Baruch Performing Arts Center
Lexington & 25th Street, New York City
October 13–17, 2004

A Review by Bella Rehnquist

SENSEDANCE: Samuel Roberts and Shizu Yasuda
in Henning Rübsam’s Petit Pas.  Photo by Angelo Musco.

Choreographer Henning Rübsam chose two compositions by Ricardo Llorca to present ballets on point. Quartet paired SENSEDANCE company members Samuel Roberts and Kathryn Sydell with guests Akua Parker and Sonny Robinson from Dance Theatre of Harlem. Baroque dance elements, Cunningham-esque twists, and speedy and fiendishly difficult pointwork added up to a breezy affair. Clad in tight blue denim shorts with brightly colored tank tops the dancers looked carefree while attacking and executing the movements with joy.

Chorale—played live by pianist Terrence Wilson—showed a different side of both composer and choreographer. Almost meditative, the pas de deux for Melissa Morrissey and Ramon Thielen featured impossibly wondrous lifts that seemed to spring from the couple’s deep concentration and were exploding with emotional power. She was dressed in white leotard and white pointe shoes, he in white ballet slippers and tights. The simplicity of the costumes and lighting design by Ted Sullivan and Jennifer Linn Wilcox produced a stunning sculptural quality. As if exploring unknown territory the dancers depended on each other with sensitive support, unlocking ballet’s boundaries with an inner key cut from curiosity and trust. Llorca’s music proved the perfect peer for this choreographic gem.

The program opened and closed with cabaret-style jazz works that exuded wit and charm. Herman Sherman is set to tunes by Woody Herman. Dancer Shizu Yasuda sets the bar in a solo that retrogrades and reverses on itself. One moment in a high-flying leap, the next in a shoulder stand—nothing seems impossible for Ms. Yasuda, who was joined by Michael Pendell, Ms. Parker, Mr. Robinson, and Ms. Sydell.

Django, the title work of the evening and previously reviewed in an open rehearsal in May, did not disappoint. Costumed by Malissa D. Lisbon and Edward Sylvia in imaginative flapper dresses, it now includes a hilariously funny Velcro effect that Janet Jackson would have been happy to have thought of. The piece showcases the entire ensemble and flows seamlessly from high camp, to imaginative art, to a full-out Broadway finale.

The program that also included a luscious solo for Rübsam to Schubert’s Frühlingsglaube (Faith in Spring) and the haunting Petit Pas is to be commended for its variety of styles performed to the highest professional standards. Rübsam is the choreographer to watch.