Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

January 10, 2008

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Cedar Lake, NYC

January 10–20, 2008

Reviewed by Susan Yung

With its recent program of works by three choreographers, Cedar Lake continues to seek out new creative voices, with mixed results. Two danced with William Forsythe—Crystal Pite and Jacopo Godani—and Forsythe’s influence surfaces in their works in different ways, in addition to eschewing traditional ballet vocabulary. Pite’s suite, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue (above), comprises interwoven duets performed in an oval space defined by strategically placed rolling lights. The dancers interact with affection, anger, evasion, and cooperation, ducking behind the lights into the enfolding darkness. Pite’s movement is sometimes gestural to suggest narrative, and other times dramatically extroverted and unabashedly physical. The work by Canadian Pite, accompanied by pensive music by Cliff Martinez from the film Solaris, is exhilaratingly fast-paced and succinct.

    Godani, of Italy, also used dramatic lighting in Symptoms of Development, dousing the stage with pale white light, or backlighting the edges of opaque screens that shape the stage. He also designed the video and the costumes—straps harnessing the shoulders, worn atop underwear. In fact, the extensive production elements overwhelm the dancing. The work feels like an action movie, with motifs of coercion, group psychology, and brainwashing (via an ominous Oz-like voiceover), centering on the riveting Jason Kittelberger being tormented atop a loudspeaker. Godani’s choreography is filled with snaking elastic torsos, contorted limbs, and slashing socked feet. The sum effort is overwrought, if visually entertaining.

    Belgian Stijn Celis interpreted that choreographer’s catnip, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, played on piano. Celis, who has set full-length ballets (including Les Noces and Cinderella) on numerous companies, created this piece in 2005 on Bern Ballet. For Rite, Celis seems to have dipped into Kabuki for the catwalk set, radical unisex makeup and stiff, constructivist/Lilly Pulitzer mini dresses by Catherine Voeffray that look particularly awkward on the men. Celis deploys movement like a weapon, the men hurtling over the benches or groping along their length with hands and feet like apes. Acacia Schachte began and ended the piece crouched warily atop the bench in dimness, less sacrificial than paranoid. Some of the women portrayed a chorus, moving in a stiff, robotic manner, and Heather Hamilton made the most of her bold stage presence in a brief solo. The work’s ambitious theatricality ultimately fell flat with no palpable narrative to support it.


(Photo by Paul B. Goode, Courtesy Cedar Lake)