Dance Takes Back Seat to Music at SummerFest Date:2006-08-18

Dance takes back seat to music at 'SummerFest'
San Diego Tribune , 2006/08/18,By Janice Steinberg

Although an exciting evening of performances,
Wednesday's “Dancing at SummerFest” was a puzzle.
Unlike in a similarly titled program last year, the La
Jolla Music Society didn't bring dance and music as
full partners to the Sherwood Auditorium stage.
Rather, the program offered two well-matched chamber
pieces – both by 19th-century middle-European
composers, played by the same core group of musicians
– and, as a sort of odd man out, choreographer Allyson
Green's dance to a Bach suite for solo cello, played
by Felix Fan.

Not that Bach is ever an unwelcome guest. The Suite
No. 6 in D Major for Solo Cello, BWV 1012, with its
progression of Baroque dances and range of moods from
playful to yearning, provided a gorgeously textured
tapestry for Green's “Nada Que Declarar (but
everything to say).” Like the piece's bilingual title,
this is a border-crossing work, created by Green for
the six members of Tijuana's Lux Boreal Danza

A seventh dancer, guest artist Carolyn Hall (from New
York), seemed to embody Green's experience of crossing
the border weekly to work with the Tijuana company.
The outsider, Hall held back as the others swam
through the space, their arms sweeping out and taking
them into easy drops, their groupings fluid. Like the
two women, Hall wore a sundress, but theirs – and the
men's T-shirts and jackets – were in a warm palette of
oranges and purples, while Hall, um, wore green.

If that sounds too literal, it was. So was a narrative
in which Hall was gradually accepted, then had to say
goodbye. Where “Nada Que Declarar” soared, however,
was in Green's use of space, her thoughtful
exploration of borders via lines of dancers that kept
forming and breaking, and Fan's placement in a
different spot for each of the six movements.

In the reflective Allemande, Fan sat center-stage,
separating two couples – Briseida López and David
Mariano, whose careful tenderness suggested a dying
love affair, and Azalea López and Angel Arámbula with
their intensely physical connection; in an exquisite
moment, he leaned forward and she rested curled-up on
his back. (The other dancers were Henry Torres and
Raul Navarro.)

Little was added by Alan Stones' sound design of
Tijuana street noises that preceded the movements or
by Green's projected photos of Tijuana scenes;
difficult to see, at least they didn't distract from
the dance. Fan's constant changes of position, while
they served the dance spatially, were challenging
acoustically. The lively Courante, for instance,
sounded thin, but did that reflect a greater facility
at slower movements or his position in a rear corner
of the stage?

There were no acoustic problems with the two purely
musical pieces, Moszkowski's Suite for Two Violins and
Piano in G Minor; Opus 71 and Dvorak's Piano Quintet
in A Major; Opus 81. Violinists Bei Zhu and Lindsay
Deutsch and pianist Weiyin Chen attacked the turbulent
Moszkowski suite, nimbly chasing each other in a
screamingly fast molto vivace.

For the Dvorak, the three women were joined by violist
Paul Neubauer and cellist Gary Hoffman. One of
Dvorak's most acclaimed works, the quintet opens with
a tranquil exchange between cello and piano,
interrupted within seconds, however, by a blast of
power from the rest of the quintet.

Such thrilling contrasts mark this piece, which
careens between tranquility and agitation, softness
and crescendo, performed here like a perfectly
balanced conversation – the strings holding back to
let Chen's sparkling piano burst through and
Neubauer's viola sometimes taking the lead, a sweetly
autumnal sound to the violins' summer.

Conversation was also nourished by the programming,
which allowed one to contrast the Dvorak's
breathtaking range with the narrower Moszkowski, in
which the allegro moderato, despite an occasional
melodic theme, too often revisited the turbulent theme
of the opening allegro energico.

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