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Twyla Tharp: Minamalism and Me

December 3, 2018

Her quietly wry, gently self-deprecating autobiographical lecture demonstration, “Minimalism and Me,” was the first half of a program devoted to her early works. These works more often than not caused more chin scratching than accolades.  From the virtually motionless “Tank Dive” to the giddy, if slight, “Eight Jelly Rolls,” her intellectual processes—including stacks of graph paper jottings that guided her and her dancers on stage (or on gymnasium floors, museum exhibition rooms and outdoor spaces)—were sensible yet challenging to the status quo of the 1960’s when she did her first choreographic experiments with her all-female quintet. [more]

The New York Pops – Song and Dance:  The Best of Broadway

November 22, 2018

The New York Theatre Ballet performed the lovely, all-female, “Come to Me, Bend to Me” from that musical, a sweet look at pre-wedding preparations in the ancient village of Brigadoon.  That troupe began with two excerpts from de Mille’s groundbreaking “Dream Ballet” from "Oklahoma!" and her “Hornpipe” from another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, "Carousel" (1945), its fishermen bouncing about while on the hunt for female companionship. [more]

Sleeping Beauty Comes to Life in December

November 14, 2018

The legend of Sleeping Beauty has been retold by masters since the 14th century, but no one has explored what the princess was dreaming while she slept for 100 years. International prima ballerina, Diana Vishneva, performs as Princess Aurora and Marcelo Gomes as Prince Peter – creating the greatest duo for retelling the classic tale then and now. [more]

The Tenant

November 12, 2018

Whiteside isn’t exactly misused, but rather underused and under coached.  No one should have laughed when he began his transformation into his female alterego.  Whiteside, used to the broader acting style of ballets on huge stages, can’t seem to find the telling details of his drastic, paranoid morphing into Simone of the death wish, not helped by the steps nor the direction he has (or has not) been given.  Whiteside appeared practically emotionless as he stared into a mirror—actually the audience—as he adjusted his very bad wig, applied more lipstick, stripped naked, tucked and put on a Whiteside-sized version of the dress that Simone wore when she flew off the top of Pita’s well-designed, complex set. [more]

Song of the Mermaid

October 24, 2018

The K-Arts Dance Company from Korea presented two performances of "Song of the Mermaid," an entertaining full-length ballet choreographed by its artistic director, Sunhee Kim.  Song of the Mermaid was an extravagant ode to old-style ballet, a tribute to Petipa, if you will, based on the well-known tragic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of love gone wrong. [more]

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: Analogy Trilogy

September 29, 2018

Jones has become known for applying his wide-ranging choreography and sharp mind to storylines that take on chunks of history—including some shockingly modern history.  He displays his sharp observational abilities in Analogy Trilogy, each part luxuriating in the slow, detailed unraveling of the stories of three interesting people:  Dora Amelan, a Belgian Holocaust survivor; Lance, a seventies’ drug, sex and phony fame survivor; and the surreal Ambrose, the Emigrant who accompanies a rich, detached Jew on his odd journeys through America and Europe in the early twentieth century. [more]

The Sarasota Ballet: Summer 2018

August 17, 2018

The Sarasota Ballet, under the direction of Iain Webb, a former leading dancer with the Royal Ballet, has, to the benefit of the dance world, been collecting works by the British master choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton.  Even Ashton’s artistic home base rarely performs his work, despite the fact that that troupe’s elevation from Sadler Wells Ballet to Royal Ballet was largely due to Ashton’s efforts.  (The troupe’s repertory also includes works by Ashton’s contemporaries, such as Antony Tudor, Dame Ninette de Valois, Agnes de Mille and Michel Fokine.) [more]

MOMIX: 2018 Season

August 6, 2018

It’s easy to see why MOMIX is one of the most popular dance troupes in the world.  Beauty, strength, ingenuity combine in often ingenious choreography.  A generous program of short works that range from raunchy to sensual to dreamy is pulling in audiences at the Joyce Theater where MOMIX regularly plies its colorful wares. The repertoire this season was handpicked from a smorgasbord of several previous programs, but also included a impressive new work called “Paper Trails.”  [more]

Batsheva – The Young Ensemble: “Naharin’s Virus”

July 16, 2018

Naharin is known for having “invented” a movement language called Gaga.  Frankly, I’ve never been able to distinguish Gaga from any other movement palette.  If Gaga means disconnected bits of movement utilizing hints of modern, ballet, hip-hop, mime and even ethnic movements, then it’s not particularly original.  All these movement vocabularies were on display in “Naharin’s Virus” whose sixteen-member cast was put through their paces for an overlong hour.  (The work could easily have been edited down by at least twenty minutes and been more effective, particularly by eliminating a long monologue about a self-abusing young lady.) [more]

