Above: Kokyat's image from Lydia Johnson's CROSSINGS BY RIVER
Sunday June 24, 2012 matinee - Seeing a vast number of dance performances every season - to say nothing of the invitations I must turn down due to my packed schedule (and sometimes - admittedly - due to my sheer lack of interest) - I'm always glad when the annual performances by Lydia Johnson Dance come round. Lydia's programmes are rewarding on so many levels: her musical choices are astute; her danceworks are thoughtfully crafted and pleasing both to the eye and the spirit; her dancers - whether those long associated with her style or guests invited for specific projects - are invariably beautiful, committed and moving. Lydia steers wonderfully clear of empty theatricality, and of vapid sentimentality, and of the twin dance crimes of cleverness and cuteness (which is not to say that playfulness is abjured, nor wit for that matter). Her works resonate with a direct emotional link to the music and with an expansive view of the human condition, whether they be imtimate domestic dramas, or reflections of the rites of community, or simply abstract visions of the sheer joy of the human body in motion.
In what I now consider to be her most beautiful work to date, Lydia opened her engrossing programme today with a piece for female ensemble entitled CROSSINGS BY RIVER. Set to mystical sacred music by Osvaldo Golijov, this dance - so expressively executed - gave me those deep tingles of emotional response that come but rarely these days, indicating that the choreographer has taken the music - already striking in its own right - and given it a visual aspect that seems inevitable.
Having watched this work evolve from one of its earliest rehearsals, I found the experience of seeing it staged and lit to be extremely moving both in its innate spiritual quality and in the serene and dedicated dancing of the five women: Laura DiOrio, Lisa Iannacito McBride, Jessica Sand, Kaitlin Accetta and Sarah Pon. Putting me in mind of the ritualistic works of Martha Graham, CROSSINGS BY RIVER carries on the great dance tradition of memorable works for female ensemble. It needs to be seen and savoured.
Here is a gallery of Kokyat's images from this Golijov dancework:
Laura DiOrio, Lisa Iannicito McBride, Jessica Sand
Jessica Sand, Lisa Iannacito McBride, Kaitlin Accetta
Lisa Iannacito McBride
Jessica Sand, Laura DiOrio, Lisa Iannacito McBride
Jessica, Lisa & Laura
The costumes for CROSSINGS BY RIVER - soft, satiny skirts and lacy black bodices - were designed by Jessica Sand. The photos are by Kokyat, taken at the dress rehearsal.
More about this evening of dance here, with still more to follow.