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Flash Review, 2-10: Perrysope Up
Peridance Celebrates 21 years

By Anne-Sophie Rodriguez
Copyright 2006 Anne-Sophie Rodriguez

NEW YORK -- It was without high expectations that I sat down in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College on January 27 to see Peridance Ensemble. I had never seen the company nor its founder/artistic director Igal Perry's choreography, and though I had heard only praise, I was not sure I would feel the same. It is especially disheartening to sit through an entire evening of one choreographer's work if most of it is similar. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as I enjoyed each work.

Perry, who danced mostly in Israel, came to the United States as a ballet master and choreographer. He opened his school, the Peridance Center, in downtown Manhattan in 1983, and, one year later, the ensemble made its debut.

Other than the two guest dancers, Jose Manuel Carreno (American Ballet Theatre) and Elizabeth Parkinson (Joffrey Ballet, "Movin' Out"), the dancers performing for this program were not particularly celebrated, but each was pleasing in his or her own right. Hailing from the U.S., Asia, Europe, and South America, and armed with elegant lines and an unaffected stage presence, they displayed each work in the best possible way. They also had the advantage of performing mostly to live music, often with the musicians on stage. Such was the case for four of the seven pieces performed. It could have been distracting, but, other than the light reflecting off the cello during blackouts between the segments of "Intimate Voices," I did not find it so.

Except for "Intimate Voices," created in 1995, and "Bolero," the company's first piece, from 1984, the evening consisted of premieres. Although I will always love Ravel's acclaimed music, I found the choreography for "Bolero" too harsh and angular, with its signature walks and chasses with closed fists hiding the dancers' faces. I did find the patterns formed interesting, but the work showed its age compared to the more recent choreography displayed prior to it, including an all-male and an all-female piece.

In "Words Unspoken," seven men dance smoothly, often with chairs as accessories and aid. Dressed in navy pants and bright and differently colored belts, the men take off their unbuttoned shirts at the end of the first movement, at which point four split into two duets, one on each side of the stage. The stage right couple follows the piano only, while the stage left duo also acknowledges the violin's increasingly frequent interruptions. The piece ends with one solo and the other men sitting on the chairs now lined up at the left side of the bare stage. Indeed, there are no wings or backdrop of any kind, which added to the rawness of the work.

Also standing out was "Rain," a solo to an excerpt from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," danced by Takahiro Ueyama. One cannot imagine too many other dancers able to show the diversity of movement needed for this piece, as it varied from robotic to flowing, and from dramatic to comic.

Perry's new solo for Parkinson, "Silhouette," was set to repetitive music for piano and percussion by Luc Ferrari. Outfitted in dark green, Parkinson projected a unique stage presence, with a way of moving which fit the piece perfectly. Inwardly turned, she glided smoothly and serenely throughout, which could have been dull but nonetheless remained captivating.

Anne-Sophie Rodriguez was born in France and started her studies there before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she took most of her training at the San Francisco Ballet School. She later graduated from Boston Ballet School, and has performed with Boston Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, the Norwegian National Ballet, Festival Ballet of Providence, and BalletNY. She continues to dance, teach, and choreograph. To contact her and find out more, please go to www.tilwedanceaway.com.

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