Music From the Sole Stitches Genres and Stays Cool, Calm, Collected, and Joyful in “I Didn’t Come to Stay”

Photo by Titus Ogilvie-Laing
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Photo by Titus Ogilvie-Laing

The sensory experience of watching Music From The Sole’s “I Didn’t Come to Stay”, felt like
cutting a piece of thick, smooth fabric and watching its edge slowly curl up. This might seem like
an odd comparison but what I mean is you can feel the dancers, and you can feel
choreographer Leonardo Sandoval’s work as so impressively consistent in its smoothness, and
its coolness, that even in moments of intensity the overall cool and collected energy of the piece
remains woven into the movement. You feel that you can relax into this piece’s beachy,
carnaval-inspired, sunset-drenched atmosphere. “I Didn’t Come to Stay” draws on Leonardo
Sandoval’s Brazilian heritage, and uses tap, a black-American dance form, as the foundation to
explore and honor samba, passinho (Brazilian funk), traditional Afro-Brazilian dance, and other
African American dance forms such as house and jazz. This is quite the list to attack in the
choreographic process. Still, Sandoval does this seamlessly because he is a skilled
choreographer who understands African diasporic dance lineage in an intellectual and
embodied way, but also because he takes the tie that binds these forms together and highlights
it — this being, improvisation.

Left to Right: Gerson Lanza, Gisele Silva, Jose Cruzata, Leonardo Sandoval, Roxy King, Lucas Santana Photo by Titus Ogilvie-Laing

This is not only embraced by the dancers but the musicians as well. It would be a crime to
ignore the wonderful jazz band that surrounds the stage, led by bassist and composer Gregory
Richardson. This band also spans genres, including Afro-Cuban music in addition to the list that
matches that of the dancers. The band is so connected to the dancers that they become one
entity — this is the company — not just because really, the tappers and band members are all
skilled musicians, but because the instrumentalists and dancers are given the breathing room to
interact and genuinely connect with one another. Yes, in addition to taking moments to leave
their instruments behind and join the dancers in percussive dance, the band members dance
while playing their instruments! In particular, I’d like to highlight saxophonist José Carlos
Cruzata Revé, who embraced this hybrid role so naturally and with such joy, that he took a very
key role in this performance, a quietly confident and impressive dancer in his own right, he
acted as a strong binding force between the two groups of performers.

 Leonardo Sandoval (left), Gisele Silva (right) Photo by Steven Pisano

While the choreography is tight and makes for wonderful moments of layered rhythmic genius,
and satisfying unison, the improvisation is what gives “I Didn’t Come to Stay” its flavor. What is
so compelling and joyful about the dance genres Sandoval incorporates into this piece is that all
of them have foundations in improvisation, and all of them allow the spectator to see the
nuances of an individual while they move. We could see this in Sterling Harris’ wild arms (that
on anyone else would look awkward, but are so genuinely him that they look incredible), Gisele
Silva’s grounded and intense mastery of Afro-Brazilian dance that shines so brightly, and
Gerson Lanza’s inward gaze that shows such deep commitment to his own body and artistry but
is turned outward at just the right times so that he feesl his fellow dancers and the audience.
These dancers and this band are the embodiment of joy and reverence to their varied dance
forms and music genres, and they are so beautifully human and use theatricality but with a light
touch — this is so refreshing.
Music From The Sole’s, I Didn’t Come to Stay is presented by The Joyce Theater Foundation
(Linda Shelton, Executive Director) and is playing at The Joyce Theater from January 30-
February 4. Tickets, ranging in price from $12-$72 including fees, can be purchased at
www.Joyce.org, or by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800. Please note: ticket prices are
subject to change. The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue at West 19th Street.

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