Kids Dance/Ballet Tech @ The Joyce Theater
If we can’t have Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech back at the Joyce Theater, its former home, I guess we’ll have to settle for his Kids Dance, a program featuring forty or so ebullient students from Ballet Tech’s Public School for Dance. Settling, it turns out, was actually hardly needed. This was a thoroughly professional, vibrant show full of promise. In honor of the 40th Anniversary the school’s governing Ballet Tech Foundation, Mr. Feld presented three ballets for kids who range in age from 8 to 14, beginning with one of what I call his mono-dances, ballets with one central gimmick, a style in which Mr. Feld excels.
“A Stair Dance” (clearly a pun on Astaire, as in Fred) put the five youngsters—Jessica Lau, Jordan Miles, Joseph Noesi, Diana Park, Zuzu Park Stettner—on a construction of wooden steps upon which they climbed, jumped, lay down, exchanged places, pranced and faux tapped, often falling dramatically and comically off the back of the unit only to reappear with mischievous expressions. Steve Reich’s insistent rhythms gave support to the movements.
“Apple Pie” to Bela Fleck and Joe McCracken combined Klezmer and Irish music skillfully and used a much larger cast dancing seven sections. Groups of dancers dressed in Loie Delft’s tight, colorful costumes crossed the stage in bouncing steps with odd stiff arm wiggles or formed pairs that jigged and waltzed about. Jordan Miles & Joseph Noesi were jaunty and fearless in a loose-bodied duet, inspiring hope for the future of male dancers. The girls got a movement as did the boys, showing off their particular talents: soft sensuality (tasteful, of course) and boisterous jumps, respectively. “Apple Pie” was upbeat and made subtle demands on the kids.
The final work was a premiere, “Kydzny” to music the Raya Brass Band, an interesting combination of middle European folk and jazz. The challenge, well-met, of “Kydzny” was handling the logistics of moving a huge cast around the stage. Mr. Feld used long intersecting lines and circles of dancers into which were occasionally dispersed a cute chorus of “Bubble Girls” who blew soap bubbles. The Bubble Girls’ pale blue little dresses were in direct contrast to the rest of Michael Kraus’ colorful unitards. There were hopping movements and tiny steps on half-toe as well as staccato steps specifically for the boys. The highlight of “Kydzny” occurred when the cast formed two concentric circles about the little bubble blower filling the stage with a fountain of bubbles amidst fast moving walls of dancers.
There was a serious air to the evening, an earnestness and deep concentration which might have been leavened with a few smiles from the youngsters, but all in all, Eliot Feld has worked magic with a group of kids who did their school and their director proud.
Kids Dance/Ballet Tech – June 12-15, 2014
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.
New York, NY
Tickets and Information: 212-242-0800 or www.joyce.org
About the BalletTech Foundation: www.ballettech.org