Koresh Dance Company | Sarah Carlson (Nov. 2013)

Koresh Dance Company
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Williams Center for the Arts

By Sarah Carlson

Philly-based Koresh Dance Company is just around the corner but for this new mom, it might as well be across the planet. Despite good intentions to visit nearby urban hubs, somehow I rarely end up leaving the Lehigh Valley. Thankfully, venues such as the Williams Center at Lafayette College service our community by bringing culture to us! This past Tuesday, Artistic Director, Roni Koresh presented a fine program of work that I was privileged to savor at long last.

Koresh’s Isreali folk dance roots shine in his latest work, Come Together, which opened the show. In the first section, jovial folk music fueled lively group dancing. Interweaving with claps and prances, the all-white clad dancers exuded a pure communal spirit with a buoyancy suggesting life is good. Subsequent sections revealed more sober relations; an earthy, ill-fated love, a peasant ritual circle, a modern day assembly that builds into cultish ecstasy. In a striking solo, Melissa Rector stands out in the first of many moments throughout the program. A single searing backlight illuminates her graceful feminine strength. She is slight in frame but endowed with exceptional extension and depth of expression. Her focused presence is riveting. Come Together ebbs and flows in the episodic rhythms of communal life. At times, the drama is a bit overwrought but the kinetic commitment of the cast inevitably sweeps up the viewer.

The second half of the program is where Koresh’s choreographic mastery shines. Four separate pieces flow into one another seamlessly; each one so rich, its creative impact would have benefited from a moment’s pause in between to resonate.

Moonlight, a shadowy sextet to an un-credited Mozart piece, revealed a more formal choreo-musical interplay. Mozart’s masterful phrasing was echoed by a repeating gestural sequence that was as meticulously articulated by the dancers as in the instrumentation supporting them. The classical score coupled with Koresh’s decidedly modern movement vocabulary provides a fresh perspective on an old aesthetic.

The dance simultaneously unpacks the score while paying homage to it, a very hard feat to accomplish and a dance I’d like to enjoy again.

Beautiful, a steamy duet featuring the aforementioned Rector, blasts onto the stage with an electric passion. The dancers literally hang off one another as they extend into exquisite acrobatic sculptures.  Underscoring the movement is an eerie high-pitched beeping, like a heart monitor or an underwater depth scope. It’s almost as if the sound is a visceral depiction of the living relationship, or the depth to which it will plunge.

Koresh explores yet another approach in his next piece, a trio entitled Here We Are.

Text by Karl Mullen undergirds the action with insightful witticisms. One line: “The extra in the ordinary is what makes us extraordinary” is repeated twice for effect. In turn, the dancers wear ordinary street clothes but occasionally execute impressive technical feats. Joe Cotler whips out a perfect triple pirouette without fanfare. The movement is smartly sparse amidst the density of the ideas.

In closing, Bolero set to Maurice Ravel’s famous score of the same name brought the audience to its feet. Touted as an undisputed masterpiece, the dance does not disappoint. Precisely timed, the quirky movement vocabulary unfolds with constant surprises. Low struts with side-winding arms and occasional hand fluttering transform the dancers into a flock of proud peacocks or misfit soldiers. Later in the piece, Koresh weaves in an ode to tango as the dancers couple up in more traditional pairings. The crisp, direct energy of the movement blossoms forth matching the pace of this demanding score. Koresh’s not only does this fine score justice, he transforms it into his own stomping ground. Spectacular!