The idea behind Fall for Dance at City Center, under President and CEO Arlene Shuler, Associate Producer Stanford Makishi and Artistic Advisor Ilter Ibrahimof, is to bring together a mixed bag of dance genres and dance lovers. This year marks their 11th year, and in just two of the five programs, in the first week (Thursday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 11), it was confirmed that this was a good year for Fall for Dance.
New Zealand’s Black Grace in “Minoi” and “Pati Pati” by Artistic Director Neil Ieremia was simply a joy. Their complicated play on rhythms and magical configurations was matched only by the veteran Lucinda Childs Dance Company in “Childs’ Concerto” on another program. Both companies were sleek, precise and smooth.
The chorus of contemporary ballet duets by contemporary choreographers Hans Van Manen and William Forsythe, again on two separate programs, was not especially breathtaking, but they added a nice balance. San Francisco Ballet danced “Variations for Two Couples” by Van Manen and Semperoper Ballett Dresden danced Forsythe’s “Neue Suite.” Both programs also shared lovely duets, the mysterious and darkly lit “Two x Two” by Russell Maliphant for Sadler’s Wells London, danced by Fang-Yi Sheu and Yuan Yuan Yuan Tan, and Company Sebastien Ramirez and Honji Wang’s “AP15,” where Ramirez and Wang turned popping and locking into a silky rendition of contemporary and hip-hop dance drew audiences to their feet.
One of the two closing companies is the Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble, and here, one is reminded of Morris’ skilled attention to music in the world premiere of “Words.” This Fall for Dance commission is fun, funny and mature. Do away with the unbecoming costumes but keep the continually changing movement and fastidious dancers. The other closing company was the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16.” Audiences are drawn into the multilayered choreography from the beginning, before the entire cast is on stage, when a sole dancer (Samuel Lee Roberts) appears through closed curtains and begins a quirky, self-involved dance that begs for attention and guttural laughs. Like Morris’ “Words,” the audience is given permission to laugh and move to the music, though unlike Morris’ “Words,” in “Minus 16,” they get to join the dancers on stage