From the haunting, startling moments in the lone sounds of a scurrying train in ‘Grace Engine’ to bursts of joyous French rhythms in ‘Necessity, Again,’ Celebrity Series of Boston selected a spectacular finale to their 76th season with the eloquent and riveting Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet on Sunday, May 17 at Shubert Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet did not only mark their final performances in Boston, but unfortunately, will close after a remarkable 12 year run. Click here for more on Celebrity Series and to learn more about Cedar Lake’s final performances, click here.
With a sensational dance troupe of 16 diverse performers led by Artistic Director Alexandra Damiani, Cedar Lake bends, sways, and contorts to a plethora of emotions during three unique movements, culminating into a rain dance.
The Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is made up of Jon Bond, Nickemil Concepcion, Navarra Novy-Williams, Matthew Rich, Joaquim de Santana, Vania Doutel Vaz, Ebony Williams, Rachelle Scott, Ida Saki, Jin Young Won, Joseph Kudra, Guillaume Queau, Madeline Wong, Raymond Pinto, and apprentice dancers Daphne Fernberger and Patrick Coker. Click here for a closer look at these talented dancers.
The first number, ‘Grace Engine,’ with choreography by Crystal Pite, is much like a short film, full of anxiety and haunting moments starting with a well dressed, lone man walking while the sounds of a train rings in his ears. Spotlights flash and often the performers draw on the emotion of each other, uniting together and departing while mending any weak, pained links along the way. They lean on each other in moments of anguish, hauling out each other’s pain in a search for strength in one another. It’s a modern piece of concise, innovative twirling and spinning highlighted by moments of intense struggle.
‘Grace Engine’ is a peerless visionary work, filling audiences with suspense and anticipation around every corner.
While at intermission, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet kept the audience entertained in a quirky sketch involving two black and white video screens that display mouths moving in silence. The crowd was amused as dancers added their own flair and sense of humor to each film, providing their own, individual soundtrack in pops, squeaks, and buzzes.
Changing the tone entirely is ‘Tuplet,’ choreographed by Alexander Ekman. Instead of anticipation, Tuplet’s strength is its pulsing, swift rhythm, flashing to the crowd a wide variety of dance snippets. The movement is part audio instruction with isolated moments of shadow and humor, the music is made up entirely of vocal sounds. The flashes of stunning dance vignettes are a highlight, especially in a sequence in which dancers shout out their names as if part of a keyboard or piano.
In a sweeping display of comedy, fun, and a glimpse of the dullness of office life, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet certainly saved the best for last with ‘Necessity, Again’ with choreography and lighting design by Jo Stromgren. It’s an extraordinary combination of theatre, bursts of dancing, an intolerable heat, while giving paperwork a whole new meaning!
What starts out as an awkward, stifling day at the office is easily transformed with a romantic interlude, a joyful French melody, and a breaking away into a lively, exuberant life! This scene takes on many transformations during this dance movement with moments of awkward humor, a sensual romance, and a freeing, torrential downpour. As the dancers weave and sashay to a dizzying rhythm, ‘Necessity, Again’ is a romping, rambunctious ode to life without boundaries, a divide between a dream and reality. A highlight of the performance shows a girl covered in papers rising joyfully in the wind, supported warmly by her fellow dancers.
In an interview with accomplished, Cedar Lake dancer, Ebony Williams, she mentioned the dancers feeling like family and it is easy to see their bond as they navigate these three exemplary performances. They often work intimately, whether linking together in one swift moment, lifting each other in song, or in an eloquent dance, encompassing the music with sheer abandon as rain sparkles in ‘Necessity Again.’
Whatever avenue the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancers choose to take, it is only the beginning of the ingenuity they have to offer the world in the future.
Celebrity Series of Boston will be back in this fall for their 77th season which includes two editions of ‘What Makes it Great’ by Rob Kapilow, the return of Yo-Yo Ma, the award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir, Ana Gasteyer in Concert, the return Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, and more! Click through the slideshow for a closer look at Cedar Lake and Celebrity Series of Boston’s new season! Get tickets and learn more at celebrityseries.org!