Sunday January 27, 2013 - Roberto Villanueva's current programme for BalaSole, entitled VOCES, was originally scheduled for late October 2012 but was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. The presentation finally took place at Ailey CitiGroup Theater yesterday and today, with a slightly different lineup of participating dancers than originally planned. The performances played to sold-out houses both nights.
Roberto Villanueva created BalaSole Dance Company as a platform for dancer/choreographers to present their work in a concert setting. For each BalaSole presentation, ten artists are usually chosen in an audition process. In the time frame between audition and performance, Roberto mentors the dancers and helps them get their solos stageworthy. A week before the performances, the entire group work on new ensemble pieces which will open and close the show. Roberto creates a solo for himself, and his dancing is always a highlight of the evening - as it was again tonight. Fine lighting and sound enhance the work of the particiating artists, and Roberto has developed a faithful following so that the dancers have a chance to be seen in a very auspicious setting.
Tonight's collection of dancers was a strong one, with some beautiful individual work. The ensemble pieces were set to the heavy, relentless beat of Black Violin as the dancers - all clad in black - moved in unison or in canonic phrases in smaller groups against deeply-hued changing colours on the back panel.
I sometimes wish the performers (both here and in general on the dance scene) would give a bit more thought to their musical choices. So many pieces seem to come with a rather anonymous, vaguely ominous sound track. It usually works, but if they would put a bit more thought into their music something really memorable might result.
Aaron Gregory's choice of Zoe Keating is a good one, his solo #Lovesick had a nice hesitant stillness to it. Lauren Alpert, a beautiful dancer I know from her performances with Columbia Ballet Collaborative, brought elements of classical ballet to her spacious solo, Surface Interface. Emily Pacilio's somewhat androgynous presence and her gorgeous dandelion-coloured leotard, maintained our focus as did her use of chiming Eastern/gamelan style music (her solo an except from Keeping Company With Cage). In 2 tears in a Bucket, Troy Barnes made a handsome impression in a solo limned in weeping and despair, though rays of hope seemed to manifest near the end. My companion Javier Chavez and I were both impressed by Sarah J Ewing in her solo Inside Looking Out which further benefitted from Dario Marinelli's harp-textured, other-worldly score.
Excellent lighting enhanced Morgana Rose's well-danced solo Sacred, and then Roberto Villanueva's solo - again turning to Black Violin for his music - was so expressively danced in a tuxedo and open white shirt. Roberto moves so sinuously, his face always beautifully poetic in the lighting. the solo Ssssssssshallow was - he told me - rather a last-minute affair. I never would have guessed, so compelling was his presentation. Nicole Calabrese moved from a chair into a pool of light in her restless solo Chaos/Contained, and Javier and I both especially loved Jessica Cipriano's moonlit solo We Could What If All Day with its opening setting of spoken poetry. The final solo came from Andrew Nemr, the first tap-dancer to appear in a BalaSole programme; his dancing was subtle and savory, performed to his own music in a solo called Node Beat.
The closing ensemble work had a sexy sway, and then Roberto bade us goodnight, inviting us to the next performances which will be happening in July.
I'd like to urge all my dancer-friends - in whatever genre and at whatever point in your dance-career - to take Roberto's next audition (Sunday March 24th - details here). BalaSole's concept is a unique one which provides a rare opportunity to present your work in a theatrical context to an audience who really care about dance.