There are dance history lessons woven into dance classes led by choreographer Robert Battle. During the class he taught last Friday at DANY Studios, he aided a dancer into discovering a contraction in her body. Pointing to this signature of the Graham technique, Battle encouraged the dancers to see Martha Graham Dance Company in performance. (The Company performed at The Joyce June 8-13.) There were plenty of Taylor moments captured in the movement as well. Battle worked a Taylor wrap, a Carolyn Adams’ swing and an Ailey push all into one phrase. Dancers were encouraged to move with fluidity and ease through the movements, making connections from one section of movement to another. Throughout class he spoke about and illustrated two ideas he considers to be important parts of the classical modern dance idiom, the ability to shift weight and the use of breath.
Breath informed the long adagio he choreographed for the dancers who had the opportunity to see his choreographic mind at work. Erika Pujic, longtime assistant to the choreographer, took over the last half of the class. The dancers flew across the studio executing grande battements before learning a section from Battle’s repertoire. The shift from the fluid opening of the class into Battle’s choreography for his dance Juba was dramatic. The dance is an athletic, foot-stomping, fist-pounding explosion of energy, peppered with repetitive driving steps building to an ecstatic climax that leaves performers and viewers breathless. Commissioned in 2003 for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Juba is one of a number of works the choreographer created for the company. (Battle takes the helm as artistic director of the company in 2011.)
Dancers can continue to be inspired when Desmond Richardson – who, along with Dwight Rhoden, is Artistic Director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet – teaches a master class on Friday, June 18th. Richardson’s special gifts as a dance artist were first recognized when he was a student at New York’s High School of the Performing Arts. Richardson is a dancer’s dancer who has mastery over many different styles of dance. He has performed with Ailey, Ballet Frankfort, Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin and Madonna; on international stages; in films and on TV. He has choreographed for his own company, and in 2008, he was a featured choreographer on “So you Think You Can Dance.”
RSVP for the Friday, Jun 18 class with Desmond Richardson by emailing Maggie Lockhart at email@example.com