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Lewis J Whittington
Music and Dance Reviews
Performance Reviews
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
United States
Philadelphia, PA

Koresh Dance Company 25th Anniversary Season Launch Erratic yet Victorius

by Lewis J Whittington
March 26, 2016
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
480 S. Broad Street
(Broad & Lombard Sts.)
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Choreographer Roni Koresh usually talks at some length to his audiences before his troupe performs but at the Roberts Theatre earlier this month he could only say a few words to express his sincere gratitude to the loyal crowd for their continued support as he opened his company’s 25th Silver Anniversary year.

Although he considered programming a concert of KDC company and audience favs to mark the occasion, he decided instead that on this milestone he wanted to look forward, not back. In that spirit he rushed to create “New Philosophy” in the weeks leading up to the performance to be on the bill with his much anticipated premiere of “23: Deconstructing Mozart,” a work that has been in development for the last year.

The Koresh Youth Ensemble opened the bill with "Petit Pours" choreographed by Melissa Rector, longtime Koresh dancer and director of the junior troupe. A Spring dance for five young women aged 13-18, who flared their skirts with charming esprit and engaged in simple skipping steps. The dancers then slipped out of the skirts to reveal dance togs making the point that, however pretty the bodies were in motion, the artistry required a sustained athleticism.

“New Philosophy” read like a work-in-progress. The opening vignette called "Numbers," danced to a voiceover of poet Karl Mullen ruminating about the meaning of numbers in our lives, from the banal to the disturbingly Orwellean, intoned “We all have each others’ numbers.”

Choreographer Koresh can muse on large themes like this with wit, whimsy and even philosophic drama. This piece was packed with Koresh’s choreographic signatures which struck as more industrially leaned on, not lucidly placed. The rhythmic soundfield with Mullen ending verses by starting a countdown and the dancers assembled in a communal circle looked like they were ready to uncork some of Koresh’s fiercest ensemble work. But the choreography they performed struck more as static and frantic.

The last half of “New Philosophy” had more organic fuel and was also more lucidly danced - "Something Old" depicted two couples in turmoil (Melissa Rector/Micah Geyer and Joe Cotler/Krista Montrone).

The score bordered on heavy metal and the choreography was a vivid dance expose of intense relationships that waltzed into dysfunction as tender interplay between the couples got suddenly very physical. Just short of a fight, the work ironically ended with what could be mistaken for a posed family photograph.

Flashes and quoting from Koresh’s previous choreography worked very well, particularly his chorus line-up with the troupe in twitchy motion, but this time facing away from the audience. A more joyous esprit also came with the segment "Nevermind," a novelty number bwith the tempo of a Charleston. In it Kevan Sullivan was a hapless squire next to the precision ensemble of Shannon Bramham, Casey McIntyre, Vanessa Guinto and Andrea Romeeser.

"A Touch of Reality" proved a fiery duet danced with wit and airy precision by Fang-Ju Chou Gant and Robert Tyler.

The finishing vignette, "Strange 23/16" was for five dancers with quintessential Koresh muscled dynamics and signature communal configurations that kept evolving. The ballet circled back to Mullen’s metaphysics for a dramatic conclusion that seemed to prologue "23:Deconstructing Mozart".

Roni Koresh mostly scores with original music per project, but is equally inventive and eloquent scoring his work to classical music, and he chose Mozart’s Piano concerto no. 23 a favorite composition by Wolfgang, to explore his own choreographic impulses. Koresh collaborated with composer Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky, to riff on Mozart with pure strains of the concerto weaved in and out of expansive soundfields.

The full company of dancers seemed locked into the flowing pulse of Koresh’s counterpoint phrasing. And the overall piece had the ingredients of a vintage Koresh long form, but in this performance, the more breakneck choreography resulted in some rote and hazy transitions. Koresh might consider pulling up on the overdrive a bit.

So an erratic evening of dance on an otherwise special company occasion and even with a tentative start, Koresh and the dancers should take a well deserved victory lap.

The weekend of performances was capped off with a gala party to celebrate the launch a year of heavy touring, and additional programming at various venues around town called Philly Interludes.

And special mention should go to new members Vanessa Guinto and apprentice Andrea Romesser for coming into the ten troupe company late last year and getting up to speed with a raft of repertory and new choreography.

Photo © & courtesy of Bicking Photography

Ronen Koresh

Ronen Koresh

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