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Dance

Natalia Osipova’s Pure Dance with David Hallberg

April 7, 2019

The evening consisted of a number of short dances in varying styles, but the final piece, “Valse Triste,” was the most successful. Osipova wore a simple, off-the-shoulder, blue dress and Hallberg wore a form-fitting unitard designed by Moritz Junge. “Valse Triste” by Jean Sibelius was the music for the plotless ballet. Choreography is an elusive art, but Alexei Ratmansky seems to have understood its secrets. Using the language and conventions of classical ballet, he designed this piece specifically for Osipova and Hallberg, and it showed off their exceptional talents and finely tuned partnership – and beautifully shared the joy of the dance with the audience. It’s the kind of short pas de deux that lends itself to gala events, so there’s little doubt that it will show up again. One wishes it were longer (it’s only six minutes). Or it would have been a wonderful treat to watch again if they had repeated it. [more]

Lori Belilove and The Isadora Duncan Dance Company: “March Madness”

April 3, 2019

Belilove, who has taught Sara Mearns of the New York City Ballet to perform some of these works, divided the concert into dances to Schubert, Chopin, Brahms and Scriabin, all original Duncan choreography staged by Belilove who has devoted her life to inspiring the public with Duncan’s repertoire The the evidence was in the beautiful dancing of her  troupe of six:  Becky Allen, Hayley Rose, Faith Kimberling, Emily D’Angelo, Nikki Poulos and Caroline Yamada. [more]

Tilt

April 3, 2019

The Experimental Theater Space at the Abrons, a not particularly large black box, was turned into a complex construction site by the "Tilt" creative staff, a truly unique interactive set.  Above the audience hung a crooked runway along which a ball was occasionally mysteriously rolled.  The ball eventually hit some metal gongs and went on to roll down a Rube Goldberg like contraption and onto the stage floor. [more]

Princess Zhaojun

March 26, 2019

Produced in New York City by the China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd., "Princess Zhaojun" was performed by the members of the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater.  It was directed seamlessly by Kong Dexin, written with as much subtlety as possible by Yu Ping and brilliantly choreographed by four artists—Tian Ye, Tian Zhuang, Jia Guozhu and Wu Sha—whose collective ability to find emotion even in the movements of large groups of dancers was uncanny. [more]

Ballet Contemporáneo de Camagűey

March 19, 2019

The Camagűey troupe danced Ruiz’s work as if born to his vigorously eclectic style.  His choreography is an amalgam of ballet, modern dance, break-dancing, folk dancing and Latin ballroom.  He seems to be influenced by the work of Nacho Duato (himself a Jiri Kylian protégé) with his complex, body-interlocking lifts, bent torsos and a step-to-every-note. [more]

Rameau, Maître à Danser (Les Arts Florissants)

March 7, 2019

Unlike the company’s 2016 luxuriously staged "Les Fêtes Vénitiennes," also at the Gilman, "Rameau" was purposely staged by Sophie Daneman as if in a village square, simply but effectively, the “effects” improvised as only peasants would: entrances to temples and heaven were curtains stretched between two poles; Jupiter appeared in a high stage box as an improvised Mount Olympus; a dancer as a god glided bare-chested undetected amongst the celebrating peasantry.  According to the program, this type of performance is called “théâtre de la foire” (theater of the fair). [more]

Complexions Contemporary Ballet: Program A

February 28, 2019

In “Star Dust,” a 2016 ballet tribute to David Bowie, Rhoden displayed his mordantly campy side in a series of scenes, each devoted to a famous Bowie number, beginning with Brandon Gray leading the company in “Lazarus,” setting the format for the rest of the ballet.  His face streaked with makeup, his hair aglow with color, Gray prowled proudly about the stage mouthing the words that Bowie sang.  He seemed very satisfied with himself. [more]

BalletNext 2019

February 25, 2019

BalletNext is a company founded by Michele Wiles, former prima ballerina of American Ballet Theater. Wiles has developed a symbiotic relationship with the University of Utah where she trains professional ballet dancers who are simultaneously getting degrees in various fields. In exchange, she has bodies on which she can develop her skills as a choreographer. And she arranges public performances, giving her students real stage experience. These performances always include live musicians, which is a particular pleasure compared to so many companies that use canned music. [more]

Rocha Dance Theater: “Half-Heard”

February 20, 2019

This wasn’t just a political statement about gender stereotypes, but a sensitive work of art that made its points through fine choreography, costuming, lighting (smartly designed by Jennifer Hill, creating a wide range of ambiances) and music. Half-Heard accomplished this without beating the audience members over the head. [more]

Balletboyz: “Young Men”

February 7, 2019

The two directors/founders of BalletBoyz, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, directed and photographed the film which also included Pérez’s choreography.  Although the movie certainly illuminated the dark themes for a screen-crazy audience, it too often was a distraction when the dancers were performing in front of the screen, spread out across the Joyce stage.   Having to choose between the live and the filmed action became a problem even though both were of equal technical merit. [more]

Drum Love (African American Dance Theater)

February 6, 2019

Part of the tradition is the audience’s response. There was hooting and hollering from the audience, sounding like they were at a rock concert, but it was impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm. The general raucousness was a display of the clear delight that the audience enjoyed. It created an atmosphere of unbridled joy and who could resist? Everyone was smiling and laughing and clapping. [more]

Anne of Green Gables: Part I

February 4, 2019

Directed with touching simplicity by Henry and choreographed with a lyrical flow by Lorna Ventura, this Anne tells the well-known story utilizing a combination of voiceover readings, projections, dance, mime and fine acting.  Henry has turned Anne into a dance play with an original take on this oft-told tale of a spunky, intelligent and witty young lady guarded by a mute Greek chorus of four who reflect and illuminate her inner thoughts and feelings. [more]

L-E-V:  Love Chapter II

January 29, 2019

Casual strolling was suddenly punctuated by dancers bumping and grinding at each other, these full-bodied movements resonating in slightly different ways in each dancer, sometimes leading to entwining, slithering, sweaty duets.  Faces displayed over-the-top grimaces and uneasy forced smiles which led to desperate, phony-sounding laughing.  Arms were swung or used to produce angular silhouettes with studied nonchalance. Bodies twitched and twisted to staccato beats—music composed and arranged by Ori Lichtik whose score for “Love Chapter II” began with barely audible electronic beats which grew in volume and speed until the score suddenly became a Latino Cha-Cha to which the dancers seemed to glory. [more]

Nederlands Dans Theater 2

January 21, 2019

All four works—particularly the first three—had a certain offhanded similarity, a lack of formal movement ideas and construction, but all four choreographers are clearly students of the school of Jiři Kylián, the most famous director of the NDT whose incredibly musical, minutely detailed choreography has influenced many both in Europe and here in the United States.  Kylián’s works have a touching humanity to them, while these four works tended more to movement for its own sake and arbitrary expression of emotions. [more]

Aileen Passloff, Stepping Forward: One Foot (in front of the other)

January 16, 2019

Of Passloff’s eight works, the newest, “Frolic,” (2018) to music by Erik Satlie (“Trois morceau en la forme de poire”) came closest in spirit to her classical ballet origins, utilizing whimsical characters to tell a gentle daydream.  To the calm music played live by pianists Michael Cherry and Douglas Schultz, a gentle Ballerina (Esmé Boyce), a boisterous, muscular Joker (Aviles), a sassy Horse Trainer (Pam Wess), two cavorting Horses (S. Asher Gelman and Mati Gelman) and a caring Mother (Charlotte Hendrickson)—all costumed in appropriate, colorful outfits—danced solos and duets, finally uniting for what—in minimalist terms—was a grand finale complete with cartwheels, simple ballet steps, horsey prancing, and the entire cast competing for attention from the rapt audience. [more]

Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia 2019

January 10, 2019

The four choreographers whose three works were represented at the Japan Society’s Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia flung themselves headlong into the modern world of dance with only occasional glances over their shoulders at their ancestors-in-art, preferring what often appeared to be an arbitrary approach to choreography uneasily alternating between coy, fey bits of choreographic fluff and sudden primal screams. Only the final work on this occasionally interesting, but flawed program displayed some understanding of this concept of the inexorable march of time and its effects. [more]

The Chase Brock Experience: The Girl with the Alkaline Eyes

December 31, 2018

Brock’s work once prized effect over substance, but years of choreographing situation and character-based musicals ("Be More Chill," "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark") have sharpened his artistic vision; or, perhaps, he has matured as he’s gained experience—and years. [more]

ZviDance: Bear’s Ears & Detour

December 28, 2018

A five-day journey to Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah in the company of other dancers, choreographers and Native Americans turned Gotheiner’s mind to more serious pursuits resulting in “Bear’s Ears” and “Detour,” two of his best works. Both display some influence of Native American dance forms, but only to focus Gotheiner’s creative energies on the emotional journeys of his dancers. Bear’s Ears is a national monument under attack by this government’s forces which want to open this area to mining and natural gas exploration, completely ignoring the deep spiritual associations with the Native Americans. [more]

Nut/Cracked

December 22, 2018

The troupe attracted a wide-ranging audience to The Sam space at The Flea, even a few youngsters there to see their first live dance performance, and, with the exception of one section, “Thumbs,” performed by Nic Petry and Kazin, which might been perceived as naughtily sexual, they were in for many treats:  jaunty barefoot tapping (“Top Hats”); a male Sugar Plum Fairy, Dylan Baker, who was so proud of his toe shoe technique that he shined a flashlight on his every foot jiggle (“Flashlight”); and “A Chorus Line” of young dancers from the Dalton School getting their first taste of professional dancing under the lights in front of an audience. [more]

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]

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]
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