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Cedar Lake Finally Dances in New York Inside the company's ambitious spring season

By EMERI FETZER

For a year and a half, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has performed almost everywhere but New York City. But from May 15-27 they are back at the Joyce Theater with two programs. They'll feature six pieces by six different choreographers, five NYC premieres, and one world premiere.

Ana-Maria Lucaciu, one of Cedar Lake's sixteen dancers says, "Finally we can show the city what we have been working on."

Program A shows "Violet Kid" by London-based Hofesh Schecter, "Annonciation" by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, and "Grace Engine" by Canadian Crystal Pite. "[Violet Kid] has a lot of sustained aggression. It is under this constant boiling lid and is never allowed to come out." Lucaciu says. Schecter works with images of being scolded as a child and the feeling of repressed anger, and the dancers, who are on stage for the duration, must use restraint and power simultaneously in their movement.

"Hofesh doesn't give you a chance to scream," Lucaciu says, "but he manages the intense feeling by exhausting you. You either can say, 'I've given up' or 'I've given it all.'"

In contrast, "Grace Engine" is quieter and more internally reflective. For Lucaciu, the piece is about the linear path of life: "Everybody has a line in their life. People come in and out, but you are still traveling. You meet someone, maybe you never speak again. You meet someone else, you continue with them and maybe you drop them off again. It's a constant journey."


In the piece, the image of an unstoppable train, suggested by bodies, is mirrored by a fluorescent tube spanning the back of the stage, as well as steady and plodding music that never quite takes off. "It's very cinematic. It's real drama," Lucaciu says.

The two programs will be starkly different in energy, giving audiences good reason to check out both. Where Program A presents a more internal, abstracted face of Cedar Lake, Program B showcases high energy and external projection. Regina Van Berkel, a former dancer with William Forsythe, brings "Simply Marvel" en pointe, highlighting sparkling technique, expansive classical lines, and grounded partnering. The piece asserts the fresh potential of classical ballet.

Meanwhile, Norwegian choreographer and playwright Jo Stromgren delivers "Necessity, Again," which uses characterization and a clear story line. Sweden's Alexander Ekman, known for his humor and musicality, set "Tuplet" on the company, and Lucaciu describes it as rhythmic, quirky, and fun.
 
According to Alexandra Damiani, Cedar Lake's Ballet Mistress, this collection of international choreographers adds a vital energy to the company. "The works excite us and are representative of Cedar Lake now," she says. "We are [also] looking at differences:  Pite, a woman, from Canada, danced for Forsythe. Then Schecter, same age, based in London but Israeli. It is interesting to see in the same generation the sensitivity from gender, from nationality, and also from different personalities."

Damiani acknowledges the risk behind presenting so many new works, but sees it as one privilege of the company's progress. She says, "We allow them time. We want them to create. We take the chance."

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Emeri Fetzer is the Online Managing Editor of DancePulp.com, a website about professional dance and dancers.