Friday December 9, 2011 - Normally when Kokyat and I visit dance companies in the studio it is planned well in advance; but today we were able to respond to what amounted to a last-minute invitation from Lydia Johnson to have a look at the nearly-completed work she is creating to music of Osvaldo Golijov. We saw an early rehearsal of this piece in October where - though still early in the developmental process - it already seemed destined to hit my list of top ten danceworks of the 21st century.
While the work evokes visions of Matisse, of Nijinsky's FAUN, of Isadora Duncan's sweepingly feminine dances and of Martha Graham's rituals, it has its own atmosphere which is rooted in the wide-ranging textures of Golijov's music. Straight-forward dance rhythms steeped in folksong have meshed with the spirituality of the composer's sacred literature to create a piece that is rooted in the Earth and reaching for the heavens. Danced by five women, themes of sisterhood and female solidarity are explored in lyrical patterns while each of the girls has opportunities to express herself both individually and as a collective thru the choreographer's gracefully fluid style of movement.
The dancers are Laura DiOrio, Lisa Iannacito McBride, Jessica Sand, Sarah Pon and Kaitlin Accetta. They danced the piece straight thru, then broke it down into segments for polishing, and then danced it again. Their quiet dedication matches their talent; Lydia's works always look so good because they are always so beautifully danced.
As the hour sped by, I thought: "I can't get any closer to dance without actually dancing." Lydia and her dancers were so generous and the studio was filled with an atmosphere of creativity inspired by the Golijov music. At the appointed time of the rehearsal's end, the girls bundled up to go rehearse for various NUTCRACKERs elsewhere in the City.
The light in the studio was especially lovely this afternoon and Kokyat silently padded around the space, capturing various aspects of the work. Here is a gallery of his images; click each panel to enhance.
Lisa Iannacito McBride
Laura in the foreground
One of the things Lydia was doing today was attempting to create a 'suite' from the work - which lasts about 15 minutes - to show at the upcoming APAP event which allows each choreographer only an 8 minute time frame. As it stands, the full Golijov seems like an organic whole from which it would be difficult to edit anything out; yet the longer the dancers worked on it certain motifs, both musical and danced, almost seemed to choose themselves as representative of what the entire work has to tell us.
All rehearsal photos by Kokyat.