It Was a Very Good Year: Justin Peck’s Banner Year of the Rabbit Restores One’s Faith in City Ballet

Doug Varone’s 'Rise' elevates at the Joyce, and Circa’s witty 'Circa' redeems Fall for Dance

A QUICK REPORT on the final Fall for Dance program, of which one quarter was fun. Not Shen Wei Dance Arts’ Rite of Spring (two-piano version), which managed to be minimalist and pretentious at the same time, to say nothing of interminable; it took 17 not very interesting dancers to confirm that the last thing we needed was yet another Sacre. Not No Comment from the LDP-Laboratory Dance Project, in which, per the program notes, “A testosterone-fueled group of male dancers prowl the stage in a physically charged, acrobatic work that combines contemporary choreography, hip hop and martial arts”—to say nothing of one poor guy who has to stand still for minutes pounding his chest, as if trying to resuscitate himself in an episode of ER. Definitely not the María Pagés Compañia, “Conceived, Choreographed and Directed by María Pagés,” starring María Pagés, who does three very long solos in three very long, tight-fitting gowns, one of which involves more red material swirling around her ankles than Martha Graham every dreamed of—the whole thing a kind of bastardized flamenco. How do you say “ego trip” in Spanish?

But I did get a kick out of an Australian group called Circa in a piece called Circa—three guys, three gals, in the only witty display of acrobatics I’ve ever seen. You might think that wit and acrobatics don’t go together any more naturally than dancing and acrobatics, but this bunch pulled it off. Sometimes they looked a little shaky as they clambered up and down each other, but you’d be shaky too if you were stepping all over your supine partner in red high heels. (He took it like a man, although there were moments when his manhood seemed alarmingly vulnerable.) The six brave performers swung each other up, over and around, piled up on each other’s shoulders and swam through the air with confidence if not ease. And who will ever forget what one of the girls did at the climax of the show with five bright-blue hula hoops! Talk about rotation!

It Was a Very Good <em>Year</em>: Justin Peck’s Banner <em>Year of the Rabbit</em> Restores One’s Faith in City Ballet