Sean Dorsey Dance 2018

June 26, 2018

Sean Dorsey is a transgender and queer choreographer whose movement palette in “The Missing Generation” is a gentle, swirling combination of twisty, floor-bound, organic movements with a rich gesture vocabulary.  Where the revealing series of speeches about gay life previous to, during and after the Epidemic provided the facts, Dorsey’s movements provided the emotions that even the depressing stories couldn’t.  A look, a touch, a quick lift, all turned this cast of mature dancers—Dorsey, Brian Fisher, ArVejon Jones and Will Woodward—into a fount of emotion, sometimes too intense to take in. [more]

Women/Create! A Festival of Dance 2018

June 24, 2018

Jennifer Muller, of Jennifer Muller/The Works, whose artistic history includes a long association with José Limon, provided “Shock Wave,” a world premiere to a cello-heavy score by Gordon Withers.  “Shock Wave,” with its suggestive title, showed how darkness and loneliness can pervade a microcosmic set of people—The Works’ members—as they are stopped in their paths by a loud explosion and have to cooperate to re-group and go on. [more]

Philadanco! (The Philadelphia Dance Company)

June 21, 2018

The theme running through the four works presented, three of them New York premieres, was of sadness and anger.  Even “Folded Prism” by Thang Dao, an abstract dance work, had an unsettled ambiance.  The cast of nine, dressed in Natasha Guruleva’s pale, form-fitting costumes, were initially found in a tight group, occasionally breaking up into quick solos and duets, but always returning to the cluster of performers.  The work ended when one recalcitrant young lady is carried back into the fold.  The ever-changing, but quiet score of John Levis and the somber lighting of Nick Kolin helped sustain the mood. [more]

The Beast in the Jungle

May 28, 2018

While "The Beast in the Jungle" is a musical for our time it contains a message that was dear to the heart of writer Henry James, that of the unlived life. Ultimately very moving when the story reaches its conclusion, the exquisite Vineyard Theatre production is for elite tastes but all dedicated theatergoers, not the casual entertainment seekers, should see it. It may well start a new trend in theatre musicals, one in which the emotional sections are danced rather than sung. [more]

Parsons Dance Company 2018

May 22, 2018

The new work, “Microburst,” was a quartet performed to classical Indian music composed and played live by Avirodh Sharma.  Brilliant and audacious, “Microburst” took the four dancers, all wearing black, fringed outfits—by Barbara Erin Delo— through complex rhythmic patterns that magically fit together as if the four were having a hyperkinetic conversation with their feet.  The agility of the four dancers—Geena Pacareu, Eoghan Dillon, Zoey Anderson and Justus Whitfield—was breathtaking and entertaining. [more]

The Alice-in-Wonderland Follies

May 3, 2018

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books and cleverly choreographed by Keith Michael, the "Follies" was preceded by Byer’s usual pre-show, uplifting audience-participation talk on the wonderful world of movement.  She got the many kids in the audience—well over half the attendees were seven and under—to get up and copy the postures and movements of some of the talented students from the New York Theatre Ballet School, all of whom had impeccable stage deportment. [more]

Martha Graham Dance Company: Spring Season 2018

April 23, 2018

"Ekstasis,” danced by PeiJu Chien-Pott, her hair loose, her costume a tight tube of form-fitting jersey (designed by Graham, herself), stood still as eerie clacking percussion and quiet woodwind music passed through her body, eventually causing her hips to jut from side to side and her bent arms to move in increasingly large circles.  “Ekstasis” is clearly a remnant from Graham’s days with the Denishawn company which specialized in soft-focused versions of ethnic dance forms from all over the world, using them for their decorative effect rather than expression of deep emotions.  Ms. Chien-Pott was terrific, unabashedly decorative, yet adding emotional depth through her personal style and commitment. [more]

Ballet Hispánico: Spring Season 2018

April 19, 2018

The dancers displayed a new depth of expression, particularly in the world premiere “Espiritus Gemelos,” a sensitive, beautifully acted duet about a brief same sex encounter performed by Chris Bloom and Omar Román De Jesús.  Choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano was inspired by the real-life relationship between the doomed writer, Federico García Lorca and the surrealist painter, Salvador Dalí, two famous Spaniards.   He used dim, but colorful music by Manuel de Falla and Jacinto Guerrero to accompany his movements and tell his emotionally rich story. [more]

Malpaso Dance Company: 2018 Season

January 29, 2018

The first work on the program was “Indomitable Waltz” (2016) choreographed by Aszure Barton to dark hued music by the Balanescu Quartet and Nils Frahm.  Barton achieved a graceful, yet dramatic flow for these dancers dressed in Fritz Masten’s black and grey costumes.  Barton knows how to spread her dancers about the stage like a single organism continually splitting apart and coming together again. They danced warily about each other, performed leans and sensual embraces that faded as the dancers melted to the floor.  The work ended on a contemplative note as Dunia Acosta moved with careful steps and twisting hips, in a journey across the stage.  Although the emotions of “Indomitable Waltz” ranged from dark to sensual to giddily physical, it ended up as a head scratcher, beautifully performed by the Malpaso dancers.  The intriguingly moody lighting was by Nicole Pearce. [more]

Works & Process at the Guggenheim: “One of Sixty-Five Thousand Gestures”/”NEW BODIES”

January 22, 2018

“NEW BODIES” (2016) choreographed by Melnick was initiated by Sara Mearns in a summer workshop at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Skilled classical ballet dancers who were interested in expanding their understanding of movement beyond the strict formalities of ballet choreography joined Mearns and Melnick to experiment with just how movements emerge into choreography.  The result is not an earth-shattering rethinking of the art of dance, but a loose web of crossing paths where touching and light partnering follow from soft collisions. [more]

Pillowtalk

January 21, 2018

Kyoung H. Park's "Pillowtalk" mixes the mysteries of passionate, but flawed, love with the realities of racism in today’s society, specifically, Brooklyn, New York, where Sam (Basit Shittu), a hunky African American and former Olympic swimmer is married to Buck (JP Moraga), a sleek Asian American journalist.  Both are in a constant battle with the White-dominated society which constantly undermines the lives of people of color.  Park’s direction of his play is straightforward and “in your face” giving this rarely seen corner of society some needed exposure. [more]

Soaring Wings

January 8, 2018

The famous Chinese ability to subsume themselves in crowds was evident in the flowing choreography for the mass “flight” of the Ibis across the stage.  The precision of the corps de ballet did not, however, lessen regarding each dancer as an individual as they flew past in ever-changing patterns. The creators of "Ibis" also gave life to the inhabitants of the small town and the young modern urbanites who show up at a museum to learn about the birds with which they had peacefully co-existed. [more]

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

December 28, 2017

Fairchild speaks well and communicates much with his physique, but his choreography is repetitive and uninventive.  Here was a chance to breathe new life into a too familiar character.  All Fairchild could come up with is lurching movements and awkward falls to the floor.  He takes the obvious path to create his character with movement when he had a chance to illuminate the Monster’s inner emotions. [more]

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Winter 2017 Season

December 23, 2017

The middle work, “Walking Mad,” choreographed by the Swede, Johan Inger, has inadvertently taken on an urgency and timeliness.  Always a surreal study of off-handed violence, the current tidal wave of sexual harassment revelations has given “Walking Mad”’s series of violent episodes against women an added shock value. [more]

Mimi Garrard and Friends

December 2, 2017

In “Lines,” the videos were straightforward representations of Mr. Selden, clad in a loose-fitting red outfit, pausing his image in dramatic moments while in the second work, “Untranslatable,” directed by Ms. Garrard and choreographed by her and the very solid dancer, Ms. Hopkins-Greene (formerly of the Alvin Ailey troupe), the visual elements—produced by Ms. Garrard—were far more abstract, chaining together tiny images of the dancer in fantastical patterns like giant letters, globes, maps, etc., as the dancer, clad in a chic two-piece purple outfit designed by Mindy Nelson bounded about.  Snatches of poetry by Walt Whitman were cut and shifted about to provide an aural accompaniment to the steps which were vigorous with lots of quick direction changes.  Images of Ms. Hopkins-Greene floated about the screen making it seem as if she were dancing with clones, all equally talented. [more]

ZviDance: Like

November 28, 2017

This time Gotheiner put his dancers through a faux competition that fell in mood somewhere between "Dancing with the Stars' and "Shark Tank," combining eager striving with off-handed sadism.   Electronic gadgetry virtually turned the beautiful dancers into products that viewers in the NYLA Theater were inadvertently bidding on. [more]

Big Dance Theater: 17c

November 25, 2017

Big Dance Theater, conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson, presented "17c" at the BAM Harvey Theater.  The work somehow combined the diary of Englishman, Samuel Pepys, the works of Margaret Cavendish (whose play-within-the-show—contemporary with Pepys—displayed proto-feminist ideals), classical theater (Euripides), modern writings on gender inequality (Jill Johnston who promoted a Lesbian world without men) with high production standards and a keen sense of storytelling all held together by a cast of great actor/dancers. [more]

