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Dance

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]

One Night Only (running as long as we can)

September 20, 2017

Barnes’ choreography is a delightful blend of ballet, modern dance and stylized movement. She and Bass are highly skilled and have a great chemistry together that recalls that of an accomplished comedy team with flashes of dramatic depth. [more]

Ariel Rivka Dance: 10th Anniversary Season

September 12, 2017

Ms. Grossman tended toward overuse repetition of movements and arm gestures. Emotional states were supported by little else than the titles and her husband’s gemlike scores. “No Words,” to a score composed and played by Mr. Homan, opened the program. His music sounded like an anguished string quartet to which she made an honest stab at using gesture and arrangement of the eight dancers to express the anger and loss in a poem, “Fury: In Praise of Stone,” by Janet R. Kirchheimer and Jaclyn Piudik, which was printed in the program. [more]

Works & Process Rotunda Project: “Falls the Shadow”

September 7, 2017

The title comes from T.S. Eliot’s "The Hollow Men," the one that famously includes the line: “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper” - which is exactly how Falls the Shadow ended, the dancers swirling off to the borders of the Rotunda performing space after a series of meetings and partings that too often found them lying in geometric patterns on the floor, their arms spread out in cross forms or moving their limbs in unison to produce a Busby Berkeley effect. (The audience stood above the action on the ramps, looking down.)  The two couples rarely mixed and matched, but did occasionally form lineups that wound up dragging the unlucky fourth dancer who was face down on the stage.  The actual movement palette was limited to walking, soft arabesques, rolling on the floor and some hip-level lifts, all repeated too many times.  [more]

Jewels (Lincoln Center Festival)

July 25, 2017

The three-part ballet is considered Balanchine’s tribute to the three major artistic influences in his professional life:  the French school, the Russian school and, of course, his own American style of classical ballet as taught in his School of American Ballet in Lincoln Center.  Therefore, it was not just logical, but inspired, that the Paris Opera troupe would dance the dreamy “Emeralds” to Gabriel Fauré, the New York City Ballet, the fresh and jazzy “Rubies” to Igor Stravinsky, and the Russian troupe the very classical “Diamonds” to Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. [more]

American Ballet Theatre: Whipped Cream

July 5, 2017

Richard Strauss’ surprisingly lighthearted score was first staged as a ballet in 1924 to a libretto he also wrote.  Strauss is, of course, best known for his serious, dark operas ("Salome," "Elektra," "Der Rosenkavalier," "Die Frau ohne Schatten").  This work, originally "Schlagobers" in German, appears to be a whimsical musical detour that, happily, has landed in the hands (feet?) of the very much in demand Ratmansky who, with the superior creative support of Mark Ryden (sets and costumes), Brad Fields (lighting) and, of course, the talented dancers of the American Ballet Theatre produced a candy-colored entertainment that might just serve as its new Nutcracker, a ballet that appeals to both children and adults. [more]

Momix: Opus Cactus

July 4, 2017

In eighteen short sections, Pendleton and his dancers evoke images of the western deserts of the U.S., using whatever means necessary, be it skateboards, puppetry, classical Indian dance, acrobatics, technological gimmickry or a truckload of imaginative costumes. [more]

Lydia Johnson Dance 2017 Season

July 2, 2017

Johnson’s choreographic ethic borders on the minimalistic, repeating some basic movements, particularly certain arm gestures, in all of the works.  In two of the three ballets, it works, in one it fails terribly, and in the fourth, it merely comes up short. [more]

The Reception

June 27, 2017

Soon little rends in the fabric of normalcy became apparent.   Bits of dialogue are repeated senselessly and the five revelers keep returning to the same positions (three on a couch, one alone at the border of the space and one behind the bar).  Attempts at dancing get more and more inelegant, even leading to a bit of physical sparring.  Even worse, there is an intermittent ominous, crackling sound emanating from deep in the floor, as if the house were about to collapse. [more]

Martita Goshen’s Earthworks: “Sanctuary”

June 27, 2017

Martita Goshen’s love of horses, one in particular, and nature in general, is a driving force in “Sanctuary,” her gentle and genteel dance recently performed by her troupe, Earthworks at the Paul Taylor Dance Studio.   “Sanctuary” is the final section of a three-part work dedicated to the memory of the famous equine, Barbaro, who died tragically after an injury. [more]

Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance: “Book of Clouds”

