August 29, 2022
Lincoln Center’s second memorable BAAND Together Dance Festival, a
week-long series of open-air dance workshops and performances at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch featured Kevin McKenzie in the closing ceremony. American Ballet Theatre’s departing Artistic Director,
McKenzie hailed the festival as a testimony of New York City’s thriving united community.
Three years ago, the Artistic Directors of ABT,
Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theater of Harlem, and NYCB, got together during the pandemic’s onset to collaborate in finding
strategic solutions to keep dance performances and educational workshops alive.
Irradiating excitement, Robert Battle, Eduardo Vilaro, Virginia Johnson, John Stafford, and
Wendy Whelan joined McKenzie on stage. With the audience cheering, Whelan presented McKenzie a gift for his contributions to the BAAND festival and recognition for his
30 years leading ABT (1992-2022).
The dance program then opened with ABT performing Children’s Songs Dance, a delightful,
creative work by Jessica Lang to Chick Corea’s homologous score, played live by pianist Emily
Wong. Through a set of tableaus of Matisse-like playful imagery, eight dancers delineated
impeccably fluid compositions of a blend of fresh neoclassical and contemporary ballet.
Hispánico followed with an exhilarating bang of Mambo trumpets and dazzling couples
performing excerpts from Club Havana. Honoring Tina Ramírez’s legacy, the contemporary
dance company’s contagious swings, swirls, shimmies, and plethora of lifts spiced up the flavor
that distinguished this choreographic voyage in time to choreographer Pedro Ruiz’s native Cuba.
New York City Ballet's performance of Allegro Brilliante delighted the audience with a gush of George Balanchine’s signature
whirling enchaînments to Tchaikovsky’s variations, starring Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia.
contrast, Dance Theater of Harlem's When Love, choreographed by Helen Pickett, brought a sense of intimacy to the
stage. In an open-hearted distinctive contemporary pas de deux, Amanda Smith and David
Wright drew in space through the collage of music, song, and spoken word in Philip Glass’ Knee
Next, Ghrai DeVore-Stokes superbly conveyed Alvin Ailey’s Cry with an
enrapturing powerful, and moving performance.
In closing, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s One for
All brought the five companies together, interweaving their signature aesthetic and dynamic
qualities with her distinctive configurations.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada