Living proof of the benefits of the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation
By Joel Benjamin
Destiny Rising, an evening of dance to benefit the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, was a living—and loving—illustration the value of this charity provides in education grants to young dancers. The evening was chock-full of performances by grant recipients who spoke, but mostly showed their gratitude—and the results of their training—in a number of dances in an array of styles at the Joyce Theater.
Joe Lanteri, the Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation, was the personable and informative host of the evening which began with the Marymount Manhattan College Dance Company performing “Under the Surface,” choreographed in six sections by Katie Langan to music by various composers. The large cast wore Mondo Morales’ ingenious removable skirts which quickly morphed from mere costumes into symbols of something not quite definable, especially when the entire cast removed them, piled them in the center and carried them off. A loss of innocence, perhaps…?
“Love With Urgency” by Brooke Pierotti was a peculiarly dark work considering the youth of its performers from the Inspire School of Dance in Illinois. It was followed by an excerpt from Pascal Rioult’s “Celestial Tides” performed to J.S. Bach which included some gentle same sex partnering along with Rioult’s command of ever-changing stage patterns. In “Let’s Do It,” Martha Nichols put her very young dancers through their strutting, bumping and grinding paces.
The Francesca Harper Project used Jasmin Simmons’ live interpretations of Roberta Flack songs to accompany her dancers in “Deconstructing Flack” & “Skin Code.” Eriko Iisaku, Stephanie Panousieris and Amanda Sachs wore Elias Gurrola’s imaginative costumes.
In Alexandra Damiani’s “Animus,” Austin Goodwin and Ida Saki danced to Baroque era music making much dramatic use of costumes by Edda Gudmundsdottir and Betina Ocampo. There was a faux period feel about the work, kind of like “Game of Thrones” as the two pursued a gentle power struggle.
In “Untitled” by Andy Pellick, a very large cast, dressed in sharp business clothes exhibited lots of cool attitude as they tippy-toed in intersecting lines of dancers. The Victory by Bond score supported the funny, witty interchanges with its strong Latin rhythms.
Guest artists Robert Fairchild was originally scheduled to perform with his wife and New York City Ballet colleague, but, due to an injury he quickly put together a suave, entertaining solo in the style of Gene Kelly to “Ballin’ the Jack.” He was the thorough professional, dressed all in chic black skimming the stage with slides and soft jumps.
The final work of a long evening, which included videos and personal tributes by beneficiaries of NYCDA’s largess, was the contribution from the Conservatory Dance Company from Point Park University, “Ascending Bird” by Rubén Graciani, a lengthy, dark work. The dancers, in Erin Heintzinger’s grey-hued costumes, surged about, constantly forming sculptural groupings from which solos and duets emerged.
It’s amazing that this event with its huge number of participants went so smoothly. Stage Manager, Lionel Christian and Lighting Designer Paige Seber deserve praise as does the NYCDA.
*Nina Wurtzel Photography
Destiny Rising: An Evening of Dance to Benefit the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation
(April 18, 2016) Joyce Theater 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street New York, NY
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