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Ellen W. Lytle

Seniors Battle Ballet

"Fielday" at Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand St.
Reviewed by Ellen W. Lytle, November 16, 2007

Seniors and larger than ballerina sized women performed "Fielday" at Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand St., New York this past weekend.

Abrons belongs to the famous Henry Street Settlement (my mom did her NYU social work there some seventy years ago). However Abrons is the art annex of Henry Street and there are some exciting exhibits of photography as well as painting and sculpture. Its cool stone and glass and scattered plants interior brings the out of doors inside.

In two very different performances, one classical ballet with vocals titled "opera and the subjugation of women," featured background music from Britten, Handel and Bizet with dancing reminiscent of Carmen.

The second, 'dances for a variable population,' was choreographed by Naomi Goldberg Haas, a dancer/ teacher/ who creates room sized tableaux out of ordinary women who move well. And fills every foot of space on every stage, no matter how large or small. I 've seen three or four of her performances and she manages to find exotic but ever so catchy background music that excites her dancers as well as tantalizes audiences. There are big women who leap with greater stance, eat up bland space with dexterity, and contrast the older women whose gentility gathers space. Together they twist it into gorgeous sculpture or graceful arias, presenting a liveliness with who we are, all of us, today.

Maybe this is Goldberg Haas' secret; she leads her dancers into an actuality that opens into the present tense. She sets a stage without one prop but you swear you can enter her 'world' by watching. Of course any choreographer who chooses women representative of several age and size groups takes on enormous challenges, but it's Goldberg's signature, a trademark which brands every one of her performances and for me the trademark of a truly good artist. This performance was actually an act in three movements and during the last part, comprising of very young ballet dancers, the intense background music sounded Irish, Scottish, Spanish and island smooth all at once.

Naomi Goldberg Haas, Maxine Steinhaus, Sandy Broyard, Kathy Costanza, Ilona Coppen, Geraldine Bartlett, Jackie Ferrara, Carolyn Jarvis, Kate Marks, Sari Nordman, M. Lindsay Smith, and Judy Chazen Walsh danced, with music by Max Richter and Arvi Screenivasen.

The packed audience, standing room only, walked out into the chilly evening exhilarated.


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