Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dance Review: Sad day for Downtown, Dance, and Festivals

Janaki Rangarajan, photo by Srinivasan The opening day of the 28th Annual Downtown Dance Festival was not the best representation of what is happening in downtown, or in dance or in any festival I have been to.   I found the program to be long, boring, and under rehearsed.  There are some saviors, but overall, the first day of the 28th Downtown Dance Festival should have been a great opportunity to get people turned on to dance… but I left totally turned off.

The program opens with a captivating Bharatanatyam (South Indian Classical Dance) performer.   Janaki Rangarajan is totally fierce!  She is able to move parts of her face in rhythm with the music in ways I had no idea it was even possible.  She is a great way to begin the afternoon.  I am completely enthralled.  Yay!

The next group to perform is Battery Dance Company.   Their submission is a long, an unoriginal piece entitled, Layapria.   Although it is choreographed in 1998, it looks 10 years older than that. Worse, one of the dancers spends most of the time, while she is dancing, trying to watch the other dancers, and she was still not with any of them.  The choreography does not showcase the company well, and I have no idea what the piece is supposed to be about.  The only saving grace is Carmen Nicole.  She is what every dancer aspires to be.  When she is on stage alone, it is like watching her lead an army of thousands, and when she is sharing the stage with the company, she is the only one I watch.   If not for her I probably would have left. I can’t get enough of dancers that are confident, beautiful, dramatic, and original.

Have Something to Say?  Join iDANZ.com Today! Next was more solo work from the first performer which is cool and different. She is fun and great to watch!  Which is followed by another piece from Battery called String of Beads, which is a combination of works choreographed by the company, some of it is pretty decent, some of it is really bad.  Editing is a wonderful tool; people should use it a bit more often.

The afternoon closes with a complete atrocity, Dance China NY.   I am appalled at how under rehearsed, poorly choreographed, poorly costumed, and even more poorly it is performed.  It is an awful finish to what was an afternoon of less than acceptable work.

The program is occasionally monitored by the director of the Battery Dance Company, Jonathan Hollander.  He is a very reserved quiet man, who complained about the state of dance in NY and tried to inform us of the importance of the presence of dance.  If you want to sell something you need a sales person with charisma.  Especially with the dire state of dance right now, there is never a better time to show NYC how great, entertaining, and inspiring dance can be.  Monday’s show just totally missed the mark! 

I left angry, hungry, hot and tired. The worst part was when they tried to get the dwindling audience to participate in some Chinese fan dancing…. I had to leave, I was embarrassed.

iDANZ Critix Corner 
Official Dance Review by
Dante Puleio 
Performance:  The 28th Downtown Dance Festival
Performers:   Battery Dance Company, Janaki Rangarajan, Dance China NY
Venue:  Chase Plaza
Performance Date:  August 17, 2009, Noon

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