Rehearsal image by Jashiro Dean: the dancers are Jerome Stigler, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch and Chris Bloom.
Thursday October 18, 2012 - Celebrating their fifth anniversary, 360° Dance Company offered a diverse programme at Ailey Citigroup Theater. Under the direction of former Martha Graham principal dancer Martn Lofsnes, the dances performed dated from as far back as 1932. Martin has gathered an excellent ensemble of dancers with unique traits and personalities and the performance had the benefit of especially fine lighting.
Opening the evening, Yuko Giannakis danced to perfection in the solo TIME IS MONEY, choreographed by Jane Dudley in 1932 and set to a poem by Sol Funaroff. This was followed by Alexandra Prosperi's SATSUNG which opens with a stunningly beautiful ensemble passage set in a smoky, sensuous space. The lighting here was particularly fine and the dancers looked wonderful: Chris Bloom, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Jerome Stigler, Danelle Morgan and Hana Ginsburg each making the most of their featured moments. In a dremlike duet, Erika Dankmeyer and Martin Lofsnes meshed superbly, especially as Erika slipped herself under Martin's t-shirt and they literally became one. Beautiful, mysterious images. The third movement, to a pounding beat, gives way to the final section - the best of all in terms of music. Though this work might be more poweful if slightly compressed, the dancers held our focus throughout.
Ricardo Flores' solo EL HOMBRE SAPO (The Toad Man) was performed by Martin Lofsnes; the work seemed incoherent and overly long, with music too random to make a solid effect and with an ending that was not really the end. What saved it was Martin's performance: his magnificent physique and beautifully crafted speech. Near the end, a shower of water pours down on the fully-clothed toad man; he strips off his saturated shirt and trousers. This image lingered despite my overall incomprehension of the solo.
The powerful movement images of Lauri Stallings' REGULAR CHAIN OF BEING - superbly rendered by Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch and Martin Lofsnes - were undermined by a vocally inferior performance of Casta Diva from Bellini's NORMA. But Stallings' overlaying of the bel canto aria with movement that flowed ever in a circle of struggle and tension created a fascinating paradox. The dancing was again perfect.
The highlight of the evening was a radiantly-danced women's trio: Pauline Koner's THE SHINING DARK (1956) set to the evening's finest music: Leon Kirchner's String Quartet #1. Koner's influences range from Fokine and Michio Ito to Doris Humphrey and Limon - she danced for Limon for 16 years and was part of the original cast of The Moor's Pavane in 1949. SHINING DARK has a very Martha Graham feeling and it is incredibly well-crafted.
Kneeling under a gauzy drape, Danelle Morgan (The One in Silence and Darkness) performs an emotional, gestural solo mostly remaining gounded. In pale lilac, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch as the One Who Comes to Reach gives a splendid performance, her stance, posture and gestures enhanced by her wonderfully expressive face. Hana Ginsburg, in burgundy, is the One Who Comes to Help. In movement ranging from stylized to lyrcal, the three strikingly beautiful women move thru passages of despair. consolation and repose. This memorable dance experience made me want to discover more of Koner's work.
The Company's committed dancing in the final work, Martin Lofsnes' NEAR DARK, was somewhat offset by the vaguely ominous and unmemorable music chosen. I have seen so many dancworks set in this type of soundscape and cannot understand what the attraction is for choreographers to work within such an uninspiring framework when there is such a wealth of music in every genre that could be utilized. Nevertheless, NEAR DARK succeeded visually with an especially persuasive performance by Jerome Stigler, dancing in super-slow motion.
My companion for the evening was Josiah Guitian of RIOULT. It's so interesting to watch a dance performance with someone who dances.