Elisa Monte Dance a blend of inventive and traditional modern

By Lucy Komisar

Photo Steven Pisano.

The costumes seem South Asian and place the dancers in a real world. In the first piece, “Tilted Arc,” there is a lively pulsating South Asian sound created by classical piano and horn, and the dancers exude energy. The arc is the famous sculpture by Richard Serra which was removed from Foley Square because it “obstructed” the pathway. A symbolic point.

Named after its co-founder, Elisa Monte Dance, now run by choreographer and artistic director Tiffany Rea-Fischer, is an elegant and smart, expressive and theatrical company whose swaying leaps, slow bends, and insistent jumps put it in the rank of sometimes traditional and always inventive.

Indeed, Elisa Monte, who established the company in 1981, had been a principal dancer with Martha Graham Dance, Lar Lubovitch and Pilobius.

Photo Steven Pisano.

In the second, “Emerged Nation,” there are African rhythms of drums, bells, street sounds, frenetic chanting, strobe lights. I liked the athletic jumping and jagged movements, the caw caw of birds. With tribal and electronic music, it is a crossover between Native American and black culture.

The third, “Kinetic Kinship,” is done to Kevin Keller‘s very clever New York soundscape, a train, Chinese speech, people navigating busy streets, “Attention customers,” announcement of Grand Central Terminal and, “Don‘t sit on the stairs!” It‘s music of a diverse New York from immigrants‘ perspectives, recorded with a handheld device in Harlem, Washington Heights, Coney Island, Times Square and other parts of the city.  

The dancers are technically very proficient in their slow poses. You can especially see the influence of Martha Graham and the tradition carried on by Tiffany Rea-Fischer, once a dancer in the company she now leads.

Photo Steven Pisano.

Elisa Monte Dance. Choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fischer. The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, New York City. Choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fischer. The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, New York City. 212-352-3101. Nov 21-24, 2019. 11/27/19.

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