Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oberon's Grove accounting of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company/Ahn Trio Collaboration

Nai-Ni Chen/Ahn Trio Collaboration

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Friday December 5, 2010 - Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and the Ahn Trio have joined to present an evening of dance and live music at Harlem School of the Arts. Read about our first encounter with Nai-Ni Chen's company here, and a recent rehearsal here. Photo above: dancer Wei Yao.

There are two more performances of this programme: Saturday evening December 4th and Sunday matinee December 5th. For information: 800-650-0246.

The collaborative presentation is entitled Temptation of the Muses. The Ahn Trio opened this well-paced evening with a dynamic rendition of David Balakrishnan's Skylife. The three sisters - violinist Angella, cellist Maria and pianist Lucia - are leading proponents of contemporary classical music. Following this prelude, they embarked on the Pat Metheny score for the first of five new Nai-Ni Chen choreographic creations: Yu Ryung.

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This work opens with a solo for Jamison Goodnight (above) danced with an intense lyricism that keeps the viewer entranced. The other dancers of Nai-Ni's company - Saki Masuda, Ekaterina Chernikova, Riyo Mito, Jung Hm Jo, Wei Yao and Justin Lynch - appear in this ensemble piece of flowing combinations...

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...and quietly ecstatic partnering motifs (Ekaterina & Wei, above).

The music of composer Kenji Bunch was a central element of the programme. The first of Kenji's works to be heard was Dies Irae. a brief spirtual work played by the Ahn Trio. The stage was then set for the longest and most complex work of the evening: Concrete Stream.

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In this work the excellent lighting by Joe Levasseur was an integral part of the performance. Click on the above image to enlarge. An illuminated font of water where the dancers bathed and annointed themselves gives the piece a rutualistic feel. The musicians became active participants: the cellist is seated alone in a pool of light...

Copy of 7 the dancers move in and out of her sphere of influence. Above: Jamison Goodnight at the left with cellist Maria Ahn. Click on the above image to enlarge.

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Partnered phrases: Jung Hm Jo and Riyo Mito (above). The baby grand became a source of both the music and the movement: dancers emerged from under the piano and later a bolt of silky cloth was unrolled...

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...creating a waterway down which the violinist Angella Ahn slowly walked as the work came to an end.

Following a brief intermission four dancers in street clothes - Wei Yao, Jamison Goodnight, Saki Masuda and Justin Lynch - performed to a Ronn Yedidia score, the first of two Lullabies which were programmed. The Ahn Trio played two lively interludes from Kenji Bunch's 'danceband': Backstep and Disco Boogie. These bookended a gently lyrical duet entitled Lullabye for My Favorite Insomniac...

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...danced with expressive tenderness by Ekaterina Chernikova and Jung Hm Jo (above).

In the concluding work, Grooveboxes, Nai-Ni Chen put aside her usual style of sweeping expansiveness in favor of a fast-paced, jazzy style to mirror Kenji's energetic score which was played with lively attack by the Ahn Trio.

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Francisco Silvino (above) clad in sexy, fiery dancewear, was the lone male in this work. The four women in candybox colours are Ekaterina Chernikova, Saki Masuda, Riyo Mito and Jamison Goodnight.

Here are some of Kokyat's images from Grooveboxes:

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Jamison Gooodnight

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Francisco Silvino and Riyo Mito

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Saki Masuda

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Francisco Silvino

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Composer Kenji Bunch and choreographer Nai-Ni Chen with the performers sharing the applause at the end of an impressive evening. Click on the image to enlarge.

With this programme, Nai-Ni Chen and her Company secured a top spot in my shortlist of dance groups to follow closely on my blog. Her choreography, her musical and stylistic expressiveness, and the beauty and spirit of her dancers are just the kind of thing I love to experience. And her East-meets-West fusion is wonderfully satisfying to the senses.

All photos: Kokyat

Click here for OBERON'S GROVE

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