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BalaSole Dance Company: Mixtus

Physically diverse dancers are given a chance to shine and express their inner emotions.

Laurie Déziel (Photo credit:  Vandy Photography)

Laurie Déziel (Photo credit:  Vandy Photography)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

BalaSole, directed by Roberto Villanueva, calls itself “a diverse dance company,” showcasing dancer/choreographers who don’t fit into the currently accepted ideals of physique, ethnicity or artistic vision.  BalaSole returned to the Ailey Citigroup Theater for two-performances, a “chapter” (as Mr. Villanueva chooses to title his mini-seasons) called Mixtus.

The ten solos proceeded efficiently and smoothly with certain similarities becoming apparent:  black was the color of all but one of the costumes and black was the mood of most the works. Crouches were the preferred opening poses, beginning with “Convergent Unease” by Alexis Julian to music by Max Richter, and the movement palettes were not particularly original, even when well danced, as were most of the solos.

Ms. Julian managed to temper her dark mood with soft, bent-legged jumps, while in Laurie Déziel’s “Falling Away From You,” performed to a dramatic monologue—“I miss you so”—the movements came in spurts as reactions to the words.  Clearly Ms. Déziel was unhappy.  “Seven Tears,” an extremely short work performed by Jamar Roberts and Meagan Cubides, had the most classical music and the most classical movement themes (high kicks and dips into second position).

DaJuan Harris (Photo credit: Kevin Richardson)

DaJuan Harris (Photo credit: Kevin Richardson)

DaJuan Harris’s “When We Were Silent” expressed its emotions in big tilts and movements that took up big chunks of the performing space.  “El Cant dels Ocells,” choreographed by Nuria Martin Fandos to music by Maria del Mar Bonet, was a study in sadness turning into something darker, ending with her crouched on the floor.

Alexandria Johnson’s “Lady in the Water” to music by Benjamin Clementine used a pile up of benches as a set.  Beginning in an exuberant mood, it slowed down as the emotions darkened.

“Here, Before” by Davonna Batt to music by Trentemøller had a nervous quality, expressed in the juxtaposition of rising movements followed by sudden falls to the ground.  “3’30” DJ 4” by Vanessa Calderon to music by Tom Waits was the most provocative and daring of the works and the most sexually explicit.

Nika Antuanette (Photo credit: Paul Virtucio)

Nika Antuanette (Photo credit: Paul Virtucio)

“The Itch” took its choreographer, Nika Antuanette on a mini-emotional journey through high reaches, jiggles, tilts and deep plies, all to music by the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble.

Mr. Villanueva, in as little clothing as he could manage, showed his very impressive dancing in his “BLANKie” to music by Ólafur Arnalds.  He has a very supple technique and was clearly the most experienced dancer on the program.

Ironically, the best choreography on the program was in the opening and closing, two parts of one piece, “Chapter 16,” to pleasant music by Rodrigo Leão.  It reminded me of films of old Denishawn classes which consisted of rhythmic exercises made artful, giving the impression of one community of artists, yearning for excellence.

BalaSole Dance Company: Mixtus (August 13 & 14, 2016)

Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-868-4444 or visit http://www.smarttix.com

For more information, visit http://www.balasoledance.org

Running time:  one hour and 15 minutes including one intermission

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (229 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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