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Richard Penberthy
Performance Reviews
Cedar Lake

What Dreams May Come - Dream Collaborations at Cedar Lake

by Richard Penberthy
February 3, 2006
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 486-722

What Dreams May Come - Dream Collaborations at Cedar Lake

Cedar Lake is located at 547 West 26th Street in New York City.

Richard Penberthy
February 3, 2004

Dream Collaborations is the work of three choreographers, Nicolo Fonte who choreographed "LASTING IMPRINT," the first dance, Emily Molnar who choreographed "4 Flights down" (normally the second in order of presentation though on Friday it was presented last), and Cedar Lake's artistic director, Benoit-Swan Pouffer who choreographed "BETWEEN HERE AND NOW." (Upper/lower case letters in the titles are as intended.)

Mr. Pouffer, in program notes, writes that the choreographers "each created a work envisioning the dream as an escape from reality…(as) works…weaving seamlessly, related yet separate." That may be, but these are not hearts-and-flowers dreams, prettying up the one's soulscape with comfortable images. Each dance is a narrative and features bravura dancing, and each is intellectually - even psychologically - challenging. Toward the end of his paragraph, Ms. Pouffer urges the audience to "escape with us into the textured space of the stage. Immerse yourself in our dreams!" Magnificent they are, but they are darker than dream theory would characterize as escape dreams.

The Friday performance on February 3, the penultimate date for this presentation, reignited an enthusiasm for Cedar Lake that was first sparked in November. The dancers are brilliant and fearless and disciplined. They dance as spectacularly in company work as they do solo. Their expression, dramatic presentation, is practiced and fine - essential with the audience right at the edge of the stage. These are dancers who trust their own strength, who know that they can accomplish extraordinary things, and who know that their partners will do anything to support them. There are long moments in these dances with all the women aloft, carried as if effortlessly, by their partners, not on shoulders or in usual ballet lift postures, but by lifts using as unlikely a combination of grips as a head and a toe. This is a company that shocks with its quality and daring.

"LASTING IMPRINT" begins in silence, with Jason Kittelberger onstage while the audience takes its seats. His movements are very slow and though he is for the most part stationary, there is the calm aspect of strolling. Once the audience has settled, the lights come up on stage. But, the silence continues. His costume is a side-slashed tank top, jeans-like tights, and a sash, rather like a long rag unevenly tied around the waist. He is in light gray, and he is joined by eight dancers, all in the same costume though theirs are charcoal gray. Costumes are by Marija Djordjevic. He dances as if searching. They dance in various combinations, four women and four men and trios and solo. He chooses one to dance with, both longingly and passionately. Bright orange light rakes the stage and Steve Reich's Triple Quartet rages, shattering the silence.

Eventually, couples form. The gray dreamer is apart, as the couples dance, he moves back to the wall, and bares his chest. As he dances into the group again, he smears white paint on his chest and arms and eventually on his face. He locates his woman and takes her from her partner, who moves stage rear and slowly dances in the dark. She is smeared with the white paint. Silence returns and both men leave the stage, walking slowly offstage as the woman remains and the dance ends in darkness.

In usual sequence, "4 Flights down" would have been performed next. The cast comprises twelve "Shadows," with men in shorts and gray or dun sweatshirt-like tops and women in short loose-sleeved aubergine dresses, and four "Figures" in stiff, sleeveless see-through tops, not fitted to the torso, that look almost as if made of window screening. Costumes are by Junghyun Georgia Lee. Gordon Cobb composed the music. The lights come up on the entire cast leaning against the back brick wall, as if recently arrested. The stage now seems at once familiar and alien, rather like a dark cellar. The lighting here is important, with raking light across the stage that seems to falter with failing electrical current. At times the stage is nearly dark. The Shadows react to the Figures in their dance, at times making room for them as if deferring, and at other times quickly converging to take the stage as a Figure moves offstage. As that dance ends, all have left the stage but Gideon Poirier, a Figure dancing slowly alone as the light fades.

"BETWEEN HERE AND NOW" features six dancers, two men and a woman in ragged and torn gauze-like costumes, and a man and two women in corseted white costumes of varying length. (Ms. Lee also designed these costumes.) Far above the stage, on the back wall, is an open door reminiscent of a barn's hayloft or the third-floor hoist of a canal house in Amsterdam. This is a complicated performance, with multiple elements enhancing the dramatic choreography. The music "Skomposto for a Dream" is composed and performed by Stefano Zazzera, with Kirk Peterkin on cello and vocals by Tamar Vezerian. At times it appears that two of the men (Kittelberger and Poirier) are forcing the women to look directly at them, and the women appear alternately frightened to do so and relieved that they have made eye contact. Mr. Poirier descends from the loft very slowly, using a long cable, to join the dance. At other times, two dancers use other cables to stand parallel to the floor, so the audience sees them from above, as if in a bird's eye view. Nickemil Conception, in a rapid passage, lifts his partner so that she - incredibly - performs pointe work on the wall. The effect of these dancers performing on intersecting planes is wonderful - a new dimension shown to a delighted audience. (Stunt coordinator is Rick Sordelet.) Projected on the stage at times are various Klee-like figures, and once Mr. Poirier has returned to his perch above the stage, seated and relaxed, hands folded as if he were a passive watcher, a black and white film clip of a huge eye follows a solo dancer. Both conception and realization of these projections (by Adam Larsen) are wonderful elements of the dance. This is a wonderful, imaginative dance.

There is spectacle and imagination in Dream Collaborations. Contemporary ballet thrives - vibrates with life - here at Cedar Lake.

Cedar Lake plans a full length ballet choreographed by artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer, to open May 8, and summer plans include collaborations with the visual artists that surround the theater, in Chelsea's gallery row. Fall and winter seasons are being planned to introduce more contemporary ballets.

Jason Kittelberger and Jessica Coleman Scott in Lasting Imprint
Photo courtesy of Vivien Allender

Jason Kittelberger in Lasting Imprint
Photo courtesy of Vivien Allender

Jason Kittelberger and Jessica Coleman Scott in Lasting Imprint
Photo courtesy of Vivien Allender

Jason Kittelberger and Jessica Coleman Scott in Lasting Imprint
Photo courtesy of Vivien Allender

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