Oberfelder Makes Strong Moves With a Sanguine Attitude
Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects
As a performer, Jody Oberfelder comes across as a feisty woman of middle years. Thanks, no doubt, to her background in gymnastics, she’s a model of physical strength and flexibility, and her matching persona is all straightforward gutsiness. As a choreographer, she’s equally down-to-earth. Her new Landmarks of Dreams exudes a humanism rooted in reality. Many of the solos, duets, and small-group vignettes that constitute the piece have a colorful, playful air typical of a circus with theatrical aspirations, their vocabulary cheerfully mixing acrobatics, ethnic dance, and the ingenious cantilevering of contact improv. The emotional horizon expands gradually. Oberfelder has a long meditative solo, based on Marc Chagall’s colorful dream imagery, that evokes both joys experienced and longings unfulfilled. Even the darker vignettes refuse to give up on life, presenting discord with understanding. Her choreography is a patchwork affair, but its mood is winning.
A small troupe provides lyricism worthy of the masters
Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY
A chamber-scale group catering to an audience that lacks access to big-time companies like ABT and NYCB, Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY (formerly DanceGalaxy) offered a something-for-everyone program. Two duets probed issues that drive lovers into couples therapy—Peter Martins’s Reflections (vehement and edgy) and Thaddeus Davis’s brand-new Vivaldian Chat (all powerful, voluptuous musculature). Ann Marie DeAngelo’s lurid and incomprehensible A Glimpse, inspired by Théophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin, offered characters, situations, philosophy of art—everything but coherent choreography. Though these pieces were handsomely performed, the troupe was at its ravishing best in two small masterworks of lyrical dancing—Antony Tudor’s serene Continuo, with its miraculous floating lifts, and George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie, a windswept bagatelle that restores your faith in romance. The Balanchine, staged by Judith Fugate, an NYCB alum and the most musical of dancers, is a perfect tribute to the choreographer on the 100th anniversary of his birth.