Kaatsbaan performance uneven, but undeterred by power outage

Despite the loss of power, the show did go on Sunday afternoon at Kaatsbaan International Dance Cent

Despite the loss of power, the show did go on Sunday afternoon at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center. Good thing too, as New York Theatre Ballet was anxious to share all five dances that its small membership learned over the past three weeks at the dance haven.

And while many of the works were unformed or under-rehearsed, thus disappointing, the chamber company’s staging of Jose Limon’s “The Moor’s Pavane” was worth the challenge, for dancers and the audience, of a performance without proper lighting or sound.

heroic staff

This matinee would not have gone off if it were not for the efforts of the staff at Kaatsbaan, who just two hours before the show found themselves without electric power. Luckily, the theater doubles as a dance studio. So they pulled back the black curtains and the sunlight streamed in. That was the lighting for every dance, which at times blinded the dancers.

As for the music, the staff plugged in speakers to a boom box with enough D batteries to keep it pumping out sound for the duration. Luckily, three of the five works were accompanied by pianist Michael Scales.

Of course, the power was out Saturday night too, due to the storm that dumped more than six inches of heavy snow at Kaatsbaan. Thus the group’s first showing of the weekend was canceled. But they came out on Sunday, ready to dance, despite the fact they had slept without heat, could not shower and had to prepare in dark dressing rooms. The 11 dancers deserve kudos just for that.

dramatic effect

But the real accomplishment was Limon’s “The Moor’s Pavane,” as staged by Sarah Stackhouse. Based on Shakespeare’s “Othello,” the ballet is a powerful reduction featuring four — the Moor, his wife, his friend and his friend’s wife. Set to music by Henry Purcell, the ballet immediately zeroes in on the friend, who whispers disturbing lies to the Moor.

With each rumor, Steven Melendez as the Moor became more twisted. His transformation from happy newlywed to enraged husband was palpable. It was not just his face, but his demeanor. He trembled with anger when he destroyed his delicate and faithful wife Elena Zahlmann. It was so disturbing that one was relieved that the friend’s wife’s skirt hid the violent blows.

Zahlmann was equally wonderful. She appeared the innocent, confused by her husband’s rants as she, in white, remained faithful and pure.

Joshua Andino-Nieto danced the role of the sinister friend convincingly. Also tremendous was Rie Ogura as the friend’s wife, who unwittingly completed her husband’s betrayal.

It’s not surprising that this chamber ensemble, directed by Diana Byer, would do well by “The Moor’s Pavane.” The troupe excels with work that pulsates with drama. Though often considered a second-tier company, it has made a successful niche for itself by staging historic narratives.

not up to snuff

Antony Tudor’s works serve as a fine example of what New York Theatre Ballet conserves. But they missed with Tudor’s experimental “Trio Con Brio.” In this music visualization, set to music by Mikhail Glinka’s “Dances from Ruslan and Ludmilla,” Zahlmann enchanted with her precise pointe work. But Andino-Nieto and Mitchell Kirby looked ungainly as they whisked Zahlmann about the stage.

Also unfortunate was Antonia Franceschi’s “Kinderszenen,” which appeared schizophrenic, with no trajectory. Furthermore, “Solo 4 Two,” by Yukiko Kahiki, looked unfinished.

The only other promising work shown on Sunday was “A Rugged Flourish” by Richard Alston. Again Melendez, the best of the company’s men, led an ensemble of women. Set to music by Aaron Copland, he was the hunter who conquered a wood nymph, to the great distress of her fluttering companions.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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