Performing Arts: Dance
January 10, 2015
It was a lively presentation of dance at The Joyce Theater this week, thanks to the creative genius of choreographer Doug Elkins and his capable, genre-shifting dancers. Elkins has quickly made an impression in the performing arts world, even prior to formally assembling his company, doug elkins choreography, etc., in 2009. Perhaps most notable to date is his 2006 “Fräulein Maria” – a creative deconstruction of the beloved The Sound of Music.

The program opened with the New York premiere of his most recent brainchild, “Hapless Bizarre.” Immediately the vaudeville, comedic flare of the work consumes; the “hapless” Mark Gindick unsuccessfully races after a scurrying black bowler hat. Gindick, in fact, is a comedic actor welcomed by Elkins into the creative process and performance.

Soon he is joined by five other performers, donning psychedelic-patterned ensembles (Oana Botez). The odd guy out, he swirls between their caricatured interactions as they saunter across the space, pass the token hat, mirror mimed make-up application, and engage in atypical partner work. Most memorable is Deborah Lohse – her lankiness and impressive height is played up well, allowing for humorous, even awkward, moments.

Though the non-linear “Hapless Bizarre” succeeds in its lighthearted captivation, it’s the second and final work of the program that steals the show. “Mo(or)town/Redux” is a polished piece marrying Shakespeare’s “Othello” with the popular music of Motown. Inspiration is further credited to Jose Limon’s masterwork, “The Moor’s Pavane.”

Similar to Limon, Elkins too pins four dancers as the central characters, though in an entirely contemporary imagining with choreography that spans emotive, almost balletic, moments and movement phrases that evolve into spurts of impressive technique and break dance. Here Alexander Dones shines. His masterful solos showcase swift footwork and clean delivery – not to mention an impressive, aerial fan-kick turn which he seemed to suspend midair.

The focus on the universal themes of love and betrayal serve the abstracted narrative dance well. A white handkerchief is the sole prop – the prized token of love, stolen to mislead Othello’s trust. From the Jackson 5 to an acoustic version of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” the music further adds an element of fun of fun, familiarity, and alluded plot.

“I am interested in the collision of high art/low art, trash and treasure…taking pre-existing things and passing through them to find something entirely new,” Elkins notes. As this program reaffirmed, his open-minded, collaborative mentality is exactly what makes the work so intriguingly dynamic.

The performance was part of a return engagement run at The Joyce Theater featuring the LA-based company, BODYTRAFFIC, and doug elkins choreography, etc. on alternating nights.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

January 9, 2015
Bodytraffic, the LA based dance repertory company, brought four works to the Joyce. Founded in 2007 by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett (who danced in all four pieces), the company is a mixture of contemporary and modern theatrics, with different choreographic influences rounding it out.

The program opened with an excerpt from Barak Marshall’s “And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square…” A strong opening and closing ensemble dance helped save the piece from becoming drowned out clichés. Hand and arm gestures make up most of the movement, and the dancers are sharp and practiced in their execution. At one point a suitor sits on a bench reading a paper while different women vie for his attention- each of them failing to do so and being killed off in the process. Perhaps the thorough storyline will help to explain the missing gaps, but an excerpt is supposed to entice not to perturb. Although not a featured dancer, Miguel Perez was particularly enticing to watch when the group gathered to dance. He has a sharp quality that is eye catching.

Victor Quijada’s “Once Again, Before You Go,” is lofty and resolute. Andrew Wojtal glides through the space, sifting through layers of invisible matter, in order to find a quiet place and moment. Two other male dancers join him as Berkett slips onto the stage and into our minds. Every step is subtle almost to the point of forgetting the phrase you just watched minutes before. Just as the movement glides into a static zone, Berkett whisks herself into the air and the three men catch her. Black out.

In usual Hofesh Shecter style, words appear illuminated on the backdrop. “In the beginning,” they read. From that moment, its non stop action and reaction in “Dust,” the evening’s world premier. Three male/female couples in red dresses and black suits rise and fall on stage. Their movement is quick and winding, as if spooling thread back onto a stick, it’s effervescently in transit.

In a piece better suited for the opening, Berkett, Wojtal, and the dynamic Guzman Rosado bring character and spirit to Richard Siegal’s “The New 45.” The music roars the dancers into somewhat of a dance off. She does quick steps. And then his are quicker. This game continues. Laced with fun solos along the way, “The New 45,” is entertaining, and that’s all its intended to be.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

December 16, 2014
Juilliard dance presented New Dances: Edition 2014 last week at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. Each class worked with a different choreographer culminating in four new pieces from Austin McCormick (2018), Loni Landon (2017), Kate Weare (2016), and Larry Keigwin (2015).

In McCormick’s “La Folia,” the dancers pushed sexiness too strongly and it lost its luster. The ladies wore black leotards with small cage skirts, the gents in pants with suspenders, and everyone in kitten heels. Teen angst seeped through the untidiness of the pieces and although their efforts felt passionate the performance fell short. Perhaps the true detailed essence of McCormick’s work is better suited for an intimate setting instead of a work for 24. His youth and novelty that shine through his baroque contemporary style is deeply alluring and I imagine he will continue to work through the kinks of his own dialogue.

In a post apocalyptic world resides the dancers of the class of 2017. It is not really their world- they just live there- ownership belongs to Loni Landon. Watching her latest work “and then there was one,” is like taking a big exhale- there is an intake that happens prior to- a middle ground filled with action and release and an ending that is satisfactory. The work is full bodied yet transient in delivery. Stop motion movement blends the class to breathe as one entity. Lead by two of Juilliard’s finest dancers at the moment Conner Bormann and Riley O’Flynn, the class has encapsulated a maturity that is unique and still under developed, giving room for exciting possibilities to emerge in the future.

One of the most under recognized dance creators of the moment, Kate Weare's exceptional talent and crafting abilities always moves beyond the examination of steps and music into a study of the human state and psyche. In “Night Light,” Weare’s group is slinky and understated. They saturate the stage with movement at once structured and shimmery. Flocking from lines into small groups there is ease with each formation and movement pattern. She finds sophistication in her arrangement that is fresh and wise. The dancers are committed to the moment, sometimes trance like and at others banging their bodies with the floor to create rhythms and texture. In the final moment two male dancers in wide lunges turn their gaze to the audience for the first time, as their colleagues surround the stage. A single glance that begs the question “do you want more?” Yes we do!

The final piece of the evening was the senior class in Keigwin’s “Exit Like an Animal,” a fun and active dance that helped liven the mood after the previous somber numbers. Jetting across the stage in twos and threes, the dancers jump and prance in high cut black body suits. It comes with no surprise that these dancers have undeniable chemistry onstage. They represent themselves as dynamic individuals but blend together as a group with ease. No examination of technique or artistry is required for they offer it up without question. Like gazelles floating through the space, they achieve a bliss that doesn’t require complicated choreography or ideas. The class of 2015 is enjoying the moment and their performance is quite simply refreshing.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

December 9, 2014
EYE ON DANCE Public Screening: The Politics of Dance in Israel
Gibney Dance Center’s recent “Sorry I Missed Your Show” event delved into the Israeli dance scene -from its slow start to today’s success and international appreciation. The free, public screening featured a one-of-a-kind EYE ON DANCE episode that originally aired in New York in 1991. In the episode, Producer and host, Celia Ipiotis discusses the politics of dance in Israel with Jeannette Ordman, the well-known director of the country’s (now-defunct) Bat Dor Dance Company. “Dance has taken longer,” Ordman noted, alluding to the Israeli culture’s affinity for music.

A focal point within the discussion is the dynamic between the arts and the government. Plagued by war and unrest, the Israeli dancers were quite used to rehearsing with their masks lined before the studio mirrors. In addition, the country’s mandatory service meant excellently trained dancers diverted to army during their prime years of 18-21. Luckily, some accommodations were possible for artists; many were stationed close to the theater and rehearsal studios in Tel Aviv to continue participation in dance classes with at least some consistency.

As Ipiotis brings up the work of Martha Graham, Ordman fondly remembers attending a performance of hers in London, and “the fullness of her movement, the depth of it.” Differing from the American modern dance icon who is crediting with influencing countless choreographers however, Ordman viewed dancers and choreographers as very distinct artists. “What would you say if I wanted to write a book in Hebrew?” she once told a dancer expressing interest in choreography. “You must learn your language before you can talk with it.” In the same vein she discusses the significance of teaching dance, describing it as an incredible responsibility, and one over someone else’s body. It is clear that her systematic dance training and high standard of professional etiquette are certainly remaining legacies.

Following the screening, Ipiotis moderated a panel discussion with the Israeli dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers Ze’eva Cohen and Dana Katz. As Ipiotis noted in her opening remarks, “EYE ON DANCE was meant to be timeless, to connect the world of dance with much broader social, cultural, historical and political themes.” This proved true in the rich experiences, memories, and opinions shared by the panel guests, bringing the issues of two decades past into a contemporary light.

Both Cohen and Katz served two years in the army while training as often as possible. In fact, Cohen recalls being stationed in the dessert and hitchhiking hours to Tel Aviv and back in order to take classes at night, until she was caught and asked to be relocated. Katz, who trained under Ordman during the final years of her life, remembers her powerful presence in the studio even following two hip surgeries (after which she returned to stage) and a difficult bout of breast cancer.

Funded almost entirely privately, as no government funding was readily available, Bat Dor marked one of the leading contemporary dance companies of the country at the time. Today, many more are flourishing, even traveling abroad, and Israel is now home to some great dance festivals. Cohen asserts, “Dance used to be very isolated [in Israel] during my time. Now it is very porous.” This January, New Yorkers will have can experience the benefits of this cultural shift at the 92nd Street Y’s “Out of Israel Festival,” curated by Katz. It will feature the work of her company, DanaKa Dance, along with other Israeli-influenced choreographers.

And for those who want to share in the continuation of an unmatched resource chronicling America's dance heritage, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the EYE ON DANCE Legacy Archive Campaign HERE
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

December 8, 2014
The American Dance Guild held their performance festival over the weekend opening with a Thursday evening Gala at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. The gala presented awards to honorees Joan Myers Brown, Douglas Dunn, and Bill Evans.

In the first half of the program, some of the festival’s choreographers presented works from the past and present. In “Sketch #1,” the fierce and dynamic Jody Oberfelder was tossed around and tipped upside down by the flexible Ben Follensbee. Their piece was fun and quirky.

After intermission Celia Ipiotis founder and host of the no longer running PBS series Eye on Dance, which has transitioned into an archive being restored for digital access, presented archival clips and interviews of the honorees. A special live interview between Ipiotis and Evans followed. Afterwards Evans took his taps to the stage for an inspiring solo to music by George Gershwin.

Hope Boykin of the Alvin Ailey Company paid tribute to her teacher Joan Myers Brown with a self choreographed solo. Whipping a long white dress as she spun, Boykin captured a finesse and ease in her powerful movements. Eyes trailed her patterns over the stage as she whisked quickly about. Too soon her performance was over but her energy resonated still on the stage.

Finally Douglas Dunn joined some of his dancers on stage mixing performance art and classic modern movement. Each honoree was moved by short speeches given by former students and colleagues. In the final moment a young Jacob’s Pillow scholarship winner taped his way over to Evans as he gave him his award. An impromptu tap duet followed. The audience couldn’t help but be moved as it became clear the power of dance knows no age but only passion and heart.

And according to Ms. Ipiotis, those who want to participate in the continuation of an unmatched resource chronicling America's dance heritage, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the EYE ON DANCE Archive Legacy Campaign HERE.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

December 3, 2014
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” presents
EYE ON DANCE (EOD) video screening: Episode #326 (produced 1991)
Topic: “Dance in Israel”
DATE: Dec. 3, 2014 at 6:30pm
Location: Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway, 5th Floor
Tickets: FREE
Guest: Jeanette Ordman, Director of Bat-Dor Dance Company
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis, EOD creator, producer, moderator
Performance Excerpts: Oscar Araíz' Cantares, Gene Hill Sagan's And after, Nils Christe's Luminescences, Domy Reiter-Soffer's Notturni ed Alba, and Rodney Griffin's Piaf vaudeville.

Celia Ipiotis invites Jeannette Ordman to describe the riveting path forged by artists to establish contemporary dance in Israel. Produced in 1991, the conversation covers the rise of a dance company in a land of constant upheaval, and Ms. Odrmdan’s own battle with a life-threatening disease. Ms. Ordman underscores the many obstacles facing dance like mandatory army service as well as the company’s audition process, selection of choreographers, Martha Graham’s influence and dancers’ health issues. Copyright 1991, Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc.

Post-Screening Panel:
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis, Curator of the EOD Legacy Archive
Guests: Ze’eva Cohen, Israeli dancer, choreographer and filmmaker
Dana Katz, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and co-curator of the Out of Israel festival of The 92nd Street Y.
Discussion: Similarities and developments within the Israeli dance community since the 1991 EOD interview, and the upcoming 2015 Israeli Dance festival at the 92 Street Y.

November 21, 2014
Hailing from St. Petersburg, the Mikhailovsky Ballet's two week run at The David H. Koch Theater presents four distinct programs, with the November 19 performance marking the final evening of "Three Centuries of Russian Ballet." The triptych program certainly showcased Mikhailovsky's versatile dancers morphing between starkly varied artistic priorities, though delivered less of a historical trajectory as the title may suggest.

Opening with ballet icon Marius Petipa's work, the program takes off on a classic, lighthearted note. "Le Halte de Cavalerie" is a short and charming ballet heavy on the theatrics, weaving in caricatured movement between the traditional pas de deux and other moments of pretty ballet staples. Before a cottage amidst a golden green forest, the story centers on the simple premise of a love-triangle: the dreamy Maria (Anastasia Soboleva )and the red-booted girl next door, Teresa (Kristina Makhviladze) both have eyes for the handsome Peter (Leonid Saafanov).

In particular, Saafanov shined in his performance, with his masterful fouette turns in second of note. (He went on to dance featured principal roles for the remainder of the program.) Still, the heart of the piece lies in its humorous accents, and recurring movement patterns - the click of the heels, chugging the feet inwards, over-the-top expressions.

Following is Asaf Messerer's "Class Concert," which quite literally frames ballet class and ongoing pedagogical development as performance in its own right. A single spotlight highlights four young ballerinas-in-training at the barre before shifting to other groupings of dancers - each a bit older and more technically skilled than the last. Busy with entrances and exits, fleeting solos, lifts, and ensemble work, the piece steadily ascends towards a flash, whirlwind end.

Performing alongside the Mikhailovsky professionals, young local dancers from the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Brighton Ballet School, the Ellison Ballet, and the Greenwich Ballet were featured rather successfully. The streamlined red, white, or blue rehearsal-wear costumes and choreographic emphasis on the "wow" effect makes each performer a cog in the work with only a select few claiming memorable individuality. From airborne triple turns, to gliding leaps in a circle, and intricate jumps, ballet tricks were aplenty.

Nacho Duato's 2011 "Prelude" - a work he created for the Mikhailovsky Ballet while its Artistic Director (2011-2014) - closes the evening. Among the program it presents the most artistic depth, interjecting modern dance and abandoning nearly every balletic status quo. Clustered upstage, a corps of ballerinas in thick, floor-length, grayish-pink tutus remain as a spurts of duos and trios, wearing black and tan, unfold before them. A sentiment of anguish prevails, as the corps' movement is riddled with head grabs, the curling of the torso, the gathering and thrusting of their tulle skirts upwards.

An obvious contrast to the poised and narrative realm of traditional ballet, in "Prelude" the structure is rambling, visual effects disjointed and ever-changing, and body lines favor an inward, grounded quality with the occasional angular flare. It is refreshing to see these ballerinas forego , if only briefly, their well-known comfort zone to create Duato's bizarre and haunting world.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

November 20, 2014
Three Centuries of Russian Ballet, danced by the Mikhailovsky Ballet, provided a welcome respite from the bitter cold at the Koch Theater Wednesday evening. Opening with Le Halte De Cavalerie, a revival of rare choreography by Marius Petipa, was either charming and delightful or dated and provincial. It was definitely a showcase for the supple and skilled Leonid Sarafanov. His partner Anastasia Soboleva had difficulties, especially in the balances and promenades, but everyone committed to the absurd nature of the piece and made it fun.

