Dance Theatre of Harlem, Year Two

Davon Doane and Ashley Murphy in Past-Carry-Forward. Photo by Rachel Neville.
Davon Doane and Ashley Murphy in Past-Carry-Forward. Photo by Rachel Neville.

Dance Theatre of Harlem is currently wrapping up its second season since its return under the steady leadership of Virginia Johnson. (You can read more about here here, in this long and wide-ranging interview from last year.)

Like last year, the dancers’ warmth and directness are a pleasure. Ashley Murphy is a knockout. Chrystyn Fentroy radiates joy. But the dancing is still uneven, and especially in the more classical works, it shows some strain, some sloppiness. Then there is the question of repertory, which Johnson is molding with an eye to the company’s history and identity. It’s a difficult job. You can read more about the season here, in my review for DanceTabs. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The opening and closing of Gloria are explosions of joy, in which toe-heel taps and shimmying shoulders feel organic, like part of a misa criolla. Several passages leave vivid after-images, as when Ashley Murphy hovers in profile, her strong feet shimmering like hummingbird wings. As she bends forward or arches toward the sky, she alternates between atonement and elation.”

Hipsters at the Ballet, and a New Work from Justin Peck

Justin Peck’s In Creases had its New York première on  May 29, which turned out to also be the latest installment of New York City Ballet’s “Art Series” events. Tickets were cheap, and the audience was filled with a far different crowd that included even the odd hipster. After the show, the company held a party on the esplanade. The atmosphere was lively.

Here’s my review of the evening for DanceTabs.

And here is  a short excerpt:

“Peck has a sharp eye and lots of ideas, and, more importantly, his ballets feel uniquely his. He has his own style of movement: light, crisp, energetic, with lots of energy shooting outward, arms extended, fingers alive, legs shooting, feet like daggers. In a brief curtain speech, Peck said that the work was about “symmetry, athleticism, and magnetism,” and that’s precisely what one sees.”