Once again Fadi Khoury Dance, the company founded in 2014, has displayed elements reflecting the approach to which it is dedicated in an effort to be different from other dance companies. Its “A Message of Peace” program, celebrating its recent tour of 31 cities in China, was presented last night (June 13, 2017) at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Its latest offering was billed as “From classical ballet to ballroom and Middle Eastern to jazz.”
The make-up of the company reflects its international outlook, with emphasis on the culture of the Middle East. Artistic director, choreographer, dancer and co-founder Fadi J. Khoury, was born in Bagdad, Iraq. He has followed in the footsteps (no pun intended) of his father who, also a dancer and choreographer, was artistic director of the National Iraq Ballet.
The company’s co-founder Sevin Ceviker, associate artist and principal dancer, is from Istanbul, Turkey. She trained in classical ballet at an early age and eventually performed at the Istanbul Opera House. Both Khoury and Ceviker have vast international performing experience.
In addition to creating works with Middle East attachment, the company also looks to Latin America and other cultures to blend into its commitment to mix classical ballet with modern dance and ballroom. Among the many stops along the way in Khoury’s career was a stint teaching ballroom as lead instructor, dancer and choreographer at the Arthur Murray Dance Center in New York.
The Mid-East connection was illustrated prominently in last night’s final dance number, “Echoes,” which was said to be inspired by Dabke, a folkloric traditional Bedouin dance from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. The accompaniment was heavy on percussion as the dancers, with sashes suggesting the region as part of their smart black and white costumes, provided dynamic interpretation. (Khoury designs the company’s costumes).
I found the entirely different opener especially intriguing. “Mundo” was described as “a work in progress which joins Latin American social dancing and folkloric movement.” Providing the accompaniment with a score by Paco de Lucia and Diego Amador was jazz pianist Frank Abenante and his NYC Latin Jazz Ensemble. The work was marked by high energy of couples and solo turns and a build-up of great intensity with the fusion of styles.
In the middle piece, “Reflections” the costumes puzzled me. Men were dressed in skirts in their pairing with the women and each other, and I was attempting to grasp the point. Was this an effort to symbolically break down gender identity? As for the dancing, the program partly described the piece as having images that “hint of the evanescence of life and beauty.” At the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, East 68th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues). Posted June 14, 2017.