The most interesting piece on the program was Class Concert, with choreography by Asaf Messerer, a distinguished dancer, ballet master, and choreographer from the Moscow Ballet School and Bolshoi Theater. This piece, from 1962, exhibits the classical training that one expects and relishes from Russian ballet. It is a staged class with company members doing the most advanced work, supplemented here by students from local American school such as the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Ellison Ballet, Brighton Ballet, Gesley Kirkland Academy and Greenwich Ballet. It was exciting, polished and energetic dancing meant to show off both the bravura moves and the delicate artistry. Natalia Osipova, with her skirt artfully tucked up, took a spectacular fall, yet virtually bounced back up right into her pirouettes.

The program closed with resident choreographer and former artistic director Nacho Duato's Prelude, (2011). It is a meeting of classical and contemporary dance and while the movement was compelling, the decor and lighting, by Alla Marusina and Brad Fields, was a spectacular addition. From glittering wings that created a canopy of trees, to a chandelier, to a door with glass, each element provided contrast to the simple yet dramatic choreography. A favorite moment was when the dancers held up a scenic back drop of a woodland clearing only to disappear under it when they let go.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

November 18, 2014
Irish step dance is a captivating form in it’s own right, but that did not stop Darrah Carr Dance from giving it a modern twist. At the Irish Arts Center in Hells Kitchen, The Darrah Carr dancers took to the stage to perform in their collaborative dance form they call ModERIN. Part modern, part Irish step dance this series of dances were a lighthearted and fun way to spend an evening. It is a unique venture to blend these two forms, and though not always cohesive, there were many moments that made you want to jump right out of your seat.

The typical modern vocabulary found new life when sprinkled with patterns and movements taken from the world of Irish Step. This was reflected most successfully in the piece ‘S An Cuan Eadrainn (and the Sea Between Us). The added use of live music, with the vocalist (and choreographer) Christopher Caines stepping from side stage to interact with the dancers, presents a feeling of both Irish and Modern as a continuous blend. A sense of yearning could be felt throughout the dance in both the moments derived from modern vocabulary--reaching arms and an airy quality to the flow of transition--as well as the incorporated details of Step.

The most spectacular moments were seen in the Tradition Tunes performed by musician Liz Hanley and dancer/choreographer Niall O’Leary and Percussive Pause performed by Trent Kowalik. Both these solos highlighted the percussive nature of step. Dance and rhythm were so intricate and fast paced it was hard to match the sounds with the movement of the feet. In breathtaking speed, Kowalik stunned the audience who responded in uproarious applause as his feet came to a well deserved rest. The skill of the dancers, especially those who were highly proficient at Step dancing, really made the movement vital, creating a great showcase for a new style collaboration.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 16, 2014
The shows literally starts with a bang. With no announcement or warning, a huge crashing sound emanates from the speakers at the house lights blackout, to stage lights up and Sadeh21 begins. This piece by the Batsheva Dance Company is a mix of intense, captivating, and immensely pleasant sequences. Each section (or “Sadeh”) is decisively original, yet fits together perfectly. As the developer of the Gaga style of dance, Ohad Naharin‘s choreography reflects the larger than life organic movement that Gaga promotes.

Vocalizations and projections add texture to the already compelling movement. Naharin is particularly skilled in presenting simple ideas then playing within the boundaries he has set. A great example of this happens in a moment where dancer Adi Ziatin stands downstage staring right at the audience- confronting them. She begins to articulate what, in the moment, seems like a random organization of the numbers one through five. She repeats this specific pattern of numbers and just as the pattern becomes familiar to the audience, dancers enter the stage and group themselves in ways that reflect the numbers being called out. First Nararin established a vocal pattern, then he laid out how those numbers affect the dancers, and within that structure he then begins to play with tempo, levels, and quality of movement. Taking a small idea and blowing it out until it is fully heightened is a choreographic gift that is present throughout this work. This mix of complex movements and simple repetitions, layer meaning and intent to each section of the piece.

Ultimately the most satisfying moment comes right at the end. After a score comprised of a woman screaming, for what feels like an eternity, the dance transitions to a tranquil space. The dance takes place within a white room built on stage, with the back wall extending up only a fraction of the height provided by the BAM Opera House. As the screaming ends, dancers begin to crawl onto the top of the wall, stand there for a brief moment, then release their bodies and fall to an unseen void. The first person falls and soon there is a constant stream of dancers crawling onto the wall and then falling off or eventually diving into the unknown behind the wall. As this fluid stream of ups and downs continues the credits begin to roll on the wall where they projected each Sadeh title. It is a overwhelmingly pleasant way to cap of a visceral and thought-provoking performance.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 14, 2014
The Mikhailovsky Ballet from St Petersburg, Russia is dancing a two week run at the David Koch Theatre in Lincoln Center. They begin with the classic two act ballet “Giselle.” As many ballets are, “Giselle,” is a romantic tragedy, with a delicate balance between reaction and over-reaction.

In Wednesday’s performance Angelina Vorontsova danced the title role. From the first moment she dips the tip of her pointe show on to the stage, she plays innocencent but its sincere not forced. Her gestures are authentic, her eyes wide and full of emotion. As the Count (Albrecht in most versions), danced by Ivan Vasiliev, professes his love, she is passionate in her response but tentative. As the ballet carries on and it becomes clear the pairing of the two principals is a little off in connection, Vorontsova manages to maintain a stoicism that saves her from becoming the overacted Giselle.

Vasiliev, is a fine partner and an excellent jumper. Perhaps his smaller stature distracts from the princely element one usually looks for in a count. His expressions in Act 1, lighten up the over used gestures, but at times turn comical which sullies the storyline.

Intricate woodland sets cover the Koch stage. In Act II a piece of a tree covers the Queen of the Willis, danced by the fiercly dynamic Ekaterina Borchenko. As it rises, the rest of the ensemble emerges creating the white dreamy sequence that has become historic. Borchenko plays her Queen part feminist, part slave driver. Each movement is direct and precise, and the corps of Willis follow suit behind her.

The production on a whole is quite lovely, with many fine moments from the principal dancers, however it seems to lack a fluidity in storyline and presentation. Sequencing at times felt choppy when it should have been delicate and sincere. In the final moments as the Count dances for his life, Vasiliev literally jumps until his legs collapse underneath him. An aspect that pertains to the group, that even if all the pieces don’t align quite right, they give it their all and dance to the death.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

November 14, 2014
A few years ago, amidst a spurt of press, ABT principal David Halberg joined the Bolshoi as a guest artist. Part of the allure was the opportunity to partner the remarkable ballerina, Natalia Osipova. But soon after his arrival, Osipova was poached by the wealthy owner/manager (Vladimir Kekman) of the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Determined to compete with the world class Mariinsky and Bolshoi Ballet, Mikahilovsky lured dancers from the ranks of the major troupes. The question remains, can this company compete on a level with its peers.

In a three-week season, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, directed by Mikhail Messerer, intends to answer that question and establish its mark. The first program features the 19th century tragedy Giselle. A village girl falls in love with a Count, who hides his true identity, only to learn the man who pledged undying love is betrothed. Already weakened by a bad heart, Giselle goes mad and dies.

Giselle passes into the realm of the wilis, jilted women who transform into ethereal creatures and alight in the darkness of night. Led by the steely Myrta, any man who enters their haunted forest is doomed to dance himself to death.

In the two casts that appeared opening night and the following matinee, Natalia Osipova and Anastasia Soboleva played Gieselle. Two very different interpretations emerged. Clearly in control from beginning to end, Osipova described a 21st century Giselle. After her robust death, Ossipova's effervescent white tulle form whirls in a cyclone of turns and jumps that compete with her suitor. However, Ms. Osipova shows effort in her expansive leaps, bounding jumps and flashy turns, not a shadowy etherealness.

Ms. Soboleva appeared a more natural Giselle. Easily pleased by her suitor, a technically fine Victor Lebedev, they sparked a chemistry missing in the opening night program. Both Sobleva and Lebedev share an effortless technique and marvelous spines that arch fluidly over lunges and airborne arabesques. Joining Osipova, Leonid Sarafanov, looking a bit like Peter Pan, is youthful and full of mischievous fun. Technically his form is clear and pliant. However, the two never matched energies or hearts.

Staged by staged by the renowned dancer, Nikita Dolgushin, this production is edited and more focused, still the company never really glistens. There’s a good deal of talent being nurtured in the ranks, and after a few more performances, this range will be revealed. All four lead dancers are worth catching in other productions during the run at the David H. Kock Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 7, 2014
Across the back of Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, white paper stretches lengthwise over a white Marley floor. Home movies project revealing a determined little girl, around 3 years old, pumping her arms and tromping down the sidewalk. Next to the projection, Netta Yerushalmy snaps out a brisk walk forward, and twists back reflecting the intent if not the exact steps in the film. The tautly rhythmic passage repeats again and again until it turns into a mental hum. This theme resonates throughout the new work “Helga and The Three Sailors.” It would seem Yerushalmy is Helga and the three sailors are her supporting dancers, Marc Crousillat, Amanda Kmett’Pendy and Sarah Lifson.

In the first half, the slim Ms. Yerushalmy dominates the action. Easy flow straight-ahead steps basted in the modern dance idiom, concentrate on micro movements that grow in intensity and size as they repeat. At one point, body erect over traveling small steps, Yerushalmy’s shoulders undulate sensually. The action repeats until the three steps resemble a secret folk dance. While Yerushalmy dances alone and flanking projected images of a young girl (this time 5 or 6 years old dancing in a kitchen), the three dancers drape their bodies around the perimeter of the space.

About halfway through, Yerushalmy takes to the corners, and the three dancers move in tandem or solo, casting eyes down or up, squinting at the audience and shaking their limbs around in youthful, giddy ways.

Each of the three dancers takes a spin across the floor in a strong, propulsive riffs that’s reminiscent of a scratched LP repeating a groove over and over. The very fluid Crousillat explores the greatest level of expressivity and technique, while Ms. Lifson displays expert control. In a particularly athletic moment, Crousillat and Lifson stand together facing away from the audience as Ms. Kmett’Pendy rocks over their bodies spreading her straight legs, and neatly swinging her limbs through theirs.

These quirky sequences are mounted over a soundscore that taps into the rhythmic baseline performed and composed by Judith Berkson. Still, white light by designer Carol Mullins draws up and down, at times lengthening and shortening the performance area.

Personable and spare, Ms. Yerushalmy is exploring an individualized track that deserves watching.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 5, 2014
Originally seen in Montclair University’s Peak Performance series, Bill T. Jones returns Story/Time to the far more intimate Bessie Schonberg Theater. This works to the piece’s advantage. Seated behind a simple desk on a stool, legs determinedly apart, Bill T. reads – or actually delivers—a number of one-minute stories. They detail events in his life both professional and personal. While he reads, dancers spray across the stage in a variety of athletic movement sequences. Even if the movement is not intended to illuminate the text, the eye and ear work hard to connect the two. For that reason, the smaller space forces a greater compactness of the two, so that dancers frequently passed behind and next to Mr. Jones at the table. Somehow, the closer proximity of word and action benefit overall comprehension. The company is in excellent form and each night, Mr. Jones selects different stories. Let it be said, the stories that relate to this family resonate the most.

November 1, 2014
Austin Mccormick gets it. He understands the crucial changes that are happening in the spectrum of dance and theatre and he capitalizes on them. “Rococo Rouge,” his newest production, is an entertaining mix of song, dance, and burlesque. In their new home on Lafayette Street in the East Village, Mccormick’s Company XVI has transformed a bar and lounge into NYC’s own Moulin Rouge.

Dapper waiters in black top hats and tails take drink orders as audience members settle into the intimate theatre and the cabaret style seating. Glittering, structurally unique costumes from Zane Philstrom and inspired lighting design by Jeanette Yew set the tone as the curtain rises to beautifully toned and glistening dancers.

The show is organized in three sections with several numbers filling each act. Ranging from dangerously hot and sexy circus acts to sinfully soulful musical numbers, on-stage happenings compete with business men in the front area being teased and taunted by a statuesque male dancer. I mean, what’s your natural response to a Swarovski crystal covered codpiece? That’s where the creative team smartly orchestrates the alcohol component. *Swigs champagne*

Standouts include the outstanding pole dance and the ravishing Katrina Cunningham singing a mellow version of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.” The mix of tasteful debauchery and an era of the past, coupled with current pop culture is fresh and smart.

I’m eager to see what’s next for this group of performers. Rumors are swirling its an expansion among this project with a food element in the works. But whatever it is I’m likely to be back. With only a few shows left before “Rococo Rouge,” closes and “Nutcracker Rouge,” opens, I beseech you to go see this show. Lovely adult entertainment that is as much romantic as it is raunchy.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

October 25, 2014
Grayscale emptiness becomes a playground when designed by Rolf Borzik and inhabited by the Tanztheater Wuppertal. The dancehall that houses Kontakthof generates complexity in its bareness. Within the grand proscenium of BAM’s Howard Gillman Opera House, a humbler stage is nestled in Pina Bausch’s multi-layered environments. In three hours, its curtains only give way to a documentary on ducks, performance happening everywhere else. Within the arena between the open frame through which we see and the closed frame before which they act, the presentation of self is dismantled through that which requires the self to be presented: human contact.

Bausch contextualizes the open ends of tenderness by abstracting privacy. A relentless need to divulge information is privileged, though not incited by amplification. The quietude of gossip sours the space as Nazareth Panadero and Julie Shanahan recite their complaints into a mike, while blunt insults catapult from Anna Wehsarg‘s lips – our eye’s perception of the action determining on whom her vitriol lands.

Physical expressions of privacy show performance as habit. The ensemble is an audience to anything that happens, applauding and joining in. Couples demonstrate soft touches mutating into torturous probing. A man and a woman sit across the space, undressing. The company barges in, unprotested. The two reverse their process, repackaging their intimacy for a crowd. After Panadero succumbs to affectionate touches, Julie Anne Stanzak enters with a knowing smirk, attracting behind her Panadero’s assailants. She knows we know that they may repeat their actions on her; still, she leads her procession through the final blackout.

Such gestural marches are Bausch’s trademark, yet here, their forward trajectory is emphasized. The company reaches the edge of the stage, runs frantically back, and starts again while Cristiana Morganti and Aleš Cucek brainstorm where to have dinner. Shanahan maintains her motion in both directions as she struts alone – Andrey Berezin scurries about attempting to sketch her. They are executed as though they would continue indefinitely if the stage were any larger, characterizing performance space as routinely territorial and arbitrary.

Forward motion is duly appropriate as the company trudges forth under Lutz Forster’s directorship. Fresher faces can seem awkward, while veteran performers can appear fatigued by the piece’s voracious demands. Considering the material, we have no reason to not see these performative side effects as invariably thematic to the work as a whole. Not setting out to teach us, the experiences generated to create Bausch’s oeuvre undergo experiences of their own with each new embodiment.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 24, 2014
Closing in on its 20th anniversary season next year, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a company that has thoroughly embraced the contemporary. With its two home bases, an ongoing quest for innovation, and dedication to commissioning and licensing diverse 21st century ballets, the eleven dancer company has met much choreographic talent. This week the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet returned to The Joyce Theater for its seventh season, presenting the works of Cayetano Soto, Jirí Kylián, and Nicolo Fonte.

Beneath muted lights, two couples take off in a whirl of slicing limbs and flared fingers, ferocious in their in execution. Cayetano Soto's "Beautiful Mistake" marks one of the company's recent (2013) commissions, showcasing the dancers' technical strength and athleticism. Before long others enter the space allowing transitions to new encounters and groupings; the mood is serious with a hint of seduction. Perhaps most curious about the presentation of Soto's work is its placement in the program, as it was by far the pinnacle of the evening.

Soto's choreographic style is notable; each movement is compelling in its articulation and asymmetry, which the dancers own in their precise performance. Bouts of silence compliment the intermittent pauses in the movement that showcase far more than stillness and rather off-kilter balances. In particular, senior dancer Samantha Klanac Campanile emerges as a stand out performer, proving practice really does make perfect.

From the adventurous place "Beautiful Mistake" leaves us, Jirí Kylián’s "Return to a Strange Land" shifts to a much more subdue and melancholy atmosphere. The formal structure of alternating duets and trios is colored by intricate lifts which unfurl into images of bodies as momentary sculptures. Dancers in pale blue and nude colored leotards carry out the fluid movement phrases against stark backdrops. This simplicity is challenged just once with a section performed before strewn autumn leaves. The musical accompaniment, four emotional compositions by Leos Janacek, is performed live by Pianist Han Chen. Knowing this work was created in 1975 to commemorate Kylián’s mentor John Cranko, adds a more personal lens to the experience.

Closing the program was Nicolo Fonte's "The Heart(s)pace," another commission which just premiered this past February. It's a lighthearted work pairing Ezio Bosso's high-energy score with color, movement patterns, and smiles. A white scrim stage right creates an immediate sense of space, as if the dancers are partially encased in a room. Seah Johnson's dynamic lighting brings the work from an initial point of passion and intrigue with the stage doused in red, quickly contrasted by piercing white lights, and then evolving to color-blocked panels of red, pink, and orange and white circular patterns splayed across the side scrim.

The movement bounces between spurts of ensemble work in unison to simultaneous solos and a few briefly separated from the group. Occasionally the dancers collect in a "v" pattern center stage or return to the floor, balancing on their backs with their legs lifted upwards. Dancer Seia Rassenti shines in a passionate pas de duex that leaves her alone (only briefly), standing and staring forward, in a hallway of white light across the foot of the stage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

October 21, 2014
Kathryn Posin returned to 92Y nearly 30 years after her company’s debut there, with a group of dancers comprised especially for the event. “Voices of America and Bulgaria,” presented four premieres as well as two of Posin’s earlier works. Two of the evening’s strongest pieces were created in conjunction with Momchil Mladneov.

The third piece on the program “Century Rolls,” saw eight dancers fly non-stop through the space in tangerine unitards. They whip their bodies into quick jumps and careen themselves into whimsical movement patterns. Groups break away into solo movements, with the virtuosic Dimitri Kleioris taking the lead. Kleioris, a freelance ballet dancer is in his prime. His debonair looks only add to his elevated saut de basques, clean lines and focus. It would be a shame if an American company didn’t snatch the former New Zealand Ballet dancer up. My one qualm with this number was the rather random and unfinished ending. Perhaps it can still be expanded upon for up until the final moment, I was very much caught in the flow.

Ms. Posin’s mish mosh of freelance dancers really aids her in showing off the strengths of the choreography. They each bring something unique to the work, and work past their pristine technique edging toward a true sense of artistry.

The final piece of the night “Buried Cities,” was an ode to Bulgaria with five dancers representing aspects of the flag. Theatrical and congested in construction, the work as a whole was fun. Another stand out dancer was the lovely Yumelia Garcia. Her strong presence and gorgeous arched feet made it difficult to look away. Posin’s return to the scene is a welcome one. It will be interesting to see where else this project takes her.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

October 16, 2014
Multiple dance ethnicities and aesthetics rolled over the stage in the Fall For Dance Program #3 at City Center. Forceful rhythms curl out of African drums played by Isaac Molelekoa, Nompumelelo Nhlapo and the riveting Anele Ndebele (Rarely are women given permission to play African drums).

Luyanda Sidya’s “Umnikelo” performed by Vuyani Dance Theatre from Johannesburg, South Africa is a heady mix of traditional South African dance forms charged by modern dance moves. Dressed in loose, white tunics and pants, the men and women execute the same athletic moves, lifting one another, centers dropped into the earth and spirits high.

One of the dance community’s star ballerinas, Sara Mearns, principal dancer with NYC Ballet, tossed off an inconsequential dance by Joshua Bergasse to George and Ira Gershwin’s “I’ll Build A Stairway to Paradise.” Flanked by a chorus of good-looking men in tuxes, it was a slight tribute to Mearns’ dramatic skills and compelling stage presence.

Post modern dance splits the stage space into sections of loopy movements, cushioned by easy knees and rotating arms in Trisha Brown’s “Son of Gone Fishin’ “ to the music of Robert Ashley. Program notes state the infrastructure of the piece relates to the cross-section of a tree trunk. But more to the point, loose swings, stir up dancers splitting apart and veering together in a dewy, technically specific piece.

Festivities ended with the National Ballet of China’s spectacle “The Peony Pavilion” by Fei Bo. Adorned in colorful grand robes and headpieces, the ballet depicting 16th century China is adapted from the theatrical production, The Peony Pavilion. Precision and elegant form prevails until the final, shower of pink rose petals.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

FALL FOR DANCE 2014 - Program Two
October 11, 2014
Strands of American post modern dance roped around fractured neo-classical ballet with a dollop of Spanish urban attitude and community dance hall in the second program of the popular Fall For Dance Series.

The many shades of William Forsythe sparkled in the U.S. premiere of “Neue Suite” (2012). Five duets described his genetic dance progression from traditional ballet (raised in the Joffrey Ballet idiom) rippling through the edgy ballet style pinned to Cunningham’s stringent modern dance aesthetic. Performed by the Semperoper Ballet Dresden, all five couples distinguish themselves by executing the steps in a clean, minimalist style steeped in exaggerated hip thrusts, out of hip socket leg extensions and razor fast one-legged spins.

In the last century—the 9170s’ -- Lucinda Childs represented a group of innovators and dance anarchists who pulled away from the traditional dance scene and sowed forms that gave equal weight to all forms of movement whether it be a walk or pirouettes. Well, actually, few pirouettes emerged, but as witnessed in Lucinda Childs Dance Company’s performance of “Concerto” (1993) there was plenty of walking, skipping and directional shifts all plotted against a gleaming geometrical gird. Childs fleshes out the ornamentation of performative modern dance and ballet, and leaves the essence of steps against strict rhythm and patterns in space.

Again, in the 1970’s there was a fear that hip-hop would die before it took root. Well, that’s hardly a concern because it spread globally and reappeared last night in a strong duet “AP15 choreographed and performed by Sebastian Ramirez and Honji Wang. Opening in silhouette, the slim Wang assumes the profile of a shadow puppet, arms dangling, and legs silently sliding along, twisting and crumbling until Ramirez appears. Like magnetized mechanical toys, they move in tandem. He grabs her head and she twists round and round, the two becoming one.

Finally, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater made the best of Ohad Naharin’s engaging “Minus 16” that brims with a sense o community, belief and ecstasy. First, the remarkable Samuel Lee Roberts stands alone crinkling his arms, legs and torso into spongy moves slinking up dance down his spine. Israeli folk dance elements accent all the stamps and handclasps rotating forward and back over scuttling slides.

Dancers in black suits and white shirts, sit on chairs curved around the stage, dropping their torsos forward and back, popping up into a frenzied solo and then rejoining the corps. In the finale, house lights rise and dancers stream through the aisles selecting people to come on stage and engage in Mideastern style couples dancing. Oddly enough, many of the chosen civilians wore red, and had a mighty fine time—equaled only by the audience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipioits

Fall for Dance 2014– Program One
October 9, 2014
The opening night program of New York City Center's annual "Fall for Dance" festival brought Black Grace, San Francisco Ballet, Russell Maliphant/Sadler Wells London, and Mark Morris Dance Group to the stage in what was a very musically driven evening.

The New Zealand-based company Black Grace presented two of Artistic Director Neil Ieremia's correlating works, distanced in their creation by a decade. Together they proved a great opener for the festival, which aims to showcase diversity and high-level talent. First, the male-only "Minoi" features six in close-knit arrangement, their stances wide as their movements - pulling from traditional Samoan dance style - beget the elaborate soundscape. Stomps, claps, slaps, snaps, synchronized exhales, and deep-voiced chants riddle the purposeful choreography.

The second is an ensemble piece, "Pati Pati," continuing in the same vein with four female dancers introduced into the mix. While more full-bodied, music-making movement comes into play here, it's really the simple elements of ripple effects and contrasting movement patterns that shine within the specific formations. The coordinated uniformity in the Black Grace dancers' timing is enchanting; one can truly see the journey of their rhythms.

Taking a turn for the classical, San Francisco Ballet’s "Variations for Two Couples" follows. Choreographed by Hans Van Manen, this double duet pins the dancers in an evolving maze of largely partnered movement to the various string quartet accompaniment. The work relies on an a balance of abstractions and challenging technique -which its four dancers have an abundance of.

British choreographer Russell Maliphant's "Two x Two" features a barefoot duo in a fluid movement dialogue. However, it's the production effects that become most memorable here; Michael Hulls' lighting is integral, housing dancers Fang-Yi Sheu and Yuan Yuan Tan in their own cube of lit space. Near the end, slivers of light highlight the building speed of their flailing arms and extended feet as Andy Cowton's percussive score intensifies in pace.

Though the program lineup marked two New York premieres and one U.S. premiere respectively, it is the local Mark Morris Dance Group that presents a world premiere, "Words," as a "Fall for Dance" 2014 commission. Mark Morris's choreography here is straightforward, accessible, and yet intricate in its musicality. An added treat, Felix Mendelssohn's "songs Without Words" - to which Morris' work is set - is performed live by the company's associated musicians, violinist Georgy Valtchev and pianist Colin Fowler.

Created for 16 dancers (and 8 while on tour), the heart of Morris' newest creation centers on duets ornamented by surrounding organized chaos - entrances, exits, group moments, contrasting and evolving timing. A screen walked on and off stage serves as a peel away tool, changing the enveloping goings-on by concealing certain exits and additions, triggering a shift in scene and mood. Ultimately the work embraces a carefree aire; the dancers collect, arms extended and gazing upward in a series of dizzying turns.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

October 8, 2014
A minimum of talk allowed maximum flow of dance during the nicely paced Career Transitions for Dancers 29th Anniversary Jubilee at City Center. The evening’s grand honoree was the gracious film and theater star Angela Lansbury. New York City broadcaster Chuck Scarborough opened the ceremony and handed it over to the fabulous looking Chita Rivera who presented the Career Transition for Dancers’ awards honoring Janice Galli Becker, Fe Saracino Fendi and Joe Tremaine & Tremaine Dacne Conventions and Compeition.

After the introductions, a high level of dance fanned out including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Kirven Douthit-Boyd in a compelling solo Takademe by Robert Battle. Latin flair imbued Ballet Hispanico’s “El Beso” by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, while a quirky solo by experimental dance Jonah Bokaer to Lil’ Kim “Who’s Number One?” followed by “Mother Popcorn” by Robert Garland -- Dance Theater of Harlem’s nod to classical ballet bent around urban dance.

A pas de deux by the very popular choreographer Alexi Ratmansky featured American Ballet Theater’s Veronika Part and Blaine Hoven in “Seven Sonatas” and then things got very funky with the heady tribute performance by Rockette Alumnae to “I Wanna Be A Rockette” by Lynn Sullivan Bowers, Jeannie Martin and Fern Gedney. Earlier on, Tony Wagg led the game troupe of tap dancers (American Tap Foundation) in the smile-inducing Shim Sham X 3.

The evening closed with the mighty voiced James Earl Jones honoring Angela Lansbury and like Ms. Lansbury pointed out, it’s a sensational treat just to hear Jones speak in public.

An eclectic evening of dance helped raised money for The Career Transition For Dancers organization which has assisted countless dancers negotiate the perilous shift from a performance career to another occupation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 6, 2014
Career Transition For Dancers’ 29th Anniversary Jubilee is followed by dinner at The Grand Ballroom at The Hilton New York. Angela Lansbury will receive the 2014 Rolex Dance Award. Broadway dancer & choreographer Alex Sanchez has created a special number with some of the best dancers from the great white way for the show. The music has been composed by Steven Jamall, who is the Music Director and Supervisor for Rosie O’Donnell and her Rosie’s Theater Kids.
Performances by artists from Alvin Aileyr; ABT; Arthur Murray Dance Center; Ballet Hispanico; Jonah Bokaer; Dance Theatre of Harlem; Industrial Rhythm; Silva Dance Company; and Tony Waag’s American Tap Dance Foundation. The Rockette Alumnae and Karen Ziemba will perform “I Want To Be A Rockette.”

September 28, 2014
This past Friday Kyle Abraham shared the fruits of his two-year residency at New York Live Arts. Coupled with his winning of a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant in 2013 and his increased exposure as a public representative for the dance world the expectations amongst the audience were justifiably high. Friday was a showing of ‘The Watershed’ one of two new works, the second being ‘When the Wolves Came In,’ that are continuing their premiere at NYLA over the next week.

In the program notes Abraham speaks of drawing inspiration from Max Roach’s Freedom Suite as well as, in a more abstract sense, from the stories of Hector Pieterson and countless other “women and men facing violence and discrimination.” It is meant as a questioning of freedom and its meaning on a historical level as well as on a personal one. If this sounds like a lot to tackle in a sixty-minute dance theater work, it is. Thematically busy may be an understatement. However, even where it fell short, the work managed to maintain a creatively kinesthetic experience for viewers that showcased the strengths of Abraham and his bevy of talented dancers.

The work is split into two acts along with a “Prologue” and “Epilogue.” The titles were splashed on a wood paneled backdrop to denote section changes. This same text projection was used to show quotes and videos that related directly or indirectly to the action onstage. There is also a white tree made of plastic piping hung with material to resemble Spanish moss designed by Glen Ligon.

At times the work felt like a series of visual metaphors connected by sections of hyperkinetic phrase work, sinuous partnering and sweeping movement formations. These images include Abraham’s first appearance onstage in full drag complete with white courtesan wig. He sits on a bench beneath the tree and begins to cover himself with white foundation. This use of “white face,” while not necessarily innovative, did garner the desired response from the audience with audible signs of understanding and disapproval.

There is a long slow walk up the diagonal by a shirtless male dancer holding a watermelon aloft as if in a procession. The subsequent scene has the watermelon being chopped with a hatchet on a polka dotted picnic blanket as the dancers engage in a series of duets.

Probably the most arresting and heavy handed of these images occurred at the beginning of the second act where Abraham is dancing a solo in black to a prison work song. The solo finishes and a silver chain drops from the ceiling onto the floor unexpectedly, with much fanfare, and accompanied by a blackout. The section that follows sees lighting made to resemble bars on the stage floor and dancers dressed in ubiquitous grey jump suits.

Abraham’s movement vocabulary while distinctive, exhilarating and eclectic, as ever, did little to support the work topically and seemed more alongside the concepts rather than in congress with them. This disconnect leads to an earnestly ambivalent sentiment. To be sure, the work does touch on many important and relevant issues both historically and currently, but it does so in a way that feels spread thin.

As important as Abraham’s voice has become in the last few years we can hope that he continues to hone and strengthen the argument he makes for the shifting concept of freedom and the way in which it faults, fails, challenges and ultimately uplifts us. With his gifts for engaging physicality, gifted dancers and the public eye I like to think that he will.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Chafin Seymour

September 22, 2014
A lively display of Indian dance occured this past week at Chen Dance Center. Sonali Skandan & Jiva Dance presented four dances in the classical Indian dance style of Bharatanatyam. The choreography was ann impressive blending of the strength inherent in the technical aspects of the form and the exuberant emotions that exist in the stories being told.

Titled Mayura: Blue Peacock, each dance was inspired by the pervasive allusions to peacocks in Indian poetry and literature. Ms. Skandan choreographed the majority of the pieces, and performed a number of solos that showcased her mastery of the form. Her charisma on stage permeated every piece and drew the eyes of the audience as she shifted her gaze in conjunction with the movement. The five dancers that performed as part of Jiva Dance were all convincing in their commitment to the dance's precise structure.

Unison phrases stood out as each dancer matched the movements and energy of their peers. The lighting and costuming for the evening elevated the performance from fascinating to stunning. Reflecting the colors of a peacock, these elements of mis-en-scene shaped a cohesive concept in tune with the energy of the pieces. Vitality and joy shone through each dancer as they effortlessly moved their feet in rhythm with the music. Each dancer was clad with bells around their ankles, so their ability to dance together was not just visible, but audible as well.

In this captivating program, Skandan and Jiva dance showcased what it is they do best. Bringing culture and history to dance is so important and these women brought that culture into a modern age, using classical techniques with varied patterns and stories to entrance the audience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

September 15, 2014
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the BEAT (Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater) Festival at the Brooklyn Museum. The event brought together a diverse group of performance artists that will be showing work as part of the festival over the next two weeks.

