July 29, 2017
The Cirio Collective at the Joyce was an evening full of excellent dancing and choreography – a rarity in today’s ballet climate, so beholden to productions for the under-ten set. Although the Collective’s lineage is in the Forsythe/Kylian mold (both have work in the Boston Ballet repertory, where many of the dancers hail), each work had its own take, a creative twist, not to mention committed and talented dancers that made it an absorbing to watch. This Collective began as a summer residency for dancers to experiment without the pressures usually associated with creating dance works, a model that has served them well.
Artistic director Jeffrey Cirio, now a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, choreographed four of the six works presented, danced in them, and also included works by Paulo Arrais and Gregory Dobashian. In Cirio’s Fremd, he danced with slicing precision as a solo man weaving in and out of couples who flicked their fingers, or their feet at the end of a developpe, moving from smooth to sharp angles, from mechanical to more romantic, cued in part by the electronic sounds mixed with Chopin. Cirio traveled in and out mysteriously, sometimes joining them, but never giving up his independence.
In Paulo Arrais’ Sonnet of Fidelity, associate artistic director Lia Cirio, who made a great impression performing at Lincoln Center with Boston Ballet a few years ago, once again displayed her riveting artistry backed up by a fierce technique, well partnered by Paul Craig. From a broken puppet to a mournful ballerina, she continually transformed and drew our attention to her every time she appeared onstage. All the dancers stood out for their focus, commitment, and belief in the movement. In particular, Whitney Jensen’s solo in Cirio’s In the Mind: In the other Room was disturbing, as she channeled anxiety through dislocation. And Blaine Hoven was especially fun to watch in Dolbashian’s Tactility, a world apart from his respectable performances in Mozartiana with ABT just a few weeks ago.
The “world premiere video” by Sean Meehan was a smart move to break up the evening and also speak to this flat screen image driven generation. A burning, yellow light revealed the three dancers lying on the floor, on what looks like garbage at first, but is actually shredded newspaper, looking like discarded corpses. One gets up, with chunks of newspaper covering his body, as if dressed for a journalistic prom. Trapped inside some discarded (fake?) news, the other dancers seemed to control him, but then separate. When the word “preying” appears, all sorts of associations emerge.
If one were to quibble with something in this program, it would be a general over-reliance on electronic soundscape mixed with classical music, and too much dark, “moody” lighting. These staples of contemporary work, when seen on a program back to back, tend to diminish the impact of the choreography itself. But Jeffrey Cirio and his Collective are ones to watch – if you’re looking for confident, fresh, dancer-driven energy in ballet today.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson