As crises flared in the Middle East and the Catholic Church, choreographers turned spirituality into movement at the 92nd Street Y on April 7. Highlights were Lynn Parkerson’s Hail Mary and Kara Miller Esposito’s Heartland. Parkerson’s dances, performed by Elizabeth Fernandez, Tomiko Magario, and Rhea Roderick, used sign language as a springboard for movement: Her trio silently “spoke” the Catholic prayer, stretching elegant limbs in arabesques and gliding on pointe like angels. Esposito opted for humor: Elizabeth Hueling belted out a song about the Bible’s overlooked but “phenomenal” women as a female corps strutted and shimmied, more like Scores dancers than nuns. JoAnne Tucker’s Tent, Tallit, and Torah and Heroic Deed lacked the intricacy and excitement of the other works, but her blend of ballet and Limón technique was performed with grace by Andrea Eisenstein, Jessica Sehested, Danielle Smith, and Kerrie Thoma. —Kate Mattingly
For her 28th season at the intimate Repertorio Español (March), Pilar Rioja delivered flamenco that stirred the emotions of eager audiences, which filled the house for three full weeks. Whether dancing to classical guitars or accompanied by cantadores, Rioja, in the blooming of her artistry, reminds youth- and novelty-craving dance aficionados how essential maturity is for art dance. Most intensely alive in Farruca, she captured through her sinuous arms the somber atmosphere created by the musicians, transferring it to powerful footwork that suspended time and heartbeats. The extreme finesse and lightness of her performance in Follias, an unexpectedly heart-lightening piece using castanets and brushed footwork, felt like a caress, convincing us once more that Rioja’s perfectly mastered dance is one of the finest and most intense theatrical and emotional experiences in the city.