During the mid- 1990’s I served as Dance Editor for Showbusiness and wrote weekly dance reviews and reported on the dance scene in New York City

Juilliard Dance Ensemble

By Stanley Siegel

“Nocturne” (World Premiere)

“Short Symphony”

“Cinque Madrigali” (New York Premiere)

Critiquing New York’s dance events, like culling its antique markets, begins with an innocent heart. When the journey ends in a discovery; elegantly crafted, beautiful or exotic, the heart instantly brims with satisfaction. The collection of dances presented at Juilliard Dance Ensemble’s Spring Concert, yielded exactly that triple find.

In Nocturne, choreographed by Mauricio Wainrot for this concert, the movement flows like waves of light. Sensuous and sweeping gestures illuminate large segments of the dance, while flickering countermovements add timbre and highlight. Traversing both the classical and modern vocabularies, choreographer Wainrot couples the lightness of balletic phrasing with all the extending possibilities of the modern, including expansive movements of the spine and torso.

With apparent caprice, Wainrot departs from melodic loyalty. Set to the impressionistic music of Debussy, the choreography parallels the melody at one moment and ignores it at the next. Always deep and passionate in sentiment, the dance contrasts its romantic form with the impressionism of the score. The effect feels alternately harmonious and dissonant, earthy and spiritual, a construction that mimics the mysterious activities of the nocturnal. Ceremonial images echo throughout. Yet all the contrasting textures unite magically, forming a profoundly beautiful and original composition.

Meticulously clear and precise, Short Symphony places pattern above theme. Choreographer Jeff Satinoff creates a language of angular movements: sharply positioned arms with outstretched hands or tightly clenched fists; slides and lifts sculpting geometric forms; abruptly frozen motion like photographic images. He constructs his dance so that every architectural accent stands out. When they start as still lifes, the detailed, layered images express more potential power propecia side affect than kinetic. When they explode into movement, their pure vibrancy is exhilarating.

Each variation possesses distinguishing features: Sweeping or exaggerated gestures; quick-footed steps and sharp body movements; bodies passing seductively; pressing against one another, then sweeping teasingly apart. The dancers not only display the balletic technique required, but the athletic vitality to punctuate Satinoff’s well-crafted choreography. Among them, Edward Lawrence stood out for his commanding presence and athletic power.

Youthful sexuality serves as the theme of Cinque Madrigali, Benjamin Harkarvy’s mature and beautiful choreographed essay. The dance explores the universal emotions associated with sexual awaking: Innocence, longing, excitement, disappointment and confusion. The choice of Monteverdi’s vocal music could have been a distraction, but Harkarvy’s visual translation read so easily, that we suppress our inclination to decipher the lyrics.

Silhouetted in a midsummer night’s moonlight, (exquisitely lit scrims by Howell Binkley) a Pan-like figure handsprings across the stage, his sensuous image, the symbol of pure sexuality. A group of young women follow, adolescent sweetness personified. Next, young men appear, lamenting the absence of women. Yet, when one arrives, the men recoil, retreating in juvenile fear. Just as they summon the courage to approach, she wanders off. Later she returns taken by another suitor. Described by poetic movements generally reserved for women, and by a playful use of hand motions to express feeling, the images of male sexual innocence become especially refreshing, endearing and charming.

In the transition from innocence to romantic coupling, Harkarvy choreographs an ironic divertissement in which he presents the men, in corps de ballet form, as supportive and submissive to the female lead. Then he reintroduces Pan’s sensuous image to reassure us, that behind the romantic twists we encounter, pure sexuality is the constant force.

This superb evening ended with a staging of Airs, a seminal dance by Paul Taylor (1978), elegantly set by Linda Kent.