Upon arriving I was immediately granted a map upon which were shown the floors of the museum marked with “X’s” to designate where performances would be taking place. Twelve artists were listed on the side but there was no indication of who would be performing precisely where and at what time. Needless to say I was intrigued. As I wandered around the museum, along with the equally diverse and sizeable crowd, I was treated to a delightful evening of performance installations or a “moving gallery” of sorts.

The performances ranged from Butoh inspired large-scale dance installation to a single actor giving a monologue in the corner of a small gallery to a couple performing an intimately understated tango in visible storage room. Amidst this wash of color and miscellany emerged some highlights. In the Lobby we were treated to the Bruk Up dance the Bed-Stuy Veterans an excellent crew of Brooklyn locals. Their sinuous movement, freestyle energy, and dancehall beats made for a vibrant kinetic display.

There was also the clever, social media oriented performance by UnderOneDances entitled #Tweetdance. The visitors to the museum were encouraged to tweet using that specific hash-tag. They were meant to use their 140 characters to ruminate on the quote “from where I stand.” The company then chose specific tweets and created 60-second improvised dances in response. The tweet offerings were predictably mixed, as were the movement responses, but this type of direct audience involvement in the creative process is both admirable and innovative.

Overall the format of the evening was enjoyable. Seeing a diverse array of artists across disciplines and cultures in the same evening is always a treat. Like any great museum visit it left me with the distinct feeling I didn’t see it all and wanted to see more. Check out the BEAT festival lineup on their website at
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Chafin Seymour

September 14, 2014
Throngs crowded into the Delacorte theater to see an evening of free dance presented by City Center Fall For Dance and the Public Theater. Originally, Lil Buck, the jukin’ sensation was scheduled to dance but during dress rehearsal the night before, sustained a serious sprained ankle preventing him from performing. Interestingly, the decision was made not to announce his absence until just before the closing piece.

That’s when Damian Woetzel took the mike and explained the painful situation describing a frantic 48 hours of re-choreographing the dance--"Bend in The Road: New Orleans" -- that included Ballet X, NYC Ballet stars, Robert Fairchild and Tyler Peck along with Caroline Fermin and Ron “Prime Tyme” Miles who stood in the place of Buck stood. Miles' rubbery twists, electric boogie slides and pops added syncopated accents to a piece that backed by some of the best jazz musicians including Marcus Printup, Russell Hall, Joe Saylor, Ibanda Ruhumbika, Eddie Barbash, Jaon Batiste and Kate Davis.

Before the show started, Oscar Eustis and Arlene Schuler announced that the free dance performances would become an annual event. The first half of the program featured Hubbard dance from Chicago. Technically strong, the company threw themselves into the tribal piece Gnawa by Nacho Duato. It was particularly effective as an outdoor presentation because the scooping lunges and isolated torso contractions suggested a collection of rain forest dwellers.

Another audience favorite, Hermann Schmerman by the neo, post modern classical choreographer William Forsythe tosses two NYC Ballet dancers, Maria Kowrowski and Amar Ramasar into a series of off-center balances, quirky, street dance head flings, and twisty toe turns that square off the space into physical angles. Ramasar was particularly effective in the slinky, forward hip thrusts and nonchalant ballet attitude.

Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane’s “D Man in the Waters (Part 1)” sent dancers filing out, and flipping back in a ribbon of lines. Very individualized performers, small and tall, slender and fuller bodies dug into the athletic steps that opened out, ready to catch falling bodies. Quick footwork, sharp holds and bodies dropping to the floor gave the abstract choreography an intense humanity.

Despite the disappointment of Lil Buck’s absence, the audience left satisfied.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis Tumblr: Here

September 12, 2014
Visually stunning, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is Bob Crowley and Christopher Wheeldon’s Downton Abbey ballet on hallucinogenics. Set in the Victorian country-side outside a stone manor, the family prepares for a summer supper when the young daughter falls asleep and slips down a rabbit hole to a land of unmatched adventures.

Luscious period costumes capture the summery elegance while fanciful fairytale outfits shimmer against the outsized scenic designs, and puppetry by the Tony Award winning Bob Crowley.

An utterly charming Sonia Rodriguez (Alice) is equally comfortable as the cheery young lady and stressed damsel. Her partner, Nayoe Ebe as Jack/The Knave of Hearts proves an excellent partner and technically smooth dancer. Robert Stephen (Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit), the droll Rex Harrington (Father/The King of Hearts), tap-dancing dandy Jack Bertinshaw (Magician/The Mad Hatter) Jonathan Renna (The Duchess), Harrison James (Rajah/The Caterpillar) and Stephanie Hutchison (The Cook) amiably fill out the supporting roles.

But the comedic standout, reed thin Svetlana Lunkina decked in red (wearing what resembles Mother Ginger’s outsized hoop skirt in The Nutcracker) magnificently flails against anyone who crosses her red path. A natural, Ms. Lunkina digs her teeth into the scenery, and exerts a farcical ferociousness in her curdled facial expressions and physical outrage at the upstarts in her kingdom.

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon dives into literary complexity that gets lost in the larger, choreographic strokes. Fully capable of devising choreography establishing all the quirky characters, he accents the typical ballet choreography with a little music hall tap dancing, tipsy vaudeville antics and cartoonish jabs.

The National ballet of Canada’s David Briskin adroitly conducts the serviceable score by Joby Talbot. However, some judicious editing would benefit the close to three-hour production—indeed, a two-hour production could even imagine a stop on Broadway.

This massive undertaking at the David H. Koch Theater was presented by the Joyce Theater and featured The National Ballet of Canada under the artistic direction of former principal ballerina, Karen Kain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 12, 2014
Visually stunning, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is Bob Crowley and Christopher Wheeldon’s Downton Abbey ballet on hallucinogenics. Set in the Victorian country-side outside a stone manor, the family prepares for a summer supper when the young daughter falls asleep and slips down a rabbit hole to a land of unmatched adventures. Luscious period costumes capture the summery elegance while fanciful fairytale outfits shimmer against the outsized scenic designs, and puppetry by the Tony Award winning Bob Crowley.

An utterly charming Sonia Rodriguez (Alice) was equally comfortable as the cheery young lady and stressed damsel. Her partner, Nayoe Ebe as Jack/The Knave of Hearts was an excellent partner and technically smooth dancer. Robert Stephen (Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit), the droll Rex Harrington (Father/The King of Hearts), tap-dancing dandy Jack Bertinshaw (Magician/The Mad Hatter) Jonathan Renna (The Duchess), Harrison James (Rajah/The Caterpillar) and Stephanie Hutchison (The Cook) amiably fill in the supporting roles.

But the comedic standout was the reed thin Svetlana Lunkina decked in red (wearing what resembles Mother Ginger’s outsized hoop skirt in The Nutcracker) magnificently flailing against anyone crossing her red path. A natural, Ms. Lunkina digs her teeth into the scenery, and exerts a farcical ferociousness in her curdled facial expressions and physical outrage at the upstarts in her kingdom.

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon dives into literary complexity that gets lost in the larger, choreographic strokes. Fully capable of devising choreography establishing all the quirky characters, he accents the typical ballet choreography with a little music hall tap dancing, tipsy vaudeville antics and cartoonish jabs.

The National ballet of Canada’s David Briskin adroitly conducted the serviceable score by Joby Talbot. However, some judicious editing would benefit the close to three-hour production—indeed, a two-hour production could even imagine a stop on Broadway.

This massive undertaking at the David H. Koch Theater, presented by the Joyce Theater, featured The National Ballet of Canada under the artistic direction of former principal ballerina, Karen Kain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 8, 2014
Mazzini Dance Collective presented work for their New York season Saturday night at the Ailey Citigroup Theater to a packed house. Annamaria Mazzini formerly of the Paul Taylor Company choreographed three of the evening’s work and Orion Duckstein also of the Taylor Company showed two of his pieces.

The collective, founded in 2012, has 14 dancers not including Mazzini who danced in two of the pieces. I found myself not to be as exuberant as the rambunctious crowd during the 2 hour long performance. Opening on a dull note was the world premier of “Playing with Angels,” choreographed by Mazzini. Dressed in pale blues, four females retain a box like shape around Andy Jacobs as he gestures rope pulling and sidesaddle riding. The piece was unable to find a sense of consistency, and its lullaby style music and dancing failed to sustain my attention.

The highlight of the show, was seeing Mazzini and Duckstein dance together in his work “When We Rise.” Although I find it hard to come on board with her venture in choreography, Mazzini has a sparkle as a dancer that is timeless and a testament to the star quality she held in the Taylor Company. She illuminates the dark stage with her gaze and shares a natural ease with Duckstein that reflects upon their history, and makes room for risk-taking. In the final moment, Mazzini steps on to Duckstein who is lying face down on the floor. She maneuvers into a standing position on his back as he stands in a flat back, 90-degree angle. The audience squeals, the lights fade.

A steady but potentially dangerous image that begs the question: will Mazzinirise again? EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

September 8, 2014
Traditional Indian dance is no longer a curiosity dance form in NYC, because of the efforts of organizations like IAAC, Drive East, Asia Society and a handful of individual promoters. At Pace University, IAAC organized two days of lectures, interviews, symposia, workshops, classes and performances as part of the Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance Indoors at Pace Schimmel Center.

The program, introduced by Aroon Shivdasani, drew together five very discreet Indian dance artists with roots and traditional dance stretching into contemporary dance. All the artists were fine dancers, but a couple very successfully knitted the traditional into the modern without any loss of integrity.

An astonishing array of crystal clear micro movements of the hands, head and feet snapped during D. Mitul Sengupta’s presentation of an episode from the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata. After a blazing display of her hands and forearms crossing and opening, she rippled around the stage in a blur of fast, tight turns—moving with the speed of a Tasmanian devil an the serenity of a Buddha.

Urban dance meets traditional form in Veena Basavarajaiah’s “Morphed” performed by the very cheeky Subhash Viman. Wearing western style shirt and pants, Viman astutely slips from the traditional, centered Indian dance structures to the liquid moves and beats issuing from the urban streets.

Emily McLoughlin and Leah Raphael Curtis of Delhi Dance Theater performed “Not Your Mother” to live music performed by Abhik Mukherjee (sitar), Eric Fraser (Bansuri) and Ehren Hanson (table). Contemporary dance forms surface in leg lifts curving to the back, and lyrically floating arms, but the combination of modern dance and Kathak did not express a strong individuality. Carl Jung crosses over Saiva Siddhanta/Philosophy in Manikkavasagar’s Sivapuranam in Mesma Belsare’s enigmatic “The Vermin’s Will.”

The program closed with “We Used To See This” choreographed by the performer Meena Murugesan in collaboration with Shyamala Moorty. Some audience members were seated on stage in folding chairs, forming a silent chorus for the solo. Intent on exploring the presentation of bharatanatyam-based dances in a multitude of spaces, the adept performer Murugesan, skipped from one image to another without ever drawing the circle into a cohesive whole.

By the end, the enthusiastic audience got a taste of the past and future in Indian dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 6, 2014
The Peridance Capezio Center presented their Summer Faculty Showcase at the Salvatore Capezio Theater. Eleven varied and versatile pieces ranged from tap dancing to “ballet”, Michael Jackson to Tchaikovsky, and all kinds of variations in-between.

None of the work was particularly remarkable, but glimpses of fun and entertainment amused a packed Sunday afternoon crowd. Among the work shown, two pieces stood out due to originality and vision.

Aaron Tolson’s Pre-professional Tap Company “Speaking in Taps,” performed “Love Never Felt So Good. A large ensemble of pre teens, clumped in one formation for most of the piece, was clean and refreshing. Sounds were clear, and expressions relaxed and jovial.

The final piece “Feathers,” from choreographer Yesid Lopez, was a satirical retelling of Swan Lake. Three dancers in nude leotards and feather adorments, hip swished and glided through Tchiakovsky’s classic score. At times clever and funny, and at other moments poignant and ornate, Lopez managed to nod to the classic in a respectable yet reimagined way.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

TEJAS LUMINOUS: Fringe Festival
August 26, 2014
Intent on stretching the boundaries of the traditional Bharartanatyam Indian dance form, Malini Srinivasan prepared a program for the Fringe Festival that moved across musical and dance boundaries with varied success.

A stunning dancer, her fluid, beautifully expressive face clearly telegraphs a character’s feelings or intent while her body easily shifts through complicated rhythms and balances. Her company is a mixed group of technically adept performers.

The pieces mixed and matched musical rhythms and dance forms, widening the traditional movement parameters to include modern dance based leg circles, arms and turns.Stillness and motion build into emotional peaks during the 90-minute program that indicates where traditional Indian dance might be headed.

Actually, while watching the performance of Tejas Luminous at the Robert Moss Theater during the 2014 Fringe Festival, images of Flamenco dance kept popping up because of the depth of feeling emitted by Ms. Srinivasan. Perhaps Ms. Srinivasan might consider a collaboration with Noche Flamenca?
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 25, 2014
Set against the majestic backdrop of tumbling waves, and lady Liberty, “The Downtown Dance Festival,” presented its final day of work Thursday August 21 at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in lower Manhattan. A stage is set up close to the water, with audience members surrounding at all angles- in the grass and on the sidewalk. The set up offers a rare opportunity to experience dance from all possible viewpoints.

The outside venue is an admirable feat, yet for much of the hour and a half performance featuring works by Entomo EA&AE, Tangaj Dance, and Battery Park Dance Company.

Male duet “Entomo EA&AE” danced an insect inspired work. Agile and athletic in their movements, they captured the complexities of insects while also reverting to refined qualities in their partnering sequences. Yet more often than not, the duet felt separate instead of united as one.

Tangaj Dance from Romania, was lackluster in intention. The group of six had a laid back, waif like quality that allowed them to float on stage. But they never found grounded weight. Perhaps the outcome of monotonous music selections, the piece drifted along until the end, never holding on to a still moment, or a memorable one.

Finally the Battery Dance Company presented choreography by Theo Ndindwa. Three ladies in black tops, red skirts, black socks, and two men in black ensembles took to the stage with a strong routine like opening. Precise in their detailed hand and arm movements, the full picture shrank from there. Strong moments resonated throughout including, powerful dancing from the male duet.

Maybe the unfocused nature of the performance is more due to the incongruities that exist between the three works. With an outdoor setting such as this, not only is it beautiful and free for audiences, but also with that comes distractions that overwhelm or take away from the main setting- which is of course the dancing.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

August 20, 2014
The conception of Sattriya, a form of classical dance from Assam, is attributed to Madhabdev, in the 16th century AD. Women never practiced until the 19th century, and it waited through the mid-20th century to join the pantheon of Indian dance forms. Sattriya Dance Company, consisting of three women, brought to Drive East a progressive honoring of lineage, so thorough it recognized Madhabdev’s teacher, Sankardev, a multi-disciplinary artist and reformer from Assam, in an evening in which history and myth were actively utilized to contextualize ourselves in the present. An altar stood downstage right. No dancer acknowledged it, but its reverent power over the evening was tacitly palpable.

Two duets by Madhusmita Bora and Prerona Bhuyan showcased a complementary pair. Bhuyan, markedly younger and lengthily limbed, is a crisp mover with clear execution while Bora navigates her joints with freer romanticism. The first duet captures Sankardev’s adolescent praise of Vishnu; the second, to a song by Madhabdev, honors a legendary war leader. Intense theatricality is balanced with subtle pure dance. The two are generally equidistant in all spatial configurations. If one solos, the other waits in stillness. Mudras flow like sign language, and when they swirl, there is no telling where they may end up.

Among the duets Anita Sharma performed two original solos, embodying scenes from the lives of Krishna and Siva. To accommodate the many larger-than-life characters portrayed, Sharma rarely held an emotive state for more than ten seconds, shifting between gods, mortals, and demons. She used classic postures to delineate Krishna’s flute or Siva’s iconic attitude, but through her own dramatic voice, lip syncing and using abstract movement to respond to mimed action. She is fond of falling to her knees, and from the most engaged pantomime on the ground, will twirl on one leg into soaring jumps. Her homogenous composition disguises her virtuosity.

