Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three dancemakers say, Music is our muse!

Laura Mead and Justin Flores
Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance
Of the three artists contributing work to last evening's opening of Musa! A Dance FestivalCherylyn Lavagnino did the most to convince me of her passion for music. For both of her works, live musicians perched downstage, so close to their audience--almost in the laps of those of us in the first few rows on one side--that we could catch each one's momentary sideways glance or intake of breath and gathering of energy. The musician's bodies, alive to the wonderful music as they channeled it, formed an integral, conscious part of our experience of each work. How perfect a way to elevate music as the choreographer's Muse, underscoring the entire mission of this series at Baruch Performing Arts Center which runs through June 22.

Lavagnino's Compadre duet--set to an Astor Piazzola tango, performed with easygoing charm by JP Jofre on bandoneon and Evelyn Ulex on piano--serves contemporary ballet with nuevo tango flavor and snap. Or, maybe it's the reverse. When Justin Flores takes Ramona Kelley to the air in various lifts and tangles, it's hard to tell where one dance technique ends and the other begins. They are, in a way, made for each other. Watch for Kelley again in Lavagnino's sweeping, Schubert-powered ensemble work Treize en Jeu, where this dancer combines radiant self-possession with irrepressible joy as one of the stylishly strutting ladies who, with minimal but telling gestures, suggest centuries of yore and acknowledge how glamorous they are in our eyes. Do try to attend one of the show with live music performed by Jane Chung (violin), Sara Biber (cello) and Andrea Lam (piano).

Schubert also seems to have Lavagnino, through the capable men of her company, musing on the proper way to get things done. Lifts, catches, turns: If the job in question is complex and even risky, watch those assured hands go to work--firm and accurate. It's an education! The appealing qualities on display in each case, do they necessarily belong to one specified gender or another? Who cares?

Last evening's program also included works by Lavagnino's partners in Musa!--Dušan Týnek and Zvi Gotheiner, performed by each of their enjoyable troupes. These and other pieces will appear, in various configurations, over the course of the festival. See here for complete schedule and programming details. For ticket information, click here.

Baruch Performing Arts Center
Baruch College (CUNY)
55 Lexington Avenue (25th Street entrance), Manhattan

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