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Urban Ballet Theater

by Mila Gorokhovich
October 17, 2003
Abrons Arts Center at Henry Street Settlement
Harry du Jur Playhouse
466 Grand Street
New York, NY 10002
212-598-0400

Urban Ballet Theatre

Friday, October 17, 2003 8 pm at the Henry Abrons Performing Arts Center, NYC

www.urbanballettheater.com

By Mila Gorokhovich
October 17, 2003

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Danny Catanach when he came to stage a performance of the Nutcracker with Central Park Dance, a ballet school in Westchester, my hometown. There is much to say about a dance teacher who decides to play Shakira for ballet center exercises. He created this vivacious energy in the room that makes you push yourself for the best that you can so that you can acquire his attention. I took both his ballet and jazz classes. I felt that his jazz choreography was his forte - the music, the moves and the energized spirit all came together in his jazz class. Thus, I was excited to see his choreography in full effect by attending a performance of Urban Ballet Theatre, his current company.

Catanach's choreography is a fusion of contemporary and classical dance technique. This combination, in addition to influences of urban society, makes his work particularly stylized and original. Members of the company come from all kinds of dance experiences and so the blend makes for a very interesting performance. The evening was divided into three parts - Mambo, El Hambre and Disillusioned. Each part had several subparts. Mambo was very entertaining - Catanach's choreography emphasized and brought to view the individualistic talents of each dancer so that not only was their technique highlighted, but it flowed skillfully with the beats of the music. Soul Drummer, Yo No Bailo con Juana and Acid were highlights of the Mambo. Dancer Jay Barrett outlined the Mambo, appearing briefly in each piece either as a character who was thrown out by a group of salsa dancers or who tried to get between two guys and a girl. He was particularly dynamic and strong in his dancing - it was a pleasure to the eye to watch him come on and off the stage, even if briefly. Ocean was also a bright highlight of the evening. Her a la seconde balances and clean turns added to the exposure of her powerful technique as well as her expressiveness.

El Hambre was more classical as it was staged to the music of Schubert, Bach and Delibes, although the choreography was not as impressive as in Mambo. The plot of the piece was left to the audiences' imagination. It was particularly abstract with the odd colorful costumes and black and white striped theme in the background. Nevertheless, Chloe Reynolds certainly shined in the role, showing off technique and ceaseless strength as she finished El Hambre and proceeded to glimmer in Disillusioned.

In the subsequent Disillusioned, Catanach might have chosen a better theme as far as the music goes - the contemporary jazz of Susie Ibarra and Assif Tsahar marred the beauty of the dancers and the choreography, which tended to become almost as monotonous as the music in certain sections. For the Unseen was the most thought provoking piece. American Ballet Theatre member Danny Tidwell and guest flamenco expert Yvonne Gutierrez starred in this section. Merely clad in tight brown shorts, Tidwell shined his perfect dancer's physique in addition to magnificent high leaps and multiple turns. His vivaciousness was a unique complement to Gutierrez's subtle, but evident, castanet chimes. Although the music seemed out of place, the talents of both dancers more than made up for it and Catanach managed to further exhibit interesting choreography that glued one's eyes in anticipation of the dancer's next move.

The evening's performance certainly displayed an element of a dance revolution - specifically, a contemporary dance revolution. Combining modern jazz, jazz technique and classical ballet seems to be the next new wave of style and Catanach is in the lead. While this might not cater to simply anyone's taste, there is rocking potential in this innovative dance expression. Dance has always been an expression of individuality, but Catanach has introduced the influence of a modern urban culture into his form of expression. He is one of the many talented current choreographers who heads the abstract modernism that is renovating classical dance in the 21rst century.


Photo courtesy of Lisa Allen

Urban Ballet Theater Reviews and Photos

  • Urban Ballet Theater - 10/17/2003 - by Mila Gorokhovich. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Urban Ballet Theater - 10/9/2003 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Urban Ballet Theater - Photos 1 - 10/9/2003 - by Lisa Allen. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Urban Ballet Theater - Photos 2 - 10/9/2003 - by Lisa Allen. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Urban Ballet Theater - Photos 3 - 10/9/2003 - by Lisa Allen. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Urban Ballet Theater - Photos 4 - 10/9/2003 - by Lisa Allen. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

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