DanceGalaxy. (New York: Not Yet Out Of This World).
The universally worst part about DanceGalaxy has always been its name: two words crushed into one, conjuring images of aliens or the expectation that audiences will see a spectrum of dance styles. Mercifully, neither is true. The four-year-old company, led by former New York City Ballet principal Judith Fugate and her husband, Medhi Bahiri, a French dancer, is simply a decent and accomplished classical troupe. If its repertoire misses the mark, at least there's intelligence behind it.
The troupe's Joyce season featured two premieres--Stanton Welch's Orange and Peter Martins's Reflections, set to a score by his son, dancer Nilas Martins--as well as Choo-San Goh's Beginnings and Adam Miller's lively, Parisian-flavored The Flow Bear Waltzes. The revival of Beginnings, which kicked off the program, was a mistake. A quartet for Belinda Hernandez, Bonnie Pickard, Fabrice Herrault, and Francois Perron, with music by Lennox Berkeley, Goh's rather paltry ballet was at best sweet and at worst cloying. Flexed wrists were a theme throughout the ballet, but the intention was mysterious--instead of lending traditional vocabulary an offbeat edge, it only highlighted the work's lack of flow.
Orange, a great deal more ambitious, wasn't terrible, but didn't succeed in the end. Its six dancers, dripping in bright orange spandex and chiffon, moved fiercely to Vivaldi, but the high-powered chaines for the women and leaps for the men ultimately felt incongruous--this ballet lacked intent. The elegant Marcella Figueroa best embodied the fiery and playful qualities associated with the title, but the choreography never really burst with energy until the finale. It's difficult not to compare Welch, an Australian in his late 20s, with Christopher Wheeldon, the youthful English choreographer. But whereas Wheeldon proves he understands thoughtful ballet vocabulary and the complexities of creating for the theater, Welch's grasp of both tends to scratch the surface.
Peter Martins's Reflections is a continuation of his obsession with the pas de deux. Choreographed for Christina Fagundes, who danced with an adorable ferocity, and Alex Lapshin, the ballet is set to elegant music by Nilas Martins for piano, violin, cello, and saxophone. This score is both classical and, surprisingly (because the younger Martins exudes none of it in his bland dancing), passionate. In a way, the intricate footwork and complex lifts in Reflections never much mirror the beauty or verve of the music. The choreography should have been delivered with more force, but it often seemed to be a slow-motion musical visualization. The ballet itself was further marred by its ending--as it reached its natural conclusion, and the lights dimmed, the music resumed, and the dancers returned to the stage. Unfortunately, that flaw was too much to overcome, even in the more spirited and carefree dancing that marked the ballet's denouement.
Opening night should have included a premiere by John Selya for Ethan Stiefel; the latter was injured, so instead Donlin Foreman presented ... SSION for Buglisi/Foreman dancers Christine Dakin (being carted about like a figure skater) and Stephen Pier. While this proved to be yet another example of Foreman's pretentious musings on the theme of angst, the evening boasted an infinitely more attractive gala-inspired event: City Ballet's Peter Boal and Wendy Whelan in the pas de deux from George Balanchine's Rubies. Apart from being the program's only example of choreographic genius, it was the fearless and cheeky dancing that really stood out.
I hope DanceGalaxy's dancers were watching from the wings--though they are much improved, they still need to learn how to own the stage. But by including Rubies in the opening night festivities, it's likely the artistic directors already have a sense of that. This worthy company continues to grow; even when the pieces fall flat, there's much to admire.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2001|
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