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Junior Teams, High-Stepping Into the Big Leagues


Release: 2010-4-22 10:02 |  Author: XianBao |   View: 355time



Gia Kourlas writes: "For young dancers, a junior troupe is many things: a place to be noticed and to hone stagecraft and, barring irritating complications — like other, even better dancers — a steppingstone to a company contract.

"The 1.2.3. Festival at the Joyce Theater features three such groups in alternating performances: Ailey II, ABT II and Taylor 2."
Members of Ailey II performing in Judith Jamison's "Divining."


Jarvis McKinley and Sarah Daley of Ailey II in Carlos dos Santos Jr.'s "Proximity . . ."


Ghrai DeVore of Ailey II in Christopher Huggins's "Essence," a "sappy solo that involves — sigh — a chair."


Irlan Silva of ABT II in Edwaard Liang's "Ballo Per Sei," which is set to Vivaldi.


From left, Alberto Velazquez, Mr. Silva and Colby Parsons of ABT II "Interplay," Jerome Robbins's 1945 ballet.


In Roger Van Fleteren's "Pavlovsk," with Brittany DeGrofft and Brian Waldrep of ABT II, "a widow visits the statue of her husband, an assassinated Russian general who comes to life."


Taylor 2, led by Paul Taylor and the rehearsal director Ruth Andrien, presented the Taylor classics "Aureole," "3 Epitaphs" (with Madelyn Ho, left, and Justin Kahan) and "Esplande."


Christina Lynch Markham, foreground, in Taylor 2's performance of "Company B."


"All of the dancers are considerable talents. Performing a restaged version of 'Esplanade' pared down to six dancers from the usual nine, they unite fearlessness with skill, proving that Taylor 2 is the anomaly of the festival: the only thing junior about it is the willingness to do anything for a part, no matter how big or small."


The 1.2.3. Festival continues through April 25 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800, joyce.org.
Members of ABT II in "Ballo Per Sei."

For young dancers, a junior troupe is many things: a place to be noticed and to hone stagecraft and, barring irritating complications — like other, even better dancers — a steppingstone to a company contract. The 1.2.3. Festival at the Joyce Theater features three such groups in alternating performances: Ailey II, ABT II and Taylor 2.

On Wednesday evening Ailey II, led by the artistic director Sylvia Waters, offered a program typical of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: full of talented dancers and weak on choreography. The 12 performers, appearing first in “Echoes,” loosely based on the choreographer Thang Dao’s family journey to the United States from Vietnam, do a fine job of giving a watery dance a greater sense of importance than it deserves. They could join the company tomorrow. Mr. Dao’s choreography is predictable, beginning with its faintly militaristic opening.

Dancers stand in silhouette, their bodies quivering before they flick a flexed foot and crouch to the floor. The most beguiling presence is Ghrai DeVore, a nimble, androgynous creature — she looks a bit like Grace Jones — whose strength is tempered by suppleness.

Ms. DeVore appears again in Christopher L. Huggins’s “Essence,” a sappy solo that involves — sigh — a chair, as well as in Judith Jamison’s “Divining.” The lighter side of Ailey II is evident in Carlos dos Santos Jr.’s one-note “Proximity...,” a hectic look at relationships.

Of the three companies the greenest is ABT II, directed by Wes Chapman. On Thursday evening the troupe opened with “Interplay,” Jerome Robbins’s delightful 1945 ballet that that can look dated when certain requirements — including a strong technique diffused by a jazzy playfulness — aren’t met. Despite affording glimpses of promising dancers like Colby Parsons, Brittany DeGrofft and Calvin Royal III, it seems stuck in the past.

That passé sensibility continues in new ballets by Roger VanFleteren (“Pavlovsk,” featuring a string score by Karen LeFrak) and Edwaard Liang (“Ballo Per Sei,” set to Vivaldi). In “Pavlovsk,” a widow visits the statue of her husband, an assassinated Russian general who comes to life. “Ballo Per Sei,” though conventional, shows a shift for Mr. Liang, whose ballets tend to mirror sharp gestures with broadly drawn emotional angularity. Here he creates a work the dancers can perform with a certain ease, but that doesn’t make up for his ambiguous artistic voice.

When ABT II was the ABT Studio Company and directed by John Meehan, there was a sense that it might be just as gratifying to be in the junior company as the main one; he nurtured choreographers as well as dancers. Now the group’s daring rigor has faded, and ABT II is just another junior company.

Taylor 2, however, is a kind of a miracle. This second company, led by Paul Taylor and the rehearsal director Ruth Andrien, features half the number of dancers of the Ailey and American Ballet Theater offshoots — six — yet performs with more gumption. On Friday night the troupe presented a parade of Taylor classics: “Aureole,” “3 Epitaphs” (costumes by Robert Rauschenberg), “Company B” and “Esplanade.”

Nic Ceynowa is a marvel in the difficult “Aureole” solo that Mr. Taylor created for himself: using the breadth of his back and spine to shift in shape, he possesses a feline fluidity that is nailed to the floor with purposeful weight. The tiny Madelyn Ho, delicate and soulful in “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” from “Company B,” becomes a daredevil of momentum in “Esplanade.”

But all of the dancers are considerable talents. Performing a restaged version of “Esplanade” pared down to six dancers from the usual nine, they unite fearlessness with skill, proving that Taylor 2 is the anomaly of the festival: the only thing junior about it is the willingness to do anything for a part, no matter how big or small.
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