Self-presented at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., NYC, May 4-5.
It was the stirring variety of live musical accompaniments—the West Village Chorale Festival Chorus singing Bernstein, Bach on the Cathedral organ, a tinkling marimba, evocative Native-American flute sounds, Latin percussion, and operatic vocal soloists—that made "Terra Sanctus" such an aesthetically invigorating event. Presented by the Omega Dance Company at the cavernous Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the evening of enthusiastically performed dances celebrated planet Earth with multi-cultural flavorings and religious fervor.
The company's artistic director, Kara Esposito, contributed the lion's share of the choreography with three groupworks that set a hackneyed mishmash of ballet, jazz, and modern movements to glorious musical selections. Though lacking invention, Esposito's choreography intelligently complements the music and puts forth positive feelings of well being through lots of leaping and bounding about. While her "Prelude" was sparklingly danced, and her "Creation Story" featured the riveting soloist Mignon Gillen, Esposito's finest offering was the well-crafted "Psalms," which alternated big, lively dancing with passages of peaceful reflection.
Co-choreographed by company founder Carla DeSola and David McCauley, "In This Fateful Hour" gave a quartet of dancers the task of literally supporting the weight of a giant globe. Conveying humanity's responsibility for the fate of the planet, the performers moved with great conviction. They had a purpose beyond the technical execution of steps and, consequently, the choreography's unified modern-dance vocabulary emanated organically from their bodies.
Though built of markedly uninteresting movements, choreographer Yuji Yoda's quartet, "The Garden of the Rain," evoked an absorbing drama of social interplay. The dancers take turns moving and, while retaining their distance, watch each other acutely with a cold and mysterious air of polite tolerance.
Completing the program was "Missa Luba," an enjoyable Afro-Caribbean ensemble piece choreographed by Edward Lawrence, and "Espiritu Mujer," a flamenco solo created and danced by Sandra Rivera. The booming echoes of Rivera's foot stomps and her accompanist La Constancia's drumming on a wooden box made layers of rhythm that resonated thunderously through the Cathedral in an awe-inspiring tribute to the powerful spirit of womanhood.