The Koresh Dance Company, like Philadanco, tours much more than it performs at home. On its annual visit to the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in a program that opened Thursday night, it was again astonishing to be reminded of how much exquisite Philadelphia talent we so rarely see.
The company premiered two new works by artistic director Ronen Koresh, Inner Sun and Matters of the Heart, which felt like companion pieces. Both were emotional works set to rich scores by Philadelphia composer John Levis, with poetry, voice overs, and additional music by Karl Mullen, another Philadelphia artist.
The two works feature Koresh's choreography, which is very much influenced by the folk dance of his Israeli upbringing, as well as by modern dance, hip-hop, ballet, and martial arts.
Inner Sun refers to the light, spirit, heart, or what-have-you that shines in all of us. Wearing costumes in shades of red and gold, the 10 dancers threw their entire selves into the moment.
The movement involves the upper body as much as the lower, with stretching, swinging motions. The dancers' legs often simply keep the beat by hopping, walking, or strutting — in ways any of us might move. At times, it became a dance party, making the simple footwork even more inviting.
A dancer's career tends to be short, but Melissa Rector has been performing with Koresh for its entire 28 years, and she looked as fit and special as ever in her solo and her duet with Micah Geyer. Another dancer, Fang-Ju Chou Gant, has been with the company for 20 years, and though not featured as much as she sometimes has been, she also looked to be in peak form.
Matters of the Heart opened with a video in memory of former Koresh dancer Michael Velez, who died last year. He was memorable in roles that were as character-driven as they were physical.
Geyer danced a heartbreaking solo, "For Michael," in Matters of the Heart, and then was comforted in a duet with Joe Colter.
The mood was lightened considerably several sections later, with the delightful "New Beginnings" duet, danced by Krista Montrone and Vanessa Guinto, two breaths of fresh air in pastel dresses.
For me, lighting is a large factor in the success of a performance, and much of Koresh's evening was too dimly lit.
The program opened with High Regard, which Rector choreographed for the Koresh Youth Ensemble — a hopeful preview of the future company.