A part of the promise of New York Metropolis Middle’s Fall for Dance pageant, now in its twentieth season, has been to lure new audiences to bounce. In that spirit, Michael Rosenberg, the theater’s new president and chief government, has been making curtain speeches earlier than this 12 months’s performances, asking first timers in the home to make some noise, then celebrating the massive, raucous response because the sound of the way forward for reside efficiency.
I have a good time that sound too. By holding ticket costs low ($20 today), the pageant appears to maintain bringing individuals in. However watching the primary two of this 12 months’s 5 applications, I used to be disheartened by what these individuals have been being proven.
And never for the primary time. Together with a welcome number of types, the pageant’s sampler applications have at all times featured a irritating vary of high quality. Considering again through the years, I can keep in mind many nice performances and blissful discoveries however no program that was nice all through.
A distinguishing characteristic of Fall for Dance audiences is indiscriminate enthusiasm. So why can’t the pageant’s organizers be extra discriminating? If the individuals are going to like every little thing, why not give them extra that’s actually good? This 12 months’s decisions appear lazier than traditional, the ideas of choice barely extra mystifying.
To ask Ballet BC to open the primary program with Crystal Pite’s “The Assertion” (2016) makes some sense, since Pite has a global following. That is one in all her items wherein twitchy, glitchy dancers act like bobblehead dolls as a sort of radio drama performs in voice-over. This story is a few company cover-up and boardroom energy battle, and the cynical, cartoonishly figuring out qualities of the textual content are heightened by the choreography.
I discover Pite’s spin as deceptive and hole as its goal, however the compositional talent and suggestion of concepts at the very least give the work an enchantment, even when it’s false. Côté Danse’s “Dix,” which opened the second program, has no distinct enchantment in any respect. The corporate is a newish enterprise by the Canadian ballet dancer Guillaume Côté, and although the music by Son Lux has some grit and spark, the work is in an anodyne up to date mode that resorts to strobe lights in lieu of kinetic pleasure. Modern ballet may be trendy, pressing, present. It is a poor substitute.
The closers are not any higher. Sonya Tayeh’s “Oh Braveness!,” on Program 1, made for and carried out by Gibney Firm, will get some rowdy, revivalist power from recorded music by the indie-folk duo the Bengsons, however flashes of invention within the choreography get misplaced in soggy emotion. Why not select one thing that’s truly rousing?
To shut Program 2, Sergio Bernal Dance Firm, from Spain, presents a shallow mix of ballet and flamenco. Buying and selling commonplace ballet jumps and turns in a Spanish-tinged duet with the American Ballet Theater veteran Herman Cornejo, Bernal principally holds his personal, which is spectacular if gratuitous. However his flamenco solo is mediocre in ardour and rhythm, regardless of wonderful accompaniment by the guitarist Daniel Jurado and the vocalist Roberto Lorente. (Though flown in from Spain, they have been perversely supplanted by recorded music for 3 of the Bernal firm’s 4 lackluster numbers.) Fall for Dance audiences deserve higher flamenco than this.
Fortuitously, every program had a center choice saved by a Fall for Dance common. Sara Mearns, the adventurous New York Metropolis Ballet star, joined the great bass-baritone Davóne Tines for the New York premiere of “Mass.” The rating, a miniature setting by Caroline Shaw of the standard mass textual content which Tines has used to body recital applications, is slight and quick by itself, and the choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith is apparent in a hand-to-heart, modern-dance mother-of-sorrows mode. However Mearns and Tines are top-shelf artists, and the sight of her slowly stretching into arabesque as he intones “Credo” is one to encourage perception.
Expertise and unpretentious pizazz are what the pianist Conrad Tao and the faucet dancer Caleb Teicher delivered within the type of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Tao performs the hell out of the acquainted rating whereas Teicher performs it for vaudevillian comedy within the method of Invoice Irwin and Ray Bolger, maintaining with the rhapsodic shifts with an impromptu-seeming sequence of frisky responses: frantic Charleston, bouncy self-tripping, splits wherein reaching the bottom is an applause-earning triumph. However for all of the joking round, Teicher by no means ceases to be musical.
This isn’t groundbreaking. But it surely’s good and rightly common. There’s no motive all of Fall for Dance couldn’t be at that stage.
Fall for Dance
Via Oct. 8 at New York Metropolis Middle; nycitycenter.org.