The final piece came from Bora and Bhuyan, choreographed together. Bhuyan wears a modern uniform; Bora remains in her classical dress. They honor Dr. Bupen Hazarika, responsible for Sattriya’s recognition as a classical dance form. The music they dance to is his, but it, in turn, honors the Brahmaputra River, a meeting ground of people, cultures, and religions in Assam. The celebration of a landmark as an inspiration for diversity manifests in slight differences in each dancer’s movement. A foot flexed is firmly planted next door.

Sattriya, while rigorous, has a freer sensibility. Each dancer wears individualized facial expressions when a specific face is not choreographed. Mouths bare teeth. Two dancers might perform the same movement with opposite affects. In unison, upper and lower halves may vary. It’s as if whole bodies stand for sections of our psyches, so vastly beyond our understanding we need someone devoted to each part. It’s a different sense of choreographic counterpoint in which our reactions to the tiniest detail infuse with what is there. Each piece lacked a tableau. Dancers skittered away in gratitude as lights dimmed, never present for the applause. They are transcendent conduits.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

August 20, 2014
Whatever you bring to her performances, Dakshina Vaidyanathan is sure to make you forget. The Bharatanatyam master has a gentle command of her space that eases you in preparation to feel fully. Her inhales draw you closer from your seat. Her gaze radiates upon the environment in an evenhanded appreciation of ubiquitous beauty, but if you’re lucky enough to make eye contact, the intensity of her stare is enough to mistake her performance being for you alone. Dance of Nature could never be that exclusive. Vaidyanathan is an open channel extolling all. Trees begin the journey. Vaidyanathan stands in a spotlight, rooted as a trunk.

Her arms cross overhead before nimbly sinking and rising through lunges, balances, and microscopic isolations between sections where, as a person, she blesses a tree just beyond her fixed point. She reaches to imaginary branches not to have, but to acknowledge. Hands re-embody the tree in oppositions. One roots down as the other, in the same shape, blossoms high, mapping the journey to supreme consciousness wrought by self-introspection. Her ending posture is the beginning’s, but with palms pressed together in anjali mudra, profoundly implicating the tiniest change.

She meditates on life and death through the universal mother, Parvati, and Siva, her destructive spouse. Vaidyanathan accumulates in embodiment of them. Her left hand flows in a sinuous caress while her right chops with fiery articulation. In body halves, her left side slithers and softens, followed by the same shapes more aggressively on the right. Her entire body travels in space to her left in maternal frenzy, and blazes through her right with trembling hands and percussive jumps. The movements blend physically and spatially, distinguished only in stretches of time. Occasionally, Vaidyanathan places herself center stage, human again, as if to assure us she’s ok, then concludes with both deities in her face, looking left with warmth and a furrowed brow and darting right with a grimace of burning eyeballs until the music releases her.

After a lament to a cuckoo bird resembling Vishnu, similarly constructed in representation, the final dance celebrates rain’s connection of all life. To a joyous repeated melody, Vaidyanathan quotes previous sections. She leaps through every inch of La MaMa’s humble theatre. The music has several breaks in repetition in which the singer sits on the raga’s leading tone in short cadenzas, during which Vaidyanathan engages a puddle of rain water. She takes a handful, tosses it, and, after demonstrating how clouds drink up the Earth, takes a sip for herself. Choreographer Rama Vaidyanathan uses physical personification to express parallels in all nature.

He composes movement synonyms, different body parts representing the same image, sometimes simultaneously. One movement symbolizes opposing ideas – trembling hands depicting both Siva’s wrath and a bird’s meek flutter. To depict so much on the same human form shows us hidden similarities and harmony in difference. Dakshina, fully fluent, is able to see and admire the universe in a black box theatre. We only see and admire her.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

August 18, 2014
Dramatic storytelling flows effortlessly through Krithika Rajagopalan’s Bharatanatyam Solo on the closing day of the exciting Drive East 2014 Festival. An expressive art form, anyone tackling Bharatanatyam is called upon to narrate stories through movement, but Ms. Rajagopalan is masterful.

There’s no doubting when she’s a joyous woman or stern man, full of hope and or threatened by despair. A lovely woman who reigns large on a stage, technical facility supports a robust theatricality that reveals a rich imagination projected through intuitive character expressions.

L Animated eyes draw the dancers into her expert articulations. Fingers ripple, and the mouth curves up and down in pleasure and pouts. Unlike the other performers, she did not dye her hands or feet red.

Near the end, she detoured around the usual dances based on myth or religion and executed a solo about a mother and her naughty son. Easily shedding the mother's armor to play the head-strong boy, she alternated between cajoling and scolding the beloved child.

Perhaps Rajagopalan was inspired to narrate a domestic tale because of the recent birth of her own twins. No doubt, children will only enrich her already verdant career.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 15, 2014
As part of the Drive East concert series, performers came together at La MaMa Theater to showcase traditional Indian dance and music. The week long series presents various classical forms of Indian dance performed by artists and schools from across the United States. On Wednesday night it was Smitha Rajan and her company that graced the stage.

It is impossible to describe the intricacies in which Rajan manipulated her face and body from the moment she walked onto the stage. Graceful control and feeling abounded as Rajan performed the south Indian dance form of Mohiniattam. Drawing the eye to her at all times, Rajan moved through the space of the stage taking on characters and emotions in fascinating ways. It was pure joy to see such a master perform these stories of Rama and other Hindu gods.

Her precise and stunning performance made it no surprise that the members of her junior company matched her level of energy and commitment. Those three young women were dazzling, clad in the same white costumes, including fan skirt and ankle bells. Working in the circular array of movements essential to the form, these women told vivacious tales, each of them commanding the stage when their solo commenced. Together they complemented each other in the details and fluidity of the stories they expressed.

In the final piece of the evening, another solo by Rajan, she completely consumed the gaze of each audience member as she performed. Elegantly displaying each small hand gesture, known as a mudra, Rajan finished each minute layer in a fluid and captivating fashion. Mohiniattam is a breathtaking dance form and to watch it performed so expertly was truly a treat.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

August 15, 2014
Full frontal piercing eyes gaze at the audience when she breaks open the stage in her first presentation. Considered a young Indian dancer deserving of notice, Niveda Ramalingam proved her athletic skills o the opening night program of the multi-versed Drive East 2014 Festival at LaMama. Divided into five Bharatanatyam (south Indian classical form) dances, the program spotlighted Ms. Ramalingam’s physical dexterity and broad story telling skills.

Dressed in a flame orange outfit, the center portion fanned out in pleats revealing ankle cuffs full of bells over feet stained in red dye. Most pronounced and stunning was her gulping use of space. Generally, contemporary traditional dancers execute complex footwork and hand gestures within a small radius. But, Ms. Ramalingam circumvents the whole stage in wide, low-to the-ground space-swallowing chasing steps.

Even though each piece featured a different choreographer, there were similarities in the expressive use of the face, eyebrows (they can move independently of each other) and solid foot slaps, powerful use of thighs. she drops effortlessly into wide, deep knee bends to the floor as well as plunging lunges and stark, animated stillness.

I the second entry, she executed several passages of technical dexterity that elicited applause from the audience. She's the Merrill Ashley of Indian dance-- for those of you who don't know, Merrill Ashley was considered one of the most technically dexterous NYCB dancers'.

Because of her strength, Ms. Ramalignam is particularly arresting when assuming the male or monster role. Her coquettish women are quite engaging, but they still require some finessing in the more subtle facial expressions.

No question, but she is a young artist to watch. Her technical skill is well formed, and her artistry is filling out.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 10, 2014
Music compels Mark Morris to make dances. His musical tastes are wide ranging but he demonstrates a particular fondness for Baroque music. For years a mainstay of the The Mostly Mozart Music Festival, Mark Morris delivered the New Yord premiere of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea.” A pastoral tale of two lovers, Acis and Galatea are torn asunder when the monster Polyphemus chops Acis down in a fit of jealousy. Devastated by Acis’ death, Galatea marshals her powers and transforms Acis into an everlasting fountain.

This version is arranged by Mozart some 45 years after Handel’s final publication of “Acis and Galatea” and includes an English libretto by John Gay, with Alexander Pope and John Hughes. Even though it’s sung in English, supertitles assist. Adrianne Lobel’s screens suggest glens and wooded alcoves that support the airy quality mirrored in the diaphanous Monet-mottled long full-skirted costumes by Isaac Mizrahi.Situated in the pit, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale ably conducted by Nicholas McGegan play while the dancers vocalists merge in choreographic formations on stage.

A brisk opening displays swiftly changing patterns of spins unfurling like little breezes. The movements enlarge the musical currents, every now again snapping into a break dance riff--contracting and expanding the chest against upraised knees. Dancers' arms dart in the air, or flow into a breast-stroke all the while traveling effortlessly in carefully calculated intertwing patterns—that none of the dancers collide is a testament to the company’s musicality and technical acuity.

In the first half, dancers collect into a lot of foursomes—even performing what looks like a campy nod to the famous “Dance of the Little Swans” from “Swan Lake.” After intermission, many of the groupings break into trios and a at one point, a "faux" Baroque male God/Warrior solo breaks out. However, one of the most memorable moments comes late in the ballet when Acis drops lifeless to the ground. Dancers encircle him and Galatea radiating a deep poignancy marked by utter simplicity.

Truly, the company looks wonderful, but watching Lauren Grant is a particular pleasure. She floats across the stage, never exposing preparations for jumps, turns or weightless, partnered lifts.

Expected to move and act while singing, this quartet of vocalists functions fairly well, particularly considering Morris’ choreographic demands integrating singers into the movement’s fabric. Happily, the bold baritone, Douglas Williams (Polyphemus) proves a natural mover and thoroughly convincing actor/singer. Additionally, the fiery red-haired tenor, Isaiah Bell (Damon) pops as an up-and-coming talent. They join tenor, Thomas Cooley (Acis) and the frisky soprano, Yulia Van Doren (Galatea) in making “Acis and Galatea” another hit for New York's Mostly Mozart Festival.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 19, 2014
The eternal struggle between good and evil drives Yuri Grigorovich’s Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Ballet performed at the David H. Koch Theater during the Lincoln Center Festival. However, in this version, the Swan Queen Odette (Svetlana Zakharova, Anna Nikulina) is not the only one shadowed by her evil twin Odile, the Evil Genius/Sorcerer (Vladislav Lantratov, Denis Rodkin) echoes the Prince Siegfried’s (David Hallberg, Artem Ovcharenko) actions.

I saw two casts considerably different in tone and execution. One production starring the long-limbed Zhakarova resembled a silent film; the other with Lupkin suggested a postmodern documentary. Their suitors were equally different. Zhakarova’s prince was the classically pure, but tentative Hallberg, while the airily graceful Ovcharenko projected a youthful ardor.

Much to the chagrin of many a viewer, Grigorovich’s version cuts and pastes parts of the Tchaikovsky score and choreography disrupting the original flow. Variations and the ending are changed but there are some very effective passages, like the first section by the lakeside, and the final act when the black and white swans swirl together in a pool of fluttering distress.

A demanding role, few ballerinas are equally successful in the dual role of Odette/Odile. When Ms. Zakharova first appears, her long, thin tapering arms and legs make her look like a swan come to life. A taut technician, Zakharova’s face emotes plenty while her body remains exacting in execution. Well matched physically, Hallberg’s purity of form and long, expansive leaps soar, but vital chemistry between Zakharova and Hallberg is absent.

Adept at the intricacies and clarity of the Odette’s long arabesques, quivering foot to ankle beats and long back arches against a raised leg, Zakharova relaxed in the role of Odile. A natural at haughty flirtation, Zakharova’s smile and whiplash legs put everyone on notice. Especially comfortable with her partner, the dramatically exciting Lantratov, Zakharova expresses full confidence in her seduction of Hallberg.

The second cast performances were radically different. Ms. Nikulina’s interpretation made Odette a very cool, sometimes sly swan. Again, there’s not much chemistry, but at least Mr. Ovcharenko appears convincing in his ardor for this passive/flighty swan. More internalized than externalized, Nikulina also demonstrates a proud technique, especially when she rips off multiple turns during Odile’s famous string of 32 fouettes. But she remains utterly aloof.

Despite Nikulina’s remote performance, her suitor love struck suitor floats across the stage in light, exquisitely formed leaps and turns that slowly unwind on the fourth revolution to a perfect landing. Ovcharenko is worth watching—assuming the Bolshoi doesn’t lose him to another hungry, international ballet company.

A couple of other dancers deserve mention, in particular the first cast Fool, Igor Tsvirko. An athletic dancer, he’s a manic spinner and buoyant jumper, but most importantly, Tsvirko can act! Every time he appears, Tsvirko teases the audience, and adds a personalized dimension to his clownish role.

Among the young female dancers’ who got tongues wagging was the standout Olga Marchenkova. Light and vitally charming, she sparkled as one of the three Swans and in the role of the Russian Bride. Another eye-catching ballerina, the reed long Yulia Grebenshchikova excelled as one of the Three Swans and in the Hungarian Bride, she added the traditional Baroque snap of the head accenting the musical phrase.

Speaking of music, listening to Tchaikovsky’s score by the Bolshoi Orchestra under the baton of Pavel Sorokin soared. In particular, the brass rang out clear and sharp and next to a luminous harp.

Overall, the company’s talent is deep and the ranks are full of potentially stunning dancers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

July 17, 2014
The New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies) have become an annual tradition within the NYC dance scene, 30 years in the making. Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, the awards honor the groundbreaking creative work of independent dance artists - from choreographers and dancers to composers and visual designers. 36 nominees for the 2014 Bessies were announced (see below) at the Wed. July 16 press conference held at Gibney Dance Center's newly acquired space in downtown Manhattan.

The category of Outstanding Emerging Choreographer - with nominees including Rashida Bumbray, Jessica Lang, Jen Rosenblit, and Gillian Walsh - was the only category in which the award was announced. Both Jessica Lang and Jen Rosenblit were recognized for their recent work in the dance field, as the vote was tied. In addition, the 2014 Juried Bessie Award Committee was named and will include Tere O'Connor, Annie B-Parson, and Eduardo Vilaro. These three choreographers will be responsible for selecting a single work/choreographer that is presenting exciting ideas in dance for special recognition.

Nominees for the Bessies are as follows:
Outstanding Performer: Maggie Cloud, Sean Donovan, Julia Hausermann, Sean Jackson, Mickey Mahar, Angela "Angel" McNeal, Sara Mearns, Aakash Odedra, Tiler Peck, Rebecca Serrell-Cyr, Linda Celeste Sims, and Stuart Singer.
Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design: Complete, with guitarist Giuliano Modarelli; G. Lucas Crane, Steven Taylor, and Nicholas Young.
Outstanding Revival: "Dark Swan" by Nora Chipaumire, "Myth or Meth (or Maybe Moscow?)" by Radiohole, "State of Heads" by Donna Uchizono, and "Bach Partita" by Twyla Tharp.

Outstanding Production: Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre's "Djembe in the New Millennium," Camille A. Brown's "MR. TOL E. RAncE," Mallory Catlett's "This Was the End," Liz Gerring's "Glacier," Maria Hassabi's "Premiere," John Jasperse's "Within Between," Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's "En Atendant/Cesena," Akram Khan's "Desh," Sarah Michelson's "4," MIMULUS Cia de Danca's "Dolores," Okwui Okpokwasili's "Bronx Gothic," and Aki Sasamoto's "Sunny in the Furnace."

Outstanding Visual Design: Thomas Dunn; Patricia Forelle with Jenny Mui, Avram Finkelstein, Kelly Morganroth, Nicholas Vermeer, Olivia Barr, and William Ward; Peter Ksander, Olivera Gajic, Ryan Holsopple, Chris Kuhl, and Keith Skretch; and, Tim Yip.

IN celebration of the Bessie's 30th anniversary, Oct. 1, Gibney's "Sorry I Missed Your Show" series features the screening of an EYE ON DANCE program shot during the 1989, Bessie Awards 5th anniversary event at BAM. Lucy Sexton and Laurie Uprichard will join EOD host and producer Celia Ipiotis in a conversation about the Bessie Awards' roots and expansion.

