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Flash Review 1, 2-28:
Prowess in Premiere
Guangdong Debuts in NYC
By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2001 Peggy H. Cheng
The Guangdong Modern
Dance Company made its New York City debut at the Joyce Theater
last night. As China's first official modern dance company, GMDC
is a real stand-out for the technical prowess of its 10-member company
(its members garnering at least a few first prizes for solos in
the Paris International Dance Competition since the company's 1990
debut in Guangdong, China), as well as for the bold patterning and
shapes that seem to characterize the troupe's choreography.
are represented in the program for this New York debut. Their pieces
run the gamut from solos to entire company works. Company member
and choreographer Yunna Long is responsible for the larger company
piece entitled "Linglei" which "draws upon the symbolism of animals
in the Chinese folk tradition," according to the program. This piece
is by far the lightest in tone, playing with images of animals of
prey in stalking stillness; then animals who are prey, alert and
peering over the prairie; or fluttering, pecking, and strutting
beasts whose movements resemble those of birds.
Choreographer Jijia Sang
has two pieces on the program: the opening group piece entitled
"Sitting Still" (to music by Samuel Barber), and a duet with two
men called "Heart, Shape, Substance" (to music by John Adams). Much
more dramatic in content -- think of the early American modern dance
idea of inner, psychological landscapes brought out -- these pieces
are also characterized by strong composition. In "Sitting Still"
in particular, Sang brings the dancers back again and again to a
center line in which they carefully, holding their burgundy skirts,
step forward, forward, back, and back in a ritualistic rhythm. The
duet, and a much-lauded solo, "I Want to Fly," choreographed by
Liang Xing (co-artistic Director/choreographer/dancer), showcased
the grace and athleticism of the troupe's male dancers. "I Want
to Fly" is credited with being the winner of a solo prize at the
Paris International Dance Competition, and had all the physical
feats and gorgeous, sensuous shapes to please the eyes. In addition,
the solo's Ennio Morricone music (from "The Mission"?) furthers
Although the program
certainly shows off the technical prowess of the dancers, the challenge
seems to be where to bring the choreography in the future: can the
movement, for example, bring out the individuals of the troupe even
within a group piece? There is no doubt that this ensemble is well-rehearsed,
their unison dancing quite seamless -- yet their playfulness in
"Linglei," for example, could be even sillier, their wildness as
they split from the group in "Sitting Still" even more explosive.
The energy, focus and commitment of the company members is clear
and, with this kind of inner strength, the future of GMDC looks
Costumes are all by Bing
Wu, who seems to have an affinity for fitted swimming-cap type hoods.
The deep burgundy wine of the costumes in "Sitting Still" and the
silvery, spiny costumes for "Linglei" brought color to the evening.
"Linglei" was also accompanied by music synthesized by Guanglin
Following its Joyce season,
the GMDC will be appearing at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania
on March 6 and Peery's Egyptian Theater in Utah on March 10. The
company returns to North America in the fall with dates at the University
of Washington in Seattle October 9-13, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania
October 26, New Jersey Performing Arts Center November 2-4 and McCarter
Theater in Princeton, New Jersey November 6. A Canadian tour is
also in the works from October 14-24.
Evening curtain times
for the GMDC at the Joyce are Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, and
Sunday at 7:30 p.m. There are also 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and
Sunday. For more information, please visit the
Joyce web site. To read more about GMDC, click here.
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