Liss Fain Dance November 13
By Glen Creason
It should not be surprising that the wise ones at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts might drop a jewel into the laps of the locals in the ever-increasing exposure to small but innovative dance troupes visiting this year. The Liss Fain Dance came and conquered not just the many hard-core dance fans in attendance but those who came out of curiosity or just to sample modern dance and ballet. This is a very polished production with intelligent directors and overall superb taste in music.
The nine dancers all performed the finely detailed works at the highest levels and moved easily from pathos to exhilarated expressiveness without a seam showing. Fain is a choreography that does not shrink from taking chances but on this night there was not one segment that did not work. She was matched by the superb work of the Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie featuring husband and wife choreographers Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux. As a matter of fact the whole was so good it made it hard to leave the performance behind when it concluded just ninety minutes away from curtain. The lighting, designed by Matthew Antaky in the Fain half and Pierre Lavoie in the Coleman-Lemieux portion bears mention since the magic of this art turned the stage into urban streetscapes, dark caverns, broad open spaces and places in between with just the changing colors and shadows of the spare set.
The program was large, challenging and as varied as the expressions of the human body. The show opening “Crossing” played on a stark ivory-silver stage with pairs of dancers, then trios moving to a Bach Violin Partita that gave the century old sound a whole new face. While there was a firm connection to classical dance in the first piece the second was contemporary in the jagged movement of the dancers demonstrating anxiety and foreboding as they seemed under the spell of the urban soundscape provided by Steve Reich’s “City Life.” The connected final pieces of the first half took a modern pass at the ancient musical madrigal form in Claudio Monterverdi’s “When Still” and “Lament” that ranged from an almost sacred solemnity to a brisk, celebratory expression performed by just three dancers. The piece inspired by a line by the fourteenth century poet Petrarch morphed the ancient idea into a powerful statement of connection to the world. The dancers seemed to relish the openness of the dance and projected emotion that reached to the limits of the hall. The second half of the program consisted of the duel glories of “Fifteen Heterosexual Duets” and “For My Father” that sparkled from top to bottom. Set to Beethoven’s Sonata No. 9 in A, Op. 47 the opening piece demonstrated the almost unlimited variety of relationships between the dancer men and women. It ranged from edgy beginning lovers to elegantly accomplished pairs filled with confidence and experience. Each was unique as are such connections and the segment featuring the reluctant, exhausted partner being exhorted by the devoted other was one of the most fascinating of the evening. Overall, there was just something marvelously fresh and uplifting about the entire evening, one filled with thoughtful artistry and fully realized execution.