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The pianist’s 40-minute performance was one of stamina, for sure, though he created the illusion of utter ease. From his opening bars — following that pulsing moment of expectancy in the orchestra — his playing flowed and sang, thanks to his vividly voiced chords, his tapered phrasing and articulation. He literally played thousands of notes — from memory, of course — and there was the sense of being able to hear each and every one of them, whether he was in the spotlight (as in the first movement’s exciting cadenza) or blending with and accompanying the orchestra.
The Adagio floated through moments that were like a collective sigh for soloist and orchestra, as well as passages of cross-handed speed-racing from Nakamatsu that kept this listener at the edge of his seat, Amid the orchestra’s mounting and rhapsodic grishko ballet shoes harmonies — templates for Gershwin — Nakamatsu uncorked fizzy champagne streams, churning toccata ornamentations and galloping syncopations, as well as double-barreled chording up and down the keyboard, One might say he laid it on thick, but — what the heck — it’s Rachmaninoff..
There was one more explosion: the roar of the crowd, as it jumped to its feet. After his third set of bows, Nakamatsu played an encore, Schumann’s “Widmung,” as arranged for piano by Liszt. More elegance. More song. And lest I forget, the program began with a performance of Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, as orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg. One could see the very shape of the music in Kamensek’s gestures, though the orchestra was not quite “there” yet, especially in the two inner movements, where the sectional interplay grew gnarly. Still, there was much to enjoy. Young Brahms was a melody machine, and there were impressive cameos by members of the orchestra, notably from concertmaster Robin Mayforth and principal clarinet Michael Corner.
Lustig pulled together local choreographers, who themselves found inspiration from local musicians like Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone and grishko ballet shoes Grand Central Station, jazz legend Earl Fatha Hines, cellist Jean Jeanrenaud, Rayshawn “Looney” Thompson and Garion “Noh- Justice” Morgan, Guest performers from Axis Dance Company, meanwhile, work out of the arts center upstairs, The night opened with Sonya Delwaide’s sinuously witty “Rocky Road,” named for the ice cream invented in Oakland in 1929 and set to the hot jazz of Hines, Hines changed perceptions of jazz piano through his use of complex percussive meters, and Delwaide neither let herself be controlled by nor dominated the rhythmic drive of tunes like “That’s Plenty” and “Riding and Jiving”..
Instead, she chose to ride Hines’ swinging exuberance as a wave. Costumed in black moray tops and pants with black or orange side insets, her dancers strutted, marched, wiggled and flew in a zone between jazz, ballet and theater. Voice-over dialogue spoke of catastrophe and faith that Axis’ dancers embodied with a rolling wheelchair and daring physicality. Robert Moses’ “Tip,” which is vernacular for a way of feeling or being, was set to Graham’s soul/funk guitar (think the opening riff on Seinfeld). To begin, the dancers gathered center stage in a pack under shadowy red light and then exploded. What ensued was a series of partnerings and counterpoints that emphasized the sexiness of the heavy bass beat, the flying phrases, and Graham’s capacity to bend the notes as far backward as Moses asked his men to bend the women. “Tip” was at its strongest when Moses created blocks of movement that spoke to the overall shape of the music, but the summery costumes by Christopher Dunn undermined the driving ’70s intensity of the work.
Molissa Fenley’s “Redwood Park” shifted attention toward the region’s diffuse Asian aspect, with Jeanrenaud’s Eastern-inflected composition for wooden percussion, drums and cymbal, played with dazzling precision by Anna Wray and Nava Dunkelman, with Fenley’s repeated use of extended martial-style lunges and upright stances echoing verticality of the redwoods, Originally designed for five men (Emily Kerr grishko ballet shoes replaced an injured dancer), the work took inspiration from Fenley’s long walks through the park, depicted by circuitous, switchback floor patterns and a sense of a landscape, both continuous and ever-changing..
Turf dancing stands for “taking up room on the floor” and is a street dance form spawned in Oakland by dancers wanting to memorialize their murdered friends and family. Lustig tried valiantly to fuse the grass roots idiom and ballet with live feed from the stage and the graffiti art of Samuel Renaissance, but the work seemed to be still forming — neither street dance nor concert work. It didn’t help that the costumes looked pure ’80s, with ballet dancers in mismatched ballet gear and skewed hats or that the gifted pair Morgan and Thompson, both of Turffeinz, never got to let loose. A worthy effort all the same, it points to Lustig’s desire to be part of a movement to make ballet open its mind and doors and let in the new.
Dragonflies: Their Lives, Loves and How to Care for Them: Dragonfly expert Kathy Biggs will share stories about these colorful insects and their lives, Learn how to support their life cycle grishko ballet shoes by creating a habitat for them, 7 p.m, May 21, Dimond Branch Library, 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Free, 510-501-3672, www.documents.sausalcreek.org/FOSC_Member_Meeting_Flyer_140521.pdf, Bug Hunt: Teen volunteers and Lawrence Hall of Science staff will lead a search for critters in the butterfly garden, Head out with a magnifying glass, a net, a view and a field journal and get a closer look at local species, 11 a.m, May 31, Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive, Berkeley, $10-$17, Members free, www.lawrencehallofscience.org..