The 2014 Bessies, where all remaining award winners will be announced, is scheduled for Monday, October 20th at the legendary Apollo Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jenny Thompson

July 16, 2014
Modern dancers generally dance barefoot or don some form of soft-soled shoe, but high heels don’t normally enter the equation. Not so in Anne Teresa de Keersmaker’s Elena’s Aria. Dancers trot around in high heels, swiftly moving across the stage, slumping in a chair or primly sitting on the edge of the stage, under a reading lamp and reciting passages from Beckett, Tolstoy an Dostoevsky.

The actual words mean less than the sound of the text being read out loud and the remaining four dancers--De Keersmaeker, the assertive Tale Dolven, Fumiyo Ikeda, Cynthia Loemij and Samantha van Wissen-- in still frame. Dressed in knee-high slim evening dresses, the dancer set out a dance theme, invert it and vary through speed or accent.

Attitude surfaces in the poses and imagery, like the fan blowing a dancer’s hair back as if waiting for a glamour shot. Sounds of heels click and various musical samples and arias, particularly Caruso’s famous refrain “O sole mio”. A woman’s scent changes according to mood, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s women are at once self-sufficient and changeable.

THis marks the third production in a series of four presentations by the Lincoln Center Festival at Gerald R. Lynch Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 15, 2014
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas danst Rosas (1983) chops silence into movement blocks over a minimalist score created in tandem with the dance by Thierry De Mey, and Peter Vermeersch’s.

Four women line up one by one dressed in long shirts hanging over flared skirts, black leggings and socks that suggest girls’ school uniforms. They drop to the floor, breathing deeply and squirming on stage at the Gerald R. Lynch Theater.

Pedestrian gestures form emotional fragments captured in tilted snippets by the low ledge of mirrors on either side of the stage. The four dancers-- Tale Dolven, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Cynthia Loemij, Sue-Yeon Youn—tug at their shirts, fuss with their skirts, swivel in and out of chairs in playful and competitive actions. These movement patterns repeat in unison then interact through counterpoint.

Chairs become inanimate partners for dancers playing musical chairs, sitting or stretching out across them. The dancers' facial expressions and actions switch from looking institutional to seductive.

At one point, there’s an extended section when the dancers convulse in the chair, veering side to side, arms angular and tense making it look a lot like an abstract update of Martha Graham’s famous chair dance “Lamentations.” On this occasion, it’s more of angst over youth instead as opposed to profound grief.

Images repeat, but constantly shift in focus. In the opening, one dancer after another appears, back to audience and then drops to the floor. This crumbling action happens again, but this time the body writhes on the floor. It’s intriguing to see how simple movements assume emotional dimensions by simply shifting the tilt of a head or the brain of a choreographer.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

July 10, 2014
Inspired endurance marks the four-part post modern dance “Fase” by Anne deKeersmaeker at the Gerald R. Lynch Theater. Bred in Belgium and inspired by American modern dance, de Keersmaeker studied dance at NYU Tisch where she choreographed “Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich.” Among others, her choreographic style absorbed Lucinda Child's geometric patterns, Laura Dean's spinning modules and Steve Reich’s soulful minimalism.

These influences are pressed inside deKeersmaeker's personalized choreographic voice and movement purity vividly expressed in “Fase” to Reich’s score.

In each of the four sections, deKeersmaeker establishes an evocatively minimalist sequence, punctuated by a sudden thrust of energy. In “Piano Phase” the slim, petite deKeersmaeker dances aside the tall blonde Tale Dolven.

Reflecting Reich’s subtly shifting tones and rhythms, they move in sync and then counterpoint-- their two shadows combining and separating like a ghostly chorus. Clad in dresses, soft shoes and little white socks, deKeersmaeker and Dolven resemble intense school girls as they swing their arms, take steps forward then a few paces back. Patterns are set, repeated, varied by one or two moves.

Sounds switch to jarring voices processed beyond recognition constructing a mechanical background. The two dancers sit on stools, arms shooting in and out like a musical conductor directing a train. Bodies swivel one-quarter turn, and occasionally, they shoot a perplexed look at the audience.

Ms. deKeersmaeker, dressed in a white dress and panties, rips into a solo “Violin Phase” without so much as a two-minute pause between sections. It starts in one corner where a pendulum swinging leg builds into leg circles accenting traveling steps that begin to resemble a deeply post-modern Greek folks dance, and includes her hand slapping the ground, and skirt flipping up ecstatically revealing panties (OK--doubt Greek villagers would be that immodest).

The evening closes on the giddy “Clapping Music.” Back in the pants and shirt get-up, the dancers don huge white sneakers that allow them to pop up and down off their toes, tap dance style. Nonstop action describes all the dances, but in this section, the quicksteps scurry under buckling knees and tippy toes.

An exhilarating evening of movement precision and suspense, “Fase” pours into the enthusiastic Lincoln Center Festival audience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 1, 2014
Remnants of glittering sunlight flood the bright mosaic windows on one side of St. Marks’s Church. As dancers enter the dusky space, the natural light sets up the title for the evening presentation “Darkness, Shadows, and Silence.” Part of the DANCE: Access incentive at Danspace Project Thursday, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance presented three works including the world premiere of RU.

In “Triptich” (2012), three black and white paneled photographs hang in the backspace from artist Betsy Weis. As four men stand in a line, a spotlight hits the balcony where Claire Westby gestures, reaching her arms long and then bringing her hands in delicately. For much of the piece the mood and dynamic stays at one level, it’s soft and luscious but perhaps monotone. Towards the end a shift occurs, with a full and piercing solo danced effortlessly by Ms. Westby.

“Trieze en Jeu” (2013) set to Schubert’s Trio in E Flat Major is energetic and sassy. Despite being barefoot in “Triptich,” Lavagnino and her dancers seem more at home in pointe shoes and a neo classical style. The women march across in a line in back as Elliot Hammans leaps into the air with gusto and technical ease. In a series of complex pas de deuxs, Kristen Stevens dances uneasy but is strongly supported by her partner Adrian Silver. In the final moment he whisks her into a bird lift and twirls offstage, as the ensemble falls into a pose, their playfulness ever present as the music ends.

“Ru,” inspired by a novel of the same name, follows a woman’s life as a post-Vietnam War political refugee. The women in pink and white billowing pants and dresses run throughout the space, their gazes intense and honest. Throughout all three pieces but especially “Ru,” Giovanna Gamna and Christine Luciano have a subtle intensity in their demeanor that draws you to them. Their forlorn expressions come from their eyes and cast outward past the audience and the space setting an appropriate tone. Four men in green pants and short chest harnesses aid the women, lifting them high into the air or abetting their falls. But it is when all the women gather together that their technical and artistic strengths collide. In a field of classical/contemporary dance where so few female choreographers exist, perhaps it’s Lavagnino’s ode not only to Ru, but to women at large.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

June 27, 2014
A grand development in the past decade is the growth of ballet companies outside NYC. NYC is no longer the only ballet game in the United States. This week proves the point by Boston Ballet’s appearance at the David H. Koch Theater. Celebrating their 50the anniversary, the company, under the artistic direction of Mikko Nissinen, showcases two repertory programs.

On opening night, three decidedly modern ballet works underscored the company’s versatility starting with “ The Second Detail “ (1991) by William Forsythe, one of this generation’s most influential choreographers.

Tightly focused dancers twist and extend into vertical pretzels unlocking joints into over-extended leg and arm extensions. Despite the geometric ballet jungle gym, personalities surface within the cubist bursts. Because his stark ballet moves throws bodies off-center, dancers must focus intently on their balance, or fall over. This demanding neo-classical, modern ballet proves the dancers’ mettle.

In “Resonance” (2014) the Spanish choreographer Jose Martinez designed a piece that, although modern in tenor, underscores the company’s lyricism spotlighting a couple of dancers including Lio Cirio, Lasha Khozashvili, Dusty Button and Alejandro Virelles.

Closing with the festively humorous “Cacti” (2010) by Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, the dance toyed with text, a multi-tiered cube set and plants. Yes, cacti made an appearance, and in a nutty parody, two dancers narrate the steps they are about to execute, and what they think while moving. The nonsensical performance gives the fine dancers a chance to cavort on stage and release their inner comics.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 26, 2014
A slow and dynamic duet enters the empty stage, where two young men brace themselves against a beautiful melody. Synched in unique musicality, the two dancers pull with and against each other in exploration of their relationship. “We Are All… Our Father’s Sons” choreographed by Jacqlyn Buglisi opens the program at New York Live Arts.

A lively beginning to the evening quickly sobers when the world premiere of Jennifer Muller’s “Miserere Nobis” enters. Emotional pain and sombre intent dictates the movements of these nine women, all clad identically in black, adorned in headdresses to wash out individuality. These women carry great power as they move onto the stage, one joining after another until all move in a succinct unison. Constantly shifting levels to a dark and spiritual score, Muller channels loss and grief throughout the performance.

Following a short pause, “Lonely Planet” by Elisa Monte holds as a strong piece connecting the global inter-connectivity of modern life. Beautiful dancers create circular patterns that highlight Monte’s intent and vision. But Buglisi’s piece “Butterflies and Demons” hits the night's emotional high. Inspired by the tragedies of female trafficking, this dance is a non-stop punch to the gut. In a moment towards the beginning, a dancer is lifted onto the back of another. Her arched back balances on his shoulders with swan-like grace, catching the breath of the audience as the balanced dancers slowly move off-stage. The entire piece reaches inside to the emotional core and creates a thrilling audience experience.

The final performance of the night is another Muller premier titled “Whew!”. The title spells it out as this fast paced, jazzy number plays its way across the stage. Dancers move and move and move in bigger bolder ways, until they are left breathless. Muller herself said she chose to look through a “lighter lens”, and she definitely finds the magic in pure exhilarated movement.

Because the styles are well matched, these three choreographers fluidly showcased a cohesive night of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

June 23, 2014
Rioult Dance NY led by Pascal Rioult celebrated its 20th anniversary with two programs at the Joyce Theatre. Program B on Thursday night featured three works: “Iphigenia” (2013), “Wien” (1995), and the world premiere of “Dream Suite” (2014) all choreographed by Rioult.

The curtain rises to a terrace made from long pieces of wood that jut out in all directions. Based on Euripides’ “ Iphigenia in Aulis,” the dance narrative tells the story of the sacrifice of King Agamenmon’s daughter, danced by Jane Soto. The movement is minimal and the dramatic text read by a voice over carries the story more than the choreography ever could.

A return to an older piece, “Wien,” was a smart choice. Using Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse,” to set a mood of purity, the choreography escalates into a tastefully bombastic flinging show of fun. In simplest terms, Rioult pits the music against quick paced movement in order to illustrate the disintegration of a society, one that turns its back on morality and the horrors of reality. Continuously circling each other and the stage, the group of 6 are animated and focused, each crinkled face or snap of a head is calculated and direct.

Dressed in bright shades of blue, green, and yellow a chorus of 12 dancers run about the stage in “Dream Suite.” They link up in pairs, as one dancer stands center stage. A man carries a woman above his head in a plank and two men sway back and forth next to each other, teetering on the verge of falling. The music picks up and the dancers slam their bodies onto the ground. Belly down, picking up their arms and legs in a superman position, they tap to the rhythm of Tchaikovsky’s “Orchestral Suite No.2 in C Major. Several curtain calls greet their ending.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

June 15, 2014
A blaring trumpet sounds as a group of musicians enter the theater. These fives instrumentalists walk across the audience and take the stage, hammering out a mix of polka and jazz. The energy begins to buzz as these men finish playing and the stage transitions for the first piece of the evening. Five young dancers enter the stage set with a wooden staircase for each of them and perform the rhythmic triumph that is “Stair Dance”. Relentless in it’s non-stop movement, the dancers navigate the ups and downs of the piece without missing a beat. This is all part of Ballet Tech Kids Dance 40th Birthday celebration at the Joyce Theater.

These remarkably talent children perform three works, including the world premiere of “KYDZNY”, a ballet by Eliot Feld. The second ballet of the evening, “Apple Pie” is comprised of continuous allegro. Embracing the large moments, and precisely executing the copious Petite Allegro, the dancers put on a great show.

The first two dances are delightful, but neither compares to the raucous vitality present in “KYDZNY”. In circus-esque costumes, including stripes and silly hats, young dancers find the fun in every movement. Moving in circular patterns and doing quirky traveling movements, the palette forms a collage of kinetic play. Towards the end, just as the choreography is reaching its cacophonous climax, a gaggle of young girls walk across the stage blowing bubbles as they go. That is only one of the many moments effortlessly capturing the fun of this piece.

And the fun does not stop there! As soon as the dance ends, with the whole cast sitting on the ground laughing, the band of merry musicians enters back on stage. A rush of joy fills the space and colorful balloons fall from the ceiling. The audience begins dancing along, as the parents of the performers race to the stage to walk around with their young dancers. Truly a party, appropriately celebrating Ballet Tech and the enthusiastic dancers it creates.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

June 14, 2014
In its Brooklyn Academy of Music debut, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet presented repertory Wednesday evening. The company celebrating its 10th anniversary also welcomes Alexandra Damiani as the newly appointed artistic director. Three different programs were shown over their four-day run, including work by associate choreographer Crystal Pite. Opening night featured only one piece, the hour and twenty minute “Orbo Novo,” from choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Four large walls from designer Alexander Dodge fill the stage. They fold and extend, at times joining together to create large cages and at other points separating back space from the front, consequently entrapping whomever occupies the space. One dancer climbs the wall, calculating every step, as she contorts her body by displacing her limbs in the structured squares that make up the wall. She punctures her body through one empty square space and slinks to the other side.

Inspired by Jill Bolte Taylor’s memoir “My Stroke of Insight,” the first half of the piece is laden with text often spoken by several dancers in unison. Gesturing their hands and arms with delicate precision, their words differentiate the right hemisphere of the brain (the present) and the left hemisphere (the past and the future.)

As the words fade away, the movement picks up. Soon enough the ensemble of sixteen roll over their shoulders in a fish flop before jetting forward to spin in a squatted position. The choreography is tricky and floor work focused. These dancers are technical and strong, but it feels they are working too hard and we can sense it. In part the movement doesn’t give time for soft transitions and the sequencing has no direction.

The male dancers undress at one point and as beautiful as their bodies are the intention isn’t clear. They put back on their clothes a short time later and we can’t be sure why. Cherkaoui’s piece has entertainment value and the set gives way for exciting possibilities, many of which are fulfilled by the sheer athleticism of the dancers. However, as an evening work I’m left feeling underwhelmed.

Damiani steps into an important role in the world of American dance, and her choice of this work is interesting. But perhaps the decision reflects the left brain instead of focusing on what may be right in the present moment.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

June 11, 2014
Manhattan Youth Ballet is saluting eighteen years celebrating the jazz age. In a gala benefit, guest artists performed between students of all ages. Seeing established professionals, pre-professional students, and beginners dancing in the same program reads as a kind of continuum. It becomes less about individual performances and more about witnessing the evolution of the idea of a dancer – experiencing the many stages of development at once. In the spirit of jazz, the adventurous program took horizon-expanding risks, emphasizing the quality of an MYB education, to the enjoyment of all.

Bookending the show were excerpts from Balanchine’s Who Cares? Robert Fairchild set the night in motion with a solo of boyish charm and precision in Mr. B’s steps. Students, in turn, closed the show with groups and duets set by Deborah Wingert, in which many of the motifs in Fairchild’s solo expand. A soaring entrelacé with the torso face-down reconfigures on the young women as a lift. They tackle the movement with a musical maturity of execution, yet the work has an inherent playfulness that makes it perfect for the young artists and seasoned veterans alike.

MYB understands that, today, ballet training can no longer be an overspecialized bubble. In WHAAAAAT?!, Frederick Earl Mosley elicited the titular sentiment from the audience. In a largely classical program, here was a group of twenty guys and gals, resembling David Byrne in their oversized suits, barefoot and groovin’ to live percussion. Soft joints allowed weight to freely ground down and rebounded out of the floor. It is a testament to well-rounded pedagogy that this group of students can shift between movement languages so fully.

The boldest piece on the program was also the only that a guest artist appeared in with the students. Brian Reeder’s What Is This Thing? gets you leaning forward as Kaitlyn Gilliland floats through a solo initiated by a rose dangling from a man’s hand protruding from the stage left wing. A red backlight emanates behind five silhouetted women shuffling around in heels that are gradually shed and brought back by deadpan men with a rose inside, turning the stage into a makeshift garden (or graveyard).

In many pieces, the “jazz” was manifested simply through music choices or spread fingers, but Clifton Brown brought genuine funk and grit to the evening, ironically, to the kitschiest piece in jazz music history, Take 5. The solo, also made by Mosley, had a depth of dynamic that ricocheted through Brown’s long limbs. Alternating between coy pedestrianism and full-bodied phrases within the confines of a spotlight, his necktie becomes a headband and his movements more animalistic, shedding one sense of cool for another.

The real star was a boy in Natalia Boesch’s Promenade. Donning glasses in addition to his practice clothes, he excitedly scratched itches on his forehead and wiped his nose, smile never waning. While a choreographer’s nightmare, it epitomized the eagerness to share on a stage that we all have as youngsters. It is this kind of fire that must be maintained and nurtured through time, as too many flames snuff out before their fuel depletes. MYB seems to have a fan for every blaze.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

June 7, 2014
Lydia Johnson Dance returned to the Ailey Citigroup Theater this week with a four-evening NY Season. Choreographer Lydia Johnson’s musically-driven style, which compliments her dancer’s classical training, was ever apparent in each of the works presented. Her choreographic reliance on leisurely simplicity and careful aesthetics, qualities she has become known for since the 1999 inception of her company, also proved integral.

The season program featured three repertory works following the world premiere of “Barretts Mill Road: A Remembrance.” Set to Mozart’s “Fantasia in C Minor” and the Adagio from the “C Minor Piano Sonata,” an aire of sophistication is immediately set, which suits the company’s ballet-fused-with-contemporary style quite well. The unraveling of the next movement phrase seems to be triggered by a recurring raise of one arm, extending forward and out, suggesting a longing wrapped in nostalgia. The ten dancers particularly shine in the ensemble sections, shifting in and towards new spaces on stage within the Mozart-driven pulse of the work.

The revival of Johnson’s 2004 “In Conversation (like breathing…like flying…)” features four dancers ebbing in and out of partner work. It is a piece of beauty, set to music by Philip Glass. At times this piece veers more into the contemporary realm, setting aside classic formality for raw moments such as the dancers rolling over one another on the floor.

Two works that premiered last season close the evening program – “Night and Dreams” and “Night of the Flying Horses.” The former echoes the mysterious nature of British tenor Ian Bostridge’s voice singing Schubert. The dancers’ movements and patterns are reminiscent of their musical counterpart – soft, rocking, elongated. In addition, former American Ballet Theater dancer Carlos Lopez performs as a guest artist in this work, marking his second appearance with Lydia Johnson Dance; his strength certainly stands out.

The three-sectioned “Night of the Flying Horse” is a great program closer, particularly in its feature of long-time company dancer Kerry Shea and her gorgeous technique – which is also rightfully highlighted throughout the preceding works. This dance takes on visible emotion, set amongst aesthetically-pleasing images created through the choreography. The ladies’ fiery red dresses (Jessica Sand Blonde and Benjamin Briones) add a memorable touch to the work which is filled with slides to the floor, tender duets, and passionate bouts of movement - as Osvaldo Golijov’s upbeat music calls for.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

June 6, 2014
One often hears New York dancers joke about making phrases in living rooms. A loft in the Lower East Side, Spectrum, takes that less-than-ideal constraint and puts it in a surprisingly effective performance practice. In a room furnished with an array of couches marking a perimeter in concert with bookshelves, musical instruments, a television, and a kitchenette, Buggé Ballet managed to fit two works that, it turns out, lend themselves quite well to close quarters.

Fascination begins with a dapper Michael D. Gonzalez looking outward. He wears a dim smile and wide eyes, which take on new meaning when we realize he is looking in a mirror. He primps and begins to move. He stops and starts, confident only in his self-criticism. Nicole Buggé explores this internal psyching up through accumulation, generally used in the development of abstract gesture, to speak to human behavior.

Brittany Testone, a fun-sized redhead, enters. Gonzalez suffers from two left feet and debilitating anxiety touching females as he tries to support his angelic visitor. The awkward pairing finds grace, sharing a complex sequence of partnering that is a blend of ballroom and ballet techniques. In the space, Gonzales swiftly dips Testone’s head by an audience member’s lap, refreshingly and resourcefully using the tight volume.

By the end, they stand at a diagonal from each other, facing upstage. Both assume the same arm placement and keep still for the duration of Noel Coward’s “I’ll See You Again.” Their backs drape with melancholic acknowledgement. Because their posture is identical, they physically could never dance together; they cancel each other out. Despite their time together, they mutually wait, side by side, for a better match.

Michael Wall stepped in at the last minute to make a new score for Buggé’s latest work, Rosa Encadenada. The sound is environmental; chimes meld into a pulse, a distant samba emerges between guitar strums and whistled melodies. The dancers are dressed in seductive whimsy, showing leg and torso while a colorful feathery piece functions as a tail for the women and wings for the men.

They start in the upstage left corner facing back, sinuously shifting pelvises. It sets a sultry tone, but as dancers leave to embark on solo material, the cha-cha becomes an initiation for a myriad of movements. Unison is the main focus. Inside, partnerships emerge and sink back into the tide. Eventually, there is an equal balance of duets and phrasework that makes it hard to find a clear focus, allowing the tiny space to seem massive – eyes are free to explore microcosms within the main movement language.

Halfway through, Gonzalez shares a duet with Quincie Hydock, finally skewing the balance of focus away from group to parts. They pass through a wall of the starting motif as if through bars of a cage. Individual spirit struggles within collective confines through unison shifting formally from communal binding to chaotic bondage. Hydock is left lying on the floor, facing back, in the same spacing as the opening – the wreckage of an attempted utopia – a shackled rose, as the title suggests.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

June 4, 2014
Hewman Collective presented their inaugural work “Humans within Structure,” at three locations last week in New York City. The first, a gutted tenement on west 53rd, was followed by the Chashama Gallery on west 126th, and finally the RePopRoom’s Chelsea showroom on west 29th. I attended the second evening, initially sitting on one edge of the empty gallery space among roughly 30 guests. The group, comprised of three Juilliard graduates: Jason Collins, James Lindsay Harwell, and Ingrid Kapteyn, collaborated with industrial artist Joanna DeFelice. White swim caps cover their heads, and see through cubed headpieces stand atop. Draped in blush tones, Collins toe taps his oxford shoes into the center of the space where three cubes similar to those that adorn the dancer’s heads, rest stacked inside one another.

A 50 minute duration transports audience members around the space and among the instillation itself. Created around the idea of boundaries, separation, and sculpture, the dancers intersperse between what is static and active. Dynamic shifts in movement are playful and robust. Harwell picks up his boot covered heel dragging it along his leg until it reaches the peak of his thigh- quickly he extends it long and collapses to the floor in a semi split.

For a first go around, the work twinges on intentional unrefinement. But it succeeds in its uncertainties and abrasive qualities. The dancers, technically savy and each individually interesting are hungry for performance and innovation. Most refreshing of all, is the eagerness in their eye contact, and palpable synergy that permeates within their surroundings.

The use of the cubes is an enhancement, and they are cleverly used. Sliding pieces back and forth as stepping stools or a table, they bring wholesomeness to the work. Minimalist and chic costumes from Victoria Bek create a viscerally balanced mood. Hewman hopes to develop a platform from which other artists can use to show work leaving the administrative responsibilities to the threesome. They certainly make a promising and bold first example, and I hope they can level among the frayed edges of the dance scene, for they have the potential to rise among the best.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

June 1, 2014
Characters in exotic lands whip up a storm of drama between royalty and servants, warriors and temple dancers in American Ballet Theater’s La Bayadere. Dressed in harem style pants and bejeweled halters, the temple dancers frame the action centered on the great warrior Solar (guest star Vladimir Shklyarov), his secret love Nikiya, the temple dancer (Polina Semionova) and the powerful Radjah’s daughter, Gamzatti (Hee Seo). To complicate matters, the feared High Brahmin (Victor Barbee) favors Nikiya, unsuccessfully vying for her hand.

Delicate and vulnerable, Semionova hovers weightlessly over her poignant arabesques and apprehensive spins until she falls into the arms of her love, Shklyarov. There, Semionova and Shklyarov embrace in amorous duets. Well matched as a pair, Shklyarov has a fine classical form, and clean, long leaps that fan across the stage. Some hard landings did not detract from his solidly dramatic performance. In contrast, Hee Seo, a capable technician, is not a convincing, haughty, lady of privilege.

Determined to marry Solar, she confronts Nikyia, but her anger remains muted. Intent on ending this carnival of mismatched lovemaking, The High Brahmin hides a deadly snake in Nikiya’s basket during her command performance for the betrothed Solor and Gamzatti. Gliding effortless in her bourees, softly curved arms and torso add to the image of vulnerability and when she pulls the snake out of the basket, it sticks to her neck like a leech. (Well, she’s holding it to her neck, but it was pretty gruesome).

After intermission, Solar consoles himself in a haze of opium and imagines his reunion with Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades. Dancers in all white tutus, stream down the mountainside in a repetition of legs lifting and stepping forward in a mesmerizing procession. Many think this repetitive passage is about as a post modern as ballet gets. Semionova and Shklyarov ease through the complex simplicities of the sequences conceived and directed by Natalia Makarova. In secondary roles, Sarah Lane and Misty Copeland are animated Shades and Craig Salstein adds melodrama to his role of The Bronze Idol.
EYE ON THE ARTS, Y -- Celia Ipiotis

May 29, 2014
John Jasperse constructs clean, well-proportioned dances. They follow a logic that sways inside personable crossword patterns. In his new work “Within Between” at NY Live Arts, committed dancers invest each movement fully, successfully revealing the piece’s architecture free of dramatics, until of course, dramatics are the choreography.

Gleaming white lights flood the stage and spill into the audience when a dancer enters holding a long, high wire walker’s rod. Balancing the rod in the hands, Simon Courchel gently snakes it out into the audience caressing sides of faces, touching a person’s head, shoulder, nuzzling arms and then pulling it back to stage. In a bit, he retrieves the poker and shares the rod’s length and weight with another dancer, Stuart Singer.

In an exquisite dance of balance, the bar floats onto of shoulders and then later rolls smoothly down bodies to their feet and other crevices and angles.

Finally the rod is retired and two more dancers join, the lovely Maggie Cloud and Burr Johnson. The formality of two against two or all four in unison permeates the piece’s pattern. Strong compositional elements, pared down to a few leg extensions and arm rotations conspicuously draw into a line of coherent steps. Simple steps unfold: pivots, pointed feet slide forward and back, bent knees lift, while arms rotate or punch over long arabesque turns and twists. Lights change color in a strip on the floor taped into quadrants, suggesting a different energy that is supported by a audio track that includes sounds like coughing, laughing, mumbling and snatches of music.

In a solo, Singer breaks off, drubbing forward and back, pulling up his knee, pointing an overarched foot into a strong point and his pummeling arms in and out. All fine performers, the dancers concentrate on the movement without adding context over the steps.

Originally in mixed stripe shirts and shorts, they flip into colorful, floral patterns for the final 1/3 of the piece. Their faces start to contort, eyes rolling and mouths squished like faces in a fun mirror. And that’s how they looked, dancers having fun.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 27, 2014
Precious gems frame the three-part, full evening ballet “Jewels” by George Balanchine(1967). Each section is dedicated to the vibrant properties of different gem.

The ballet opens on the dreamy Gabriel Faure music to Emeralds.Leading the ensemble, are two couples: Abi Stafford and Jared Angle plus Rebecca Krohn and Jonathan Stafford. More musical than Krohn, Stafford eased through the glides and floating balances with her attentive partner. In a clever partnering passage, two ballerinas, Lauren King and Megan LeCrone are matched up with a single danseur, Anthony Huxley. Of the two-featured ballerinas King most successfully located the music’s romantic breath.

Rubies announces the vibrant modernism heard in Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, and pitches Ashley Bouder and Gonzalo Garcia in a playfully competitive exchange of solos. Reminiscent of the famous song from the musical Annie “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” Bouder sallies out shaking her metallic, paneled tutu in hip swivels and rapid fire jump turns. Highly aerobic, Bounder and Garcia are in constant motion fanning through traveling spins, sparkling balances and air gulping leaps. Also joining the fiery duo is a technically and musically weak Savannah Lowery.

In the closing ballet, Diamonds to Tschaikovsky’s luxurious Symphony No. 3 in D Major” the graceful Sara Mearns holds the music’s heart. Elegant clarity describes the jewel and the dancer. Fearlessly dropping into Ask la Cour’s arms, Tschaikovsky’s long musical lines pass through her gracious limbs and upwardly arched torso. Slight hops out of held arabesques did not detract from the devotion to extending movement details and the aura of classical glamour.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 25, 2014
These days, Sarah Lane is coming into her own at American Ballet Theater. Thrust into the lead role opposite Danil Simkin in George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” Lane fully inhabits each step. Only occasionally unsure of herself, Lane’s partner, the technically exceptional Danil Simkin was a last minute replacement for the injured Herman Cornejo. Despite the last minute changes, Simkin found Lane’s rhythm, partnering her with ease and concern.

Performed to Tchaikovsky’s Theme and Variations, Simkin whips around in air turns punctuated by pirouettes without breaking a sweat. He executes complex sequences effortlessly, landing in neat positions. Lane exploits strong, well-arched feet and is on her way to getting inside the choreography. There was a good deal of variation in the demi soloists’ appearances, but Gemma Bond and Misty Copeland successfully maneuvered through their solos.

In Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant” to the music of Igor Stravinsky, James Whiteside joins a poised Paloma Herrera. Listening intently to the music played by the on stage violinist, Benjamin Bowman and pianist Emily Wong, they exchange looks and steps. An under-choreographed duet, the dancers are asked to impress each step with a depth of intent. Each passage switches up the mood, from languid to jolly, frisky and reflective. A natural Balanchine dancer, Herrera’s long legs and strong feet know how to attack the technique. A fine partner, Whiteside looks less steady, in part because his long limbs don’t snap as quickly into positions.

The program closes with the vibrantly colorful Gaite Parisienne choreographed by Leonide Massine to the popular music by Jacques Offenbach. Veronika Part (Glove Seller) and Misty Copeland (Flower Girl) assumed the leads along with a broadly humorous Craig Saltenstein (The Peruvian), Jared Matthews’ noble bearing (The Baron), Sterling Baca (The Officer) and the dramatically weighty Roman Zhurbin (The Duke). Christian Lacroix’s costumes cheer up the audience, particularly when the legs start flying in the celebrated “Can Can.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 21, 2014
Light soaks the brightly colored village where the lovely and intrepid Kitri (Maria Kochetkova) longs to marry the young and handsome Basilio (Herman Cornejo) instead of her burly father’s (Grant deLong) choice, the wealthy and bombastic Gamache (Craig Salstein). Unable to convince her father of true love’s hold, the lovers escape to a Gypsy camp.

This light-hearted ballet is marked by its flourishes and pyrotechnics. More innocent than coquettish, Kochetkova offers plenty of eye pleasing moves. Effortless turns and easy, long back arches float over sharp, piquant point work and double toe taps. Easily one of the most gifted dancers/actors currently in ABT, Cornejo is equally comfortable in his technique and character interpretation. Sharp and clean, Cornejo whips off six revolutions in his pirouettes, elegantly slowing down the final two before landing in a tight fifth position. More to the point, he’s completely attentive to his partner and soars through complicated choreography with elan.

The buffoon, Gamache, is dragged to new heights of shtick. Even when on the side of the stage, Salstein's theater “business” threatens to overwhelm the central performers--funny, but a little too much too often.

A string of characters add to the joyful mayhem including Sacha Radetsky (Espada, a famous matador) who wheels his cloak around in ruffled flourishes and his merry partner Merceds (Stella Abrera). Of course, the great wanderer Don Quixote (Roman Zhurbin) and his pal Sancho Panza (Arron Scott) shadow Kitri and Basilio. Intent on discovering his beloved Dulcinela, Don Quixote falls asleep and dreams of a universe of enchanted maidens. This is where the corps shines and the feathery Yuriko Kajiya (Amour) lightly weaves through intricate figures.

