By Merilyn Jackson
For The Inquirer
Artistic director/choreographer Roni Koresh sometimes cherry-picks the best-received sections from his earlier dances, gathers them into a sequence, then gives the whole a title and a vague raison d’etre, as he has with his new Through the Skin.”Don’t intellectualize this dance, feel it viscerally,” he said before Thursday’s performance at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, which launched Koresh Dance Company’s 20th year.
Like Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin (with whom he worked last year), Koresh in recent seasons has found this formula – linking choreographic nuggets that otherwise wouldn’t make a golden coronet on their own – to be a good way to showcase minor work among the company’s showpieces.
His Sense of Human and Somewhere in Between, both from 2010, had 14 sections each, and he said Through the Skin grew out of his plundering of those two works. Showman though he is, however, he might have found a better way of setting it.
Why not program the full-company, two-part chair dance “Alarm” and “Ease” sections from Somewhere in Between as an excerpt in the first half of the show? The company of 10 dances the first section with stunning precision to Hugues Le Bars’ pulsing music, then repeats similar choreography at a slower pace to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 4. It’s long enough and strong enough to be a stand-alone piece. But as one of the 16 sections of Through the Skin it broke the momentum Koresh had going with much of the newer work.
Nonetheless, there were moments aplenty to savor, and the best of it was the overall change from Koresh’s signature quicksilver tempo to one slow enough to see his movement phrases more clearly. The whole was loosely laced together by Karl Mullen’s hypnotically voiced-over poem that states “We let the world in, through the skin.”
Koresh now has four virile men in the company, but some of the women’s sections stood out. In “Clash of the Humdrum,” Shannon Bramham, Jessica Daley, and the company’s sole remaining original member, Melissa Rector, all but spike the stage with triangled bends. In “Bang, Bang and Banging,” Leo Abraham’s music has Alexis Viator and Asya Zlatina aggressively jumping, skipping, and hopping around each other as if they were in a boxing ring.
Rector’s brief solo with Micah Geyer had the push- and-pull that something titled “Sin and Forgive Me” should. And when Joe Cotler shoved Fang-Ju Chou Gant’s leg down from arabesque like a lever, it soon flew up into one of those 6 o’clock extensions for which Koresh women are justly famous.