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Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and Mozart: A Classical Pairing

by Bonnie Rosenstock
March 29, 2018
Peridance Capezio Center
126 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
212-505-0886
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company celebrated its Spring Season with two distinct weekend programs. The first, March 17-18, was the premiere of the evening-length “Gran Partita,” choreographed by Igal Perry, Peridance’s founder and artistic director, to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Perry’s lyrical choreography was beautifully performed by his fourteen accomplished dancers, a peerless match for Mozart’s glorious serenade, masterfully played by the thirteen students from the Manhattan School of Music, under the baton of Angel Gil-Ordóñez, co-founder and music director of PostClassical Ensemble in Washington, D.C., and Principal Guest Conductor of New York’s Perspectives Ensemble.

Mozart was a pivotal figure of the Classical period (1775-1825), the first era in which music was no longer reserved solely for church and court but also written for the general public’s enjoyment and entertainment. In this respect, Peridance’s intimate 140-seat theater is an ideal venue for Mozart and Perry’s classical pairing.

“Gran Partita” in seven movements, also known as “Serenade No. 10 for Winds in B-Flat Major,” written circa 1781, is scored for 13 instruments—two oboes, two clarinets, two basset horns, two bassoons, four horns and one double bass (or alternatively, contrabassoon, as it was here). Perry created a clever way to start off the first movement’s slow intro section (which then sped up to very lively). On a darkened stage a spotlight lit up one musician, who was standing and playing his/her instrument. Then the spotlight switched to a solo dancer. This pattern alternated with a different musician and dancer several times, as if to signal that the two art forms, while separate, were destined to collaborate. The musicians were seated four rows deep center stage, with Gil-Ordóñez conducting.

Dancers carrying chairs filtered in upstage behind them, deftly performed a series of movements, and then held their poses while sitting or standing on the chairs. More dancers entered. This movement/hold phrase was repeated several times. The rest of the ensemble brought in the remaining chairs and music stands. A dancer, dressed in a red coat, “conducted” the dancers as they mimed instruments. Then the musicians moved upstage, and the dancers removed the downstage chairs and stands so that they had the entire space to perform, a well-coordinated fluid operation.

At the beginning of the hour-long “Gran Partita” and sometime later, the male dancers wore exquisite long coats in many different solid colors, which looked like they came from another era. The women, in contrast, wore short gauzy black fabric over a leotard and a short jacket. Later, both men and women wore gray leotards.

Perry’s ambitious choreography faithfully adhered to Mozart’s rhythmic motives and emotional variations with duets, trios, quartets, ensemble work, with deft lifts, leaps, grand sweeping movements, tight group formations, all manner of lovely pairings and comings and goings by this solid troupe. However, because the music has many slow sections, my attention flagged at times as the music and dance wound down. Also, the theater was hot, so there were some drowsy eyes and drooping heads in the audience. Overall, however, Perry, who is a modern classical dance master, and Mozart, a classicist without equal, together created a work of timeless elegance.

The second weekend, March 24-25, featured both new and restaged works. Choreographer Norbert De La Cruz III premiered “Face to Face,” with original music by Nathan Prillaman; choreographer Adam Barruch presented his duet “Folie à Deux” (2011); the company reprised Marlena Wolfe’s “YOUnite” (2017); and excerpts from Perry’s well-received “Dia-Mono-Logues” (2017), with original music and text by Ofer Bashan. For more information on upcoming performances, go to peridance.com.
Peridance Contemporary Dance Theater in Igal Perry's 'Gran Partita.'

Peridance Contemporary Dance Theater in Igal Perry's "Gran Partita."

Photo © & courtesy of Anjola Toro

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