Record-breaking Dance from the Heart Raises $113,140
Four eclectic performances, 15 gifted choreographers and 78 extraordinary dancers combined for a wonderfully successful eighth edition of Dance from the Heart on January 28 and 29, 2013.
This year's Dance from the Heart celebrated the work of legendary choreographers Jiří Kylián, Jerome Robbins and Paul Taylor and showcased the emerging talents of Al Blackstone, Marcelo Gomes, Abdur-Rahim Jackson and Takehiro Ueyama.
Dance from the Heart raised a record-setting $113,140 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, eclipsing last year's record total of $66,840.
The 2013 event included the world premieres of four pieces, made possible by the generous support of major choreographic sponsors Gerald M. Appelstein, The Charles Evan Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund and choreographic sponsor Movmnt Magazine.
The dazzling work of iconic choreographer Jiří Kylián was showcased by two pairs of dancers from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, who effectively moved their sculpted bodies in and out of the shadows to create cleverly balanced off-center movement.
American Dance Machine for the 21st Century paid tribute to legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins with a sultry recreation of "Mr. Monotony" by Tony Award-winning singer Debbie Gravitte from Jerome Robbins' Broadway. Backed by a five-piece live band, two dancers mimicked musicians in an effort to win the affection of a young woman. The number featured Amar Ramasar and Georgina Pazcoguin from New York City Ballet and Charles Askegard, founder of Ballet Next.
Adorned in tapestry-inspired costumes, Michelle Fleet and Michael Trusnovec of Paul Taylor Dance Company echoed in dance the symmetry of the accompanying Bach piano concerto. Dancing as if it were ballet in bare feet, the pair embodied the gallantry of a medieval knight and his lady.
Rising choreographer Al Blackstone added an engaging flair of theatricality with a comedic take on the budding romance between two shy, awkward co-workers. Backed by a high-energy cast of zany colleagues, the pair ultimately connects during a celebratory office party.
A rhythmic, heart-pounding excerpt from Takehiro Ueyama's Salaryman left the audience breathless as four athletic dancers in business suits illuminated the frenetic pace – and emotional tolls – of the battle for success in today's corporate culture.
Marcelo Gomes, principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, stepped into the choreographer's role for the premiere of "Endlos," a visual representation of the depths of true love. Jessica Saund and Thomas Forster, members of the corps de ballet for American Ballet Theatre, savored a storybook couple's final moments before she slowly died in his arms, his strength no longer able to keep her alive.
Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects offered a powerfully mesmerizing duet of continuous, risk-taking movement. Lonnie Poupard and Christina Noel Reaves displayed intricate partnering skills in the conceptual and physically demanding work, which was inspired by the biological workings of the heart.
Abdur-Rahim Jackson choreographed an intricate dance for two women that required precise balance and trust. With their bodies moving in synchronized harmony, Olivia Bowman-Jackson and Akua Noni Parker danced as mirror images of each other, exploring the depths of one's self through reflection.
Tom Gold Dance premiered a balletic take on pop music icon Lady Gaga. Performing to a string quartet version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" dancers from Miami City Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet brought a whimsical approach, replete with shimmering gold costumes.
Tap took center stage on each night. On Monday, Corey John Snide lit up the room with a crowd-pleasing number set to a contemporary version of "Take the 'A' Train." Dancing with the energy and charisma of a modern-day Gene Kelly, the 19-year-old Snide's countless turns and rare sense of showmanship belied his young age.
At Tuesday's performances, Ayodele Casel showed a different side of tap. The unassuming hoofer showcased precise footwork that drew the audience in, creating a virtual crowd so that it ultimately felt like you were watching a tap jam by a legendary performer.
Zimbabwe native Nora Chipaumire, who challenges stereotypes of African and black dance, turned “The Dying Swan” on its head with her version called “Dark Swan.” Dancing in a single swath of diagonal light, Chipaumire imposed a raw, intense physicality as she freed herself from the constraints of others' perceptions.
More than 20 teenagers from Massachusetts' Project Moves Dance Company delivered a strong, anti-bullying message. Expanding on a smaller piece seen last summer at Fire Island Dance Festival, the full company stripped away signs of hurtful stereotypes to reveal the word "human" and celebrate the uniqueness of each one of us.
Mixing small gestures with full-throttle bursts of movement to mine the complexity of the human spirit, Doug Varone and Dancers combined superior ensemble chemistry with haunting music to show a struggle among forces constantly pushing and pulling in different directions.
In a semi-autobiographical piece, Mark Dendy Dance and Theater Projects explored through monologue, dance and even a bagpiper, the voices in one's head that, at times, can be both distracting and sparring. Describing the serpentine coils that represent the path of life, the number ended along the theater's back brick wall in a dance that creatively used light and shadow.
This year's event was generously sponsored by The New York Times, United Airlines, Beaulieu Vineyard, Cedar Lake Theater, Movmnt Magazine and New York City Dance Alliance.
View the program from Dance from the Heart.
Photos by Danny Roberts