Set upon the picturesque banks of the Hudson River and immersed in vibrant autumnal foliage, celebrated companies and artists presented diverse and world-class dance at this year’s Hudson Valley Dance Festival on Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Catskill, NY. Two performances at Historic Catskill Point raised $145,964 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The shows featured performances by 10 Hairy Legs; Daniel Applebaum, Christopher D’Ariano and Peter Walker; Dance Lab New York; Gallim; Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY; Les Ballet Afrik; Michael F. McBride and Samuel Lee Roberts and Rioult Dance NY, and choreography by Joshua Beamish, Larry Keigwin, James Kinney, Andrea Miller, Josh Prince, Pascal Rioult, Peter Walker and Omari Wiles.
Hudson Valley Dance Festival (#hvdance) has raised $910,688 over the event’s seven years. The money raised allows Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to help the most vulnerable among us by providing grants to AIDS and family service organizations nationwide, including 13 based in the Hudson Valley.
The show opened with Les Ballet Afrik’s New York is Burning, an excerpt of a piece that will premiere as part of the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series. Choreographed by Wiles, the angular movements of voguing contrasted smooth and sultry hip-hop in a genre-defying performance that blended African dance, voguing and house.
Gallim explored the pain and devastation of loss in “Dust,” a stirring excerpt from Blush, choreographed by Miller, Gallim’s artistic director. Sean Lammer and Dan Walczak thrusted, lunged at and lifted each other in desperation, while also finding poignant quiet moments to cradle and hold each other. They looped the stage endlessly until one dancer vanished, leaving the other unsettled in the stillness.
Dance Lab New York’s Housework presented a stereotypical 1950’s woman, performed by Chloé Davis, hilariously chronicling the unfair expectation that housewives should relish their cleaning responsibilities. A wide grin collapsed into torment and misery as she furiously and comedically expressed her frustrations in choreography by Prince and set to spoken word by the incomparable Carol Channing.
Davis returned later in the program in the world premiere of Dance Lab New York’s Overture: Raisin. She found strength in her femininity as a modern, liberated woman, performed to the overture from the 1973 Broadway musical adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. As she strutted, stomped and leaped across the stage, she stripped herself of any semblance of the housewife portrayed earlier in the program.
Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY shared “Albrecht Appears,” an excerpt from @giselle, Beamish’s reimagined and technology-infused take on the classic ballet. Mourning the loss of Giselle, The National Ballet of Canada’s Harrison James poetically and fluidly portrayed his urgency and despair, blending an innovative movement vocabulary with classical ballet techniques.
In Rioult’s “Adagio Movement,” an excerpt from Celestial Tides, Rioult Dance NY explored the flowing motions of each other’s bodies and discovered their relationships through movement. The troupe of four dancers paired off, using each other’s forms to creating abstract and elegant shapes.
Married couple Michael F. McBride and Samuel Lee Roberts performed celebrated theatre choreographer Kinney’s fan-favorite piece Birth of the Blues. Paying homage to Sammy Davis Jr. and set to his classic song “Birth of the Blues,” the duo shared jazzy, soulful choreography that displayed their impressive athleticism and contagious charisma. This piece premiered at the 2018 edition of Fire Island Dance Festival.
New York City Ballet soloist and choreographer Walker shared his Words in the Fire, in which he performed with New York City Ballet’s Daniel Applebaum and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Christopher D’Ariano. Dreamlike, effortless movement contrasted gentle staccato motions as they alternated between dancing in unison and staggering by seconds, creating a waterfall of ethereal motion.
The performance concluded with 10 Hairy Legs’ Cruise Control, choreographed by Keigwin. Five men flirtatiously took to the air and pulled each other into adventures in this lighthearted and effervescent piece set to a medley of Diana Ross songs.
Following the event, VIP ticket buyers and sponsors joined the performers for an exclusive reception at W+G Space, a historic building in the heart of Catskill that once was used as a church, cigar factory and printing factory. Today, it serves as an art studio for Wenling Zhao and Guorui Shi, who’s regarded as one of China’s most famous photographers and is known for his large-scale, iconic photographs taken with a pinhole camera using a technique called camera obscura.
The 13 Hudson Valley area organizations receiving grants in 2019 are Albany Damien Center and Alliance for Positive Health in Albany, Animalkind, Columbia-Greene Community Foundation and Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA in Hudson, Matthew 25 Food Pantry and Community Hospice in Catskill, Hudson Valley Community Services in Hawthorne, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston, Rock Steady Farm in Millerton, Roe Jan Food Pantry in Hillsdale, TOUCH (Together Our Unity Can Heal) in Congers and Troy Area United Ministries in Troy.
Hudson Valley Dance Festival is sponsored by The New York Times.
Photos by Nina Wurtzel
Video by Mo Brady and Victor Rodriguez; highlights edited by Mo Brady
This Year’s Program