Wednesday June 15, 2011 - Kat Wildish is the driving force behind the first New York Festival of Dance Schools; Kat curated the programme which drew together several groups from various area dance schools: Princeton University Ballet, comprised of former dancers turned Ivy Leaguers; French Academie of Ballet, a program led by Francois Perron which provides training in the grand French style; The STEPS Repertory Ensemble (offering Sean Curran's Social Discourse with music by Radiohead's Thom Yorke); and Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory NY (presenting classical divertissements). In addition, Graham II performed an excerpt from Graham's staging of The Rite of Spring. Top photo of the Graham II dancers by Sinru Ku.
Kat put together a wonderfully varied programme mixing classical ballet with contemporary works, and the Graham was such a treat to experience. All the young dancers performed stylishly and the evening moved at a nice pace. Francois Perron and Valentina Kozlova offer different approaches to ballet; Francois's students danced a suite of Bach pieces (ensembles and a very fine adagio) styled with fluidity and grace. Kozlova's three ballerinas danced solos from the standard repertoire with a sense of theatricality.
To open the programme, ten girls from the Kozlova Conservatory in flowing red skirts performed bare-footed in an exotic piece called Fleur de Lotus. This very attractive work, well-danced, was undone by mediocre music.
The STEPS Repertory Ensemble were super in Sean Curran's Social Discourse, set to songs by Thom Yorke. Each wearing a different-coloured turtleneck and black shorts, the eight dancers included some very persuasive movers; there's a solo passage for each performer.
To music from the film SENSE & SENSIBILITY, two young women from Princeton University Ballet danced Ilana Suprun Clyde's duet For My Father; each has a lamenting solo while the other watches. The sisters console one another in this pensive interlude.
Four men in loincloths and eight women as novice priestesses (all garbed by Halston) gave an exciting performance of the Graham to end the evening. Graham's Rite of Spring was in fact a Halston commission, dating from 1984. How I would love the see the whole work. The young dancers were passionate in their deilvery of this ritualistic yet also very sexy style of movement.
Throughout the evening individual dancers made distinct impressions. In what was essentially a student performance I don't think it's sporting to single them out. And anyway, I wouldn't know them each by name, especially those in the larger works by Curran and Graham.