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Dance

Nederlands Dans Theater 2020

March 12, 2020

If one were to come to conclusions about the Netherlands after seeing the three ballets presented by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the New York City Center, the Netherlands would clearly come off as a place of doom and gloom where relationships are expressed by tossing each other around or totally avoiding contact. This world-class dance troupe is always welcome, but one has to wonder who programmed this mini-season.  Of course, the company’s artistic director Paul Lightfoot who co-choreographed one of these works has to have been the driving force in putting this show together. [more]

Ballet Vlaanderen

March 6, 2020

Ballet Vlaanderen was founded in 1969 by dancer/choreographer Jeanne Brabants, and the present artistic director since 2015 is Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who is known for his own award-winning choreography. Under his direction, the Flemish company, based in two places, Antwerp and Ghent, is dedicated to creating innovative new pieces and bringing important works to the stage. Stylistically, the company bridges the gap between ballet and modern dance. For their presentation at The Joyce Theater (March 3-7, 2020), Ballet Vlaanderen danced three pieces: "Kaash," "Faun," and "Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue. " [more]

CunningGraham Technique Comparison

February 9, 2020

Hosted by the Graham Company’s elegant director Janet Eilber, the program began with some historical comments after which two groups of dancers, one representing the Graham technique from Graham 2 and the other the Cunningham technique from the Merce Cunningham Trust entered the large studio/theater.  They performed parallel exercise routines, the Graham side guided by Virginie Mécène, Graham 2’s director and former Graham star and the Cunningham contingent guided by two former Cunningham members Jennifer Goggans and the aforementioned filmmaker Madoff. [more]

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

February 5, 2020

“The legend returns” claimed the fliers and posters for "Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake"’s short season at the New York City Center.  That proclamation wasn’t far from the truth.  "Swan Lake" is definitely Bourne’s most famous and prolifically performed work from a repertory that includes "Edward Scissorhands," "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Red Shoes," all having made touchdowns in New York City with varying success.  Only his "Swan Lake" has caught the imagination of audiences throughout the world despite its daring take on a beloved classic. [more]

Grand Swan Lake (Shanghai Ballet)

January 20, 2020

A recent iteration of the classic ballet "Swan Lake" was staged by Derek Deane and danced by the Shanghai Ballet and presented by the Shanghai Ballet with China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd. at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. The company called their version "Grand Swan Lake" because it promised to be bigger than any other, at least in the number of dancers on the stage. But was bigger any better? Actually, yes. I assumed that using 48 swans was just a gimmick to get attention, but it was a very effective dramatic device. Forty-eight white tutus in moving formation was impressive, and in the last act, all those swans magically rising up through the fog was really breathtaking, a memorably dramatic visual. [more]

Dorrance Dance: The Nutcracker Suite

December 23, 2019

The music included the catchy, familiar tunes of "The Nutcracker Suite" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, first featured in classical ballet. The Dorrance version uses the absolutely wonderful jazz arrangement by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. No doubt the music would have been enhanced with a live orchestra, but one assumes that there was neither the budget nor the space for a Big Band orchestra. Nonetheless, the music is a marvelous interpretation, providing the perfect accompaniment for tap dancing – and certainly worth hearing again on its own. On occasion, however, there is no music, just the rhythmic sounds of tap dancing providing its own accompaniment. [more]

ZviDance: MAIM (“Water” in Hebrew)

December 19, 2019

Israeli-born choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created "Maim ('Water' in Hebrew)," a somber meditation on water, drought, misery, community and survival for seven members of ZviDance, all brilliant dancers with clearly defined personalities. Somehow, in under an hour, Gotheiner managed to dredge up memories and images of his early life on a kibbutz and how valuable water was in the life of his community.  That, added to the current climate crisis’ causing drastic drought concerns, stimulated him to produce "MAIM ('Water' in Hebrew)." [more]

Peter & the Wolf

December 13, 2019

Ensemble Signal, Marjorie Folkman, Daniel Pettrow and Kristen Foote in a scene from “Peter & [more]

The Chase Brock Experience: “The Four Seasons”

November 27, 2019

His more abstract ballets for The Chase Brock Experience, such as its current presentation at Theatre Row, "The Four Seasons" to the Vivaldi score (a revival from 2006), did not fare quite as well.  Despite the fact that "The Four Seasons" had some spoken text (by David Zellnick) and an environmental subtext, the majority of the work was a pretty, but slightly anemic balletic expression of the famous (over-used?) score. [more]

Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company: Bittersweet, Tormenta, Tabernacle and Las Desenarmoradas

November 19, 2019

Artistic director Enrique Cruz DeJesus presented a performance of Alpha Omega in preparation for the troupe’s fiftieth anniversary season next year.  This concert featured two works by the brilliant modern dance choreography Eleo Pomare whose works have, for some reason, been neglected for years.  Mr. Cruz DeJesus also presented two of his works, “Bittersweet” and “Tormenta.” [more]

Tiffany Mills Company: “Not then, not yet”

November 16, 2019

Tiffany Mills’ "Not then, not yet," a world premiere dance/theater work at The Flea proposed a dark, slightly chaotic view of relationships and alienation choreographed on her own troupe, the Tiffany Mills Company. Only 45 minutes long, Not then, not yet was dense with activity and glum interactions among the six dancers (including Mills) and singer Muriel Louveau who composed the erratically performed score, co-written with Angélica Negrón. [more]

Houston Ballet: Fall 2019

October 29, 2019

The first piece on the program was the most successful of the three: Mark Morris’ “The Letter V”. (There was no mention of any specific meaning of the title.)  The classical music composition “Symphony No. 88 in G Major” by Joseph Haydn provided a substantial underpinning for the choreography because Morris had a beautifully uncanny way of making the movement seem to rise up from the music. The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by David Briskin, provided the fine, live, performance. Morris, in fact, always insists on live music, and that added so much to the experience. [more]

Mette Ingvartsen: “to come (extended)”

October 27, 2019

Last seen in New York in 2017, Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen has brought a newish work, "to come (extended)" to NYU Skirball Center.  To come (extended) is actually a reworking and expansion of an earlier work. Unfortunately, Ms. Ingvartsen appears to be in a rut, a deep, monotonous sexual rut. She considers herself the one-woman expert analyzer of all things sexual via her repetitive choreography.  Indeed, her work includes nudity and explicit sexuality (all forms of intercourse between every combination of genders, oral sex, group sex, etc.) all extremely unexciting, in fact, quite boring. [more]

Fall for Dance 2019: Program 5

October 16, 2019

Monica Bill Barnes totally changed the mood with her thoroughly delightful “The Running Show” which used physical contests as a metaphor for dance.  Barnes stood in the midst of sixteen students from Hunter College as her creative partner, Robbie Saenz de Viteri acted as a sports announcer, egging the large group on as they performed complicated patterns of finger snapping. Saenz de Viteri was the backbone of “The Running Show,” his narration, in turn witty, humorous and deeply thoughtful, drove the action which included more competitions; Barnes trying to beat her turning record; and an appearance of a young ballet dancer, Charlotte Anub.  She was clearly too young to dance on point, but she had a natural stage presence as she turned and performed basic pointe work, charming the audience.  “The Running Show” left a positive buzz in the audience, casting a quiet spell. [more]

Fall for Dance 2019: Program 4

October 14, 2019

The final work, “Unveiling” by Sonya Tayeh, director of Tayeh Dance, known now as the choreographer of the Broadway hit 'Moulin Rouge!," used a trio which appeared to be about a female (the American Ballet Theatre star, Stella Abrera) an interloper interfering with a gay relationship between Robbie Fairchild (formerly of the New York City Ballet and the star of An American in Paris on Broadway and the West End in London) and Gabe Stone Shayer. What made “Unveiling” the hit that it proved to be was the music performed live by the super-humanly talented Moses Sumney who stood on a small platform singing, wailing, thumping, rattling and otherwise issuing a spectrum of gorgeous sounds that supported Tayeh’s complicated portrait. [more]

Fall for Dance 2019: Program 3

October 9, 2019

The Mariinsky Ballet performed the U.S. premiere of “At the Wrong Time,” which had been choreographed by Alexander Sergeev and had its world premiere March 26, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Mariinsky Theatre.  The curtain rose to display a piano. A young man, Vladimir Rumyanstev, turned out to be the pianist who was waiting for a ballerina. Once she arrived, the music could begin. Eventually there were three ballerinas and three partners. The women wore pointe shoes and brightly colored dresses that were cleverly designed by Daria Pavlenko to appear simple but that allowed easy movement. Their partners wore dark shirts and pants. [more]

BalletX: The Little Prince

October 3, 2019

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s "The Little Prince" (1943) has been studied, analyzed, and staged as any number of plays, ballets, musicals and an unsuccessful film.  So, it was with great interest that I went to BalletX’s The Little Prince choreographed by fast-rising choreographer Anabelle Lopez Ochoa to a brilliant score composed and miraculously played by Peter Salem. BalletX, directed by the forward looking Christine Cox, is a modern ballet troupe stationed 90 minutes south of New York in Philadelphia.  The troupe combines classical ballet with modern dance and, in the case of the Little Prince, mime, singing, speaking and twisty modern dance. [more]

