For Deep Far (first made for the Royal New Zealand Ballet), the program note referred to a drought, and the dance had begun with the sound of a windstorm. To a fast rhythm score, a quartet walked in different directions until they gathered into a courtly dance of walking forward and back facing a partner, stretching, moving away from a square formation and returning to its symmetry. The men flung themselves into the air one after the other, precisely in sequence, then finally embraced and sank down together, their tension released by the sound of rain.
War Brides introduced the women, with the vocabulary more rounded and decorative, and dramatic indications of loss, separation, the perils of occupation. This piece had resonances of another dance about the experiences of World War II, Paul Taylor’s Company B, and it wasn’t the only sign of Taylor’s influence. Before founding Black Grace, Neil Ieremia danced with Douglas Wright, who belonged to Taylor’s company for four years in the 1980s. Wright returned to his native New Zealand and became an important force in the dance scene.
The Black Grace men were terrific in the closing dance, Method. Maintaining the acute sense of ensemble timing they’d shown all evening, they hurled themselves into rolling falls and headlong chases, whirligig jumps and flying leaps into the arms of their chums. Maybe if Ieremia hadn’t used Bach to accompany this dance, I wouldn’t have seen it as a close but less refined cousin to Taylor’s Esplanade.
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