Fall for Dance 2017
Every year, New York City Center curates the Fall for Dance festival, inviting dance companies from around the world and across styles to perform on their stage. It is an excellent way to get a taste of various dance styles and to compare both company and country styles towards dance and movement.
In Fall 2017, I had the pleasure of seeing Program D, which featured Gauthier Dance/Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart’s US Premiere of their piece Streams, Abraham.In.Motion‘s World Premiere of their piece Drive, the World Premiere of Sara Mearns and Honji Wang‘s No. 1, and Ballet BC‘s Bill.
I went into the show with high expectations and was not disappointed. The first performance, Streams, featured dancers dressed in flesh colored (with a slight yellow/gold tint and some black lines on some) costumes against a black background and a gold foil fringe/streamer curtain spanning the stage. It was a long piece that seemed to drag along at first but then hit a climax and awed me. At that point, the movements and the use of the gold streamers finally connected the title to the dance. You could imagine water rushing in and out, rocking against an invisible shore. The last moment, when the ensemble emulated waves, was one of the highlights of the entire program and hit me at my core right before the stage lights went out, leaving me feeling breathless.
Drive was even more incredible. As a person of color, seeing almost all dancers of color on stage was incredible right off the bat. The performance was also fun and exciting to watch. It, too, had a dark backdrop, with carefully planned light color changes alongside smoke, which gave the piece an intriguing aesthetic. The purples, blues, reds, occasional whites, etc complemented the music perfectly. It was upbeat, and the dancing seems genre-bending, fitting somewhere between modern, hip hop, street dance, and something else I can’t place. It was definitely my favorite of the four dances.
The Mearns/Wang collaboration was the one I was waiting for and the reason I had chosen this program to begin with. With Mearns dancing ballet and Wang dancing hip hop, this perfectly combined the two styles and showed the dancers playing off of one another. I loved how both styles were respected and shown as equals, although most of the dance seemed to focus on Wang trying to make Mearns’ dancing more hip hop. It felt like a stripped down performance, if I can borrow a term usually used for music. It truly felt like two dancers learning and exploring one another’s styles, and it felt authentic. I was mesmerized, and I only wish it was longer than it ended up being. The ending felt abrupt and rushed, and I think the dance would have gained from being extended even for a little longer.
The last performance, Bill, was…interesting, to say the least. For most of this Fall for Dance, I did not know anything about the dances, and Bill was for sure the one that made me scratch my head and sit in confusion. I didn’t like the dance. It was weird, but in a way that I couldn’t figure out. I’m sure there was some deeper meaning behind the odd, jerky, and specific choreography. It’s really hard to explain the movements and the dance itself. To be sure, there were portions of the repetitions and the breaks from the repetition that I appreciated and liked, but most of the dance just made me feel uncomfortable–and not necessarily in a good way.
I thought that this particular program was mostly strong in the individual dances, but I definitely enjoyed the program I saw in 2016 more. Altogether, Fall for Dance is an incredible way to see world-renowned dancers and dance companies across different styles at a low price. Each company is unique, but each is powerful and beautiful and intriguing. The dances are often thought-provoking, and the dances make you feel something inside that you can’t describe in words. To be able to watch these from the 3rd row of the orchestra for only $15 is a deal you really can’t find anywhere else. It’s a great way to sample different dances and to expand your horizon and knowledge of dance. Every year, I find a new company that I fall in love with. I highly recommend going to next fall’s Fall for Dance.