Freemove Dance: “ …it’s time…”

September 23, 2019

Co-presented by The Theater at the 14th Street Y, '…it’s time…" explored the dynamics of a small group of five—excellent—performers whose existence appeared to be controlled by a large digital countdown clock that frowned down upon them from the back wall. They were all dressed in tight outfits in shades of yellow, uniforms designed by Mondo Morales.To a stark, ingenious percussive score by Dani Markham, co-arranged and played brilliantly by drummer Price McGuffey situated high above the stage in his own cubbyhole, the dancers meandered onto a stage occupied only by five red folding chairs in a neat row.  The score ranged from clicks to drum rolls to bossa nova rhythms. [more]

Rubberband: “Ever So Slightly”

September 22, 2019

Quite simply, Rubberband, the Montreal-based dance troupe’s season at The Joyce Theater was a spectacular success.  Directed by Victor Quijada, Rubberband performed his "Ever So Slightly," a 75-minute investigation of contemporary angst staged to original music by Jasper Gahunia and William Lamoureux, played live. "Ever So Slightly" came at the audience in waves, starting with calm, gentle waves and ending in a tsunami of roughness and near anarchy. [more]

Guangzhou Ballet of China: “Carmina Burana” & “Goddess of the Luo River”

August 23, 2019

Presented at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater by the China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd., the company used its impressive resource of dancers in two large-scale ballets:  "Goddess of the Luo River" choreographed by the Canadian, Peter Quanz to a Western-sounding violin concerto by the Chinese composer Du Mingxin and "Carmina Burana" choreographed by the Chinese national, Jiang Qi to the famous (infamous?) score by Carl Orff.The former was a run-of-the-mill ballet weighed down by fuzzily pretentious program notes.  Three characters—Yi Ren (Fang Afang), Lian Jun (Huang Baimao) and Ruo Shui (Ma Minghao)—led the corps de ballet in several merry chases that involved processions, movements rolling down lines of dancers, non-romantic encounters and show-off solos by the male contingent, all ending in a pretty arrangement of the dancers across the Koch stage with one of the characters held imposingly high as if overlooking her kingdom. [more]

Ballet Festival 2019: Program D

August 21, 2019

The fourth piece, titled “3 with D” was choreographed by Javier de Frutos and was the only performance that included live music. Patrick Gallagher was on piano in front of the stage and Dan Gillespie Sells sang and played guitar center stage, simply and straightforward, making the most of music, which was a compilation of songs by Ivor Novello, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter. Next to Sells were two chairs – something of a “set” compared to the other bare-stage designs. Danced by Watson and Fairchild, it was more of a drama than any of the other pieces. Although there was little linear plot, it was a gay love story. The familiar lyrics of Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” had a different connotation when referring to two men. The two performers were such gorgeous dancers, and very similar body types, so when they moved in synchronistic unison, it created a beautiful effect. [more]

Under Siege (Yang Liping Contemporary Dance Company of China)

August 11, 2019

Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival 2019 presented the lavish, yet somehow intimate, "Under Siege," a stunning production of the Yang Liping Contemporary Dance Company of China.Its chief choreographer and director Yang Liping had the audacity to put on stage an epic tale of an ancient war, the Chu-Han Conflict that pitted hundreds of thousands against each other.  Her brilliant idea was to concentrate on each of the leading characters in the conflict and, by telling their fascinating stories, thereby revealing the immensity of war and its ghastly consequences. [more]

Ballet Festival: Program A

August 10, 2019

Joseph Sissens in Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Dance of the Blessed Spirits,” in The Joyce Theater’s Ballet Festival (Program A) (Photo credit: Maria Baranova)The Joyce Theater is presenting a two-week Ballet Festival, four programs under the artistic direction of Kevin O’Hare, director of The Royal Ballet.  Each program is curated by a different dance expert, the first by O’Hare, himself.Program A was divided into two parts, the first the more sedately classical, the second showing newer, more contemporary fare.  It was a fascinating, focused study of the state of ballet today, featuring, appropriately, two works by the British master of classical ballet, Sir Frederick Ashton. [more]

Blak Whyte Gray (Boy Blue)

August 5, 2019

Co-conceived by Asante and Kenrik “H2O” Sandy who choreographed and directed the production, "Blak Whyte Gray" was constructed in two parts and three sections.  Part I began with “Whyte,” danced by Ricardo Da Silva, Gemma Kay Hoddy and Nicole McDowall dressed in variations on straitjackets.  (Sleek, pale, layered costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight.) All three were trapped in a rectangle of light which gradually shrunk making their already frantic movements even more so.  The music boomed as they vibrated, twisted, pulsated and stopped with dramatic suddenness.  This was desperation of the highest order. [more]

Freddie Falls in Love

July 26, 2019

How Freddie resolves his amorous adventures is cleverly handled by Blackstone using an imaginative combination of ballet, modern dance, mime and popular dance forms.  The score is made up of over twenty songs including:  “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?.” “Dream Lover,” “We Are In Love,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” “La Valse á Milles Temps,” “Makin’ Whoopee,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and a song written and performed live by Mike Brun. [more]

Maria Kochetkova: Catch Her If You Can

July 18, 2019

Russian-born Maria Kochetkova, the petite ballerina who spent the major portion of her career with the San Francisco Ballet, has turned herself into a small-scale Diaghilev.  Her Maria Kochetkova: Catch Her If You Can at The Joyce Theater is a gathering of five brilliant dancers (including herself) dancing the works of seven contemporary choreographers.Even with her name on the program, Catch Her If You Can was pleasantly un-self-aggrandizing, feeling more like a—very expensive—jam session.So ego-free was the evening that Ms. Kochetkova clearly felt no reluctance to pair herself with Drew Jacoby in Jacoby’s duet “Rachel, Nevada” choreographed to an eerie score by Sam Spiegel. [more]

Mark Morris Dance Group 2019: “Sport”

July 12, 2019

The world premiere “Sport,” choreographed to more than twenty bits and pieces by Erik Satie, appropriately named “Sports et divertissements” (played by the brilliant pianist Colin Fowler), was a not very exciting examination of every competitive sport from golf to sailing to swimming to running to tennis to etc. Dressed in Elizabeth Kurtzman’s colorful one-piece overalls, the cast of twelve imitated in both exaggerated and subtle ways these activities, sometimes in silence and sometimes to the Satie music. Morris is imaginative enough to turn athletics into dance, but the work was simply too episodic and disjointed even with his use of repeated motifs—like dancers being dragged across the stage on large swaths of cloth—to give the work some unity and form. The end result was more of beautifully crafted mime than a full-fledged ballet. [more]

The Bournonville Legacy

July 11, 2019

The second part of the program was a bonanza of Bournonville excerpts, danced to not particularly memorable scores, that worked well even without colorful scenery.  The beautiful, colorful costumes, arranged by Katharina Neergaard certainly helped, particularly in “The Jockey Dance” from From Siberia to Moscow danced exuberantly by Marcin Kupinski and Alexander Bozinoff dressed in brilliant red jockey duds.  The only criticism:  they might have looked less glum in their facial expressions. [more]

Lady5 @ Savion Glover’s BaRoQUE’BLaK TaP CaFé

July 9, 2019

Whatever Glover discussed in the opening – about identity and wearing masks – may have been relevant, but the program could be seen simply as a revue.  A wide variety of recorded music was played. The first music sounded like something you’d hear in a French café, and in fact was recorded by a group called French Café Ensemble. Other musical styles included classical (Bach), jazz, pop, salsa, Trinidadian, hip hop, and more, performed by Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Bjork, and others. The dancing paralleled the music. Special mention must go to Brandon Stirling Baker whose lighting design created the changes in atmosphere, subtly separating the numbers. [more]

The Pygmalion Effect

June 14, 2019

By placing his ballet in the realm of the high-strung ballroom world, Eifman supplied himself plenty of excuses to make dances that bounced about the stage to his score of a parade of waltzes, polkas, marches and bits and pieces of the output of some of the many “Waltz King” Strausses (Johann the Son, Josef and Eduard) with one interlude of Mozart tossed in at the end. [more]

Límon Dance Company: Spring 2019 Season

June 1, 2019

Having its world premiere, “Radical Beasts in the Forest of Possibilities” is a collaboration of choreographer Francesca Harper with iconic composer/performer Nona Hendryx and the dancers. Hendryx performs live on piano, along with digitally recorded sounds and music (the piano sections are more satisfying than the digital ones). The costumes by Epperson are made up of layered fabric that suggest a ragged look which is appropriate to the theme described in the program about reaching for contact in a world where time is fractured. The hardworking dancers include Jacqueline Bulnes, Terrence D. M. Diable, Mariah Gravelin, David Glista, Jesse Obremski, Frances Samson, Lauren Twomley and Mark Willis. [more]
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