May 14, 2012
A magical and thought provoking evening celebrated RIOULT at a gala performance at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater. The full house bubbled with energetic anticipation. "Celestial Tides," last year’s premiere, opened the evening with gentle lifts in dappled light against a deep blue and white projection to the luminous music of J.S. Bach. Harry Feiner and David Finley provided the projection design and lighting, respectively, while Karen Young costumed the muscular and lithe dancers in teal bathing suits and trunks evoking the sea. The women seemed to be playing in the water, supported by the men acting as waves. Swirling whirlpool lifts spun the women around while the forceful jumps and kicks suggested the sea’s power. A second projection of a flowing waterfall, animated by Brian Clifford Beasley, accompanied the rocking and yearning duets. A sense of discovery and joyous musical dancing prevails, as dancers became constellations advancing in waves across the sky.
"The Violet Hour" received its world premiere and was inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Pianist and composer Joan Towers performed her own compositions, "Tres Lent"and "Catching a Wave," with the handsome cellist Raman Ramakrishnan. Light emanating from one side of the stage illuminated the dancers’ stately walking and running like tumbleweeds blown across an arid land. Dressed in beige trunks and tops embroidered with texture by Maria Garcia, the pilgrimage progressed into melting, leaping and suspended lifts reminiscent of craggy rocks or cacti. As a man and a woman kissed three times, Eliot's poetry, full of hope, dreams, memory and desire, came to mind, imbuing the piece with mystery.
"Firebird," performed to Igor Stravinsky's suite closed the program. Mr. Pascal Rioult's choreography began with a menacing group that looked like insects or animals, rising from the mist, plodding along, until they encounter the "firebird." She is the exquisite young dancer Sierra Glasheen, wearing a white dress and holding two peacock feathers. Her playful whimsy causes each member of the group recoil at her touch, as if they cannot bear her simple human kindness. The entire cast possessed expressive arms and fingers allowing the audience to hear the delicacy of the music while exposing the intensity and purpose in each gesture. Moved from alienation to love by the sheer simplicity of the young Firebird, Mr. Rioult's choreography enlivens Stravinsky's iconic score -- it’s a re-awakening!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Deborah Wingert