Matthew Brookoff is a young-ish choreographer who has been producing ballets since the nineties. After a hiatus, during which he went off to the University of North Carolina to get a Masters in choreography, he is back in New York, and back in the studio. This weekend, he presented an evening of repertory at City Center Studios, a mix of recent and new works. I was most impressed by a series of male solos, “Lyrical Male Suite.” There is something compelling about Brookoff’s approach to male dancing: extremely sensitive, imbued with an almost Fokine-like softness, and colored with suggestions of thoughtfulness and inner life. (The two excellent dancers in this section were Jehbreal Jackson and Barton Cowperthwaite.) The pieces were set to songs by Dvorak, Debussy, and others. (The recordings were un-credited in the program, but I thought I recognized Cecilia Bartoli’s voice in at least one of the songs.)
Then came several dances to Richard Rodgers songs, which I found less engrossing—the dancing didn’t do much to augment my understanding or enjoyment of the songs. And, to close out the evening, a new work, “Fracture,” set to a commissioned score by the New York-based composer Brad Crane. In this more ambitious ensemble work Brookoff seems to be exploring his own relationship to neo-classicism, especially Balanchine. The piece is well-constructed and uses a sophisticated vocabulary of steps, morphing geometries, daisy-chains, interweaving, brisk foot-work. (The chreography is perhaps a bit too busy, and over-taxing for the dancers.) “Fracture,” a video of which is below, has the feel of a very-well-put-together assignment, or manifesto. It’ll be interesting to see where Brookoff goes from here.
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