Monday March 14, 2011 - OtherShore's Sonja Kostitch and ABT soloist Sascha Radetsky (above, in Kokyat's photo) team up to dance a duet from Edwaard Liang's dramatic work LIFT for the upcoming performances of Dancers Responding to AIDS: Dance from the Heart, an annual benefit which this year features a powerhouse roster of dancers in many genres who will converge on March 21st and 22nd at Cedar Lake theater for these special evenings. Details here.
In February, Kokyat and I went to Brooklyn to watch a rehearsal for one of the pieces to be performed at the DRA programmes: VESPERS, a duet by David Grenke. It was great to meet David who I remember vividly from his days dancing with Paul Taylor Dance Company. Kokyat loved photographing dancers Shannon MacDowell and Brian Runstrom in the late-Winter light of the studio.
After this, I decided to see if Sonja would like us to cover her rehearsal as well; we'd been to OtherShore's showing of THE SOCIAL BAND which Kokyat photographed and we had connected with her there; she graciously invited us to watch her and Sascha rehearse today. The frosting on the cake was that Edwaard Liang would also be there, a peerless danseur and now firmly ensconced in the choreographic pantheon.
OtherShore premiered LIFT in 2008 and I really enjoyed it. Since then, Edwaard Liang's choreographic career has taken off like crazy; whenever you check in with him on Facebook he's in a different city working on something. Luckily today he was home in New York City (just back from Singapore and Washington DC, and leaving again in a few days) and was at the studio to work with Sonja and Sascha on the duet.
The music for LIFT comes from Clint Mansell, the noted film composer whose most recent score for BLACK SWAN was the best thing about that uneven film.
When we arrived, Sonja and Sascha had the pas de deux down in terms of movement and partnering; they did several more run-thrus both with and without music, ironing out elements of placement, perfecting the nuances of gesture and expression, and giving the dance the seamless flow of motion that Edwaard was seeking. Both Edwaard and OtherShore co-founder Brandi Norton were able to suggest slight alterations which Sonja and Sascha immediately filtered into their work.
The two dancers look beautiful together, and I'm looking forward to seeing this piece next week at Cedar Lake where it will be danced at both the 6:30 and 8:30 PM showings on the 22nd.
Edwaard Liang retired from dancing a year-and-a-half ago, much to my dismay; observing him demonstrating some of the elements of his pas de deux today reminded me keenly of how much I simply love watching him move. While Sonja and Sascha took a break, Edwaard worked a bit on a solo he is devising as a compulsory element for the male entrants in the upcoming Boston International Ballet Competition; although he modestly said that as a retiree, his dancing was rusty he looked perfectly wonderful to Kokyat and me.
Although in recent months I've met some of the greatest dancers on the planet in studio settings, I'm still starstruck and a little nervous in their presence. Meeting Sascha Radetsky today was a genuine pleasure: he's sincere, down-to-earth and truly committted to what he's doing. It was a real privilege to watch him and Sonja working together at close range.
Here are a couple more of Kokyat's images from the rehearsal:
I'll post additional images soon.
All photos by Kokyat.