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Lori Ortiz
Performance Reviews
Cedar Lake
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Cedar Lake—"Lasting Imprint" by Nicolo Fonte, "Anonciation" by Angelin Preljocaj, "Sunday, Again" by Jo Strømgren

by Lori Ortiz
June 3, 2008
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 486-722

Featured Dance Company:

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001

Opening night, June 3, 2008, the Cedar Lake spring season program began with Nicolo Fonte's "Lasting Imprint." Jason Kittleberger and Jessica Coleman Scott led a cast of nine in forceful, unsmiling, movement, ending with Kittleberger smeared in white paint; White imprinted on Scott records the many points of contact in their final, needful duet. For all its portent and tension, there is little that's actually imprinted from all the labor-intensive scurrying and its quest for immortality. It's not one of Fonte's best, but it introduces Cedar Lake's muscular and rigorous dancers.

Angelin Preljocaj's "Annonciation," by contrast, is expansive and emotional. Jessica Lee Keller portrays Preljocaj's contemporary Mary, and Acacia Schachte is a form of the angel Gabriel. Both are utterly convincing, but Keller is transformed in her complex and layered role; from here on, she compels our attention and respect. Keller is a founding member of the company. She wears a lavender tunic and Schachte's a god-like angel, angular and authoritative, in darker, teal. Keller is concerned and protective, her seated body contracted, even cringing, in this imagining of the Conception. She's the yin to Schachte's yang. Jacques Chatelet's lighting is another highlight. A mottled red floor evokes sacred stained glass. Later it's solid red as Keller lies on her side in a spotlight. At the end, her face is illuminated in a beam of light cast from an unseen, offstage eye. Messenger Schachte disappears in the darkened stage, exiting into an opposite wing. The music is another highlight. Antonio Vivaldi's "Magnificat" alternates with "Crystal Music," electronic sounds by Stephanie Roy. As a duet for two women, it's immediately innovative and their intimate partnership, including a passionate kiss, is moving. The women's duet is empowering, in Preljocaj's sumptuous, minimalist tableaux.

Jo Strømgren's "Sunday, Again" made the last imprint, danced in tennis whites and silly looking vests and pants. Two plastic lawn chairs are on opposite sides of the stage. They are a kind of home base for Kittleberger and Schachte, playing a couple entrenched in life together and getting on each other's nerves. At a mid-point in the dance, in my reading, Kittleberger has a fling with the very young looking, Ana Maria Lucaciu. The cast toys with badminton rackets, birdies, and a net; the sport becomes generic when, for example, an energetic group dance recalls a football game. Within a succession of duets, again, Keller and partner Nickemil Concepcion stand out. Their very fast movement and complete kinaesthetic union give us hope that human beings can indeed connect, that is, love. It's not all fun and games. Standing before us, fully clothed in their whites, Ebony Williams and Christopher Adams's sexual war-of-wills is riveting dance.

What can happen on a Sunday? What kind of amusement or lack of it? Some of "Sunday's" compendium of antics are humorous and some not, but the playful movement breathes fresh airiness into this last third of the evening. In Strømgren's lighting design, the dancers are sometimes in silhouette, or in a dim half-light, but games, duets, domestic scenarios, and unfunny solos by Harumi Terayama, and Lucaciu are brightly lit. Finally, in a lovely, unpretentious end, a black curtain upstage draws to a close on a brightly lit cyclorama, suggesting nightfall, and a vertical sunset.

Strømgren's Sunday is a unique, hyper-real realm we're drawn into, even if it's nothing like our own. Consider Suerat's "Afternoon on the Grande Jatte," remembered for its rhythm, as in the repeating slopes of the women's skirts, and for its pointillist, Sunday colors. Finnish choreographer Örjan Andersson's "Come Out," for four in girlish play uniforms, to Steve Reich, also comes to mind.
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