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Barney Yates


Amber Neff (standing) and Megan Foley (being lifted). Photo by Steven Pisano.

There's an unexpected complexity for me in watching a dance performance in a cool room while masked. My breath goes up past the nose clip of my KN-95 causing my glasses to fog. So when I attended New Chamber Ballet's "Musik" (world premiere) September 17 at Mark Morris' James and Martha Duffy Performance Space, the performance was seen through fogged glasses, not rose-colored glasses. But it might as well have been the latter. I was charmed.

Choreographer Miro Magloire ("Mag-lew-WAHR") is a lanky guy who started out in Germany as a composer, studying music with Mauricio Kagel, before undertaking dance training in New York with Kazuko Hirabayashi, Peff Modelski, and Wilhelm Burmann. This concert was dedicated to the memory of Burmann, who died in March 2020 and was a mentor to Magloire and New Chamber Ballet's dancers. 

Rachele Perla. Photo by Steven Pisano.

Mr. Magloire's work is distinguished in how he suits the tune to the action and the action to the tune. Sometimes he seems to be setting melody to the movement, other times it's the rhythm. The effect, though, is visual. In this evening, Miro gave us a quartet of women dancers and a quartet of women singers, all dressed alike in diaphanous costumes by Sarah Thea Craig: close bodices with spaghetti straps over loose, see-through slacks that allow free movement; all in pink, peach and orange. You could tell the dancers apart because they were in toe shoes. Selections from Beethoven and Brahms were set to movement, accompanied instrumentally (except in an a capella section) by Melody Fader on Piano and Dooi Na on Violin, both of whom showed great chops.

The performance space was set up in the round, which is customary in Magloire's stagings. There was a lot of close partnering, dancer-to-singer, and occasional floor work. The formations frequently were a four-point star. The gauzy costumes and movement both emphasized femininity and were, well, lovely.

Anabel Alpert (dancer) and Joy Tamayo (singer). Photo by Steven Pisano.

Mostly we saw duets and quartets, but in the Brahms canons (I think) there were trios. I was especially impressed by a lovely and profound duet with dancers Amber Neff and Megan Foley, which "broke the classical mold" and had extended sections of hands-on-head and also head-on-head.

Magloire's program notes tell us that much of the ballet was choreographed in the close spaces of people's homes during the lockdown, then grown to their full size much later when studios reopened.

Interestingly, although I'm literate in German, I couldn't understand a word of what was sung in the performance. All I heard was vowels.

Kudos to dancers Anabel Alpert, Megan Foley, Amber Neff and Rachele Perla, and to singers Sophie Delphis, Madeline Healey, Elisa Sutherland and Joy Tamayo. All in all, a lovely and appealing evening on the theme of femininity for its own sake.

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