featured photo

The Kitchen

Brought to you by
Body Wrappers; New York Flash Review Sponsor
the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always
performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews

Go Home

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.

Three choreographers 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 its accessibility.

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 bright.

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 Huang.

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.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home