By Walter Rutledge
An overflow crowd attended the second studio showing of Dance Theatre of Harlem 2.0 on Thursday October 21. This week an excerpt from a work in progress by Robert Garland was presented. Mr. Garland’s duet was set to four of the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Misty Copeland (Soloist American Ballet Theatre) and Matthew Prescott performed the yet untitled duet. Garland was asked by Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson to create a work classical in design. The work followed the classical cannon consisting of: an opening movement introducing the two performers, a pas de duex with partnering and adagio movement, and solo variations that showcased the technical prowess and artistry of the dancers.
The dancers performed with great aplomb. At one point executing sharp, almost staccato petite allegro movements while the upper body remained lyrical and legato unfettered by the articulate legwork. Later during the question and answer portion of the evening Garland shared with the audience that the completed work could include an set of slow variations before the coda.
Garland, a former principal with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, joined the company in 1985; and is the first official resident choreographer with the company. Since the company’s hiatus, which began in 2004, Garland has created and revived works for the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble. He welcomed the opportunity to create a new work on professionals in the Dance 2.0 Series.
Watching the process brought to mind a story from the book Theatre Street, the memoir of ballerina Tamara Karsavina. Karsavina details working on the moment when a rose falls from the hand of the sleeping debutante at her first ball. This moment is the impetus of the much-anticipated entrance of Vaslav Nijinsky in Michel Fokine’s Spectre de la Rose. It took her weeks to finally arrive at the point where she was comfortable with this important, but subtle nuance. In addition to Spectre de la Rose Tamara Karsavina also originated the role of the Firebird.
The attention to detail is one of the characteristics that distinguish artists who have mastered their craft. This takes time, and as we all understand time is money. The Dance 2.0 Series harkens back this ethos, making it an enriching experience for the choreographer, performers and audience.
The series continues on Thursday October 28 with choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie. Moultrie will present his work in progress set on dancers Ashley Tuttle and Duncan Cooper. To attend the performance we must reserve seating at RSVP@dancetheatreofharlem.org.
Photography: 1) Misty Copland and Mathew Prescot 2) Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky in the Specre De La Rose 3) Charmaine Hunter in firebird
Videography by Jarmarr Carr