Above: Kaitlyn Gilliland and Caitlin Trainor is a rehearsal photo by Paul B Goode
Thursday February 27th, 2014 - An evening of dance at Ailey Citigroup featuring three companies: Ariel Rivka Dance, Trainor Dance, and Texture Contemporary Ballet.
Caitlin Trainor presented two works: KaitlynCaitlin (2013) a duet showcasing Ms. Trainor and former New York City ballet dancer Kaitlyn Gilliland. This is a danced conversation between the choreographer, Caitlin, dancing barefooted, and guest artist Kaitlyn, dancing on pointe. To music by Major Scurlock, using piano and electronics, the two girls dressed in ruby-red frocks dance in-sync and then move off on separate trajectories to explore their own vocabularies in combinations that makes great use of the space. The work reaches a peak as they come face-to-face, literally, and the movement stops for a moment.
In the second Trainor piece, The Air Turned White, Ms. Trainor appears both in person and as a projected image, in filmwork crafted by Maria Niro. The dancer enters from the audience, wearing jeans and a halter top. To a pulsing electronic beat (the musical setting also by Ms. Niro) Caitlin begins to dance while on the huge screen above we see her folding and crawling slowly across the surface. In a miraculous ending, the filmed image shrinks to nothing.
Take… Taken… Taking (world premiere) was performed by Texture Contemporary Ballet; choreographed by Alan Obuzor to music by Philip Glass. This is a pas de cinq in three movements with the girls on pointe; simple blue costumes and fine lighting set off the dancers in this well-structured ballet in which Mr. Obuzor's choreography shows imagination and musicality throughout. In the restless opening segment, the flow of movement and stylized port de bras keep us engaged; the vivid dark-haired dancer Alexandra Tiso seems something of an outsider, and the others seek to entice or console her with lovely gestures. Then a chill descends and Mr. Obuzor commences a long solo to the adagio section; seemingly a lost soul, the dancer uses his long limbs to express isolation and fear. The solo takes on a more agitated aspect but there seems to be no escape. Three girls return for the turbulent finale, their hair down. Ms. Tiso is seen again both in solo and duet phrases with Mr. Obuzor. The ending of the work is visually pleasing but slightly inconclusive dramatically...though that in itself adds to the ballet's mystique. Dancers: Kelsey Bartman, Jennifer Grahnquist, Alan Obuzor, Alexandra Tiso and Brynn Vogel.
From Ariel Rivka Dance, The Book of Esther begins with Vashti - an homage to Vashti, wife of the ruler of Persia - which the Company performed last year. Set to a melodic score by David Homan for violin, cello, guitar and piano, Vashti features five women - four handmaidens and Queen Vashti - and tells the story of Vashti's stuggle to choose between obeying her husband's command that she dance naked before his guests or to maintain her dignity by refusing.
Hana Ginsburg Tirosh is a poetic Vashti with an expressive face; the dancing of the five women recalls both Isadora Duncan's works and Jerome Robbins' Antique Epigraphs.
Last year, Vashti stood alone; now the choreographer has extended the narrative continues with Esther. As the successor to the displaced Vashti, Esther is in the difficult position of having to inform the King that she is Jewish. The King's advisor, Haman, works to undermine Esther.
Esther begins with the entry of a solo clarinetist (Moran Katz) who crosses the stage playing a wistful melody. The story the unfolds, with Claire Cholak as Esther advised by Mordechai (Kristen Licata) and by a vision of Vashti (Ms. Ginsburg Tirosh) as to how she should deal with her dilemma. Danita Shaheen dressed in red as the Good/Evil Haman brings a welcome vibrancy to the proceedings.
By extending the dancework to incorporate the stories of both queens, the piece now seems a bit long; it might be well to pare it down just a little to maintain the dramatic flow of the narrative. But that is up to the choreographer; as it stands now The Book of Esther is both musically and visually rewarding.
A note of praise for the excellent musicians who played the David Homan score live: Ms. Katz (clarinet), Mario Gotoh (violin), Nadav Lev (guitar), Elad Kabilio (cello) and Ben Laude (piano).