Saturday, February 13, 2016

Koresh dancers soar in sync

Koresh Dance Company's Fall run "Trust"

Koresh dancers soar in sync

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Last spring, Koresh Dance Company thrilled audiences with a new full-length Bolero. The mono-themed work was a departure for company artistic director and choreographer Roni Koresh, who often devises multiple loosely connected episodes. In its current run at the Suzanne Roberts Theater, which opened Thursday, Koresh fell back into his comfort zone with a 15-section work he calls Trust.
Trust among dancers is always a significant element - they must thrust themselves into one another's waiting arms, be lifted aloft, spun in the air, or dragged along by the arm. One false calculation in the counts or a split second's distraction can lead to a fall or a crash.

So from this perspective, I watched in awe as this well-trained troupe averted what could have been major trouble. Less than a week ago company dancer Shannon Bramham lost her father, and she was unable to dance. Her colleagues quickly assumed her roles, closing ranks for a seamless and triumphant whole.

This can only happen when a company builds esprit by keeping a core group for many years, as with Koresh stars Melissa Rector, Fang-Ju Chou Gant, Jessica Dailey, Eric Bean, Micah Geyer, and Alexis Viator. But newer dancers keep things fresh. Thursday, the big guy on stage, Joseph Cotler, created volume and power, and the newest man, Robert Tyler, who studied with Cotler, sparked things with his sinuous torso and expressive arms.

While there could have been a little more segue between sections, some brilliant musical choices gave the show balance and variety. Bach's Air on a G String had the full company dancing in abstract mid-tempo contrapuntal moves against the music. Following quickly on the fast-paced, high-fisted, confrontational "Space" segment, which was set to the wild energy of Mercan Dede's Turkish world music, it was a delightfully startling choice. A lighthearted duet between Dailey and Asya Zlatina rounded out the section.

Another gorgeous section had five couples almost jitterbugging to Albinoni's Adagio for Organ and Strings. The music for another, called "Connect," was by the Palestinian oud players Le Trio Joubran. The finale, "Shout," launched to the cacophonous percussion of Les Tambours du Bronx but ended with the company quietly presenting itself to us.

The musical and movement choices spanned eras, geographies, cultures, and ideologies and maybe, just maybe, pointed to places where trust can be found.

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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