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Cedar Lake's Themes to Think About

by Taylor Gordon
January 9, 2008
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 486-722
www.taylorgordononline.com

Robert Abrams' review of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is perhaps the newest wave of intense contemporary dancing in the New York scene. Founded just four years ago, the fresh group has already made a name and a home for itself at its facility in Chelsea, and its Winter 2008 season proves to enhance its developing reputation as a top-notch company with international talent.

The program for the season, running January 10-20, includes a world premiere, a US premiere, a revival of a work originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater, and a special one-performance-only (Jan. 13) return of the acclaimed piece, Decadance, by Ohad Naharin, which brought great visibility to the company in June 2007.

The opening piece, "Symptoms of Development," choreographed by Jacopo Godani, is vibrant and loud. It explores "the pervasiveness of technology" and the human ability to connect with one another. Godani uses a distinct vocabulary of upper body movements that is nearly as flashy as the music by Ulrich Muller and Siegfried Rossert of 48Nord. The warehouse nature of the theater makes for interesting acoustics; the audience can feel every beat in their seats.

Projections were an integral part of the dance, with video running behind the dancers at various points, reflecting images and words recited but barely decipherable in the music. One that stood out was a blurry white figure next to a red line that extended from one of the dancers as he walked across the back of the stage. The sound mumbled about a spirit connecting, and the white blur followed the red line to the dancer. The moment seemed to capture disembodiment.

What followed in contrast to this was "Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue," a world premiere by Vancouver-based Crystal Pite. Five dancers, all with admirable technique, change in and out of pairs enacting narratives relating to rescuing, with 15 standing stage lights in a semi-circle as a backdrop. Pite attempts to use particular images, like running to catch up to a lover, to demonstrate moments of "rescue" immersed in dance. While the concept aims to "extend, distort, or suspend these fragments of narrative," some moments are unclear and don't remain static enough to grasp the underlying image. However, the use of common movements adds familiarity.

The final piece of the evening used the dancers to portray yet another intense theme. The US premiere of "Rite" explores the distinction between male and female through androgyny and is set to Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps." Each of the nine dancers, both males and females, are dressed in similar strapless dresses and dark eye makeup. Only the colors, orange for the men and blue for the women, determine which gender is which. Though artistic director Benoit-Swan Puffer mentioned that decisions on costumes and sets were long thought out, the dresses seemed to consistently bunch up awkwardly in front because of the material. It was a distraction, but luckily the stage had so much more to focus on.

The choreography revolves around a set of green blocks that are shape-shifted at various times to create long lines with which the dancers move around, over, and above. The men perform impressive leaps over them. The women crawl sneakily on them. While most of the movements can be identified as either masculine or feminine with respect to the corresponding dancer, there is one moment when two of the men walk atop the green blocks, catwalk-style. It is here that the lines between the sexes are blended.

The program succeeds as a collection of theme-based works, which Pouffer called "a repertoire of what we're living now." It is worth it, though, to follow up with the company's installation series, which truly makes it a unique performing group. Held in the past at the group's home space without the typical theater setup, the dancers interact with the audience on a more personal level. Following the success of previous installations, this spring they will present
"Glassy Essence: An Installation Erasing the Boundaries of the Stage."


With its winter season setting it apart, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is certainly erasing the boundaries of the New York dance scene, blending fresh talent with international leaders.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet's Winter 2008 Program runs January 10-20 at their facility at 547 West 26th Street. New York, NY 10001
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs 'Symptoms of Development' by Jacopo Godani

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs "Symptoms of Development" by Jacopo Godani

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs 'Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue' by Crystal Pite. Dancers: Jason Kittelberger and Jubal Batisti

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs "Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue" by Crystal Pite.  Dancers: Jason Kittelberger and Jubal Batisti

Photo © & courtesy of Paul B. Goode


'Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue' by Crystal Pite. Dancer: Jessica Coleman Scott

"Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue" by Crystal Pite. Dancer: Jessica Coleman Scott

Photo © & courtesy of Paul B. Goode


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs 'Rite' by Stijn Celis

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs "Rite" by Stijn Celis

Photo © & courtesy of Paul B. Goode


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs 'Rite' by Stijn Celis.  Dancers: Acacia Schachte, Oscar Ramos (back) and Jon Bond

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs "Rite" by Stijn Celis.
Dancers: Acacia Schachte, Oscar Ramos (back) and Jon Bond

Photo © & courtesy of Paul B. Goode

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