Performing Arts: Dance
February 19, 2015
The New York Theatre Ballet’s Legends & Visionaries performance on the New York Live Arts stage is delightfully fun. The first half of the night consists of three pieces, including two world premieres and a piece by Merce Cunningham. The Cunningham piece Cross Currents is quite different than the rest of the night, but the three dancers rise to the challenge of this specific, abstract movement and knock it out of the park.

It is followed by a new work, There, and Back Again choreographed by Nicolo Fonte. After the first two dances, this piece grabbed an audience that seemed to be waning and brought it back to life. Dynamic in movement, story, and mis-en-scene, There, and Back Again was a triumph for Fonte.

The dancers in the company prove their fortitude as they glide through each moment, accompanied by the live scoring of original music composed by Kevin Keller. Inspired from the Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, the choreography is grand and sweeping, capturing the larger than life story. Dancing the witch, Amanda Treiber, has much more abandon to her movement than the other dancers. Set apart from the family unit, they are explosive but still, less wild than Treiber. Beautifully cohesive, the dance's costumes and lighting add texture to a great foundation.

Best of show ends the evening evening with the vaudevillian inspired Alice-in-Wonderland Follies. An exploration of Lewis Carroll’s classic, this ballet is overtly charming. Using whimsical takes on classic ballet structure and movement, the mapping of this story is heartwarmingly fun. Even as the program runs two hours and thirty minutes (thirty minutes longer than advertised) the performance is so engaging that time feels lost, like Alice is in the that world. From the impossibly long tail of the Cheshire Cat (Amanda Treiber), to the the White Rabbit’s (Steven Melendez) impressively high hops, the magic and mischief is palpable.

Elena Zahlmann’s Alice is on point, in both dancing and acting. Her natural charisma and expressiveness helps to sell every crazy creature that joins her onstage. Amidst the arabesques and the pas-de-chat’s the music stops and the company takes the stage to perform the Jabberwocky section. Structured as a creative reciting of Carroll’s famous non-sense poem, the dancers create a spellbinding rhythm with their hands and bodies. Using words and movement, this moment is enough reason to go see the entire performance by this talented company. Legends & Visionaries is appearing at New York Live Arts.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

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