Koresh Dance: Simple Can Be Powerful

The Koresh Dance Company will perform Inner Sun at Queens Theatre Saturday, March 16th and Sunday, March 17th. Photos Bicking Photography The Koresh Dance Company will perform Inner Sun at Queens Theatre Saturday, March 16th and Sunday, March 17th. Photos Bicking Photography In the early 1990s, choreographer Ronen (Roni) Koresh wrote the unofficial epitaph for modern dance: “It was sleep-inducing,” he told the Kansas City Star in 2017. “People would get down on the floor, and it would take them 10 minutes to get up. There was a lot of experimental stuff that didn’t require any technique.”

Koresh has been focused on technique since around the time he took his first step. Born in Israel, his dance training started with his mother, a Yemenite folk dancer, before he graduated to Martha Graham’s Batsheva 2 Dance Company in Tel Aviv. After he completed his compulsory military service in Israel, he came to New York to study at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. He later performed at Shimon Braun’s Waves Jazz Dance Company outside Philadelphia before starting Koresh in 1991.

Folk dance and its basic elements remain a touchstone in his works. “If you look at many of the artists who come from Israel, you’ll see that they use folk elements a lot,” he said in 2017. “The simple designs of folk dance convey powerful messages. They’re great choreographic tools—making circles, holding hands, the basic architecture of the folk dancing, as well as the joy of it. Not everything has to be complex in order to be powerful.”

That doesn’t mean Koresh’s creations rely solely on the foundations of folk. He integrates hip-hop, ballet, martial arts, and even a little resurrected modern dance into his works.

“I’ve dedicated my life to the complexities of relationships between the individual and the group, and when you see these works, when they’re unfolding in front of your eyes, what it will show you is the way things are and the way you want them to be,” Koresh told Blount County’s (Tennessee) The Daily Times in 2017. “You’ll recognize love, passion, rejection, anger— all of those things unfold in the production that you see. It’s very human in that it deals with the complexities of human relationships.”

Koresh’s Inner Sun, which premiered in his hometown of Philadelphia last year, celebrates the human spirit’s ability to create the warmth and power that drive our journeys. The piece is set to a score by Philadelphia composer John Levis, with additional music by Karl Mullen, also from the City of Brotherly Love.

In a Philadelphia Inquirer review, Ellen Dunkel emphasized how much 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,” Dunkel wrote. “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.”

Making its Queens Theatre debut in March, Koresh Dance Company has been a mainstay of the Philadelphia dance and theater scene for almost three decades. Its mission is dedicated to the enrichment of the cultural landscape and artistic reputation of Philadelphia, which it accomplishes through a three-pronged approach: through performance, instruction at The Koresh School of Dance, and community outreach, via The Koresh Kids Dance program—which brings free arts education and performances to underserved youth in Philadelphia.

Koresh Dance Company will perform Inner Sun at Queens Theatre Saturday, March 16th, at 8pm and Sunday, March 17th, at 3pm. Tickets start at $20, and are available by visiting www.queenstheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at 718-760-0064.

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