Artists in all fields have distinctive aesthetics. William Faulkner's experimental style is laced with gothic elements, while fashion designer Roberto Cavalli is known for his exotic prints. The good thing about a familiar aesthetic is that you know what to expect.
The bad thing is that you know what to expect.
Arguably one of the best contemporary companies in Philadelphia, the Koresh Dance Company recently celebrated their 25th anniversary season at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre to packed houses and pleased fans. It was a weekend of excitement for both the company and artistic director Ronen Koresh, as they premiered two new ballets, New Philosophy and 23: Deconstructing Mozart. Choreographically, both ballets had accented gestures, vocalization, body slapping, earthbound movements that added weight to the choreography, a fusion of genres, and of course, well-trained dancers. So what’s not to love?
Koresh is a beast as a choreographer who has put together a stunning company of versatile thoroughbreds. His choreography is challenging and demanding, often asking the dancers to perform quick level changes and tricky transitions. However, as is common in companies, where the director is also the sole choreographer (like, for instance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Ron Brown/Evidence), Koresh’s new works had hints of older works. So while watching both Philosophy and Mozart, I was thrilled to watch the dancers perform Koresh’s virtuosic choreography, while wondering, “Where have I seen this before?” But New Philosophy and 23: Deconstructing Mozart reminded me of the many vignettes, percussive rhythms, and body sounds (usually hitting their chests, shouting, or stomping the floor) of ev.o.lu.tion in 2014 and Aftershock in 2015.
Diversifying the repertory
More and more ballet companies are working with contemporary choreographers, such as Wayne McGregor’s Chroma for the Pennsylvania Ballet, back in 2015. Such efforts diversify the company’s repertory and attract new audiences.
As always, Koresh used the music expertly. Musical collaborator Paul D. Miller, a.k.a DJ Spooky, provided the eclectic composition in 23: Deconstructing Mozart, giving Koresh access to rhythms from which he extracted counter-rhythms, making his choreography more textured.
In the company’s 25th year, the dancers masterfully delivered Koresh’s choreography with perfect ease as if they were painting pictures with their bodies — even if they are using familiar colors.