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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre

by Robert Abrams
April 20, 2003
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre

246 West 38th Street
NY, NY 10018

Pascal Rioult, Artistic Director and Choreographer
Joyce Herring, Associate Artistic Director
Karen M. Stupic, Executive Director
David Finley, Lighting Design
Pilar Limosner and Russ Vogler, Costume Designs
Harry Feiner, Set Design
Michael K. Stewart, Production Manager

Publicity: Ellen Jacobs Associates

Presented at the Joyce Theater

Review by Robert Abrams
April 20, 2003

Harvest … for Mark: This dance began with a series of tableaux. It was a beautiful work done in a lyrical style. It had a down-home feel similar to Appalachian Spring. The dancers had a bounce in their step and, in the case of the women, a bobble in their heads. There were swooping rolls danced against a fast rhythm.

Much of the movement was an abstracted pantomime of work in the fields. Plus a courtship and a violent dispute or two. Harvest is a day; a life in the fields; love, life, death.

Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Dougie MacLean and Altan, Lighting by David Finley, Costumes by Russ Vogler, Performed by Marianna Tsartolia, Francisco Graciano, Brian Flynn, Royce K. Zackery, Penelope Gonzalez, Michael Spencer Phillips, and Anastasia Soroczynski.

Veneziana - A Postcard for Amy: This was a dance with Vespro-ish costumes, with stark geometric shapes (trapezoids for the men). Some of the movements were similar, particularly the 45 degree arm angles.

Unlike Vespro, Veneziana is a brightly lit, light-hearted work. It includes Ancient Egyptian poses, energetic running around, playful lifts, a woman in red, and many dancers in red masks. The work is mostly lyrical. This plotless dance is well matched to the music.

I especially liked the segment where a man led a woman into a series of progressive turns, and then, as if to proclaim egalitie, a woman led a man in the same sequence in the opposite direction. The dancers had nicely pointed feet.

Like Harvest, Veneziana contains a courtship sequence. Mr. Rioult is unafraid to tastefully express the sexuality to be found in pure movement. It might not have been to everyone's tastes, but it was hardly shocking.

Overall, I thought it was a pleasant work with much of interest.

Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Igor Stravinsky, Pulcinella Suite, Lighting by David Finley, Costumes by Pilar Limosner, Set by Harry Feiner, Performed by Marianna Tsartolia, Francisco Graciano, Lorena B. Egan, Brian Flynn, Penelope Gonzalez, Michael Spencer Phillips, Anastasia Soroczynski, and Royce K. Zackery. Veneziana was commissioned by Richard Korn in memory of Amy Korn.

Black Diamond: This work, which opened the third act, was one of two works where Mr. Rioult outdid himself, proving himself to be a master choreographer beyond all doubt.

This work started with what can be described as Modern table dancing. Two female dancers, all in black, are presented on large black pedestals illuminated by dramatic lighting and fog. They showed off very strong dancing with very precise movements. The work was brash, but still with Mr. Rioult's signature lyricism. The women used seductive shoulder rolls. There were clock movements. There were even a few moments of dancing that looked like the classic Peanuts style of dancing. They often did the same movements as each other, but following each other, not in sync.

The staging gave the space a vivid sense of depth. The choreography took advantage of this, moving the dancers variously up, down and up.

The choreography, and the dancing, was a raw outpouring of energy that was also very artful. All in all, Black Diamond was a superb work that deserves to be shown again.

Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Igor Stravinsky, Duo Concertant, Lighting by David Finley, Set and Costumes by Pascal Rioult, performed by Lorena B. Egan and Penelope Gonzalez.

Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre in "Black Diamond"
in photo: Penelope Gonzalez and Lorena B. Eagan
Photo courtesy of Richard Termine

Bolero: As much as I loved Black Diamond, Bolero was my favorite work of the show.

The dancers wore silver jump suits. The ensemble of dancers created a backdrop movement pattern of fast movements against which a single dancer performing slow movements was highlighted. Each dancer had a chance to show off in turn against this backdrop of movement. This is the kind of simple, but very good, choreographic idea that seems so self evident, you wonder why you haven't seen it before. It was a superb way to highlight pure movement. In addition to it being a very good choreographic idea, the dancers implemented it very well.

After this initial section in which dancers were highlighted individually, dancers started to pair off to be highlighted together against the backdrop. Then, the backdrop pattern began to open up and rotate in a circle, first clockwise and then counter-clockwise, circling around dancers highlighted in the middle. The group pattern variations continued to build.

Throughout all of the dance, the movements were mechanistic (as in reminiscent of the movements of the large, powerful machines built around the early part of the 20th Century), yet flowing. The dancers were all totally on during the entire dance.

The ending melded both the group and individual movement styles into a perfect coda.

I happen to like dances with coherent macro-structures, whether that macro-structure is carried by a narrative or a movement idea. Bolero has a structure which is both geometrically precise and artistically inventive. Whether you watch the dance to deconstruct it or to just let it flow over you, the dance unfolds from a simple beginning to complexity to finish like a great fugue, with nary a step out of place or a potential of its core idea unexpressed. From my perspective, Mr. Rioult has created a perfect work of pure movement choreography. The work was danced by a company of dancers who expressed that choreographic perfection to a well-deserved raucous ovation.

Choreography by Pascal Rioult, Music by Maurice Ravel, Bolero, Lighting by David Finley, Costumes by Russ Vogler, Set by Harry Feiner, Performed by Lorena B. Egan, Brian Flynn, Penelope Gonzalez, Francisco Graciano, Michael Spencer Phillips, Anastasia Soroczynski, Marianna Tsartolia, and Royce K. Zackery.

Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre in "Bolero"
Photo courtesy of Aimee Koch

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