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Lewis J Whittington
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
United States
Philadelphia, PA

Promising 'Promises' - Koresh Dance Company - Promises I Never Meant To Keep

by Lewis J Whittington
May 2, 2014
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
480 S. Broad Street
(Broad & Lombard Sts.)
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Koresh Dance Company
Promises I Never Meant To Keep
Choreographer Roni Koresh
May 2- 4, 2014
Choreographer Roni Koresh developed his long-form dance piece 'Promises I Never Meant to Keep' traveling with the company on a 27-date tour itinerary over the past several months. Running 80 or so minutes over two acts, some of the choreography looks like a wending stream of dance consciousness over its 17 sections. Before the performance, Koresh told the audience that he was seeing the full piece for the first time at this premiere.

'Promises' has plenty of KDC signatures- aggressive phrasing and ensemble attack, but there are also whole chunks of it where Koresh is tapping that into an increasingly lyrical side, full of adagio movement, not to mention a more linear expression.

So many of the company's dances start with the ensemble staring defiantly at the audiences, 'Promises' in contrast, has the Koresh women in repose and facing away from the audience and moving to Louis Armstrong singing 'What a Wonderful World' in a meditative dance ritual. The dancers interlock arms, separate and give the effect of floating to their feet, one-steps out in turmoil, but this prologue is as quietly beautiful as it is cryptic. .

The men file in for '8th' Ave.' in black and while suits, for rowdy clap dancing and stomping to Hassidic music, they modulate around arms cocked up and vocalizing. The full company joins forces for the sections 'Gates' and 'Moments' with the Koresh group attack in full drive. Suddenly the dancers are at an audition, dancing to very cartoony music, two men freeze frame in pugilistic poses mid-air, and a trio of women do a precision center ballet routine in mock cuteness, the dancers get bored and start to stomp around and there are some stoogey sucker punches all around.

There are six pas de deux 'Promises' with sex, love and relationship scenarios- In act I, Asya Zlatlina and Kevan Sullivan are partnered in an intimate scene, more coming across as more soulfully intimate than sexual. Jessica Daly and Robert Tyler follow in 'Inside Out' that suggests turbulent intimacy. Krista Montone and Joe Cotler dance the erotically charged 'Forever' their torrid kiss is right out of a Roberto Rosselli film from the 50s. After all of the drama, Koresh throws in 'Army of One' a mash-up of 60s dance crazes like the pony and jerk set to 60s surfer guitar music.

In Act II, Shannon Bramham and Tyler suggested broken promises in a tender duet that has Bramham shaking violently at the end. In another scene, Fang-Ju Chou Gant and Sullivan are engulfed in sad resignation in a hypnotic mannered, but no less intimate dance 'Falling Apart'.

The last duet 'Promises' danced by Melissa Rector and Geyer with narration of blank verse about those unkept promises of love. Rector and Geyer expressed a playful dynamic energy of an on again-off again romance and this was Koresh at his most whimsical and sexy. Some many duets can be structurally risky, but Koresh was expressing something different in each one and these dancers fine-lined his range up close, their estimable acting skills in play.

A full ensemble 'It's Like Love' section with lyrical, adagio movement set to baroque music and 'I Stop and Start,' the finale, has the whole company in flowing mid-tempo patterns, but in tight unison work. In contrast, 'Shiver Down My Spine' had the dancers moving around each other but not connecting, in a section that was full of disparate movement.

Koresh said that he went up to the wire finishing this piece and it is easy to think that there will be edits, some tightening of the more ponderous sections where you can see the Koresh gears turning. But Koresh's increasing use of a longer form dancework gives him room to choreographically breathe and explore in substantive ways, not always circling back to safe aesthetic formulas. Kudos to Peter Jakubowski for lighting designs that just keep giving with seamless theatricality.

Melissa Rector is also the artistic director of the Koresh Youth Ensemble, whose members are 13 to 17 years old and Rector trains them in Koresh aesthetic. They performed her piece Trails, which is packed with the company's look, but the rote front half breaks into a rhythmic frenzy and ensemble esprit.
Asya Zlatina and Kevan Sullivan in The Koresh Dance Company's 'Promises'

Asya Zlatina and Kevan Sullivan in The Koresh Dance Company's "Promises"

Photo © & courtesy of Bicking Photography

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