The Red Shoes

November 9, 2017

Hanging over this presentation is, as indicated, the film which divides the audience into those who did not see it and must take or leave Bourne’s clever version and those who saw it and compare each of the film’s campy, colorful moments to the dramatically dull Bourne version in which characters seem to fall in love after barely meeting.   Characters who are boldly drawn in the film could not be inhabited by Bourne’s young cast, particularly Nicole Kabera as an unstylish Lady Neston who introduces the main character, her niece Vicki Page (a saucy, plush Ashley Shaw) to ballet owner and Diaghilev surrogate, Boris Lermontov.  This rich character was played by a much too young Sam Archer whose charisma is totally absent.  It’s difficult to stage a story at whose heart is a tragic love triangle when at least one angle had no magnetism and was, in fact, a mass of outrageous eccentricities compared to the seething elegance of Anton Walbrook in the film. [more]

Fall for Dance – Program E

October 23, 2017

The highlight of the program was watching the world-renowned premier danseur David Hallberg perform a work specially commissioned for him by Fall for Dance.  Mark Morris, the equally famous and respected choreographer, chose Benjamin Britten’s “Twelve Variations for Piano” as his score for the coyly humorous “Twelve of ‘Em.” The tone was set by Isaac Mizrahi’s wry costumes for both Mr. Hallberg and the adroit pianist Colin Fowler who was totally in synch with Morris’ tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.  Both wore ancient Greek-like flowing tunics over t-shirts and jeans.  [more]

Marc Bamuthi Joseph on His Artistic and Cultural Influences in “/peh-LO-tah/”

October 16, 2017

I’ve been playing soccer and have been exposed to soccer longer than I have been exposed to dance. Both of these things are part of my kinesthetic and the biography of my body. I can’t really recall a time where I didn’t play soccer and I’ve been dancing since I was at least ten years old. It’s actually not super far-fetched when I watch a soccer game, it looks like choreography to me. I trained for dance in some ways as an athlete would train for sport, I really connect to the similarities more than the dissimilarities. In terms of the literal transfer, our choreographer Stacey Printz did a great job of identifying some tropes that are consistent in both soccer and the kind of cultural universe that we traverse. There are elements of hip-hop, samba, South African gumboot dancing, Haitian folkloric movement – all of these inform the choreography. Moving forward, without being hyper-literal, I think that’s proven to be a really transformative experience for us and also makes it very clear and legible for audiences watching the piece. If our written and spoken language is literal, dance gives us allegory and metaphor and the synthesis of the two - - spoken language and body language -- helps to communicate the ideas in a very powerful way. [more]

Fall for Dance 2017

October 10, 2017

Michelle Dorrance, this troupe’s director, has become a force in tap dance because she understands both its legacy and its future. She played Pied Piper to a large troupe of very talented dancers who were all given opportunities to shine and create moods that varied from sexy to flirtatious to hilarious and sad. With additional choreographic contributions by Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie and Matthew “Megawatt” West—fine soloists—“Myelination” ebbed and flowed as soloists floated out of groupings of the twelve dancers to express themselves in brilliant bits that combined tap with modern dance, jazz, break dancing and even a touch of ballet. [more]

Mette Ingvartsen: 7 Pleasures

October 7, 2017

Ingvartsen has a record of intellectualizing her work taking all the juice out of them in the process. "7 Pleasures"—a misnomer if there ever was one—takes her dry, over thinking to the extreme in a work that somehow made the nudity and sexual activities of her twenty-something cast members boring and ugly. (There’s something unappealing about a stage-full of performers jingling all their various body parts as they did in one extended section of 7 Pleasures, no matter how it related to “that other crucial element [of dance], the body,” or “political, sexual, desiring, linguistic, historical, racialized, gendered, and agential flesh matter.”) [more]

Faustin Linyekula: In Search of Dinozord

September 29, 2017

"In Search of Dinozord" is Linyekula’s futile, naive attempt to turn the devastating history of his homeland into art. There was choreography—simple, spasmodic, realistic, but ultimately falling short of expressing anything but physical tension. There was a wonderfully minimal stage setting—by Studios Kabako/Virginie Dupray—that turned the well-equipped NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts stage into a sleek black box, with colored lines intersecting, a large red vertical structure and a back wall consisting of joined sheets of wood that served as a screen. Costumes—not specifically credited—were worn-looking casual street wear in faded colors. Lighting was exquisitely expressive. [more]
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