Koresh Dance Company

May 20, 2005

Koresh Dance Company in
Negative Spaces. Photo by Gabriel Bienczycki

Koresh Dance Company
Phi Beta Kappa Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

May 20, 2005

Reviewed by Lea Marshall


Koresh Dance Company burned a swath through Williamsburg during the Virginia Arts Festival with four works choreographed by artistic director Ronen Koresh. From the opening Twisted Pleasures, a frenetic exploration of sexual rituals, to the closing signature work Backtracks, the dancers, led by Melissa Rector, joyfully gave their all: superb technique, courageous attack, and unrelenting intensity.

Koresh’s choreography, however, relied so heavily on the dancers’ technical prowess that it rarely moved beyond an initial concept and a distinctive costume design. Gorgeously challenging, athletic jazz phrases, often performed in unison, made up the bulk of the movement in all four works. But even perfectly executed attitude turns and 180-degree extensions can become monotonous without context to give them depth and emotional resonance.

Twisted Pleasures
evoked the passionate, sometimes combative aspects of human sexuality. A highlight was a men’s trio performed by Dougie Styles, Curtis Lassiter, and Michael Velez that included a comic visual riff on the interlocked arms and rigid unison of the Swan Lake cygnets. Facing the Sun opened and closed with a group, clad in ragged white, attempting to reach toward a bright light that represented some unnamed goal, and getting killed for their efforts. In between came pure dancing that did little to illuminate the meaning of the work.

Negative Spaces
opened with Velez dressed as a homeless man, in white-face, haranguing the audience in a funny drunken monologue until six dancers entered, dancing phrases that seemed to comment on the nature of entertainment. Velez’s character moved in and out of the action as a sort of comedic foil, but when he began dancing right along with the others, the conceit fell apart and the audience was left wondering what this piece was about.

Although Koresh could take his work much further, his approach to movement is appealing on an elemental, instinctive level. Driving rhythm, deft partnering, and diverse choreographic phrases that incorporate elements of African, Indian, and Middle Eastern dance with ballet, jazz, and Graham-inspired modern, give both dancers and audiences plenty to chew on.

For more information: www.koreshdance.org