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Taylor Gordon
Performance Reviews
Dicapo Opera Theatre
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Dance at Dicapo -Nilas Martins & Co. and Dario Vaccaro Dance Project

by Taylor Gordon
April 27, 2008
Dicapo Opera Theatre
184 East 76th Street
(Lexington Avenue)
New York, NY 10021
(212) 288-9438
The Dance at Dicapo program included a poetic, resonant work from the Dario Vaccaro Dance Project sandwiched between two cheesy premieres by The Nilas Martins Dance Company.

New York City Ballet Principal dancer Nilas Martins founded his pickup group in 2003 and today borrows dancers from NYCB and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, among other companies. Despite the talent well of his dancers, the inherent problems in putting together a mish-mashed troupe were evident in Sunday's performance.

It opened with "Nocturne," which Martins co-choreographed with John Selya, a former American Ballet Theater principal and star of Twyla Tharp's Broadway hit, "Movin' Out." The piece showed more than adequate influence from Selya's Broadway days, with 5 Billy Joel songs as accompaniment just for starters. The musicians remained onstage throughout the entire program, and partnering tricks and playfulness were reminiscent of Tharp's choreography. But where her commercial work meshed theatricality with art seamlessly, "Nocturne" stumbles slightly.

Three of the four men appeared in "Movin' Out" in some capacity while it was running (Benjamine Bowman, Alexander Brady, Eric Otto). Theirs, and NYCB soloist Ask la Cour's, boyish charm and technical finesse saved an otherwise cliché work. Parts of it seem like a desperately trying lyrical competition number, such as a solo for Christina Dooling (Complexions). Her confident presence is the only thing that makes the choreography work.

Martins' "SwingFlight" is only slightly better. The dancers come from such varied backgrounds that it's like watching four different shows when they dance together. Perhaps more rehearsal time would have improved this, but given the fact that he did manage to borrow skillful dancers from great companies, Martins pulled it off.

Similar to the opening piece, "SwingFlight" is a showy work with a live band and girls in brightly colored dresses. Of the 5 movements, the pas de deux between Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk (both from Complexions) was the most exciting and the least overtly theatrical. Jacoby resembles an early Cyd Charisse with her long legs and sassy style. She has a natural presence that the other ladies lack somewhat. Pronk's flexibility is admirable and grounded in strength.

Martins danced surprisingly little for his own program, but he and the other men were a vibrant force. William Lin-Yee (formerly of NYCB) stood out for his playfulness. La Cour's technique was as smooth as the background jazz music.

Compared to Martins' smiley, in-your-face pieces that flaunt his dancers' proud strengths, Vaccaro's "Seguiti" was a welcomed dose to calm the pace of the program. Meaning "to continue on," "Seguiti" is a more abstract work that explores change and pursuit.

In dull colors and poetic music, it begins with a man walking across with a suitcase, soon followed by another male traveler and two women. Between fragments of duets and ensemble moments, the dancers frequently flutter their hands in front of or beside their face, almost imitating common hand gestures referring to "talking" or "crazy." The theme of covering each other's eyes with their hands also reoccurs.

There are times when it's difficult to determine where the audience should be looking, as a couple dances downstage while a single girl moves sensually in a calm light far away on the opposite side. But the challenge seems to have significance rather than being a choreographic mishap. There are also moments of humor – a male dancer crossing the stage with his suitcase wearing red high heels, another male answering a loud telephone from the audience under the spotlight. Qualities throughout the piece vary, exemplifying Vaccaro's essence of "change."
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