On Saturday we attended the second annual Hudson Valley Dance Festival in Catskill, sponsored by Dancers Responding to AIDS. Stanley and I were members of the host committee, so we had done our best to invite our sophisticated and culturally responsible friends to join in support. By four o’clock, the gratin of Hudson Valley society began to descend upon Catskill at historic Catskill Point, where the Catskill Creek meets the Hudson River. The weather was perfect, creating a splendid outdoor setting of Fall foliage along the Hudson River, expertly arranged by the volunteer set designers, for the pre-performance reception. The 350 seats were sold out long ago, but this year local business and major corporate sponsors began to answer the call, and the amount raised jumped from @ $75,000 to over $120,000.
Keigwin + Company – Photo by Daniel Roberts
After wine and snacks, we moved inside for the performance, which was riveting. Five superb dance companies participated: Pontus Lidberg Dance, Gallim Dance, Keigwin + Company, Dorrance Dance and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Pontus Liberg opened with Faune set to Debussy, wherein the cast cannily exchanged their pants, until the identity of the true faune made itself known. In Pupil Suite, Gallim Dance gave a hyper-energetic study in imitation and emulation that truly stretched the dancers’ limbs in awkward and humorous ways. Keigwin + Company hit the mattress in Mattress Suite which had the young honeymooners bouncing into one another. The razz-matazz came when Dorrance Dance out busby-ed Busby Berkeley in Boards and Chains, where the tapping feet of 42nd Street met the Dungeon. It all came to a rapturous conclusion in Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire, the sort of modern dance that could make it at as a half-time show on a football field (if Bard and Oberlin had football teams). We are usually loath to indulge the modern madness for standing ovations for monkey organ grinders, but there was no way we could stay in our seats after all this.
After the spectacular performance, we moved on to the reception at the home of Mark Beard and James Manfredi, which rampages through a former church in downtown Catskill chock-a-block with their artwork and other fancies. We schmoozed with friends old and new and offered our thanks to all the vibrant young talent that had come to do this one-day wonder of a performance. If you weren’t there, you may have a good excuse this time. But next year . . .
To view the Hudson Valley Dance Festival website: