Performing Arts: Dance
November 18, 2015
Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival presented an evening of dance to compositions by the British composer Thomas Ades. Originally produced by the Sadler’s Wells, the four ballets feature two revivals and two commissions. Sweetening the mix, composer Ades conducted the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and plays the piano.

The hit of the evening arrived at the very end. Crystal Pite’s “Polaris” (2014). Deeply hued music surges under the large group choreography. Six company members were joined by a moving, human mass composed of 60 NYU dance department students. Frequently, Pite invests dances with a strong theatrical narrative. In this instance, the cascading movement was reminiscent of the early 20th century movement choirs developed by Rudolf von Laban. Pulled together by an unseen gravitational pull, the thrill mounts with the music’s resonant chords and ominous tremors. This is a potent demonstration of dance as a form of individual expression and community bonding.

Wayne McGregor’s “Outlier” (2010) animates dancers in sleek nonstop moves that embrace off-center balances, arrow sharp legs and duets that mix and match genders with casual ease. Many different ideas spread around the daring dancers, keeping up the variety, but occasionally obscuring the form. “Life Story” (1999), Karole Armitage’s contribution, is a cheeky duet for a man (Ruka Hatua-Saar) and woman (Emily Wagner). Armitage’s earlier reputation as a “punk ballerina” surfaces in Wagner’s hard-edged point work, angular limbs and Princess Leia shocking red hair-do. The quirky visuals punch up the humor more than the actual, neo classical ballet steps. Anna Dennis (soprano) and Mr. Ades (piano) join the dancers on stage, pulling focus with them.

A trio by Alexander Whitley “The Grit in the Oyster (2014) was mildly engaging, most particularly because of Ades’ Piano Quintet featuring him on piano. Again, the dancers rose to the occasion in the interlocking steps. Dancers lean on each other, duck as legs whip overhead, pose and splinter.

Mostly, this works as an engaging evening of music and dance because it is so well programmed. Despite the two intermissions, the evening feels satisfying and uplifting.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

©2001 Eye and Dance and the Arts | All Rights Reserved