This Sept. 26, 2016 photo released by New York City Center shows STREB Extreme Action performing at Fall for Dance Opening Night at City Center in New York. (Stephanie Berger/New York City Center via AP)
Shall we dance? Absolutely!
October 17, 2016
As the annual Fall for Dance festival opened this season at New York City Center. The usual warning to turn off those phones was missing. In its place was a request. The audience was told to take them out. Shoot and tweet away!
There's always a lively feeling at Fall for Dance. It runs for 10 days. Fall for Dance is a variety of performances. Twenty companies are involved. They came from around the world. The $15 price tag makes it much more affordable than other dance fare. And the house is always packed and vocal.
The clear highlight this year was the appearance of not one, not two, but three much adored ballerinas. Two have retired from the ballet stage. But the festival also was notable for its diversity of offerings.
Opening night was especially lively. This was thanks to the Brooklyn-based Streb Extreme Action. It is a troupe that performs high-flying, injury-defying feats. These often include dancers slamming their bodies into the floor from scary heights.
Their new piece was called "Airslice." It involved not only body-slamming. There also was a series of moves aboard a huge spinning ladder. Dancers swung from its rungs and otherwise tempted fate (and bodily harm). They performed as the ladder kept speeding up. You could have cut the tension with a knife. The dancers clearly have found an outlet for their thrill-seeking tendencies.
In later programs came the ballerinas. First up was Wendy Whelan. She retired from the New York City Ballet two years ago. Since then, she has been busy exploring contemporary dance. Whelan is a beloved New York fixture. She didn't appear in pointe shoes. Instead she had on black heels. She also wore black tights. And she wore a button-down white shirt.
Whelan performed with Edward Watson of the Royal Ballet. They danced in Arthur Pita's "The Ballad of Mack and Ginny." It is a tango-inflected piece. It's set to Kurt Weill's "Tango Ballad" from the 1928 musical "The Threepenny Opera."
A few nights later came a more classic take. It featured the rare appearance on a New York stage of Alina Cojocaru. The Romanian-born dancer and her fiance, Johan Kobborg, originally had been due to perform Frederick Ashton's "Marguerite and Armand." They were scheduled to appear along with the Bucharest National Opera Ballet. Because of their recent rift and departure from that company, the couple performed instead with the Sarasota Ballet.
The tiny Cojocaru was her usual delicate, soulful self. She danced the role of the fragile heroine dying of tuberculosis. Kobborg was her stern father.
On closing weekend came Alessandra Ferri. She is one of the world's most popular ballerinas. She still is dancing at age 53 despite "retiring" from American Ballet Theatre. That was in 2007.
Ferri in June made a triumphant one-night return to Juliet. It is her signature role with ABT. She appeared with her favored partner of the last few years. He is Herman Cornejo. On a dark stage adorned by a lighted column on one side, the two twisted and churned slowly to "Witness." It is a new piece by choreographer Wayne McGregor.
Other highlights included everything from classical Indian dance (Shantala Shivalingappa) to a sobering meditation by the South African choreographer Dada Masilo. Memorably, Demetia Hopkins-Greene of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed the powerful solo work "Cry."
And Spanish flamenco dancer Farruquito sent a jolt of energy through the room. He whipped his feet around the stage, long hair flying and beads of sweat misting the air.
At the end, he invited each of his musicians and singers to take a spin ons
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are cell phones encouraged?
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