Above: New Chamber Ballet company class; photo by Amber Neff
Friday September 19th, 2014 - Miro Magloire's New Chamber Ballet have inaugurated their tenth anniversary season with a programme featuring three Miro Magloire premieres and a work by NCB resident choreographer Constantine Baecher's "Happy Dance Of The Wild Skeletons" (to music of John Cage), as well as Miro's intriguing "Tilting and Leaning", set to piano music by Pierre Boulez.
Over the past decade, New Chamber Ballet have carved out a special niche for themselves in the Gotham dance world. Their "up-close-and-personal" concerts - always danced to live music - have drawn ever-expanding audiences, and tonight they played to a standing-room-only crowd.
Much praise is due pianist Melody Fader and violinist Doori Na who perform the often complex scores that Miro likes to use with a high level of musicality. Exceptional tonight was their performance of Mauricio Kagel's 'Klangwölfe' for the ballet RAW.
In recent seasons Miro has presented narrative works: domestic dramas about ghosts, sibling rivalries, or mysterious letters. This evening's three new works are more abstract though of course certain themes might be implied. The first ballet is aptly titled FAST FORWARD; danced to Beethoven's 'Rondo for Violin and Piano', the work has three ballerinas - Sarah Atkins, Holly Curran, and Traci Finch - rushing about the space in speedy (even risky) combinations. The breathless quality of the movement is a fine response to the zesty drive of the Beethoven as played by Doori and Melody.
Above: Sarah Artkins in Miro's TILTING/LEANING; photo by Adam Jason
Melody Fader took in stride the demands of Pierre Boulez's 'Notations' which accompanies last season's intriguing duet TILTING/LEANING. Dressed in Sarah Thea Swafford's sleek wine-coloured body tights, dancers Sarah Atkins, Traci Finch, and Amber Neff go from intense to playful and back again in choreography where they balance against one another in unique and quirky shapes.
Supported arabesques are a signature motif in TILTING/LEANING (Sarah and Amber above, in an Adam Jason photo). At the end Sarah and Amber appear to 'fold' Traci into an improbable little bundle. This ballet rewards repeated viewings with its resonant nuances.
For Holly Curran (rehearsal image, above), Miro has created an unusual tour de force solo entitled IN THE COLD. While Melody Fader spins out some Satie at the piano, Holly appears alternately shell-shocked, frantic, or trembling with the chills. Repetitive, compulsive moves give way to a spacious manège of leaps; the dancer periodically assumes a potent arabesque or pauses to rearrange herself before contemplating her next move. The solo, which choreographically rather plays against the expected responses to the Satie melodies, was excellently mastered by dancer and pianist.
Above: rehearsal images from Miro's new duet RAW
Miro's meshing of music and movement created yet another fresh vision with RAW. Introducing the work, Miro spoke affectionately of the German-Argentine composer Mauricio Kagel who was Miro's composition teacher. The choreographer pays homage to his musical mentor with one of his most inspired works to date: RAW is such a fascinating piece that when it ended I immediately wanted to see (and hear) it again.
Doori Na - his strings muted - and Melody Fader evoked a misterioso atmosphere: Doori showed great control as he spun out a thread of sound, and Melody later drew forth a shimmering, high-lying theme from the keyboard. Dancers Traci Finch and Amber Neff are literally entwined much of the time in this duet; their handling of the strenuous partnering motifs, including lifts and intimate bondings, gave the ballet a captivating intensity. An aggressive passage eventually leads to serene, almost worshipful images as Amber leans against the piano and Traci kneels at her feet. RAW seems to veer from sensuous to sterile to pensive, and it is perhaps Miro's most intimate creation to date.
To end the evening, Miro invited the viewers to circle the dancefloor, the better to watch Constantine Baecher's impetuous romp of a duet, HAPPY DANCE OF THE WILD SKELETONS. Melody Fader plays John Cage's 'Bacchanale' on a prepared piano as dancers Traci Finch and Amber Neff - in girlish playsuits and bobbi-sox - indulge in playful, slap-happy hijinx. Their hair comes down at the end, as they revel in the sheer joy of being silly.
Happy anniversary, Miro!
The Company's next performances will be on November 21st and 22nd. 2014. Visit their website here.