Sunday September 21st, 2014 - Yin Yue Dance Company and students from China's Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School shared the stage at Peridance this afternoon in a programme that combined the contemporary with the classical in an East-Meets-West cultural dialogue.
Yin Yue is an award-winning Shanghai-born choreographer who graduated from Tisch, New York University. For this event, she summoned a contingent of dancers from the Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School, a private professional dance school located in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China, who have arrived in New York City, bringing traditional Chinese classical/contemporary and folk dance as they meet the New York audience for the first time.
The programme was well-devised to contrast the two styles: the young women from Nanchang performed in colourful, elaborate costumes while Yin Yue's dancers appeared in stark settings and casual contemporary streetwear. The two companies alternated throughout the afternoon.
The student company opened the show with a brilliant and festive piece Gan Yun You You in which elements of Chinese opera were featured. Later - in Spring Ballet - the girls danced on pointe in long pink tutus to the voice of a pop-oriented coloratura soprano. A quartet of solos - each dancer in red-highlighted costumes - went on a bit too long. Then Qinghua Rhyme was danced on pointe to a pop beat, while an Arabian Nights atmosphere pervaded Blossom: the girls all wearing red harem-style costumes and each carrying a red rose. Nuo Dance, the afternoon's concluding work, featured the dancers wearing masks. At the end, a baby was delivered and he started to cry. Throughout their peformance, the dancers from the Jiangxi Zhongshan School showed surprising maturity of presentation and seemed thoroughly at home on the stage.
Yin Yue and her fellow dancers - Liane Aung, Grace Whitworth, and Luke Bermingham - performed five works, ranging from quartets to a solo by Mr. Bermingham. Yin Yue's choreography is strong and sure; she makes excellent use of space and lighting and she persuasively employs partnering and passages of dancing in-sync. Her strongest work was the solo for Mr. Bermingham - One Step Before The Exit - which seemed to express the loneliness of contemporary life and a (thwarted) desire to connect.
Yin Yue's undoubted gift for impressive dramatic movement is somewhat compromised by a lack of variety in her choice of music. Everything seems to be danced to a beat overlain in darkly throbbing industrial noise and/or static. The vaguely ominous atmosphere created by this type of music - so favored by many of today's younger choreographers - becomes a cliché after a while. A bit of Chopin, alluded to in the playbill, never materialized. In taking a wider view of musical possibilities, I believe the choreographer will find ever-expanding avenues of expression.