DANCE THEATER OF HARLEM
April 20, 2017
It was opening night for the Dance Theater of Harlem’s season at City Center. The glamorous crowd beamed enthusiasm for America’s African American ballet company founded by Arthur Mitchell in 1969 and now headed by his former star ballerina, Virginia Johnson.
Broken into excerpted pieces, the evening openend on the enticing “Eduqilibrium” (Brotherhood) by Darrell Grand Moultrie. Men wielded windmill elbows cranking out a dynamically earthy piece that kept the weight grounded and the spirits high. This sample insured an appetite for the complete version featuring Dylan Santos, Jorge Andreas Villarini, Jordan Kindell.
In a nod to the 19th century classics, four dancers assumed roles in the “The Black Swan” Act III pas de deux. Ripped from its dramatic core, the “The Black Swan” felt remote and sedate. However, in the Variations and Coda section, Ingrid Silva deployed a steely presence over assured technique.
The much loved vocalist and songwriter India.Aire emerged in a white robed dress and head wrap, elegantly swaying to the “Piece D’Occasion: High Above” by Robert Garland. Surrounded by enthusiastic Dance Theater of Harlem students, India. Arie's breathy voice tapped into the protest folksongs of the past.
Artistically, the strongest entry came when three DTH dancers shared the stage with two Limon Dance Company members in a clear and fluid excerpt from Jose Limon’s “Chaconne” set to J. S. Bach’s Par- tita No. 2 in D minor for Violin, in 1942. Originally a solo, the simplicity of form, and dedication to the curving, lyricl choreography framed the dancers’ potent talents.
Throughout the evening, people paid tribute to the Dance Theater of Harlem and announced the 1 million dollar matching grant bequeathed by the late Alexander Dube. A marvelous gift for a company that, not unlike many other nonprofit organizations, deserves financial security.
In closing, an upbeat performance of “Return” by Garland allowed the dancers to loosen their buns in a tritube to the the two great R&B singers, Mr. James Brown and Ms. Aretha Franklin.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis