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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
Florence Gould Hall
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Ballet Builders 2004

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2004
Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022

About the Author:

Ballet Builders 2004

Presented by
New Choreographers On Point

Ruth Chester, Executive Director
Michael Kraus, Artistic Director
Meg Gurin-Paul, Associate Artistic Director
Publicity by Audrey Ross, audreyrosspub@aol.com

Works by: Heidi Cruz, Salim Gauwloos (Slam),
Deborah Lohse, Kathryn Posin, Tracy Kyle Present,
Davis Robertson, Robert Sher-Machherndl

Presented at Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 4, 2004

New Choreographers On Point, founded in 1990 by Ruth Chester and Michael Kraus, assists new choreographers to realize their concepts and helps them perform their works. Ballet Builders helps choreographers in the genre of ballet. Distinguished ballet professionals choose the works to be performed. (Program Notes).

Christina Fagundes & Momchil Mladenev in Kathryn Posin's duet Thou Shalt Dwell With Me
Photo courtesy of Nan Melville

Enveloped (2003): Choreography by Deborah Lohse, Music by Radiohead, Costume Consultants: Kelly Hanson and Rebecca Lustig, Performed by Deborah Lohse (a performer with Lincoln Center Institute) and Cornelius Brown. This emotionally driven duet was fascinating, with Ms. Lohse en pointe and Mr. Brown barefoot. This was obviously about the joy and angst of a relationship, with choreography that uses rapid walking to signify determination and decisions. The partnered lifts were elegant and professional. Ms. Lohse, the dancer, was also the versatile chorographer.

"They still live on…" (2003): Choreography by Tracy Kyle Present, Music by Karl Jenkins (Passacaglia), Costumes by David Quinn, Performed by Peter Snow. Ms. Present's moving piece (She studied at SAB), dedicated to her uncle, has traditional Jewish significance (a nice prelude to Passover), and it takes place before a gravestone, with Mr. Snow dancing with grace and skill in a yarmulke, reading from a prayer book, and leaving a tiny stone to commemorate his visit. The Passacaglia is quite moody. This piece was designed to exude a bit more theatricality than was evident in Mr. Snow's performance. With an impassioned presence, Mr. Snow would do more justice to this thematic sense of loss.

Spring (Premiere): Choreography by Salim Gauwloos (Slam), Music by Tommaso Albioni, Costumes by Leah Redmond and Facundo Gabba, Makeup by Facundo Gabba, Performed by Janella Abbott and John Byrne (formerly in the Paul Taylor Company). Mr. Gauwloos' work had just that sense of theatricality and passion that was somewhat elusive in the previous piece. Mr. Gauwloos performed in Madonna's Vogue video, as well as with Valentina Koslova and is now performing on Broadway in Aida. Ms. Abbott and Mr. Byrne exuded chemistry and charisma of the highest quality. Their partnering skills were flawless, and they enhanced the lyricism of Albioni's score with this rare emotional connection. Four eyes were in constant contact, and the audience was mesmerized. Ms. Abbott and Mr. Byrne were not built as sinewy ballet dancers, and their attractive muscularity was extremely well matched.

Seven Last Words from the Cross (excerpt) (Premiere): Choreography by Kathryn Posin, Music by James MacMillan (Seven Last Words from the Cross), Performed by Christina Fagundes, Momchil Mladenev, Amy Brandt, and Bonnie Pickard. Ms. Posin has choreographed works for the Ailey Company and Eliot Feld. This religiously structured piece, danced by Momchil Mladenev, as the hunched and tortured Christ figure, and Christina Fagundes, as Mary, in glistening white (formerly of American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet), was a nice prelude to Easter. Ms. Brandt and Ms. Pickard, in black, were complimentary figures to the dramatic lead performers. Ms. Fagundes has been missed on the NY dance stage, and it was wonderful to have her return so splendidly, with sensational skill and emotional abandon. Mr. Mladenev is built perfectly for this tall, narrow vision, with shoulders rounded in psychic and physical pain.

unequilibrium (2003): Choreography by Davis Robertson, Music by Béla Bartók (String Quartet No. 4, Adagio), Performed by Valerie Madonia and Davis Robertson. Mr. Robertson, formerly of Joffrey Ballet and a featured actor in The Company, also performed with Ms. Madonia (who performed with ABT and Joffrey Ballet). With black leotards and a haunting score by Bartók, Ms. Madonia and Mr. Robertson were synchronized and magnetized in an interesting series of mirror images.

StrangeLands (excerpt, NY Premiere): Choreography by Robert Sher-Machherndl, Music by Arvo Pärt (Spiegel imp Spiegel), Performed by Tessa Victoria. Mr. Sher-Machherndl worked with Rudolf Nureyev, George Balanchine, and Sir Frederick Ashton. Ms. Victoria performed with Ballet West and Houston Ballet and currently dances in Mr. Sher-Machherndl's company. Ms. Victoria's solo was dynamic and physical, as she collapsed with emotion and then re-grouped at various intervals in Arvo Pärt's deeply moving score. Ms. Victoria used the full extent of the stage for this most charismatic catapulting.

The Glistening (NY Premiere): Choreography by Heidi Cruz, Music by Jazzanova (Hanazono), Performed by Edward Cieslak, Tara Keating, Riolama Lorenzo, Elaine Matthews, Juan Carlos Penuela, and Meredith Rainey. Full of Jazz and with an ensemble of six, Ms. Cruz (who studied at SAB) uses Jazzanova's vibrant and upbeat score. This was an excellent closing work, in contrast to the deeply moving and occasionally disturbing motifs of the previous pieces in today's program. With buoyant energy and sizzling style, Ms. Cruz created a dazzling and "glistening" work.

Kudos to Michael Kraus and Ruth Chester for Ballet Builders 2004. These were eclectic, thought-provoking, and very satisfying dance performances, crossing genres of Modern, Jazz, and Ballet. And, kudos to the seven tremendously talented choreographers, whose works are reviewed above.

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