New York Hilton Midtown, New York, New York.
August 4, 2018.
With 21 varied dance works from a long list of up-and-coming, as well as professional choreographers, the 2018 Capezio ACE Awards were once again a treat for the senses.
Every work stood out for a different reason, and the program grew in strength as the night progressed. The first piece to catch my attention was Alps by Juliette Irons for its melodic movement. It was mesmerizing with a lovely movement style. Then next was Mary Grace McNally’s Not for Picking with a mixed, vintage soundtrack. The dancers ebbed and flowed, changing styles and intention as the record scratched and the movement quality changed. The work was quirky with an unusual vocabulary that piqued my interest, and as we went into the first break, it was the piece everyone was talking about.
Nick Meola’s Restraint had a cool, effortless quality with a pulse to it. It was full of breathtaking lifts. Tom Richardson’s Easy displayed beautiful musicality. I could collectively see the individual, personal stories of the many dancers, but they all danced as one. The poignant end left me speechless.
Maryann Chavez’s Float was fierce and rhythmic, performed by five powerhouse women. Next was Pray by the talented Rudy Abreu. This all male-piece threw mortality in our face with zest. The men, all in white, danced around a central character who, while having a heart attack, contemplated his life and beliefs. With stellar jumps, an energetic contemporary-jazz-hip hop fusion and dynamic floor work, Pray drew us all to the edge of our seat. The daring choreography and commanding dancers had the crowd erupting in appreciation at the powerful end.
Another commanding, masculine piece was Play by Erik Saradpon. As the name suggests, it was playful! A crowd favorite. An all-male piece, it reminded me of Bad Boys of Ballet, as the men danced in black suits with hard-hitting, fun, sexy choreography to the audience’s delight. In this Michael Jackson tribute, the dancers carried briefcases, and each time a case opened, the song changed, with the crowd cheering and whistling throughout. It was joyful and refreshing to watch a piece that simply celebrated music and dance.
Mackenzie Crosley’s Fickle Game spoke to me, as I wanted to join the dancers in their movement. It was authentic and raw, with resounding conviction and musicality.
Off the Hill by Aidan Carberry and Jordan Johnson was another stand-out of the competition. This hip hop piece was precise, clean and almost otherworldly as the dancers created unique shapes. I simply ate it up.
Jaclyn Walsh’s Appalachian Spring was a breath of fresh spring air. It was simply beautiful and joyful. The choreography was light and jubilant, and the colorful costumes filled the stage with life. This sweet and pretty contemporary ballet piece left me with a smile on my face and heart.
Ricky Jink’s Believer in all black involved a huge number of hard-hitting dancers with strong formations, infectious energy and moments of pure sass.
Joshua Blake Carter’s Take a Gambol brought joy to my heart, with Giordano quality technical jazz, performed by dynamic, technically stunning male dances. The piece was sophisticated and so very strong.
In the end, amongst tough competition, the winner was Mary Grace McNally for Not for Picking, with Aidan Carberry and Jordan Johnson’s Off the Hill a close second. Second runner up was a tie between two of the all-male pieces, Pray by Rudy Abreu and Play by Erik Saradpon. Congratulations to all the choreographers and dancers who presented us with a stellar evening of dance.
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.