Jack Quinn

Victor Gluck

Chip Deffaa

Dance from the Heart – Program One
By: Joel Benjamin
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Amar Ramasar and Georgina Pazcoguin in Jerome Robbins’
“Mr. Monotony” (American Dance Machine for the 21st Century)
(All Photos by Danny Roberts)

Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA), a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, presented Dance from the Heart to raise funds for this good cause. Beyond good karma, the choreography presented represented the highest level of craft and some exciting performances by preeminent dance artists at the Cedar Lake Theater.

The American Dance Machine for the 21st Century did Jerome Robbins’ “Mr. Monotony,” performed with live musicians including the singer Debbie Gravitte who sang this song in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway winning a Tony Award for her efforts. Three New York City Ballet dancers, Amar Ramasar, Georgina Pazcoguin and, in a last minute substitution, Charles Askegard portrayed Robbins’ musical love triangle, wittily set to a jazzy arrangement.

Michael Trusnovec and Michelle Fleet in Paul Taylor’s “Cascade”
(Paul Taylor Dance Company)

The work of another dance legend, Paul Taylor, followed. An excerpt, the central duet, from “Cascade” set to a Bach piano concerto was solemnly interpreted by Michelle Fleet and Michael Trusnovec, clad in Santo Loquasto’s glowing, fairy tale costumes. Their sculptured arms and gentle lifts made the music palpable.

Corey John Snide tapped to Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” with great skill, if not wit, his youthfully gangly arms giving him a charming aura.

Olivia Bowman-Jackson and Akua Noni Parker in Adur-Rahim Jackson’s
‘mE aNd mE”

The most intense work on the program was Abdur-Rahim Jackson’s “mE aNd mE” to Jeri Brown’s quietly dramatic score. Olivia Bowman-Jackson and Akua Noni Parker, two sleekly elegant dancers, mirrored each other’s slinky movements as if two parts of the same human. The slight differences in their physiques and their interpretations of the movements gave this duet deep emotional overtones.

Project Moves Dance Company in Rennie Gold’s “Human”

Project Moves Dance Company presented “Human” to a pop score by the Cinematic Orchestra and Yann Tiersen in which nearly twenty youngsters romped about, wearing signs around their necks with words like “fat,” “fag,” “loser,” “ugly,” etc., written on them. Although this plea for tolerance and understanding was a bit unsophisticated, the lovely babes-in-the-woods cast made their point with enthusiasm, filling the entire stage with their energy.

Marceo Gomes’ Endlos” with Thomas Forster and Jessica Saund

American Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer, Marcelo Gomes, presented his “Endlos,” a pas de deux to gloomy music by Arvo Pärt. Jessica Saund and Thomas Forster, both ABT corps de ballet members, played a romantically doomed duo. Gomes’ movements were strictly classical, using gestures to tell his story of these young lovers who never seem to quite make it.

Al Blackstone’s “Hello Dolly”

The final work, another with a large cast (Broadway gypsies all), was Al Blackstone’s “Hello Dolly” set to Bobby Darin’s hip interpretation of that Jerry Herman song. In a humorously sketched office set, the hapless hero of this work appears overworked, flops about, attends what looks like a party with balloons and flirts, all the while pushed about by the other dancers. “Hello Dolly” was skillfully silly and danced by a motley crew of talented dancing actors.

All these artists contributed their services for this charity, just as the Cedar Lake organization offered its well-equipped performing space to the cause. There was a party feel to the entire evening which flew by far too quickly.

Dance from the Heart (January 28th & 29th, 2013)
Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA)
Cedar Lake Theater, 547 West 26th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues, in Manhattan
Tickets and Information: http://www.DRADance.org

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