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Cecly Placenti, Artistic Director

  • Writer's pictureMiranda Stuck

Lincoln Center Presents: BAAND Together Dance Festival

One dancer is being dipped while in a forward split. Blue background
Photo by Richard Termine

For five consecutive evenings, five of New York City’s most iconic dance companies: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and New York City Ballet, unite onstage for the third year of BAAND Together Dance Festival at Damrosch Park. Each company brings a unique piece to the stage for the festival, including a first-time ever collaborative world premiere “Pas de O’Farrill” between Ballet Hispánico and New York City Ballet, created by Pedro Ruiz. Bridging elite talent and choreographic vision, the BAAND Together Dance Festival is more than a dance program, it is a celebration of the impact these companies have had on the dance community and a look toward the future of the dance industry.

Ballet Hispánico presents Línea Recta choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and danced to recorded music from flamenco guitar player Eric Vaarzon Morel. The company, directed by Eduardo Vilaro, brings their most explosive technique and pristine lines to the stage, highlighting the physical and emotional power integral to the flamenco style. The Columbian-Belgian choreographer Lopez Ochoa is known worldwide for her deeply imaginative, conceptual narratives. Costumed in bright red and alone onstage, Amanda del Valle builds momentum with her expressive back and cursive arms. The dancers clap, yell, and glide, embracing the Latinx flare inherent in the work and the company. “From one of today’s most sought-after choreographers comes a powerful and resonant work exploring an intriguing flamenco dance aspect: the conspicuous absence of physical partnering,” states the program. Originally commissioned in part by The Apollo Theatre and Jacon’s Pillow Dance Festival, Línea Recta is a perfect show opener, bringing the essence and heart of Ballet Hispànico to the stage.

A dancer in a white and blue dress. One hand up one hand down. Finger spread apart. One leg pointed directly upwards. Blue background with the moon.
Photo by Richard Termine

In contrast, American Ballet Theatre presents Other Dances, a sensual duet created by influential choreographer Jerome Robbins and performed by Gillian Murphy and Aran Bell. The music, composed by Frédéric Chopin, presents a waltz and four mazurkas and gives each dancer moments to dance alone and in partnership. Stoic yet gracious, Murphy and Bell’s attention to detail is exquisite. When onstage alone, Murphy floats, performing balances that arrest on a dime and developpes that seem to extend forever. Her dress, designed by Santo Loquasto, ripples in the wind in front of the royal blue lighting. “Other Dances was created…specifically to showcase the legendary technique and artistry of Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who premiered the pas de deux in 1976…” states the program. Soft, deep, and seemingly nostalgic, Murphy and Bell present more than clean technique. They encapsulate themselves in a romantically dreamy frenzy, beckoning the audience to join them.

Changing dynamics again, Dance Theatre of Harlem presents Robert Garland’s Nyman String Quartet No. 2. Upbeat and vivacious, Garland explores the intersectionality of multiple cultures in contemporary America. The audience sees women on pointe performing gorgeous classical technique intersected with quick contemporary pops and grooves. Witty and intricate, Garland’s unique ability to present a “never-seen before” style is intriguing and exciting. Somewhat of a code-switch and playful game, Nyman String Quartet No. 2 is distinct and memorable.

Four pairs of dancers. One dancer in each pair is being lifted. Dancers in red costumes. Red background with stylized white roses.
Photo by Richard Termine

Collaborations are always exciting, especially when it comes to first time partnerships. The world premiere of Pad de O’Farrill by Pedro Ruiz brings together Ballet Hispánico and New York City Ballet for the first time in history. Ballet Hispánico’s Antonio Cangiano and New York City Ballet’s Alexa Maxwell defy physical limits fusing classical ballet form with Afro-Cuban essences and diasporic legacy. Beyond the showstopping sensational partnering and connection, this duet is representative of how multiple voices and histories can meld to create something beautiful: in this case classical technique and the Latinx voice.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents Ronald K. Brown’s tribute to Judith Jamison in excerpts of a new work, Dancing Spirit, which echoes the title of Jamison’s autobiography. “Set to music by Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis and War, Brown’s evocative choreography uses movement from Cuba, Brazil and the United States to conjure dancing spirits who embody Jamison’s elegance, vision, dignity and generosity,” states the program. Brown’s advocacy and emphasis on community in African American dance spaces is clear in the work: he truly creates an inspiring environment with a quick pace and high energy. The dancers communicate with their torsos and bodies in an expressive way that creates magic: a hallmark of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Joyous and extraordinary, their energy is infectious.

Closing the BAAND Festival is The Times are Racing choreographed by Justin Peck. Set in sneakers and multi-colored denim, the piece is accompanied by sudden electronic strums from Dan Deacon’s score that vibrate in the air. The music surprises with loud, grunge-like sounds- disorienting yet intriguing. Peck creates an atmosphere of youthful exuberance, vigor, and spontaneity all while upholding his classic communal and formation-oriented choreographic style. It is surprising to see New York City Ballet performing such a turbulent work, however, it is a captivating, thought-provoking look into the future of ballet.

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