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Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Cedar Lake Theatre, NYC June 7-July 1, 2007

After several years of earnest but disappointing curatorial choices, this company of extremely talented dancers finally hit its stride in Decadance, an anthology of 10 excerpts by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. This choice seemed to counter the company's credo of presenting emerging American choreographers and "inter national artists less known to American audiences," as Naharin has gained something of a cult following--in New York, anyway. But we should be thankful for this detour, as this Naharin primer showcased Cedar Lake in widely varying segments that provided technical and artistic challenges to a company hungering for them.

Naharin deploys groups to great effect. He sometimes adds a militaristic undertone with gut-busting unison chants or precisely timed bursts of movement in canon, and at other times taps a primal feel, like a herd of animals reacting to an intruder. In a scene from Telophaza, the ensemble, mouths frozen in lurid smiles, violently counted beats with thrusting hips as their fingers poked the air. Accumulation and repetition are both powerfully used as structural devices, engaging the audience as participants by clueing them in to what to expect, adding a new element each time through. To text that began, "Ignore all concepts and possibilities," six women built up different, repeating sequences to the droning narration. Five shirtless men performed a section of Black Milk, undergoing rites of passage--smearing mud on their faces and chests, leaping aggressively, culottes flying.

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Audience participation, which has become a hallmark of Naharin's work, was manifested in a scene from Anaphaza where the dancers chose a viewer to dance with, finally leaving one unsuspecting woman as the last one standing; and a man who announced intermission and then improvised during the whole break, mimicking and teasing passersby. Small group segments showed Naharin's choreographic range. In medieval-type garb, the dynamic Jason Kittelberger, paired with Acacia Schachte, performed actions that implied penitence. Heather Hamilton, in a cabaret-style costume and stilts (off which she alarmingly slipped), lip-synched melodramatically. A trio moved precisely, like a six-legged creature, their formal pauses in picturesque tableaux matching a stately countertenor aria. And after a few rousing laps around the stage to the theme from the old TV show Hawaii 5-0, one woman had a brief curlicue of a solo to end the delightful proceedings.
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Author:Yung, Susan
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:391
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