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Peridance's Spring Season Program Shines

by Bonnie Rosenstock
April 9, 2019
Peridance Capezio Center
126 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
My most recent dance performance reviews centered on three Cuban dance companies, with their particular brand of Afro-Cuban, European-fusion choreography and two flamenco groups, one homegrown and one from Spain. So when Peridance Contemporary Dance Company (PCDC) took to the stage for their annual Spring Season (March 16-17, 23-24), it was almost culture shock to see exciting New York-based modern dance again. PCDC, helmed by Founder/Artistic Director/Choreographer Igal Perry, presented two world premieres by guest choreographers, an excerpt from a work by another choreographer and Perry’s newest work on the imperfections of life.

The company's performance on March 24 at the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance Capezio Center opened with the world premiere of Yoshito Sakuraba's “Nightwalkers”. The work for ten dancers began with an ensemble section which broke out into solos, duets and various partnerings. The five men and five women, garbed all in black, performed sharp fast movements in lines, which slowed down at the end. Four women brought the fifth to her partner for terrific lifts and spins. There were pushing heads in a circle. Two couples performed an aggressive dance. There was a walk-crouch-stomp-hold-hug close-heads sequence and slow running across the stage. Sakuraba’s choreography is smart and solid.

In Hebrew, “HA-E 4-2” means “An island for two” and is excerpted from celebrated Israeli choreographer Ido Tador’s theater-dance piece “HA-E” (The Island) that deals with love and communication. The full work featured two Israeli dancers and two Polish dancers in an attempt to bring closure resulting from atrocities committed against Jews during World War II. The excerpted duet was poignantly performed by Peridance Apprentice, up-and-comer Casey Hess, and Company Member Matteo Fiorani, an exceptional dancer, who are physical counterpoints, and depicts the friendship between two soldiers in a war zone, according to the original concept. The work opened with Hess, blond, slight, slim and obsequious, on the floor. When he sits up, Fiorani, tall, muscular, dark-haired and clearly in charge, joins him. Then they both stand up. They mouth words at each other but make no sounds. They dance their own movements apart in silence until the music starts up. The choreography is mostly slow flow, except when Fiorani begins a sharp, quick sequence. They partner with movements and gestures expressing their unequal relationship. They walk upstage arm in arm. A shot rings out and Hess falls. Fiorani keeps walking upstage without looking back. I’m not sure what to make of that dispassionate ending, but whatever dance occurred before was absorbing and disquieting.

Alice Klock’s “All Told” (World Premiere) also comes with a definition, from Merriam Webster, “With everything or everyone taken into account: in all.” The ten dancers, first dressed in street clothes, place their hands to their face, like a photographer framing a shot, homing in on each other, a gestural motif that is often repeated. One of the scene-stealers is sprightly, exuberant Alexandre Barranco, who not only wears a dress, with a wink and a nod, but also executes a perfect split. In a pile-up, Barranco on top mock cries, laughs, having a great time. There are many star-turn duets that showcase the talent of this fine Company in Klock’s fast-paced, sassy choreography.

Perry is not only a masterful choreographer, but also a classicist. “Perfection Has No Dreams,” subtitled “Meditation on the Imperfections of Life” (World Premiere), is accompanied by “Stabat Mater,” a classic 13th-century text, as well as original music and text by Israeli composer Ofer Bashan. Perry draws on the concept of unobtainable perfection. About his piece, he said, “We yearn for perfection while the only way to perfection is through the imperfection of all creation…knowing all the same that ultimately all paths lead to an inevitable end…”

With this in mind, you know the choreography and spoken word aren’t going to be in a happy place. Chairs had a recurring role. In the opening, the 16 dancers were seated on chairs facing upstage. Fadeout to dancers leaning to right. Fadeout to standing leaning left. Fadeout, chairs mysteriously disappeared, but standing dancers still leaning. The chairs reappeared later, now forward, with the women wearing dresses and the men’s torsos covered; chest slaps to a three-part sound. After, a dance with chairs. The stage at one point was smoke-filled with the dancers dramatically entering backwards through it. There were many fine duets. There were moments with no music. Characteristic Perry choreography is exquisitely lyrical, lush, with sweeping movements and impressive lifts. But it also tends to be overly long and drawn out and feels repetitious. Whenever there was a fast-paced section, it felt like a gift, as in the dance with clapping and another in which the women appeared in swirling skirts. Still, there’s no finer choreographer or ensemble gracing our city.
Matteo Fiorani and Casey Hess in Ido Tadmor's “HA-E 4 2”.

Matteo Fiorani and Casey Hess in Ido Tadmor's “HA-E 4 2”.

Photo © & courtesy of Shannel Resto

Matteo Fiorani and Casey Hess in Ido Tadmor's “HA-E 4 2”.

Matteo Fiorani and Casey Hess in Ido Tadmor's “HA-E 4 2”.

Photo © & courtesy of Shannel Resto

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