" First", "The Saloneers", "thunder rolling along afterward", "Walk Me Through"
New Dances: Edition 2016
The Juilliard School
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
New York, NY
December 7, 2016
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2016 by Mary Cargill
Juilliard Dance presented new works choreographed for each of their four classes. Since the choreographers (John Heginbotham for the 2020 class, Katarzyna Skarpetowska for the 2019 class, Pam Tanowitz for the 2018 class, and Matthew Neenan for the 2017 class) needed to use all of the dancers, the works tended to resemble each other, as they all had large casts moving in unison. They were also similar in that the dancers moved clearly, with articulate upper bodies and clean, juicy dancing.
Heginbotham set "First" to the first movement of Schubert's string quintet, played live by Juilliard students. This isn't music that cries out for choreography, though certainly some choreographers have been able to use musical masterpieces effectively. One is Paul Taylor and Heginbotham used many Taylorisms; his work was full of low, crouching runs, unexpected lifts, and straight-armed jumps. But the busy, active piece didn't connect with the music, especially the elegiac melody, and the choreography often looked jerky and unfocused. The costumes (designed by Fritz Masten) were lovely, with the girls in autumnal-colored dresses, but the choreography was about movement, not mood.
Lúa Mayenco Cardenal and Javon Jones in "First" Photo © Rosalie O'Connor.