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Robert Abrams
Arts and Education
Various Performance Dances
Long Island City High School
United States
New York
Long Island City, NY
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NYC Dance Educators/UFT presents the 12th Annual Celebration of Dance Student Dance Festival

by Robert Abrams
May 3, 2014
Long Island City High School
14-30 Broadway
Long Island City, NY 11106
I love top level professional dance – Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, New York City Ballet, DanceBrazil, American Ballet Theater, Jennifer Muller, to name a few, but sometimes, if you love dance, you have to take a chance, go off the beaten path and cross the water. I crossed the water to the Long Island City High School in Queens so I could see the NYC Dance Educators/UFT present the 12th Annual Celebration of Dance Student Dance Festival, and I was glad I did.

While this was intended primarily as a friends and family show, it had several passages of superb talent that would please both dance fans and talent scouts. There were younger students who were still learning their craft too, and these performances were compelling in their own way. The show as a whole was well curated, with 12 works and four award presentations fitting into an hour and a half, which added to its potential for broader appeal.

One of the NYC Dance Educators/UFT's awards honored Joan Finkelstein with the Commitment to Excellence Award. Ms. Finkelstein has worked tirelessly for many years helping to build the dance community, and can embody such wide ranging commitment in a single spontaneous move. Her award is well deserved.

This isn't a review as such, so I will just touch on some highlights. Although, some of the performances were good enough to stand the test of review in the next league.

I noted radiant smiles five times in my notes. Dance, when done well, brings a joy that shows through, and it clearly did this afternoon.

One number put Paul Taylor's Esplanade in a whole new perspective for me. I say Yes! to more leap frog in dance.

A slow breakdance. Very cool. The lead male dancer had excellent controlled fluidity.

More than once, the performances made me think "Gotta dance!" If you love dance, that's what you live for.

High school women in black dresses. Poised. They danced slowly well, which isn't easy to do.

A performance entitled "Buked" that made me think "Ailey III". III is no second best, given that both the Ailey main company and Ailey II are so strong.

A political performance about the killing of Trayvon Martin that showed off nice control and was very moving.

An African dance influenced work that fit in the "dance about the joy of dance" tradition that I often associate with Jennifer Muller's Momentum. After their final, Olympic style pose, they stepped off with confidence, rightly so.

Now we just have to hope that these students will be able to continue honing their craft, in dance or whatever professions and avocations they choose.
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