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Peridance offers up dazzling Spring bouquet

by Bonnie Rosenstock
March 7, 2015
Peridance Capezio Center
126 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
212-505-0886
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company presented its annual New York Spring Season with a dazzling bouquet of dances. For four performances over two weekends, March 7-8 and March 14-15, the Company premiered three new works and revisited one audience favorite from previous seasons.

Artistic director Igal Perry, who founded PCDC in 1984, said in a phone interview that he has commissioned works for the Company since they regrouped five years ago in their refurbished home near Union Square. The three-story 1904 Beaux Arts building more recently served as the studio of renowned painter/sculptor Frank Stella and was landmarked in 2012. "The place itself is conducive to dance and art, and I love it," said Perry.

"Gestures," choreographed by the Italian Macia Del Prete, designed for eight dancers, was beautifully performed. The simple costumes—short-sleeved long white shirts, grey boxers and grey footwear —accentuated the dancers long, muscular legs and well-executed extensions. Perry, who met Del Prete in Italy when they were both teaching at the same summer course in southern Italy (which he does every summer), said, "There is always something very special about what she's doing. She has her own unique style which stems from an urban feel."

"Crazy… Crazy Love!!!" by French choreographer and dancer Manuel Vignoulle, who also teaches Contemporary Dance at Peridance Capezio Center, is an engaging paean to the early years of American rock 'n' roll. Each vignette was accompanied by the songs of such legends as Paul Anka, The Platters, Frankie Lymon, James Brown, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Etta James, Jackie Wilson and even Dean Martin. The lyrics and movements reflected the myriad feelings that love evokes, from the light-hearted to the serious. There were group numbers, multiple pairings and swappings, some Trouble in Paradise and lastly, a moving solo by the wondrous Madison McPhail to Nancy Sinatra's rendition of "Bang Bang – My Baby Shot Me Down," itself a wondrous melody.

On March 7 only, the program included a performance by the ten members of the Peridance Youth Ensemble. PYE, a pre-professional training program for dancers ages 14 to 17, by audition, also acts as a community outreach dance company. By chance, I happened to be sitting next to Mary Marino, whose daughter Myla, 14, was dancing in the Ensemble. "It is a true dance community," said Marino, herself a former dancer. "We discovered Peridance last year through a few classes, and they immediately wrapped their arms around her. When you are not dancing, you are helping. You do community work and teach kids at a community center. They cultivate and nurture the whole dancer, not just point your feet. This is a full-bodied team effort."

They performed "Stick Up" by Cheryl Copeland, the Certificate Program Coordinator. It was a well-danced piece that showed off the youngsters' burgeoning talent. "We want to feature them so that the audience can see what the work of the school is and their progression," said Perry.

"Evermore" (2013), choreographed by Complexions Contemporary Ballet founding artistic director and resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden was cancelled for this evening's program because one of the key dancers was hurt.

The first part of Perry's "Thundering Silence" previewed last fall in excerpts and was now presented in its glorious entirety. It is an achingly beautiful work that almost defies words. Which might be the point after all, as resounding silence is its theme. As he emailed to me, "Even when kept hidden in Silence, thoughts aspirations, dreams, and desires do not go unnoticed. Like a thunderous clap the silent refrain will explode into being with no restraints. All will then come to the surface and all will be revealed – yet, the silence henceforth will continue…."

The music, by Vladimir Martynov, a string quartet based on Schubert's themes, complements Perry's extraordinary choreography, deftly executed by twelve dancers, who moved as one organic pulsating entity. It has the feel of classical ballet with modern sensibilities and destined to be a classic. The first part is slow and evolving. In contrast, the second part is very fast, sharp and strong, bound together dramatically by interludes of internal and external quietude.

The Company, a separate non-profit entity, is part of Peridance Capezio Center, "the top of the ladder in the structure of the organization," said Perry. It consists of eight extraordinary dancers and seven accomplished apprentices, who also receive dance time in the pieces. The Certificate Program, which is the highest level of study in the school, can lead to a place in the Company, as it has for several of its graduates. "We see there is a bridge between being a student and becoming a professional, and those suitable for the Company are given a chance," said Perry.

Asked to define "suitable," Perry explained, "First, dancers who are quite proficient technically, both in classical—although we don't dance classically, the movement is based on classical training—and in modern. The dancers are required to be very eclectic and open-minded because we always look for different styles of work."

He went on, "Macia's work is very new to the company in terms of style. Manuel is very different from anything we've done in the past as well. The whole idea of the Company is to present very high-level works with very high-level choreographers, but not necessarily one style. A lot of times dancers come from a very modern background, like Graham and Limón. We look for dancers that are a hybrid of many different techniques and free and able to dance in any of them."

Perry pointed out that he is a prime example of what he demands of his dancers. "I teach a professional level ballet class in a very open way that is not part of any style, but what I feel ballet should be to prepare them to dance anything, not just ballet. The whole school is based on that, anywhere from ballet, jazz, modern. We also give them acting and singing. It's important to develop a more wholesome performer than any particular style."

The Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance serves as a performance venue for the Company when they are not touring. It has a state-of-the-art dance surface and seats 140. During the week it is divided into two working studios, and on the weekend it is a black box performance space. Over the two weekends, the four performances featured two different casts, "to give more dancers a chance to perform," said Perry. And to give audience members more magical spring evenings.

For more information about Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and Peridance Capezio Center, visit www.peridance.com
Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!<br>Dancers: Gildas Lemonnier, Sedrig Verwoert, Leigh Lijoi, Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Shay Bares

Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!
Dancers: Gildas Lemonnier, Sedrig Verwoert, Leigh Lijoi, Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Shay Bares

Photo © & courtesy of Dekel Hamatian


Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!<br>Dancers: Gildas Lemonnier, Sedrig Verwoert, Leigh Lijoi, Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Shay Bares

Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!
Dancers: Gildas Lemonnier, Sedrig Verwoert, Leigh Lijoi, Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Shay Bares

Photo © & courtesy of Dekel Hamatian


Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!<br>Dancers: Company

Manuel Vignoulle's Crazy… Crazy Love!!!
Dancers: Company

Photo © & courtesy of Dekel Hamatian


Macia Del Prete's Gestures<br>Dancers: Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Nikki Holck & Company

Macia Del Prete's Gestures
Dancers: Madison McPhail, Joanna DeFelice, Nikki Holck & Company

Photo © & courtesy of Dekel Hamatian

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