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2015 New York Jazz Choreography Project program a wonderful mix of old and new

by Nicholas Goodly
April 26, 2015
Peridance Capezio Center
126 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
What does jazz dance have to say in 2015? That was the question on my mind as I attended the New York Jazz Choreography Project, April 25-26 at the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance.

As the lights went up on the first number, "57 ST - 7 AV" by Matthew Couvillon, I knew I was in for a thorough answer. A scene of a modern day train stop with romantic couples, selfie-obsessed youth, and later, tourists and drag queens opened the work. As the number went on danced to Booker T and the MG's "Green Onions" performed by Tom Petty, a merriment of retro sounds and modern sensibility took shape. The dancers broke into lively movement brimming with sass and spunk that juxtoposed a vintage look and feel with a modern setting.

The future of jazz was shown next as eight talented youngsters moved to John Legend's song "Shelter." Choreographer Ashley Rich's use of off-tempo and jarring movements mixed well with the water-like flow of the work.

The numbers then continued showcasing jazz's campy and spirited side, with pieces such as Crystal Chapman's "The Sting." Chapman's use of pointe shoes in the piece was innovative and the work was comical and brilliantly executed and timed. There was also a return to the classical jazz style with numbers like "Prologue/Jets Song" choreographed by Sue Samuels and Kelly Carrol. A dancing gangster character brought about a sense of nostalgia for the unforgettable and spirited dances of West Side Story. Dancer Hannah Jennens' performance of Rachel Leigh Dolan's piece "Hot Note" also conjured up images of classical jazz dancers to my mind and brought them to life. She shined costumed in an iconic black hat and leotard costume. Her stage presense matching her technical prowess as a dancer.

Another notable solo was Julia Halpin in her work, "Love Don't Come Easy" (Solo Excerpt). After a seductive tease partially revealing a golden-sequined flapper outfit from behind the curtain, she emerged showing the other half of her body to be costumed and made up to look like a gentleman in a suit. Gasps of enchantment were heard from the audience as she stepped onto the stage alternating with each step from being a woman to a man. The execution of the two characters in one was stirring and her performance, powerful.

Latin jazz was also featured in Sekou McMiller's "Que Te Pedi/All I Ask of You." Using a physical movement language dancers Hope Parker and Imani Williams turned on the the Latin passion and heat in a fast-moving jazz duet that left one on the edge of your seat.

The high energy program ended appropriately with a dedication to jazz dance icon Luigi. Dancer Erika Black sent us away with a heartfelt and loving performance of Luigi's piece, "New York, New York." The classic jazz dance work was staged by Luigi protege Francis J. Roach. Black was a vision of grace in the piece.

In the end all the performers in the program showed a passion and love for the language of jazz dance, and that message was received loud and clear.
Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

Provided by Jazz Choreography Enterprises

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