Friday April 2, 2010 - Back in the days when Jacob's Pillow was our favorite summertime destination Hubbard Street was one of our favorite companies and Ron de Jesus was one of out favorite dancers in that company. Now Ron (above) has formed his own troupe and they are at Joyce SoHo with vibrant movement, excellent dancers, wildly effective lighting and full houses.
I chose tonight's second performance of the run simply because it was the best night for me in a busy week; as luck would have it, this evening's performance featured a very special guest: Kathryn Morgan of the New York City Ballet.
Above: Lois Greenfield's photo of Mindy Wallace and Kurt Froman. So good seeing Kurt again; the former NYC Ballet dancer has been on Broadway (Movin' Out) since leaving NYCB. His dancing tonight was powerful and big-scale, his classical grounding showing thru in this more contemporary setting. Likewise, Ramon Gaitan - a Nicaraguan dancer I met earlier this year - let his classical training propel him in these powerfully physical works. Another very effective dancer all evening was the ultra-slender Jordan Morley.
The opening work, LIQUID, commenced with three lyrical/passionate duets evolving into a quartet and then the full ensemble. Here we met each of the dancers - a strong assembly of unique personalities - and were swept into Ron's boldly contemporary world and his demanding, inventive style of partnering.
A live recording of Sammy Davis Jr. vamping some of his greatest hits along with his drummer Michael Silva set the stage for a vivid, humorous and demanding solo ('Wham of Sam') for dancer Francisco Avina. Street-
A soft mist swirled into the playing area and the side-lighting created a dreamscape for the solo EMPTY SPACE which Kathryn Morgan (above, in a Paul B Goode photo) performed to a gorgeous Max Richter score. In soft slippers with her hair down and wearing a diaphanous white skirt, Katie danced with quiet radiance as a young woman perhaps searching in dreams for a lost love. It's breathtaking to see Katie dancing at close range and her performance was illuminated by what have become her trademarks: innate musicality and astonishing artistic maturity meshed with wistful, youthful innocence. This kind of dancer comes along once in a blue moon. Her performance made me hope that SONNAMBULA lies in her near-future, and Susan remarked how perfect Katie will be in the Elegie from Tchaikovsky Suite #3.
In an abrupt change of mood, dancers Meg Paul and Addison O'Day gave a wildly combative and sexy performance in EDGED. Constantly provoking and then eluding one another, the two dancers let the sparks fly in this duet about a relationship on the brink. Push comes to shove and in the end, bathed in a pool of light, Ms. Paul seems to have 'won' but it's clear: there will be a rematch.
In the closing InWOOD, the elements of the Ron de Jesus style coalesced: fast pacing, risky partnering motifs, sexy undercurrents, antagonisms, passion. Lighting was a key element here and the score moved from club culture to contemporary adagio - a beautifully calm passage for two men with the women - and a lyrical solo for Aaron Smith. The piece though is just a little too long to be totally pleasing; a perfect 'ending' of a solitary dancer walking upstage in silhouette is sacrificed to an additional movement which seems simply to repeat earlier ideas in the same style and with a similar musical feeling. With a bit of tightening this piece could be a really effective closer. But still, the dancers were just super - all evening - evoking an enthusiastic response from the audience at the end. Photo above by Kyle Froman.
Lighting designer Ryan O'Gara gets top marks for a beautifully lit show: wonderful colour shifts on the backpanel and perfectly timed bursts of theatrical dazzle, accenting the music and the movement at every moment.