Koresh Brightens a Rainy Day

March 10, 2008

Well, “brightens” isn’t exactly the word, as all three pieces were in pretty dim light. But I was happy to find artistry, humor, and energy in the 15th-anniversary program of Koresh Dance Company. And Philly is only an hour and a half train ride from NYC. (I knew that but it still seemed far away before.) This season inaugurated the Suzanne Roberts Theatre as a dance house on Broad Street, dubbed “The Boulevard of Dance” in our March issue because it now has four theaters with resident dance companies (see “Dance Matters,” page 18)

    Although The Things I Told Nobody, by guest choreographer Itzik Galili (a fellow Israeli to Ronen Koresh), was fascinating for both the sinuous quality of movement and the use of individual lights on individual dancers, the piece that “brightened” my day was Koresh’s second premiere, Theater of Public Secrets. About a third of the way in, Melissa Rector broods at a table; she arches over it, slithers under it. What grabbed me was her full-throttle portrayal of a woman in grief. Perhaps she has lost her man, or is worrying about war. Rector, Koresh’s longtime lead dancer, embodies the defiance, sensuality, and abandon that Koresh is known for. But in this vignette she goes even deeper. As the light fades out on her stage right, another one comes up stage left on a woman in a total ly opposite state of mind/body. Jessica Daley plays a contented, glowing and almost gloating young woman. As she cuddles into her armchair, you can almost see her remembering a satisfying romantic encounter. During Daley’s self-satisfied romp, Rector moves achingly slowly in the dimness stage right. What a beautiful collision of moods!

    Later Fang-Ju Chou Gant stares into a large tilting mirror. She maniacally tries to scrub her own reflection as though she wants to rub it out. At the end of the solo, she releases a horrid self-hating laugh, places her hand on her reflection, and pushes the mirror away. The strong feelings of shame she projected got me choked up.

    The scene shifts to two goofy people on a park bench. A tall woman (Alexis Viator) puts the moves on a short, hapless man (Michael Velez). The skit has the feeling of a silent film. It ‘s entertaining and provides comic relief, but the three solos I described were already indelible in my mind. They might have something akin to Anna Sokolow’s Rooms, the landmark piece of the 1950s that showed people living out their private intensity in separate rooms.

    The dancers of Koresh are technically superb, but even better, they are allowed to be individuals. Needless to say, “The Boulevard of Dance” was worth the trip—especially in the rain.