happy way which was enticing and relaxing. The audience could relax and feel the dance versus trying to interpret what it could mean it just made you feel good. There were mostly partnered whimsical movements and old school little hip bonking mixed with leg swings, parallel extensions, and triplets.

AWAKEN DANCE THEATER offered the most production feel in Society’s Psyche. Well thought out story, plot, movement, costumes, and lighting that highly complimented the work. I felt as if I had witnessed a full length work in 7 minutes. Choreographer Rebekka Nodhturft did a wonderful job in creating a work that told a story and her dancers executed it beautifully and technically.  There was a moment where all the dancers were in lateral shifts and created an eerie effect, which came back again at the end of the piece. They were all clothed in pedestrian clothing which then all ended up on the floor at one point with a dancer engulfed in them, then they stage was clear again (resembling a clean slate/ or clear mind) with another dancer. There was interesting part where a male dancer had his suit jacket balancing on his shoulder and used his other arm and leg to dance, was an effective visual effect to feeling half there. The cast of six were in perfect unison during group sections and I felt an emotional connection to the work, which is every choreographer’s goal. I applaud Awaken Dance Theater on their performance and look forward to seeing their work again.

Overall I think the festival was a hit – I hope the curators will include more diverse dance styles such as ballet or ethnic cultural dances as most seemed to have been modern/contemporary. There was a very large crowd and it was well done in a professional Times Square Theatre, which most young companies and choreographers would not have the chance to perform in. The lighting designer of the evening Samuel Bondolillo created contrasting effects from piece to piece which can be difficult in festival style settings and hit the nail on the head with mood shifts during individual pieces. It was a warm welcoming from the box office check in to the dancers meet and greet at the nearby bar organized for attendees. I enjoyed the performance and was happy to be introduced to some new faces in dance.


Image copyright: Guidong Zhou.

James Martin

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