Above: the artists of Fadi J Khoury Dance, photo by Nir Arieli
Wednesday July 23rd, 2014 - Fadi J Khoury Dance enjoyed a highly successful opening night at New York Live Arts, the first of two sold-out evenings. Founded by Fadi Khoury, a native of Iraq, the Company boasts an international roster: dancers from Turkey, Spain, Italy, France, Costa Rica, and Colombia join together to present danceworks in a style in which Fadi, as choreographer, has skillfully merged elements of ballet and ballroom, with a dash of distinctively Middle Eastern spice thrown into the mix.
I met Fadi and his partner, Sevin Ceviker, when they were dancing with Nejla Yatkin's troupe; another of tonight's dancers, the lovely Karina Lesko, has also danced for Nejla and for Morales Dance.
The opening work tonight, TANGO UNFRAMED, was danced to a collage of tango-oriented music by Ron Jackson, Emilio Solla, and Rosa Antonelli. Judith Daitsman's lighting designs were an intrisic element in the evening's visual appeal.
Blending the sultry sophistication of the tango with a fusion of ballet and contemporary movement, TANGO UNFRAMED opens with a striking vision of the lithe and charismatic Fadi Khoury standing in a pool of light. His solo dancing is marked by expansive port de bras and an elegance of phrasing which is underscored by a subtle sensuality. Sevin Ceviker, in high heels and a pretty frock, appears in her own spotlight and establishes a connection with Fadi.
The three other couples come and go from the dance; there is a female ensemble segment and then a finely-wrought duet for Sevin and Fadi, danced to a piano solo. They display a mystic affinity both for the music and for one another.
Fadi has been onstage all the time up to this point, but now the space clears and the stage remains empty for a piano interlude. Then there is an amusing quartet where two girls set their sights on two boys only to find that the boys have their sights set on one another.
Sevin and Fadi commence another duet which blossoms into the work's closing ensemble for the entire Company. The audience responded with genuine enthusiasm to this evocative, passionate work.
The intermission stretched a bit long and though I usually dislike hearing music played during intermissions at dance performances - it tends to detract from the music the choreographer has chosen to set his dances to - some Middle Eastern melodies here would have been welcome.
ARABESQUE opens with Sevin Ceviker seated upstage in a lighted space as fog swirls about. The music is ominous, with an outer-space feeling. She remains on the floor for a while, then rises to dance on pointe. The other women join her, dancing to a big beat, then suddenly Fadi explodes onto the scene with a spacious jeté.
The bleak sound of the desert wind signals the start of a ritualistic duet for Sevin and Fadi; they are kneeling, facing upstage, and they remain on the floor for a long time but luckily Fadi is a choreographer who knows what to do with floor time and so the duet sustained our interest, especially when Fadi sank back in a pair of voluptuous backbends.
The ensemble intrudes, the boys bare chested in satiny midnight blue tights. Then Sevin and Fadi resume their duet, the music driving to a pounding beat: things get sexy, yet the movement remains balletic. The girls dance to a swirl of Arabic music, then the boys come leaping on one by one. Sevin and Fadi continue to dance in their own private realm.
In a new section, two couples appear, followed by a boy's trio and a trio for the girls which melds into a dance for all six. Sevin and Fadi ignite another duet passage, which leads into the concluding ensemble for the whole Company.
The composers drawn upon for ARABESQUE are Mercan Dede, Samer Ali and Said Mrad: a very effective mixture, and again Ms. Daitsman's lighting was excellent.
The evening ended with a rousing standing ovation and the Company dancers were all greeted with cheers, marking an auspicious start for Fadi J Khoury Dance. Let's see where this success leads them!