A surge of joy and levity concluded the Saturday night Dance Gotham performance at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The three-day dance festival featured four companies – Paul Taylor 2, Adele Myers and Dancers, Gallim Dance, and Ronald K. Brown/Evidence – each an accomplished world-touring company.
Paul Taylor 2 opened the show with "Arden Court", an ambitious and fast-paced classical piece that, unfortunately, was somewhat sloppy despite having several talented company members. The dancers simply did not seem in tune with each other enough to seamlessly pull off the advanced moves the piece required. However, when each was solo, the dancing could be quite breathtaking.
"Einstein’s Happiest Thought" by Adele Myers and Dancers was much tighter, although more abstract than the previous piece. They incorporated ladders and yoga-like moves that emphasized strength and created interesting shapes and lines. One highlight was the first section of the piece in which the four dancers moved to no music, the sound of their breath the chorus.
"Fold Here" by Gallim Dance was an energizing and playful piece that effortlessly merged broad physical comedy and modern dance to create movement that was original, unique, and hilarious. The dancers made great comic use of empty cardboard boxes, especially when one dancer entered the stage dancing/struggling with a large “heavy” box. As she placed it down, jamming it between herself and another dancer, she fumbled and mumbled like the Swedish Chef trying to describe the box. She then pantomimed holding the box while dancing jerkily, as though she had suddenly lost a limb or gravity had shifted.
The last piece of the evening, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence’s "Torch", was simply joyous. An all African American company, Evidence blends modern dance with traditional African dance that imbues the movement with an element of storytelling. The piece started off reverential, with a group of dancers huddled wearing church robes, holding one person above them. Then it exploded in a burst of energy, rhythm and blues, and music from the African diaspora.
While a bit slow to get interesting, Dance Gotham proved to be a rich and varied showcase of companies that truly demonstrated the diversity of dance.