Monday, September 22, 2014

Yin Yue presents her troupe and Chinese guests at Peridance

It shouldn't be too difficult to write a headline. But this one--pretty generic, eh?--took longer than usual to come together. That reflects a larger quandary about how to write about the show that Shanghai-born Yin Yue presented at Peridance Capezio Center this past weekend.

Her New York-based Yin Yue Dance Company's own abstract, contemporary pieces alternated with festive delicacies--brief ballet ensembles and Chinese classical and folk dances choreographed by Ying Yin and Zhou Dan and performed by students from China's Jiangxi Zhongshan Dance School. This curious coin kept flipping.

First, it would be all bright, cheery colors and unflagging smiles from China; precision-crafted fantasias--a bevy of young women in pink pointe shoes, tassels, spangles, the works--that would have inspired Busby Berkeley. Then lights would dim again, and out would come one or more of the Yue crew, dressed dark and drab, launching one of the choreographer's typically stretchy, gnarly, bulletproof assaults on space. The mood-swinging went back-and-forth like this for roughly 90 minutes. What to make of it all?

I cannot claim insight into the conventions of dance in China--insight that might have been more available to some of my fellow viewers--but I'd say that Yue would serve her Chinese colleagues and their New York audience better by producing a separate showcase for their artistry and providing, in program notes or a spoken introduction, a little background on the school and each of the dances presented.

Her own quartet--herself, Grace Whitworth, Luke Bermingham and Liane Aung--can be terrific. I can't say I "get" the enigmatic choreography or have a sense of what drives Yue as a maker, what matters to her beyond the forcefulness of her movement. But the sculptural, nearly industrial movement looks sharp, clean, purposeful. It has spring and tensile strength and cuts air like nobody's business. All of her dancers have lithe, compact but athletic bodies similar to hers, with Whitworth being particularly grounded, surefooted and--you can clearly see--mentally focused. Bermingham excels in this way, too, in the solo One Step Before The Exit. Duets are occasions for exacting puzzles in the handling of one partner by the other; ensembles bring rhythmic retractions and ricochets--all thrilling, mysterious assertions in space that, in all honesty, I craved after each injection of sunshine and sugar from the Chinese students.

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