Creative Outlet Dance Theatre’s Jamel Gaines should trim back his creative output. His fervent audience might shoot me down, but I found the two-hour show (BAM Harvey, May) excessive. However, the performers truly rocked, chiefly Anika Ellis, the actor-dancer-singer starring in Aida‘s national tour. Her movements were deftly controlled and deeply felt; you watched every eyelash quiver for fear of missing something crucial and delectable. But high discipline among the troops did not excuse the general’s unsightly spread. Ensemble sequences suffered from unison-itis—dancers doing the same glossy, high-powered moves, a diet of empty calories. Heru Shango’s bombastic poetry made me impatient. I felt barraged, pulled in three directions by the dancing, spoken word, and music. Happily, Gaines did let dancers like Kevin Joseph and Lakai Worrell lace into tasty, crunchy solos reminiscent of Garth Fagan’s quirky inventions. Worrell’s exuberant “Kwatakye” segment, an African warrior dance for boys from CODT’s educational program, was the evening’s biggest hit. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa
The needlessly complicated plot of Boris Eifman’s new Don Juan & Molière is merely a contrivance to showcase the fabulous dancing of his lanky, limber Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg (City Center, May). A man of enormous passion and unerring theatrical instincts, he devises intriguing, athletic movement: stretchy, ungainly poses, jutting joints, splayed limbs, wonderful swooping lifts, and daredevil leaps that split and twist in midair.
Music segues seamlessly between Mozart for Molière’s dances and Berlioz for Don Juan’s. Figments of Molière’s imagination—scurrying nuns, an elegant black ball, and an all-white clown procession—dazzle. Duets with his would-be lover, Armande, and Don Juan’s with Elvira and Donna Anna ooze eroticism. Slava Okunev’s lavish sets and costumes and intricate, moody lighting create rich dance-theater that’s way larger than life. —Gus Solomons jr