NY International @ LaMama Moves

The final program for this year’s Dance Festival at La Mama was appropriately a mixed bill of artists hailing from far flung points of origin.  As I mentioned in my post about the Hula program I saw in the larger Ellen Stewart Theatre at The Annex just before the New York International program in the First Floor Theater on Sunday, it is the commitment to providing many rising international artists with a home in this city  that makes La Mama a special venue.  Most of the artists on Sunday night’s program would likely call themselves New Yorkers now.  But, that is the special overwhelming beauty of this global home – many locals, few natives – as Sol “La Argentinita” very passionately showed in her flamenco solo, danced to Cristian Puig’s fervent guitar playing.  Originally from Buenos Aires, she carries both the ricocheting energy of the Spanish dance form and the growl and prowl of our city.  It was a commanding performance, full of complex heel work, clapping, focus, strength, and grace.  Her “Flamenco Cabal” was a stunning performance with enough bravado to slam me out of the Hula induced bliss coma I was still languishing in.

She was followed by “Maximized Occurrence,”danced by a gorgeous trio of recent grads from my program at Hunter College.  I’ve been watching this piece develop all year and can’t comment on it with freshness, however they clearly rose to the occasion performing a series of duets with intensity and focus and reflected the curatorial mandate for the program.  Recent graduate Olsi Gjeci comes to contemporary dance via the National Albanian Folk Dance company and I expect to see much more of him.  He maintains a kind of single-minded, tunnel-vision manner that will serve his continued explorations of the form and his dancers Kobik Gordon, from Tobago, and Krista Saint-Dic, from Haiti, are absolutely fascinating on stage together.

John Scott’s “Actions,” a duet for his “Irish Modern Dance Theatre,” took a similar task-based foundation but expanded the scope with the more current style of bright (less-theatrical) lighting and casual spoken interplay between Marcus Bellamy and Michael Snipe Jr.  These two men, both Julliard alumni and former Parsons, Battleworks, Sean Curran, and Broadway veterans, are a powerhouse duo, athletic in sneakers and drenching their sweat pants in a sheen of sweat after extensive explosive movement sequences. Scott understands how to employ irony and play to a work, though the dancers’ bodies had so much more to say in that respect than any of the spoken dialogues.  Also on the program were an excerpt of “Target: Furnace,”a solo choreographed for Marya Wethers by Daria Fain (France), and works by Antonia Katranddjieva (Bulgaria) and Paul Ibey (Greece).

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