Young writer on “Dances by Very Young Choreographers”

Jabberwocky - Emma Lee, Saskia Globig, Emma Lee, Beatrice March,  Zaffira Medici-Murania, Amelia Sanders, Deychen Volino-Gyetsa. Photo by Julia Lemberger

Jabberwocky – Emma Lee, Saskia Globig, Emma Lee, Beatrice March, Zaffira Medici-Murania, Amelia Sanders, Deychen Volino-Gyetsa. Photo by Julia Lemberger

As resident dance educator at Dance Theater Workshop (before it became New York Live Arts) for 34 years, Ellen Robbins has brought dance to many young people.  For over 20 years, Robbins has worked with young dancers from ages 5 to 18, to expand on their modern dance technique in the creation of thoughtful and sophisticated choreographic works.  Last month, I brought Sasa Yung, a budding very young writer (and my daughter) to observe and respond to the annual Dances by Very Young Choreographers showcase presented by Robbins at NYLA. The choreographers ranged in age from 9 to 18 years and in her introduction Robbins noted that some have been studying with her for longer than others in the group had been alive. The particular  sensibility of a particular kind of girlhood felt very fully formed by the end of the program.  Each work reflected a considered approach within a mostly classical framework of music and representation. The accumulation of images and young bodies left grateful for the opportunity for these young dancers to mold and sculpt works that matched a pretty aesthetic with their individual imaginations. But, enough. Let their peer reviewer offer her own insights.

"Dandelion" - Gaeun Lee Photo by Julie Lemberger

“Dandelion” – Gaeun Lee Photo by Julie Lemberger

1. Four To Get Ready. Choreographed and performed by Saskia Globig, Emma Lee,Beatrice March,Zaffira Medici-Murania, Molly Model,Amelia Sanders, and Deychen Volino -Gyesta. The piece was creative, funny, and happy. Four dancers start the piece, then more come on stage and join the others while interweaving solos in and out of the group. It had a jazzy feel to it.

2. Dandelion. Choreographed and performed by Gaeun Lee. The piece was imaginative, smart, and awesome. It had a child-like feel to it with the dancer in a yellow dress and hair ribbon, sprouting up out of the floor.

3. Ups and Downs. Choreographed and performed by Cora Cadman. The piece was melancholy, dramatic, and hopeful. It had a understanding feel to it.

4. Trouble. Choreographed and performed with great confidence by Louise May in front of a city skyline light projection. The piece was cool, jumpy, and poppy. It had a James Bond feel to it.

5. Permutations. Choreographed and performed by Aliza Myers. The piece was wavy, swirly, and brave. It had an ocean-like feel to it as her soft purple dress flowed around her shifting body.


“Change” – Annabel Sexton-Daldry Photo by Julie Lemberger

6. Change. Choreographed and performed by Annabel Sexton-Daldry, poem by Annabel Sexton-Daldry. The piece was emotional, delicate, and swift. It had a somewhat ambient feel to it, while the dancer was also strong and calm.

7. Typhoon Haiyan. Choreographed and performed by Autumn Domingo. The piece was adventurous, dark, and hoppy. It had a suspenseful feel to it while the dancer leaped across the space and crashed to the floor.

8. Ripple. Choreographed and performed by Juliette Richenthal. The piece was light, bright, and graceful. The dancer moved around and picked up a long, flowy piece of fabric. It had a homey, comforting feel to it.

9. Journey Through Blue. Choreographed and performed by Chanda Cragnotti. The piece was exotic, free, and flow-y. It had a rocky feel to it.

10. Spatial Suite: Across, Around, Forward, Limitless. Choreographed and performed by Amelia Sanders. The piece was open, angular and spacey. It reminded me of a compass. When the dancer was finally free of her spatial paths and she smiled and sighed in relief at the end.

11. Double Fantasy. Choreographed and performed by Gia Taylor with Owen Taylor. The piece was hilarious, tropical, and super. It had a comedic and comic book feel to it with a Carmen Miranda song and then a superhero cape.

12. Jabberwocky. Choreographed by Elizabeth Keen in collaboration with the performers. Poem from “through the looking glass.” by Lewis Carroll. Performed by Saskia Globig, Emma Lee, Beatrice March, Zaffira Medici-Murania, Molly Model, Amelia Sanders, and Deychen Volino-Gyesta. The piece was horrific, wild, and play-like. It had a medieval story feel to it.

13. They were there. Choreographed and performed by Bianca Berman. The piece was mysterious, soaring, and pulling. It had a reaching feel to it.

14. My Worries. Choreographed and performed by Claire Judice. The piece was clumsy, pointy, and nervous. She performed it so well, that it was stressful to watch.

"Lament" - Emma Lee Photo by Julie Lemberger

“Lament” – Emma Lee Photo by Julie Lemberger

15. Lament. Choreographed and performed by Emma Lee. The piece was silky, wondrous, and illuminating. It was very beautiful.

16. Limited Palette. Choreographed and performed by Lucy Sydel. Text by Lucy Sydel. She changed into four different shades of blue and danced to four different pieces of music. The piece was poetic, theme-y, and colorful. It had a storybook feel to it.

17. Tooth or Fiction. Choreographed and performed by Stella Feldschuh with Gaeun Lee , Augusta Dixon McMahon, Jessica Moverman, Ruby Murray. The piece was flurry, magical, and fantastic. It was a funny tale of a toothfairy’s visit to a slumber party.

Overall, I thought it looked as though all of the children (even the ones bigger than me) had worked very hard at their dances. I liked when they all came back and did their solos all together at the same time. I would recommend it to adults that don’t think much of kids, to prove that kids are smart. And, I’d send anyone who doesn’t think girls can be smart and strong.

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