An Evening With New Chamber Ballet
City Center Studios
Friday, September 9, 2011
Photos by Kristen Lodoen Linder
For years, I’d seen the beautiful postcards distributed by New Chamber Ballet in the dance studios of Manhattan. I really liked the concept of a chamber ballet, performing works on an intimate salon type of scale. Last weekend, I finally got the opportunity to see them dance.
Miro Magloire not only choreographs, arranges and performs music, and serves as the company’s Artistic Director, but he also hosts the evening. He is very gracious and charming as he chats easily with the audience about the things that inspire his dances and what the company will be up to in the near future. I consider it a great treat when a choreographer takes the time to do this. It breaks the ice and it always enhances my own enjoyment of the dance.
The first piece, Love Song Solos, choreographed by Magloire, is set to the romantic music of Schubert, Brahms and Wagner. However the music is not in any form that the audience can recognize. Magloire has arranged the songs for percussion only and he plays them on maracas as the ballerina dances the melody.
Katie Gibson dances a passage of lovely lyrical movement that rarely rests one phrase flows seamlessly into the next. At moments, her back is to the audience as her hands float together in front of her face and I wonder if she is weeping. Sarah Atkins seems to be reaching and yearning in her section of the dance. When she takes up a slim black baton in the palms of her flexed hands, the prop lengthens and enhances her lines, especially the line of her spine, and it’s a beautiful effect. Victoria North flies a fluttering blue scarf overhead. She tosses the scarf away, lights upon different chairs but doesn’t stay put, finally kicking the last one away with a loud thud. Her hands and arms are rippling overhead or right in front of her. I loved the moody green gray costumes designed by Candice Thompson for this piece.
Leise, Leise (German for Softly, Softly), another work by Magloire, was given its world premiere. The floor is set with three chairs and the grand piano along the studio’s diagonal. (I was thrilled that Melody Fader was playing the piano. I’ve taken many ballet classes where she was the accompanist and she’s always been one of my favorites.) The one dancer seated in front of the piano is dressed in pink and the two seated up stage of the piano are dressed in pale blue. The girl in pink seems to be the central figure and she moves to the quiet and sometimes stark accompaniment of music by Luciano Berio. One of the most compelling sections of the dance came when the girl in pink stayed in place while one of the girls in blue boureed around her, forward and then backward. It conjured images that reminded me of the pull of the tide. When the girl in pink begins to travel again, the girl in blue shadows her, rolling behind her like a wave gathering momentum as she moves around the floor.
My favorite piece of the evening was a solo titled In A Simple Black Dress, also choreographed by Magloire, accompanied by Miranda Cuckson on violin. To me, it seems as if the black dress is the blank canvas. Depending upon how the dancer wears the dress or moves within the dress, that’s what the dress and the dancer become. Dancer Emily SoRelle Adams shows herself and the dress in several different incarnations, changing with the look that she gives the audience as she moves along the perimeter of the floor, to the way that her shoulder leads as she turns to face the audience, to the attitude in her regal female walk. She’s clearly in control, even when she’s deep in a second position plie, her face dreamy, her flexed hands crossed overhead as she sways back and forth as if she’s riding the breeze. Her hands almost remind me of a plumage, a lovely accessory for the simple black dress.
The evening closed with Emery LeCrone’s Chamber Dances, with music by John Adams, performed deliciously by Miranda Cuckson on violin and Melody Fader on piano. The piece opens with a jazzy burst of energy. The three dancers, Madeline Deavenport, Victoria North and Lauren Toole move briskly through this section, their lines long and their arms unfurled, alternating between unison steps and attractive counterpoint movement. The music gives way to an adagio section in which, again and again, the trio alternately travels together and then unfolds into a new and beautiful tableau. The pace picks up again with the quick footwork of a petite allegro and culminates with the dancers spinning a spirited series of chaine turns across the stage.
For me, this was a wonderful introduction to the New Chamber Ballet. I appreciate how much they are capable of creating without relying on an astronomical budget and an enormous cast. I also really enjoyed seeing ballet performed in this intimate studio setting.