Second Annual Hudson Valley Dance Festival Leaves Sold-out Audience Spellbound

A sold-out audience, captivated by performances from five world-class dance companies, filled the Historic Catskill Point on October 11, 2014, for the second annual edition of Hudson Valley Dance Festival.

Transforming the 19th century warehouse on the banks of the Hudson River into a one-of-a-kind performance space, Hudson Valley Dance Festival raised $121,125. The evening featured memorable performances by Dorrance Dance, Gallim Dance, KEIGWIN + COMPANY, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Pontus Lidberg Dance.

Pontus Lidberg Dance opened this year’s performance with Faune, a piece about identity set to a sensuous score by Claude Debussy. Five dancers explored isolation and belonging, flowing in and out of the group, fluidly exchanging clothes, leaving one always “exposed” until the final dancer is accepted for whom he is.

Gallim Dance showcased its vivid imagination and hyperkinetic physicality in Pupil Suite, choreographed by Artistic Director Andrea Miller, a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow. Eight Gallim dancers discovered their inner child as they frolicked, leapt and, in one section, even crawled across the stage on elbows and knees, in the humorous romp. Steeped in theatricality, the dancers used every muscle – from exaggerated facial expressions to subtlest of finger movements – to engage the enthralled audience.

Pontus Lidberg Dance - photo  by Daniel Roberts Gallim Dance - photo by Whitney Browne
Photo by Daniel Roberts Photo by Whitney Browne

KEIGWIN + COMPANY presented an excerpt from one of founder Larry Keigwin’s signature dances, Mattress Suite. With a queen-size mattress as their prop, dancers Kile Hotchkiss and Emily Schoen explored the delight and despair of a couple’s entanglements. Using the mattress as a wall, a springboard and a romantic escape for their remarkable pas de deux, Hotchkiss and Schoen deftly leaped and embraced through the reality of a couple’s ultimate inability to connect.

Four members of Dorrance Dance treated the audience to an energizing tap number, excerpted from the company’s recently premiered ETM: The Initial Approach. The tappers, each on their own wooden platform, became, as founder Michelle Dorrance described, “musicians with their bodies, head to toe.” Pushing the boundaries of tap rhythmically, aesthetically and conceptually, Dorrance showed why The New York Times called her “the brightest choreographer in tap today.”

Closing the evening, the venerable Paul Taylor Dance Company presented one of Taylor’s best dances of the 21st century. Promethean Fire featured 16 dancers weaving themselves through intricate patterns, often doubling-back and twisting around each other in what some have called “building blocks in the human cathedral.” The central duet, performed majestically by James Samson and Parisa Khobdeh, ultimately rose to deliver the piece’s message of inspiration and renewal.

Keigwin + Company photo by Daniel Roberts Dorrance Dance - Photo by Whitney Browne
Photo by Daniel Roberts Photo by Whitney Browne

The money raised at Hudson Valley Dance Festival will help Broadway Cares provide grants to several AIDS and family service organizations based in the Hudson Valley. Among the area organizations awarded grants in 2014 were AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, TOUCH (Together Our Unity Can Heal), Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, Animalkind and Matthew 25 Food Pantry.

VIP ticket buyers and sponsors were welcomed at a post-performance reception with the cast at the Catskill home of Mark Beard and James Manfredi. The unique home, a former Presbyterian church, serves as one of Beard’s art studios, brimming with oversized oil paintings and heroic bronze sculptures.

This Year’s Program