(Two top photos by Julieta Cervantes, third photo by Karli Cadel)
Small company Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet opened their first season at the relatively large Joyce Theater in Chelsea Tuesday night to a nearly packed house. (Big kudos to them!) They performed an evening-length work by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, called Orbo Novo, which translates to “the new world” and kind of takes off from the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, about her experiences suffering a stroke.
Large chunks of text are taken from parts of the book where Bolte Taylor talks about the onset of the stroke — feeling the searing pain behind her left eye, suddenly speaking gibberish while still understanding everything going on around her, hearing only gibberish out of the mouths of others (though she recognizes their voices over the phone), not being able to operate her right arm, seeing her body change form before her eyes, etc. etc. Immensely interesting — and frightening, and read very well by the dancers.
The dance, which (I assume) like the book, becomes a kind of meditation on right-brain versus the left. It is bookended by the dancers being trapped within a red structure (designed by Alexander Dodge), like prisoners, then eventually finding ways of crawling through the holes. At times the dancers wrap their legs around the holes in the structure, their bodies dangling down, hanging limply. At times, the structure is wheeled away and dancers take center stage — sometimes dancing in solos, sometimes in ensemble — their bodies at times writhing in a contorted manner, at times moving more fluidly to music (composed by Szymon Brzoska and performed live by the Mosaic String Quartet) that is at times mellifluous, at times sharp and discordant.
All of the dancers were wondrous, but as usual with this company, those who impressed me the most were the astounding Acacia Schachte (in center of middle photo, and in bottom), Jason Kittelberger (top and bottom photos), and Ebony Williams. Fun too to see some faces that are familiar from other companies but new to Cedar Lake: Gwynenn Taylor Jones from Alvin Ailey and Manuel Vignoulle from Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve.