Koresh Dance Company, at Thursday's opening of its fall run at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, did what it always does - stormed the stage and took no prisoners.
Roni Koresh opened with the Koresh Youth Ensemble performing an excerpt from one of his best works, Negative Spaces, a fiercely staccato dance of fisted hands and attacking feet.
Normally a student group wouldn't be reviewed, but the ensemble's 13-to-18-year-olds danced the challenging piece almost as well as I recall the professional troupe did some five years ago. Charged up by the antic music of the Romanian brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia, they brought the piece home with their fake laughter and perfect timing.
Benchtime Stories and Somewhere in Between were announced as world premieres, but some parts were recycled. In any event, sections one and five of Benchtime Stories - short episodes set on and around benches - were better in their second comings. Both are comedic. In "The Bums," Eric Bean and Micah Geyer created drolly drunk shtick. Instead of pratfalling, they land in perfect splits and backflips. Bean, in "The Bench" takes a pretty funny beating as Alexis Viator seduces him while they wait for a bus.
The dark new material sandwiched in between is a startling - but rewarding - change of tone. Joe Cotlar dances in personal angst on the bench until Melissa Rector enters. Twelve years ago I said Rector was a force to behold, and now, in her 19th year with the company, I'll recycle that statement: She still is. I've always longed for Roni Koresh to make her a romantic duet like this one. Its dramatic lifts and sweet longings end in an altar scene created by Robb Anderson's angular lighting.
Like last spring's Sense of Human, Somewhere in Between had 14 sections. But where the former unfolded like a book of short stories, Somewhere in Between had less spine and could have been cut by at least four sections. Of the best, the sole duet, "Time," between Rector and Fang-Ju Gant stood out. In flippy three-tiered, knee-length white dresses by Hiroshi Iwasaki, they danced semaphorically and with ticktock precision against Mozart's dreamy Piano Concerto No. 21. A full-company section with chairs first featured rapid-fire dancing to staccato music by Hugues Le Bars, then similar choreography at a slower tempo, with mellower lighting, to more Mozart, the Piano Concerto No. 4. Very nice to pull that off.
The finale was typically turbocharged - because when the dust settles after a Koresh concert, you must leave bedazzled.