Mark Dendy's Fauns in Love

Mark Dendy’s brilliant Afternoon of the Faunes is a beguiling, beautiful, odd, tribute to the homoerotic element in the Ballets Russes. I remembered loving it back in 1996, when Mark danced it with Larry Keigwin. Last night at Fall for Dance, two new dancers, Lonnie Poupard, Jr. and Alex Dean Speedie, gave it a gentle yet stirring performance. They jam those flat Nijinsky hands into the air but then curl them up and inward. They dive into the earth and come up with open chests bumping each other. They nuzzle with each other, not with a nymph or a scarf. That enticing flute sound of Debussy’s, like a faun is leading you into a dream world, led the two dancer into a kind of running in place with limbs splayed out to the side. Somehow it was very moving. The limited movement palette was simple, tender, creature-like. I was spellbound.

I wish Nijinsky could see this. I wonder if he would have felt that secretly this is the afternoon in the forest he really wanted to see. It captures the erotic undercurrent to all of the Ballets Russes.

I hope you can see it yourself.  It will be at Fall for Dance at City Center again tonight.

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July 2021