Tuesday May 22, 2012 - Three works, all of them new to New York City, held the stage as Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet started their second week at The Joyce. Above, an image of the Company in Simply Marvel by Regina van Berkel.
On a stage illuminated by huge hanging parchment-shaded lamps, Ms. van Berkel's work commences with a solo danced by Oscar Ramos; the music, for solo piano, is ultra-slow and so is the movement. The dancers arrive one-by-one, the women in stylized tutus and toe shoes. Sculptural formations assemble and dissolve in this slow-motion universe.
The mood then shifts to a brighter, more animated vision as solo violin music by Nicolo Paganini sets off the three women - Acacia Schachte, Ebony Williams and Soojin Choi - in a series of on-pointe vignettes, partnered by the men. Quirky, witty and jagged, the work maintains an odd sense of formality thanks to the music. Impressive dancing from the entire cast brought the work to a close, signaling the first of many ovations during the evening.
Halfway thru the intermission, the curtain rose on the stagehands preparing for the second work: Tuplet by Alexander Ekman. As the crew busy themselves setting up, Harumi Terayama stands alone in an illuminated square, gesticulating rapidly or conducting an imaginary orchestra. As the house lights dim, five other dancers take up their own squares.
After an introductory sequence, the work's highlight comes with a solo brilliantly danced in silhouette by Jon Bond which he - one of Gotham's most incredible dancers - delivered with astonishing clarity and power. Throughout this ballet, the sounds of the dancers' movements - and even of their breathing - mesh with the musical score to create a personalized soundscape.
The audience went wild after a wonderfully inventive passage in which the six dancers lined up across the front of the stage and danced to the sounds of their own names being spoken. This tour de force was so perfectly delivered by the dancers. Performing in Tuplet, in addition to Harumi and Jon, were Jubal Battisti, Oscar Ramos, Joaquim de Santana and Ebony Williams: an all-star cast.
In the closing work, Necessity, Again by Jo Stromgren (World Premiere) the stage is strewn with sheets of paper; pages hang from clotheslines strung above the space, and periodically the dancers bring in more and more sheaves of pages; occassionally someone flings a fistful of papers into the air. In this messy, cluttered setting the dancers appear alternately bored, bemused or borderline manic. There is a stylized rape scene and at one point the dancers strip down to their underwear (some people go to Cedar Lake just for the bodies). Meanwhile an annoying voice lectures on the meaning of 'necessity'; this is offset by a series of Charles Aznavour songs. Somehow out of this chaos a dancework is built, and - thanks to the individuality and dramatic capacities of the Cedar Lake dancers - it becomes a necessity to watch.
The audience - including danceworld luminaries Miki Orihara, Stephen Pier, David Hallberg and Larry Keigwin - gave the Cedar Lakers a rousing reception at the end of the evening.