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Peridance 35th Anniversary Gala Celebrates Past, Present and Future

by Bonnie Rosenstock
June 22, 2018
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square
New York, NY 10012
212-998-4941
For Igal Perry, Founder and Artistic Director of Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and Peridance Capezio Center, the 35th Annual Gala was an affirmation of time dimensions colliding. “We have the past, present and future right here,” he observed about the evening’s performances. The Gala, held on June 9, featured the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company (PCDC), solos by a current Company member, a just retired dancer and a former PCDC dancer and showcased future dancers from the deep well of talent from the School’s broad array of programs. Choreography by Perry and other notable choreographers were also represented. The evening also honored those with a long connection to the Center.

To kick off the exceptional evening, PCDC performed an excerpt from Perry’s lyrical “Gran Partita,” with music by Mozart, which premiered this past March. The movements were flowy and visually exciting, the dancers floating seamlessly from one dance sequence to the next. Right before the Grand Finale for the Full School there was a retrospective of Perry’s recent and past choreographic endeavors. The elegant Nikki Holck danced an excerpt from “Blue” (2014). Holck, who “transitioned” recently, a word Perry used for “retired,” was one of the Company’s first dancers following the move to its present location on East 13th Street in 2009. She will remain the Certificate Program Director, BLUEPRINT Coordinator and PCDC Rehearsal Director. Current PCDC dancer Craig Dionne performed an intense “Ave Maria” (1998). Former PCDC dancer Elizabeth Parkinson appeared in “Shift” (2018), which segued into the Company’s passionate “El Amor Brujo” (excerpt) and “Firedance” (2011), by Spanish composer Manuel De Falla, featuring luscious lifts.

The evening honored Peridance pianist Raisa Umanskaya, who has been playing for the ballet classes for 25 years. Graciela Kozak, who has taught ballet at the School since 1985, presented the crystal award to Umanskaya, saying, “For 25 years, she has graced us with her music, inspiring and supporting our dancing. Her sweet nature has warmed our hearts from the first time she played for us. She’s an accomplished teacher and has trained many pianists to play for ballet classes in New York City and abroad. We are thrilled to honor her in her work with Peridance Capezio Center.”

In her acceptance speech, Umanskaya said that she had had many offers and played everywhere but could never leave Peridance and never regretted it. “Igal Perry was one of the first teachers who taught me how to work for ballet classes. Before in Russia I never did. He’s also a great musician. Igal sings during his lessons. If he sings, I know he likes my music. If not, I change my music,” she joked. She also joked that Kozak asked her to walk out on stage on pointe shoes. “I’m not ready yet, but I promise I will do it on my 50th anniversary.”

There was a bittersweet tribute to Marjory Smarth, beloved Faculty member, choreographer, dancer, cultural icon and pioneering hip-hop artist. Smarth, also known as large March, lost her battle with cancer in 2015. In a video, courtesy of BjPiggo, Curators of Hip Hop & DanceDeets, and Lucian Charada, she said that she received so much through dance and wants her legacy to be her generosity and spirit. “I love to see people happy,” she said. The audience chanted, “Live Free, Dance True,” her mantra. Sekou Heru introduced a piece she choreographed nine years ago, set to music by Mos Def, “a perfect piece to honor her,” he said. It was brilliantly danced by Kim D. Holmes, letting it fly: walking, bouncing, bopping, body parts swinging and thrusting, fast footwork.

Students in all the myriad programs shone, bringing their skill, energy and enthusiasm. To highlight a few although all were fabulous: The Junior Youth Ensemble, a rousing “Tristeza” with great transitions. Fabulous hip-hop footwork and upper body power by The Crew/iReP Sr. Street Dance Crew. Love/SynKopate, an amazing women’s tap dance quartet delivering coordinated, complex combinations. A wonderful Ballet Medley by various ages and levels in the Pre Professional Training Program. A powerful “Un Instante,” choreographed by Analia Gonzalez, by the Senior Youth Ensemble, featuring an introduction in Spanish, drums, wild leg movements, screaming, holding hands at the end, walking forward, united. “Crash”/a Kompany, choreographed by hip hop/street styles Faculty member Kenichi Kasamatsu, who was also one of the eight dancers in this outstanding modern hip-hop piece.

“We’ve grown and developed different programs in the last few years,” Perry said. “We have different dancers at different levels and with different aspirations. We want to be all encompassing.”

He noted that Peri in Latin means surrounding. “And that’s what we want to do.”

Peridance Capezio Center, 126 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003. (212) 505-0886. www.peridance.com
Kenichi Kasamatsu's “Crash”/a Kompany.

Kenichi Kasamatsu's “Crash”/a Kompany.

Photo © & courtesy of Michelle Lim


Kim Holmes in Marjory Tribute.

Kim Holmes in Marjory Tribute.

Photo © & courtesy of Michelle Lim


Peridance Contemporary Dance Company.

Peridance Contemporary Dance Company.

Photo © & courtesy of Michelle Lim


Peridance Youth Ensemble in Finale.

Peridance Youth Ensemble in Finale.

Photo © & courtesy of Michelle Lim

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