Thursday, February 25, 2010

CityDance Ensemble-The Embassy of Finland

The Finnish Embassy is a consummate environmental model in Washington DC, recently receiving LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Embassy has clearly worked hard for this significant recognition and last night their green building was all party, party; a much-deserved celebration. Guests were greeted by inviting and courteous staff, amazing food, martinis fashioned with LED ice cubes and exceptional DC entertainment: CityDance Ensemble.

The company previewed two excerpts from Paul Gordon Emerson's Little Adorations, which will have its official premiere at their next concert - “Catalyst” at The Harman Center for the Arts (March 13th and 14th). First was a sexy duet for Elizabeth Gahl and Maleek Mahkail Washington. These two dancers are well suited for each other and a joy to watch in this enticing pas de deux. Washington is commanding and edgy, while still incorporating his smoothness and gallantry into the choreography. Gahl displays remarkable fortitude in this contemporary repertoire without sacrificing a subtle, soft, playful quality. And, her strength is no joke. There were two particular moments (in second and in arabesque) where she balanced on one leg, on a very high demi-pointe. She was so secure and so centered that she looked like she could have happily stayed there forever. But, more important, Elizabeth Gahl shows that strength and vulnerability are not at all contentious entities. She is compelling on stage because she harnesses both, displaying multi-faceted dancing with genuine depth.

The second excerpt featured the trio of Giselle Alvarez, Jason Garcia Ignacio and Kathryn Pilkington. They played off of each other in movements that I thought looked impish and a little mischievous. The most exciting moment of this pas de trois was the cannon where each began a particular choreographic phrase at a different time. This is visually interesting in its own right, but it also really highlighted the polyphonic texture of the chosen jazz music. Usually when counterpoint and fugal structures in music are discussed, it is in reference to the Baroque period (~1600-1750). But, this notion of several different voices, instruments and musical lines that are both independent and interdependent at the same is much more extensive than we realize. The dance for this trio of performers really spoke to this issue through a marriage of choreographic tools and musical form.

The festivities continued on after the performance, when the guests took to the dance floor. The whole evening was so full of true celebration and it was fitting that everyone got to express themselves through music and motion.

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