Tag Archives: Artistic Director Ruben Graciani

The Model Critic Reviews: We Fall Down, We Get Up

We_Fall_Down_Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic


RG Dance Projects is a newish modern dance company with impressive dancers, headed up by choreographer Ruben Graciani, himself a dancer who performed with Mark Morris from 1994 through 1999.

Friday night, Graciani’s group of dancers presented to a sold-out house, three bold dances. The most impressive piece was the final offering of the evening, We Fall Down, We Get Up. Backed by twelve men and twelve women in a vocal chorus, Emily Craver, Jacob Goodhart, Stephen James, Emily Pacilio, and Leslie St. Jour gave an all-out passionate and focused performance of final redemption and salvation.

“This work is an exploration on one’s boundaries; both those we create for ourselves and those we inherit.”

The dance begins with the dancers rolling, tumbling, crawling onto the stage in a simulated desert landscape. The singers are delivering a wall of celestial, religious chanting that underscores sympathy and salvation for the burden of the human condition. All is heavy and weighty for the dancers–they stumble and help each other.  A red ribbon is strung across the stage in various ways symbolizing prisons and barriers that confine the dancers. Images of squalor, dust bowl-suffering, depression era poverty in the Deep South is echoed in another country bluesy tune–Everything I Got I Done and Pawned.  The dancers get up and fall down, struggle and wilt to the floor– sometimes a bit too long and bit too much. The chorus re-enters with spiritual fervor.

This continues in duets between man and women, man versus man, until in a resolution of wild and harmonious freedom, Indian tabla drumming and sitar strings release the group from their oppression, and ecstatic moments of flying, represented when Emily Pacilio, climbing upon crouched bodies  hurtles through the air with confident liberation, is caught, and repeats the move three times; it increasingly becomes a powerful moment of triumph. Ms Pacilio danced with passion and committed energy here, as well as in Swing and Miss.

“This work is an exploration on one’s boundaries; both those we create for ourselves and those we inherit. I am thinking about how much control we have over the expression of our identity, if some of identifying markers are more or less inherited and permanent.” Graciani.

All the dancers gave their utmost with great energy and conviction. Art isn’t easy–getting an idea conceptualized in movement as metaphor requires the luck and inspiration of a great poet.  There are so many gestures, leaps, twists, turns, and falls symbolizing an idea, that putting it together in a dance is truly difficult. Seeing a piece only once is a challenge, since pieces grow in color and depth as you closely observe.  Rapture, the second dance of the evening wasn’t as successful. The elements were there, the back projection of emotive images, water, clouds, lovers on a wharf, but the choreography didn’t convey the intense message the title suggests. In the Westbeth space, your vision was drawn more to the images on the wall than to the dancers on stage; the dancers became obliterated. Also, the choreography had the dancers strangely chaste, while those on screen were engaged.

Swing and a Miss spoke of the vagaries of love.  In a speedy piece, the choreography was in a classical modern dance mode that had clean and precise lines with first, four dancers in a group, pairings of each man and woman, and lastly, a piece for two women.  Wary approach, wary avoidance. Another peek, another retreat. Love is dangerous, love has pitfalls. The costumes were fun in fiery red and yellow unitards that conveyed robustness, ready and reporting for battle.

Falling_Down_11We Fall Down, We Get Up
RG Dance Projects
Graham Studio Theater at Westbeth, New York, NY


May 17th @ 8pm and **May 18th @ 3pm & 8pm

We Fall Down – We Get Up – May 17th and 18th


RG Dance Projects presents We Fall Down, We Get Up featuring three pieces from choreographer and Artistic Director Rubén Graciani on May 17, 2013 at 8pm and May 18, 2013 at 3pm and 8pm at the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance’s Studio Theater at Westbeth, 55 Bethune Street, 11th Floor, NYC.  Tickets are $20 ($15 for students, seniors, and artists) and can be purchased here: buy-tickets-now


The evening will include two works from the repertory – Swing and a Miss set to music by Richard Danielpour and Rapture, a multi-media duet to the music of Debussy. The program culminates with the new work, We Fall Down, We Get Up – a larger work with 5 dancers, 24 singers from the Broadway Community Chorus, and a “living” set by Philip Treviño.

We Fall DownWe Fall Down, We Get Up is an extension of a work begun at Skidmore College about the boundaries of identity. The new work is an exploration of one’s boundaries; both those we create for ourselves and those we inherit. The work questions how much control we have over the “performance” of our identity if some of those identifying markers are more or less inherited and permanent. The singers will be part of a “living” set to which they are tethered, demarking the stage space with tangible boundaries for the dancers to either work through or be constrained by. The singers are not only performing with the dancers, but also creating and changing the dynamics of the performance space as a living, breathing set piece.

Rubén GracianiRubén Graciani has performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group (1994-1999), been a company member of the Kevin Wynn Collection, Company Stefanie Batten Bland, and the Joe Goode Performance Group, and has been a Guest Artist with the City Dance Ensemble and the Brian Brooks Moving Company, among many others. He holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase, and an MFA from University of Maryland-College Park. His work in dance film was profiled in the November 2012 issue of Dance Magazine. He is currently an Associate Professor at Skidmore College, and a Dance Panelist for the New York Council on the Arts.

RG Dance Projects was loosely formed in 2009, and was formalized with debut performances in the DanceNow Raw Materials show in April of 2012. The company performed at the International Woodwind Festival in July of 2012 – cementing our commitment to collaborating with other artists on performance projects. The company performed in the DanceNow Joe’s Pub Festival in September of 2012, winning the Audience Favorite Award for our evening. In February 2013, the company debuted at the CoolNY Festival, and in March, the Current Sessions Festival premiered a dance film project. The company had a residency at DanceNow SILO in Pennsylvania as a result of our Joe’s Pub performance. RG Dance Projects is ecstatic to be able to begin work on a spring season with such a prestigious award. They have also been invited to perform their season at Saratoga ArtsFest in June of 2013.

For more information, please visit www.RubenGraciani.com.