It's a wonder that Nicholas Leichter hasn't been tapped to choreograph a Broadway musical. In an evening of jubilant dancing--part of the choreographer's crowd-pleasing debut engagement at the Joyce Theater--Leichter proved he's got his fingers on the pop-cultural pulse and knows how to put on a spectacle to boot.
The night began with a reprise of 2001's "Free the Angels," set to Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life." The more straightforward of the two pieces presented, "Free the Angels," nonetheless showcased the choreographer's signature style: soulful, kinetic, beautiful. The highlight, though, was the world premiere of "Killa," a hard-to-categorize blend of modern and club and hip-hop choreography set to contemporary music. (See a rehearsal in the video above.) The piece mixed songs by Basement Jaxx, M.I.A., and others with originals sung by guest artist Monstah Black, whose onstage hoofed persona introduced an element of mischief in the form of a devil in half-drag at a Harlem ball. Confounding yet intriguing, "Killa" was practically rapturous in its energy, and hopefully, signals only the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between two artists on the edge.