On Wednesday night, I attended a dress rehearsal of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at their incredible space (which used to be a studio for photographer Annie Leibovitz) on West 26th Street. Several other dance bloggers and I were invited for a pre-performance meet-and-greet, a dress rehearsal, and a discussion with artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer. This was a very special event for NYC dance bloggers, not only because we got to meet and schmooze with one another, but also because it was the first time (as far as I know) that a dance company welcomed a group of bloggers to a dress rehearsal, making it clear that Cedar Lake values and appreciates dance bloggers’ input and ability to do some good PR as much as the dance critics from newspapers and magazines. That being said, I encourage you to check out my fellow bloggers’ posts about this event – Doug Fox, Philip, Tonya, and Kristin have all written about (and/or photographed) the evening. Hopefully, this is only the first of many blogger meet-ups and invitations to dance companies’ dress rehearsals.
During the pre-performance schmoozing, it was a pleasure to meet the people whose blogs I read regularly. I also had the amazing opportunity to meet ABT principal and Winger blogger David Hallberg, and Tonya and I spotted Danny Tidwell, a finalist in last summer’s So You Think You Can Dance. I also saw Maya Collins and Gwyneth Muller of New York City Ballet.
Of the three pieces on the program, I thought the first one, Symptoms of Development, choreographed by Jacopo Godani, was the most interesting because of its message about technology’s effect on human interaction. In the program notes, Godani explains, “The advancement of technology, media and a rapidly moving global society have worked against our development as caring human beings, and the pervasiveness of technology, business and so called ‘advancement’ is not respectful of human beings.” Symptoms is an exploration of this dilemma. At times the piece relied heavily on technology – the dancers spoke into microphones, and large speakers and projections on the scrim made the stage feel busy and chaotic – while at other times the stage was completely bare, desert-like and quiet, when the dancers connected with one another on a more emotional level. At the end of the piece, a male dancer stood alone downstage, and made a sweeping arm gesture to slash out the projection on the scrim. The eight highly sophisticated dancers moved fluidly and kinetically through this thought-provoking piece.
In the post-performance discussion, Benoit-Swan emphasized that Cedar Lake is a laboratory. He is interested in experimenting and getting the audience involved in the performances. Rather than have Cedar Lake be only a concert dance company, he wants the audience to interact with the dancers in a less formal setting. I have a feeling that the upcoming Glassy Essence will do just that. Set to premiere on April 24, it will be “an installation erasing the boundaries of the stage” as a barrier between the audience and the performers. More information about the installation and about the company is available here, and you can check out the Glassy Essence trailer here. I’m really looking forward to this, and to watching the growth of the very talented, innovative, and progressive Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.