Music is my first love, so it shouldn’t be surprising that dance is a close second. Naturally when offered tickets to Fall for Dance, an autumn show nine years running featuring, among others, the work of Sumatran dance company Nan Jombang, the decision wasn’t difficult.
Hailing from Indonesia with a strong, cross-cultural message, Nan Jombang shared the stage with a variety of talented, entertaining dance groups, beginning first with classical ballet. Performed by the American dance company, Ballet West, the opening act of Fall for Dance embodied every little girl’s dream of what a ballerina should be. Accompanied by a bevy of beautiful, delicate yet strong women clad in elegant tutus sharing the same characteristics, the central dancer and her male counterpart wove a classic love story that served as a perfect introduction to Fall for Dance’s multi-cultural evening.
For me, the second performance of the night rivaled the third in terms of quality. Performed by dancers from the Tu Dance company, the second set centered around a woman and her lust for a certain pair of shoes. Choreographed entirely to an a cappella accompaniment, the dancers glided effortlessly across the stage and back to depict the journey of the female dancer and her partner, who played the symbolic part of the salesman. Many audience members will remember this performance for its identifiable theme and comedic undertones, and though these characteristics were both present, it is worth noting that the dancers’ skill, passion and compatibility together did more to enhance the performance than any planned aspect. With a style that is clearly descendent of Alvin Ailey’s school of dance, these two captured the audience for their entire set.
As an absolutely perfect follow-up to Tu Dance’s High Heel Blues, the Nan Jombang troupe did nothing less than mesmerize the entire audience with their unique, powerful and captivating performance of Tarian Malam. Commanding the stage with utter silence followed by intense, breathtaking and rhythmic drumming, the members of Nan Jombang showed talent not only in movement but in vocal expression as well. During the performance, audience members were taken on a roller coasters of sound and movement, following the show from slow, heavy movements of two intimate dancers to the synchronized, chaotic expression of multiple company members. Composed of several style components, Nan Jombang’s interpretive dance showcased each dancer’s strength, skill, dedication and versatility while simultaneously bringing an emotional account of the nation’s history to life.
Rounding out the show in the last act, Russian dancers from Moiseyev’s Dance Company brought audiences back to life with colorful clothing and rambunctious choreography executed perfectly by a collection of over 30 dancers on stage simultaneously. Comparable to a live human, highly talented version of Disneyland’s Epcott Center, Moiseyev’s secured the foundation of the show in multi-cultural expression through movement. In addition to creating a fun, high-energy atmosphere, Moiseyev’s dancers exhibited a finely-polished, well-synced performance , alluding to the classical ballet roots of the company.
While it may not be the ever-popular The Nutcracker, Fall for Dance is certainly making a name for itself over the past decade on the New York City dance scene. At $15 a ticket, it is also one of the most affordable dance performances in the city, and with shows like this, this experience is worth bringing lunch a few days a week.