Spring ended on a wonderful note with the recent performance of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater (CRDT) at the Hubbard Street Dance Center on Saturday, June 18th @ 6p. The program entitled, New Works, featured choreographers’ Mei Kuang Chen, Sarah Cullen Fuller, Josh Pawelk, CRDT’s resident choreographer and member, and Raphaelle Ziemba, also, a CDRT member. The dancers included Christina Chen, Laura Chiuve, Dustin Crumbaugh, Andrea Deline, Kate Dempsey, and Joey Schumann. The musicians were Marcus Dunleavy on guitar, James Sanders on violin, and Bobbi Wilsyn with vocals. I am always thrilled to blog about dance that I truly enjoyed.
The evening begun with Mr. Pawelk’s work: 40 Years Later. Musical director, Mr Stu Greenspan, arranged the piece to Curtis Mayfield’s Hard Times and a speech given by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after the MLK Jr assassination and comments by Pres. Barrack Obama. I thought the work captured the essence of the turbulent 1960’s when much civil and political unrest was occurring both at home and abroad for the U.S. For me, the dance symbolized a poignant and retrospective look at history from the viewpoint of an individual who, while not directly affected by events, understood and could relate to the shared experience of pain, grief and sorrow that is inherent to mankind. The cor. was very powerful with lots of expression coming from wrist action as the arms were extended in front of the dancers’ bodies. The full company of seven was staggered into 3 lines yet seemed to fill the entire space as they dropped to the ground or threw their heads back in unison, almost violently at times. Their emotion and movement was crystal clear and that is why I enjoyed the work.
The next work was a duet by Ms C. Fuller and performed by Ms Ziemba and Mr Crumbaugh. I remember that when I first saw the piece, Dreaming of Home, on rehearsal day, I thought three things: the duet was lyrical, balletic and sensual and made me aware of my own sexuality and sensuality. I think the dancers captured the mood of the duet and the cor. was such that the couple was never entirely present or available for each other. There was not much eye contact between the two, but the cor. was very physically intricate; the two needed each other to assist with a falling catch, a slide off of one’s torso or push up off the floor or an overhead pressage. One tango move I enjoyed was when Raphaelle when into a deep knee bend on one leg w/the free leg extended behind her as Dustin held her arms then pivoted around her; it was very DWTS. There were several moments when Raphaelle stepped away or pushed away from Dustin leaving him bereft; it felt like the duet was a glimpse into what must have been a tremendous past love affair but that the what, when, and wherefores were left unanswered. It was a lovely piece that ended on a hug.
The work, Pedestal, by Ms Chen was a powerful and visceral example of an abusive relationship between one man and two women that was inspired by Ophelia, a troubled character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a play in which I knew very little except for the soliloquy of Act 3: To be, or not to be: that is the question . . . Although nothing is known about any of the characters, it was clear that the ladies were entirely submissive to the man’s dominance. What made this cor. really unique was the creative use of a table as a platform in the abuse. Of course, the dancers, Andrea, Christina, and Joey actually brought the piece to life through their connection and trust with each other and their willingness to go to a darker place emotionally as the choreography dictated. Of all the works presented, this one created the most buzz among the dancers and audience, which was well deserved.
Love in a Foreign Language was an older work presented by Ms Michelle Manzanales, who was not in attendance. It featured another duet by Raphaelle and Dustin, but this time under happier, more flirtatious circumstances. The music with live vocals by Bobbi Wilsyn helped to elevate the sensual, joyful, romantic and slightly tango-esque mood of the duet. It, too, was enjoyable.
The last new work was, Café 1930: The Histoire de Tango, by Ms Ziemba for the full company except her. I felt the cor. contained more of a Latin flavor in terms of port de bras and movement composition compared to previous pieces and featured music by Argentinean tango composer, Mr Astor Piazzolla. The dance was strong and dramatic as well as interesting and entertaining. Due to lack of male dancers, I enjoyed the use of female partnering among the cast, which seems very natural on this company. Again, it was another wonderful piece.
During breaks between the new works, Mr Dunleavy and Mr Sanders, entertained us with other movements from Mr Piazzolla’s, Histoire du Tango: Night Club 1960 and Bordel 1900. This composer was chosen because of his revolutionary style that infused elements of classical music with jazz to create, nuevo tango. I should, also, note that both Ms C. Fuller and Ms Chen’s cor. was set to original music by CRDT’s resident composer/co-founder, Mr Joe Cerqua. This blending of styles is what CDRT is all about. The company infuses dance (contemporary, ballet and jazz) with live music, usually, performed on stage with the dancers, and visual art either streaming or in the form of murals by Mr Matt Lamb. This company has much to offer individuals and the dance community at large.
Much hard work and dedication goes into making CRDT what it is today, and I’d like to personally thank Mr Kevin Holt (Marketing Dir.) for the invitation to participate with CRDT; Mr Wilfredo Rivera (Artistic Dir./co-founder) for allowing access to the company from behind the scenes; and to the dancers, who were so gracious to allow me into their intimate group to observe and ask questions. I had a blast! Also, thanks to Dance USA for their contribution to the pre- and post-performance reception and to all the sponsors who support CRDT and dance in Chicago. Merde!
See CRDT perform, CONSTANT MOTION, Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at 8pm for the first time at the Harris Theater.