Bausch also often used an inert woman motif. When all the women are laid out in the floor, Spencer Dickhaus desperately tries to get Wright, and then another woman and another, to remember something they did together. The women remain inert. In the end, partners freeze in various poses, one by one. Meanwhile Wright, whose swing ropes have been twisted by Whitthorne, untwists herself, spinning and spinning. The lights go out.

If Prioville challenged the Juilliard kids in a theatrical style that requires a certain amount of improvisation, Barton churned up some smart, lively dancing for the class graduating in 2010. She set us up for her vision of the West by having a cowboy saunter down the aisle of the theater while a husky voice (Bill Frissell) twined around “Careless Love” and sit to the side throughout the piece. Costumed by Masten in shirts, pants, and vests in shades of brown, the 20 dancers, with smoke initially swirling over their heads, engage in a number of activities (at one point, led by one person holding a flashlight, some of them simulate a train crossing the plains). On all fours in a square, a bunch of them regard a soloist as if they were a peaceful herd contemplating a show-off roper.

The movement Barton devises is bold and quirky; sometimes dancers just shoot up into a jump. And the whole piece has a mysterious sense of yearning. At the end, Norbert De La Cruz performs—wonderfully—a long, robust solo while two cast members watch and the others form a sculptural clump. The music, at this point, is, I believe, by Bella Fleck and Edgar Meyer. Suddenly the lone dancer races to the clump and scales it. Cowboy on a lonesome mountaintop. Then he falls backward into oblivion.

Details

Ballet Hispanico
Joyce Theater
December 1 through 13

Juilliard Dance
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
December 9 through 13

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The four well-chosen choreographers show off in diverse ways Juilliard’s cadre of extremely gifted students—their increasingly polished skills and their openness to a variety of styles and viewpoints on dance. Just wait till they graduate!

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