The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

Tom Gold Dance: Spectral Preludes 2019 Review (Fall Season)

(Many details about the performance were not included such as light effects, number of dancers, sex of the dancers, solo's versus ensembles, etc)

Let me start and say how important it is to be able to do a lot with a little. In my small and short dance escapade, I learned very quickly that it's not how many tricks you can do, how high your legs go, how much flexibility you have, but the way you use your facilities matters much more. The emotion that surges through every movement as a dancer is more important than how high your battement or how many fouetté's you can do. As someone who enjoys going to the ballet and dance of all types, I can say that that is not what I am paying for. What I am paying for is the opportunity for you to tell me something, face to face. I want to bear witness to you telling your story the best way you know how and to truly live your experiences, no matter who is watching.

For me, that is the number one goal of dance of any kind. To tell a story, to share an experience and to help other's know what your world looks like, even for an instant. And, in all respect to the dancers of Tom Gold Dance, I didn't see that. They were accompanied by Arthur Williford, who played Lera Auerbach's 24 Preludes for Piano, which was skewed as the 24th was the first piece and the rest followed in numerical order, although true number 1 was excluded, a choice which I don't agree with as the first prelude is quite remarkable in its musical makeup, featuring Debussy infused semi-tonal chords with distressed rhythmic fervor akin to Shostakovitch and Liszt, dare I say even Schoenberg. The choice to manipulate the direction of the Preludes in which they were presented via Auerbach is adventitious to her musical intentions. Although they, the preludes, themselves are strong enough compositionally to withstand being out of order, I believe listeners lose the dynamic quality in which these preludes elicit when incorrectly sequentially played.

Order aside, the dancers must be given much respect for being able to perform complex physical maneuvers for such an extended amount of time. That being said, the choreography was something to be desired. I am aware as I say this, that I am a guy who used to dance and not even close to New York City Ballet level, and yet I am fully aware of good versus bad choreography. The choreography felt derivative and not entirely unique. If a Leitmotif could be translated into dance, this would be an prime example. Not to be brash, but the complexity of the movements didn't come from the movements themselves, so much as it came from the timing that Tom Gold used, although the timing was dubious as the dancer's were routinely disjunct when dancing as a group, either from not counting or being ill-prepared. The dancers did the best they could with choreography that, by the time the middle section, say Prelude 12-20, came along, felt almost too familiar as if I had already seen it before. Using similar choreographically arranged structures is one thing, but using the same motions literally mimicking the music over and over again feels, as a observer, kitschy and not in an inviting way.

The choreography felt like it was trying to be Balanchine's Rubies, Diamonds, and Emeralds, but couldn't quite get there due to outside influences that seemingly stopped the production of unique movements other than shapes and thrown together partnering. The costumes, like the choreography, felt like it was reaching to be Balanchine approved but somehow managed to fall flat due to the use of excessive blue tulle with strips of star-like fabric. Not only was it distracting and physically uncomfortable to look at because of the way it contorted with the pseudo-partnering, but it also visually shrank the female dancer's legs which unfortunately was a detriment to the aesthetic trying to be built with the choreography.

All in all, it was fine performance danced by dancers who obviously put their best point shoe forward (ballet shoe for men). I commend them for a job well done within the circumstances they found themselves in. I wish, in the future for Tom Gold Dance and other smaller dance companies, that they will attempt to find their own voice and journey into the avant-garde much more than they are comfortable with. I hope they will find a way to give the audience a chance to feel a story being told, rather than just bear witness to angulation's on a stage with beautiful music in the background.


Tom Gold Dance can be found at