Triple B, Brian Briones Ballet, put on a showcase at Steps on Broadway. Not the greatest venue, aesthetically, since both audience and dancers have to work around the support pillars, but that's NYC for ya. Briones had four works on the program, interspersed with two by Ursula Verduzco and one by Vera Huff. I'm not taking them in program order. Like a good scratching post, Theater Cat will start at the bottom and work up.
Five Ninas, by Vera Huff, set to selections by Nina Simone, immediately got my hackles up. I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't mind watching someone roll around the floor for the sake of artistic vision. Call it vision if you prefer. I call this vision an absolute waste of a beautiful dancer. Solo works tend to seem longer than they actually are, but over the course of several minutes, the dancer was only on her feet for a total of about thirty seconds. Perhaps this was meant to portray a struggle. I cannot say. For me it felt like a gymnastics floor routine gone horribly wrong - she's fallen and can't get up but is determined to see the thing through, rolling around and around until the music finally stops. A vision of perseverance in the face of disaster, perhaps, and definitely not a vision I want to sit through again. I know some people actually like this stuff, but when I come to see a dancer I expect them to be allowed to actually dance.
Amour Nuovo, the other pas de deux, has a salsa feel that could be energized either by having the dancers go barefoot, as if dancing on a beach, or by putting the girl in character shoes, something more substantial than the minimal heel of the jazz technique shoe actually worn. Speaking with Briones at the end of the night, my companion and I suggested this, and also that the work be expanded to four dancers. He was very open to trying out the character shoes, and said he already has plans to develop the piece further.
The strongest piece on the program was a solo from All That Remains, marvelously danced by Misa Mochizuki. The work requires exquisite technique, musicality, and characterization. The danger here is that if any one of those three fall flat, it might become painful to watch. However, as with all of his pieces, Briones knows when to stop.
All in all it was an enjoyable evening, with much more to purr over than to shred. A mixed bag of catnip, to be sure, but promising enough for a Theater Cat YAAASS!