By Ilaria Cutolo

Last night was a magical experience. 80 degrees with a cool tranquil breeze-I experienced the perfect summer evening for an outdoor performance of BAAND Together Dance Festival at the Lincoln Center’s Summer For The City, which runs now through August 12th.  I watched a captivating 2-hour show of nothing but the finest dance companies gathering in New York and dancing together on the same night, under the same New York City sky. The lineup in order of appearance included: Ballet Hispanico, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the world premiere performance of Pas de O’Farrill, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and New York City Ballet.

The show opened with Ballet Hispanico’s Línea Recta by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, performed to flamenco guitar by Eric Vaarzon Morel. The dancers came donning red bright costumes, the women in tail-flowing flamenco trains used effectively and seductively; the male dancers in red trousers. There was no physical partnering-a hallmark of the flamenco form, yet, the choreography resonated with the trademark sensuality and the seduction very palpable. I especially loved the powerful and dominant performances of the female cast -a magnetic and original take on the flamenco dance. Instantly transfixed, I felt like I had been transported directly to the Iberian Peninsula. This was a fabulous way to begin the evening. 

American Ballet Theatre’s Other Dances by Jerome Robbins portrayed a female and male duet of exquisite technique as is much expected from this company. Showcasing techniques from the masters of classical ballet- Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. This romance of movement was like watching two angels floating on air with a refined mix of power, grace, and effortless mastery of the craft.  

Dance Theatre of Harlem performed to Nyman String Quartet No. 2 and choreographed by Robert Garland came out onto the stage with much panache and grace. I was intrigued by their physicality and athleticism and their effortless ability to switch seamlessly from a classical/modern ballet form to an unexpected street-style movement; simultaneously disarming and transfixing. 

The World Premiere of Pas de O’Farrill by Pedro Ruiz is a tantalizing and rich exploration of the ballet form and the Afro-Cuban legacy. This work was commissioned by Lincoln Center as a collaboration between Ballet Hispánico & New York City Ballet. Powerful and dynamic are just two ways to describe the quick-paced syncopated movements and explosive energy of this dance, which lead to what everyone in the audience was waiting for for-The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I heard an audience member sitting just behind me describe it best, “they can do anything.”   They really can. They performed Dancing Spirit by Ronald K. Brown, a tribute to Judith Jamison fusing movements from Cuba, Brazil, and the United States, this company can truly do it all. I was tapping my feet and clapping along to the rhythms of Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and War while engrossed by the elegance and power of the Ailey dancers who truly embody and echo the legacy of this company. People in the audience were cheering and clapping, having as good a time as the dancers on stage. This was for me, the highlight of the evening. 

To closing act of the night was the New York City Ballet with The Times Are Racing by Justin Peck. With the hard and harsh thrashing techno electronica of Deacon’s 2012 album, I was almost literally blown out of my seat by this disarming set. It spoke of things that have happened and things to come. This street ballet performed with jeans and sneakers by the 40-plus dancers took up the entire stage, it was a thrill to watch them give us controlled chaos with a magnetic punch to the gut. 

Get out of your seat and go see BAAND Together Dance Festival! It’s FREE and performing now until July 29th at 7:30 pm at Damrosch Park part of Summer For the City at Lincoln Center.