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“Le Grand Continental” was performed at the Seaport; Miracles Club played too (pics, video)

photos by Chris La Putt

“Le Grand Continental” / Miracles Club at South Street Seaport 6/22/2012
Le Grand Continental
Miracles Club

The River to River Festival Web site makes a point of linking its free events to its city. Its tag line says: “Made in New York. Inspired by New York.” And this week there will be several works by New York choreographers that promise to offer intriguing responses to that statement.

But these are tenuous claims when it comes to one of the festival’s early dance offerings, “Le Grand Continental,” by the Montreal choreographer Sylvain Émard. The concept for this large-scale work originated in Montreal in 2009 and has since traveled to Mexico City. Any metropolis, it seems, could have its own version; what, then, is particularly New York about this production, which opened Friday night (just after a dramatic thunderstorm) at the South Street Seaport?

…Mr. Émard’s choreography, a modern-dance extrapolation of line dancing, doesn’t suggest any specific location (nor does the score, a mash-up of various styles by several sound designers). More to the point, and more disappointingly, “Le Grand Continental” never truly uses the Seaport; this is site-specific work that could happen anywhere, inside or out. The neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan have such distinct histories and constituencies; shouldn’t a festival led by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council honor, or at least acknowledge, these realities?

It was not your normal Friday night show at the Seaport last week (6/22) other than the threat of rain. It was a night of dance with Sylvain Émard’s large-scale choreographed “Le Grande Continental.” There are a few videos of it in action at the bottom of this post.

When “Le Grande Continental.” concluded, most of the dancers stuck around to freestyle boogie to Portland, OR’s Miracles Club who played a set of house tunes from the stage, complete with their own whirling, voguing dervish. More pictures of both Miracles Club and “Le Grande Continental” are below.

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