Lynn René Bayley
, September 2012
…the video begins with one of the most intriguing and creative American ballets ever staged, Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend…
Both the dancing and acting in Fall River Legend are extraordinary. Virginia Johnson, as Lizzie, gives one the full range of emotions going through her mind. Lizzie as a child is danced by Joselli Audain…her short stature made her a perfect choice to play Lizzie as a young girl. Both Audain and Johnson are superb going up on pointe, and further, Johnson’s long legs and perfect extension give her a remarkable stage presence, even when dancing in an ankle-length satin skirt.
An interesting character in this “choreodrama” is the Pastor, who was also one of Lizzie’s would-be suitors. Stephanie Dabney is excellent in the role of the stepmother and Lowell Smith outstanding as the Pastor.
In the introduction [of Troy Game], North explains how he and his dancers wanted to leaven the macho posturing with a little self-deprecating humor. For me, this is the most engaging feature of this dance.
Next comes Horton’s famous drama-dance The Beloved…For this production, the costumes are pushed back in time from the 1940s to the turn of the 20th century. It is interesting to see and hear the dancers in this piece, Cassandra Phifer and Hughes Magen…Their dancing and acting of the roles is superb…
[In the Legend of John Henry,] Eddie J. Shellman is outstanding as Henry, Yvonne Hall stunning as his girlfriend/wife…
The extras in this DVD are the introductions to each ballet…it is interesting to hear the artists talk about their work. It is obvious that Mitchell instilled real pride and hard work into them; as he had said to Balanchine, “You always taught me that if you do anything, you do it as perfectly as you can or you don’t do it at all.” This has been the guiding principle of the Dance Theatre of Harlem since its inception, and it is no less evident in this fascinating slice of time. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review