June 14, 2017

The ostensible theme of Sperling’s series of performances at the Baryshnikov Arts Center was climate change.  Had spectators not read that in the program they would have come away from Sperling’s performance thinking it was an ode to spring with some cosmic overtones in Huestis’ colorful slide projections of circular forms that evoked the earth, the moon, Mars, stars, subtle earth formations and, of course, clouds. [more]

Janis Brenner & Dancers: Spring 2017 Season

June 9, 2017

Wearing pale, simple but elegant costumes with small colorful patches around the hips (designed by Sue Julien and Brenner) the dancers in “Soul River/Blues” entered singly at first up a diagonal, almost as if sneaking on. As the dance unfolded they rolled and paused, looking over their shoulders to a score by Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt which was a hybrid of Indian classical and bluesy American guitar styles. One man (Aaron Selissen) and four women (Kara Chan, Ruth Howard, Sumaya Jackson and Kristi Ann Schopfer) interacted in slow lifts and groupings that became ever more complex in their angles and internal relationships. [more]

Parsons Dance – Spring Season 2017

June 2, 2017

Company member, Omar Román De Jesús choreographed the third world premiere, “Daniel,” to a multiple-sourced score. He took his eight dancers through a dramatic visit to those on the autism behavior spectrum, finding beauty, sadness and even some humor. The emphasis was definitely on the darker elements with angular knee and elbow jutting movements repeated over and over again. Unlike his mentor, David Parsons, De Jesús dared to end his work with two sections that each used two dancers. [more]

Ellen Cornfield/Cornfield Dance: “Close-Up” (2017)

May 23, 2017

There was a mysterious coolness about “Close-Up” which, according to a program note by Ms. Cornfield, was meant to delve into the personalities of her five dancers, doing this by assigning very particular gestures—touching the face with a finger, holding a palm to the forehead, quivering hands, mimed pouring, nods—and facial expressions like appearing to laugh or shout to each dancer. She called these intimate, non-dance details, “zoom close-ups.” These quirky bits were additions to sleek, catlike movements that included lunges, low leg circling and the kind of balletic movements that were the centerpiece of Cunningham’s choreographic output. [more]

The Deborah Zall Project: “In the Company of Women” 2017

May 21, 2017

All but one of Zall’s works were solos and all were based on famous literary figures: “George Sand” (ruminating on her lost love, Chopin), “Mary Tyrone” (from "Long Day’s Journey Into Night" fighting her addiction while remembering her childhood), “Sonnet” (to an Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet about obsessing over a lost love), “Amanda” (the mother in "A Glass Menagerie" sadly musing over her ball gown) and “Shadow of Her Sister” (two sisters from "The House of Bernarda Alba" battle to the death with dark Catholic imagery overlaying the internecine war). [more]

Battery Dance – Spring 2017 Season

May 17, 2017

The final work, “On Foot” was choreographed by Hollander and seven company members. It featured a Middle East-tinged score by Kinan Azmeh and Anouar Brahem and sensational visual art, mostly created on the spot, by Kevork Mourad whose ancestors fled the Armenian genocide. Mourad created both beautiful and horrifying projections on the back screen of the stage and also sat at a computer projector producing fluidly morphing images on a scrim: people floated about; ancient buildings melted; and complex landscapes passed by capturing the mood of the choreography. [more]

Limón Dance Company: Spring 2017 Season

May 16, 2017

“Corvidae,” Colin Connor’s contribution to the program, was staged to the relentless first movement of a Philip Glass Violin Concerto. The title refers to the scientific name of the family of crows and ravens. The six dancers, stylishly dressed in all black outfits by Connor and Keiko Voltaire and moodily lit by DK Kroth, wandered about stylishly, but aimlessly, suddenly bursting into movement, softly leaping, arms held in wing-like positions. The heads of stationary dancers were held high in ornithological awareness as the rest of the cast softly cut through the air in balletic, sweeping steps. The overall mood was dark and sexy. [more]

Titicut Follies

May 3, 2017

The original film is brazen in its guerilla-style filmmaking, a good deal of which was surreptitiously produced right under the noses of the Institution’s officials.  To anyone who knows or watched the original 1967 film, James Sewell’s choreographic rendition would seem tame, certainly lacking the shocking visions of naked men abused and humiliated by sadistic guards, ridiculously backward psychologists and a nutritional staff intent on starving the patients.  (Images abound of skeletal men wandering aimlessly.)  The film begins with the eponymous follies, the men singing and dancing to a bizarre version of “Strike Up the Band” and showing off their other talents, only to quickly descend into a vision of hell on earth. [more]
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