The residence located in The Pines was converted into an outdoor theatre, complete with a raised stage and tiered proscenium seating. The three day, four-performance festival is a major component in the fundraising efforts of Dancers Responding To AIDS; a program of Broadway Cares.
Nine dance companies, and over thirty-five dancers performed in this idyllic setting to raise money, promote further awareness of the effects of HIV and AID the lives of artists, and celebrate the spirit of Terpsichore. Two-time Tony and Emmy award winning triple threat Bebe Neuwirth was the host. Yet the true stars of this festival were the people who came out to support this very worthy cause.
With the bay and unblemished blue sky as the backdrop the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s performance of Brief Encounters was joyously Aegean. The work exemplified Taylor’s signature use of strong architectural and choreographic design. Performed in memory of Tom Morgan the excerpt opened the program.
The Mirror Of Her Mind, performed by the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble was visually stunning. The quartet, DaVon Doane, Ashley Murphy, Anthony Savoy and Samuel Wilson, executed seamless partnering; which has become one of the trademarks of choreographer Christopher Huggins. Murphy who was the central figure in the work performed with emotional depth and solid technique.
Sokvannara Sar danced Solo for Sy choreographed by Jill Johnson. Set to the music of Heinrich Biber’s “Passacaglia” for solo violin the work showcased the talents of Sar. His performance combined a supple upper body, with technically articulate legs and effortless floor work.
We were whisked to the Italian Mediterranean in Dontee Kiehn’s Ossesioni di estate (Summer Obsession). This delightful light-hearted excursion used Italian jazz music from the 1950’s to tell a story of love, lust and… piu amore (more love). Kiehn’s total design; consisting of jazz based movement, vibrant colored costumes and theatrical aplomb was a pleasant addition to the program.
In total contrast We’re Going To Be Cool took a minimalist approach. The seven dancers, which included choreographer Brian Brooks, performed to the electronic music of LCD Soundsystem. The “bouncy” performance had a strong sense of geometry and spatial design. The work was a techo-pleasure.
Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall masterfully performed Liturgy by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Wheeldon punctuated the work with a powerful use of stillness, and subtle repetition; which evolved into sophisticated theme and variation/development. Whelan and Hall danced with great command; the performance featured an effortless use of counterbalanced weight, flawless and secured partnering and pure uncluttered line.
Kyle Abraham has a way of getting his point across to the audience with humor and truth. In Official Thug Abraham addressed issues of masculinity and homosexuality with the clever use of visual double entendre. His coalescing of established dance technique with hip-hop dance and associated gestures was extremely effective and resonated with the audience.
The program finale was an all too short excerpt of Paul Taylor’s Arden Court. Dancers Responding To AIDS was founded in 1991 by former Paul Taylor dancers Denise Roberts Hurlin and Hernando Cortez. The first festival was presented on a makeshift stage for one performance in the drizzling rain with barely 100 people in attendance. The augural event raised $6,000.
The 2011 festival included a state of the art sound system, a professional tech crew, and covered seating. A standing room only crowd that spilled onto the terrace and rooftop (lighting was provided free of charge by a “HIGHER” power). The event raised a record $340,445 to help those struggling with HIV/AID and other life threatening diseases. The Fire Island community has taken ownership of the festival providing free ferry transportation, garbage deposal, accommodations, and generous donations.
The Fire Island Festival takes place the third weekend in July, but in just one of the events sponsored by Dancers Responding To AIDS. For more information about the year-round events, and to make a donation visit email@example.com.
In Photos: 1)Poster 2) Paul Taylor Dance Company 3) Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall 4) Kyle Abraham 5) Paul Taylor Dance Company
Photographer Danny Hurlin
Videographer Johnny Gentry
Video Edited by Walter Rutledge