Ballet Tech Kids Dance Lights Up the Joyce

the roots of Ballet Tech kids dance It took root in the subway rather than in the dance studio. It was in 1977 that choreographer Elliott Feld shared a train with elementary school students. To normal people, they were just children, but Feld saw more than that: they were potential dancers.

He worked with the New York City Department of Education to initiate a training program and eventually founded an independent public school. Kids Dance, which he founded in 1994, is currently under the artistic direction of Dionne Figgins as a ballet his tech performance entity. Over the past few years, children in grades 6 to 8 have experienced many difficulties, but the pandemic has disrupted not only schoolwork, but also dance practice.

Friday, the group again Joyce Theater, explored ballet, modern dance, tap and jazz while lighting the stage with a masterful combination of discipline and courage. They fought for artistry. Even if the pirouette didn’t go as planned, it didn’t fall apart. they moved on.

They had a worthy example before them. Johnson Guo A graduate of the Ballet Tech and a member of the Limon Dance Company, he performed José Limon’s Chaconne (1942) on the show.He was the original cast for that night’s opening, Feld’s charming “Yankee Graffiti” (2015). Dressed in white unitards decorated with blue and red stars and stripes down the sides of their legs, young dancers bounced on their feet before leaning forward and back to the propulsive beat .

They shined in their solo moments. They saluted. And Guo, with her grace and ability to carve vast positions in space with Limon’s solos, was a harbinger of the future if these young dancers chose to pursue it.

New dances were also presented, including premieres by Figgins, works by faculty, collaborations with former American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet members Robert La Fosse and Brian Reader, and Meng Ka. On the earthy “Embers Of…,” Ca echoes Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” (the billowing fabric behind the stage was the most obvious touch), with modern dance and John Coltrane’s “Blue combined with world.

The dancers raised their arms firmly and straight, bending their elbows and bending their torsos. The dancers were serious, but what were the embers they were carrying? It was never clear. La Fosse and Reeder’s “Ad Lib City” was the best new work of the night, a vibrant ballet set by Duke Ellington, with more jazz. Here, the choreographer sprinkled the stage with potpourri of steps and small jumps and turns taken from training the dancers, giving them the opportunity to be playful.

For a moment they stopped, arm in arm and staring out. They snapped my arm. Dressed in black tights and Mondrian-inspired tops designed by Vernon Ross, the choreography is vintage, light and musical, and the dancers are reconfigured like tiny kaleidoscopes of movement and color. I ran through the stage in a group. It felt like the cast increased as they flew into the wings and back again.

At this point in the program the children began to relax and enjoy dancing along with their steps. It’s a tribute to each of Figgins’ two new productions, beginning with ‘1956’ set in the Gershwin family’s ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ performed by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. reflected in collaborative works.

Figgins and Curtis Holland, who teaches tap at Ballet Tech, have created a sweet dance battle. The dancers he divided into two groups, one devoted to tap and his other to jazz dance. The dancers, who again spiced up the mid-century modern ensemble by Ross, used gestures to imitate the lyrics. About “how to hold a knife,” they punched out the arm with menacing laughter. “How to Sing Out of Key” led to fingers over mouth like “sheh”. It was cute.

In the finale “Achoo, Adieu” set to music by Ludovico Einaudi, Figgins shared choreography credits with the Class of 2023. The song started in a dance studio. The dancers wore training clothes such as leotards, tights, and T-shirts as they practiced each day. A blackout changed the scene. In the form of a news report, the mayor announced the closure of New York City’s school system “to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

Aiden Concepcion stopped dancing and played part of Einaudi’s score live on a keyboard at the front of the stage. I felt calm. Mask appeared briefly, but at the end the dancers formed a circle and split offstage into two lines. When they returned, their graduation gowns were draped over their arms. They put it on and dashed in front of the stage, smiling and gonzo for the finale. A class photo. They succeeded!

ballet tech kids dance

at the Joyce Theater until Sunday, Joyce.org.

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