Technical fireworks break out in the last act when Kitri executes the traditional 32 fouettes layering- in double turns complemented by Cornejo’s soaring jumps, tightly sprung turns and gracious support.
The infectious music by Ludwig Minkus is brightly conducted by David laMarche.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 19, 2014
If, perchance, you end up at SLAM not knowing what goes on there, you might fancy the venue as an elaborate theatre where screenings of historic monster truck rallies show while cage matches play out live for those who prefer their carnage with a pulse. Vapors of fresh popcorn waft up spiral staircases down which muscly individuals rush in spandex. You might worry you missed the memo for a costume party until, upon taking your seat, you see them warming up before huge projections giving us a rundown of who these people are. One came from Dance Theatre of Harlem, another was in Cats, but amidst disparate backgrounds, they are here to put on FORCES, Elizabeth Streb’s latest unlocking of bodily potential through her evenhanded mastery of art and science.

Each of the ten segments is a highly developed study of human interaction with force. Streb eases us in examining the ways one can compliment a plexiglass wall. The company first takes turns ramming into it face-first like deranged birds, gradually sophisticating into dancers dangling off it like tangled Christmas ornaments in architectural counterbalances. Later, the floor spins in concentric circles, allowing navigation of centripetal force into impossible free-standing balances and multi-dimensional spatial patterns traveling through the speed difference between circles.

Other shorts meet deadly encounters with nonchalance. Jackie Carlson and Samantha Jakus play spin-the-200-pound-I-beam, counting their accelerating slaps as if at a slumber party. It goes on to be used as medieval limbo stick by Daniel Rysak who, lying below it, lifts his head, torso, pelvis, and entire body between spins, narrowly avoiding decapitation. “Fly” could double as a post-apocalyptic rendering of Peter Pan. Carlson is secured in a giant double skewer that spins while the contraption as a whole rotates in space, knocking down other dancers strategically placed in headstands. At one point she is upside down, connected by the scalp to one of the lost boys in a slow promenade – a calm beauty evoked on monstrous machinery.

One of Streb’s earliest works – “Escape” – has Felix Hess channeling David Blaine in a dance confined to a rectangular space lit coldly by flickering fluorescent light. Hess plays a tumultuous game of twister, slamming body parts on walls in contorted configurations as he howls. His eyes never reduce their wide-set terror, even as he scoots on his head in a fetal ball. While simply a formal exploration of what the body can do in a cruelly limited space, the pathos rendered by those few minutes of struggle until he dives head-first and backwards into black is heartrending.

Equipment pieces show the human/machine partnership as symbiotic. The last piece, “Rocket,” contains no slamming whatsoever. On a large yellow structure resembling an abstracted ice cream cone, Cassandre Joseph softly runs, leaps, and flips in a circular structure that keeps the whole device spinning. Her colleagues watch, beguiled, and add themselves to the picture. The arrangement of pieces outlines a journey – bodies with that which governs their movement – from chaos to altruism.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

May 17, 2014
A silhouette in a sequined jacket timidly approaches a mic stand. Avoiding direct illumination from a dim spot light, he poses around it. Fidgety and unable to settle on a proper tableau, he instead shares a fluid duet with it before bringing his focus to us, losing the jacket to reveal his toned torso. This is normally the part when disembodied braziers are catapulted onstage and screams of ecstasy fill the air, but we are at the Joyce. Pierre Rigal capitalizes on the silently seated decorum of concert dance audiences with Micro, a portrait of the rock concert as a rite.

Limbs slither through the equipment onstage – an entanglement of flesh and electronics that converge as the performers rhythmically prod each other with the cord jacks meant for the amps, creating a symphonic buzz of feedback. Childish play delves into the psyche of the rock ‘n’ roller – a kid in a garage whose rebellion depends on a plug and an outlet to be heard.

It is said that, given an infinite time span, a monkey hitting random keys will almost surely type the complete works of Shakespeare. Rigal makes an analogous suggestion with these barbaric musicians, who, after using their guitars as canes, masks, and metal detectors, ultimately rest them on the floor, tapping frets like a gamelan ensemble. Disparate pitches eventually agree on tonality, but the resulting song passes like a daydream as the lights come up on the hooligans from before vehemently vocalizing the sounds the instruments they are now beating on might otherwise be making.

Each section is marked by abstractions of classic rock antics. Rigal restages Roger Daltry’s microphone trapeze acts while Gwenaël Drapeau wears a hysterical smile that, when he drums, is pure Keith Moon. Malik Djoudi’s chanting connotes Gainsbourg, and a sword fight of guitars allegorizes Marc Bolan’s transformation into the Electric Warrior. In a whimsical sequence, Drapeau hums faintly in trance. Rigal leans in as if to kiss him, but, upon removing his mouth, actually absorbs the falsetto whimper. It is hard not to see George and Paul sharing a mic on Ed Sullivan in the image and, harder still, not to be awakened to the inherent homoeroticism. Mélanie Chartreux, through a short-circuited monologue and Rigal’s lewd manipulations of her catatonic form, embodies Joplin among others who were both pioneers and pawns of the industry.

Rigal is both ring master and court jester. He establishes himself as frontman from the start, but never sings nor plays a note. Rather, he inserts himself as a continual secondary focus to the musicians, performing a wide array of activities often in the foreground. This distracting composition harkens to Jim Morrison, dancing and passing out onstage during Jefferson Airplane’s 1968 European tour. When engaged, Rigal holds his microphones up to mouths, cymbals, unplugged guitars, and his own skull. He is a beacon of self-importance who elevates the microphone to a talisman signifying the arbitrary and fleeting natures of agency, be it decreed by self or other.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

May 14, 2014
A mixed evening of works by George Balanchine traced large-scale works from 1948 to more pared down ballets from 1975.

Strung across a score by Glazounov, Raymonda Variations individual dancers appear in a string of solos centered around a dominant pas de deux effortlessly performed by Ashley Bouder and her partner Andrew Veyette. Each variation expresses a different personality calling for lyrical passages, flighty jumps, and careful balances or traveling spins. Some fared better than others, including Ashley Isaacs’ lovely balances, Sara Adams and Emilie Gerrity charm and Faye Arthurs. A consummate technician, Bouder is expanding her interpretive qualities adding plush nuances next to needlepoint clear attacks.

Balanchine’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin” to Ravel’s score of the same name, fans lightly over the large cast of corps female dancers dressed in classroom white tunics and males and white T-shirts and black leotards. Combinations draw couples into clean patterns that ultimately form an elegant solution to the music’s geography.

Youthful exuberance marks The Steadfast Tin Soldier with the well matched Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. Set in front of a fireplace, the doll and the soldier make eyes; flaunt their dance chops in perky jumps and dainty turns.

In one of the company’s most dynamic displays of technical aplomb and courtly grandeur, “Symphony in C” to music by Georges Bizet challenges on every level. Tiler Peck and Chase Finlay skillfully charge into action followed by some of the most poignantly romantic music in the Second Movement Adagio. Mesmerizingly performed by Sara Mearns, her elongated arabesques fold out of a supple torso. When Mearns poses in front of her partner Jared Angle, and suddenly releases her weight backwards into his arms, it’s like a profound sigh.

The final two sections challenge all the dancers’ stamina in a marathon of turn combinations peppered by springy jumps and breathless leaps. No better way to end an evening of dance.

May 11, 2014
Cincinnati Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and a New York debut at the Joyce Theater. Thursday night the company presented three contemporary ballet works from choreographers Adam Hougland, Val Caniparoli, and Trey McIntrye.

In an overcrowded New York City contemporary dance scene, I’m always surprised when classical ballet companies don’t bring any classical repertoire with them on tour. Other than the major ballet companies that reside here, we don’t get much of the classics in NYC. It was a shame when Houston Ballet in all their technical glory failed to give us a sense of who they were because of bland choreography and dancers that weren’t in their element. That being said, Cincinnati showed some versatility although it took a while to get to that point.

The program opened with Hougland’s “Hummingbird in a Box,” with original music by Peter Frampton and Gordon Kennedy. Four women in rhinestoned black bra tops, and black tutus and four men bare chested in white jeans take the stage one by one. As they gather in a huddled group, a central couple (Janessa Touchet and Patric Palkins) breaks away. The choreography is simplistic, the men in their trio “glissade, glissade, Italian changement” several times in repetition before kicking their legs up in a ripple. It’s truly a disservice to ballet dancers, when choreographic standards diminish the abilities of their virtuosic technique. In her solo, Touchet seemingly the “Hummingbird in the Box,” pantomimed for an escape, appearing bored and over it, she too couldn’t wait for the end.

Val Caniparoli’s “Caprice” pitted two skilled violinists (Haoli Lin & Yabing Tang) against each other in a sort of play off. Ten dancers in black and polk dot weave in and out in nine sections. Playful seduction and angst inundates the movement, it’s flirtatious yet fresh. The devilishly handsome Patric Palkins commands the stage in this work as well as Hummingbird. Technically gifted and precise, each turn is clean and controlled and every cheeky grin blush inducing.

The major coup of the night was McIntyre’s “Chasing Squirrel,” which originally premiered in 2004 in Vail. The curtain rose to scantily clad men and women dressed in leather tops and teased hair. Women run the show, often leaving the men breathless running after them, and dancing for attention. Pink suits eventually become the men’s outfits although a state of complete dress never comes to full fruition. “Squirrel” is fun and entertaining. These talented dancers are finally given the chance to show that they are capable of more than ballet, even though it would have been refreshing to see.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

May 11, 2014
Sliding, colliding, and gently gliding through the terrain. Structured off of and onto the area that is the “stage.” Alain Buffard’s “Baron Samedi,” opened the festival of “Danse: A French-American Festival of Performance and Ideas” at the New York Live Arts. In the final evening of the three-day run, the theatre became completely black, as a slow, distant light rose on the face of Hlengiwe Lushaba. Cooing a French song, her powerful voice sets the somber, detached tone of the work.

A white floor takes over the space of the stage. Its edges careen up and down, creating tails to the ends of the wave like floor. The eight performers, versed in movement, acting, and music, slide up and travel down the hill that separates the lower and upper half of the stage. Two stay off to the side, striking the chords of an electric cello and sound mixer. Their tunes fade in and out, piercing the hardwired atmosphere that occupies the central space.

“Baron Samedi” refers to one of the spirits or gods recognized in Haitian voodoo. Commonly seen as a black man in a top hat that represents death and sex, the figure comes to life on stage through the performance of David Thomson. A ring master of sorts, he becomes all things evil. He simulates anal rape at the back of the stage on his “slave,” the dynamic Will Rawls. Rawls stands tall and astute, mumbling fading words as he walks around in search of redeeming dignity. Later in a court scene Thomson is dubbed the “juge” French for judge and wears a chalkboard title around his neck as the others wear signs of prostitute and witness.

The strength of Buffard’s work is in the seamless mixture of singing, movement, and music. A sequence of jutting in and out of each other’s bodies, turns into a chorus like French hymn. But perhaps, it’s also overwhelming. The layering is at times cryptic and the subtleties too unclear. A culmination of tensions (racial, sexual, physical, and economic) melds but never results in a focused objective. It’s not enough to mention the problem and be overt in its presentation.

Samedi also represents resurrection and healing despite his tendency for destruction. This side of Samedi is valid too, without it, we are left with another complete blackout, and more than ever a sense of bleakness.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

May 10, 2014
Much has happened since Lincoln Center was inaugurated in a 1964. NYC ballet became an internationally renowned ballet company, The New York State Theater changed names and the company founders-- George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein are gone but their legacy lives large.

These monumental events were celebrated during NYCB's 2014 gala. In a tasteful salute, all the evening's guests were given flutes of sparkling wine, and a small bottle of vodka to toast the evening. After viewing a short archival film capturing an elated Balanchine, Kirstein and dancer Jacques d'Amboise on the opening night, Peter Martins called onto the stage—to great applause-- dancers who were members of the company in1964.

Two trumpeters faced off playing “Fanfare for a New Theater” by Stravinsky, and then the National Anthem sounded from the elevated orchestra pit. Before the dance, Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar sang “If I Loved You” from the grand musical “Carousel” to honor one of the theater’s original residents—Richard Rodgers’ Musical Theater of Lincoln Center.

And at last, the dancing ensued. In a nearly flawless performance, Sarah Mearns soared through Balanchine's still fresh “Allegro Brillante” (1964). Partnered by a confident, technically solid Jared Angle, Mearns let loose through wide arcing back bends releasing into arabesque plunges and turns fanning out and ending in airy balances.

Happily, instead of hiring a celebrity artist, Peter Martins commissioned a new work by the NYC Ballet dancer and budding choreographer, Justin Peck. Already scrutinized under a bright spotlight, Peck’s “Everywhere We Go” was worthy of a gala premiere celebrating the future of NYC Ballet.

Broken into nine “Musical Moments” the initial image, repeated at the end, presents three women standing directly in front of three men, palm covering their eyes and yes, reminiscent of the Balanchine’s “Serenade” where the woman stands behind the man and covers his eyes.

After that, stillness is rare. Three couples, Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette, Maria Kowroski and Robert Fairchild plus Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar anchor the large-scale production executed in front of a geometric back drop by Karl Jensen that morphs like a computer game. Perpendicular lines of dancers break up the space forming “L’s” rather than the more traditional diagonal or horizontal patterns.

Although the choreography breaks into surging waves of motion, there are recurring images like women lying on their backs, legs pointed to the sky and used by the men for support. (The women form the same geometric shape – an “L” as the first croup of dancers.) In keeping with the general rush of movement, women fly through the air, landing on a cluster of up stretched arms only to melt into the floor when the music sags.

The duets demand and get, reckless trust dancing in tight synchronization only to snap apart. In particular, Ramasar asserts his cocky, urban street-wise swagger next to Pecks’s brisk, all-American form. All the couples are well matched and bring a vivacious glow to “Everywhere We Go.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

May 10, 2014
Crowds packed into the AXA Equitable Center for an evening of heartfelt performances by a litany of world-class dancers donating their time to the Dance Against Cancer organization founded by Daniel Ulbricht and Erin Fogarty. All the participants shone in their respective pieces, and the evening closed on a breath-taking performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Rain” by the Italian ballerina Alessandra Ferri and NYC Ballet dancer Craig Hall.

Athletic skills drew rounds of applause when Gillian Murphy, fan in hand, laced a string of fouettes with her fan flipping up and down during triple revolutions. Well-versed jazz and modern dance works surrounded expressive classical pieces. All the participants excelled in their chosen numbers.

The evening opened on the now ubiquitous jookin’ dancer “lil Buck” scampering across the stage in his signature, rubbery body slinkings with the utterly delightful young people from the National Dance Institute. Unadorned in their sensual but simple duet, Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck slid through Liam Scarlett’s “Acheron.“

Departing from the ballet structure, “Simply Irresistible” from the Broadway musical “Contact” by Susan Stroman flew on the stylistic kick of the dancers particularly Peter Gregus. And the popular, athletic male quartet from Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom” drew predictable ooh’s and aah’s as Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinedorst, James Samson and Sean Mahoney friskily tumbled and tussled.

Before the duet from “After The Rain” Chris Wheeldon took the stage. Emotional after recently losing his father to cancer, Wheeldon described Ferri as the ballerina that inspired his desire to choreograph and dance. She became the dancer Chris and his father loved to watch. For this reason, she was invited to perform the duet so loved by Wheeldon’s father. This performance left the audience spellbound, in large part because Ms. Ferri, more than any other living dancer, knows how to succumb to movement.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

NYC BALLET/JR/Martins/Wheeldon/Forsythe/Ratmansky
May 7, 2014

Skin-tight sequenced outfits jostled against Dior suits when NYCB offered a copious evening of dance. The major draw mated Lil Buck (the Jookin' sensation), New York City Ballet and JR the French street artist with an assist by Peter Martins in “Les Bouquets.” Moody music by Woodkid reminiscent of Philip Glass “light” introduces a large crowd of dancers shooting across the stage. Women crouched on men's arms project one leg -- rifle style. Polka-dot unitard clad dancers break into two competing gangs slit by a ballerina (Lauren Lovette) in a white, paper mâché tutu. Perhaps Lovette’s the civilizing force?

Then, along comes the man in white outfit and white sneakers moon walking backwards, and fluidly sliding up to his toes, arms fluttering like a frightened swan. The two exchange steps--she speaks ballet, he struts street talk. At one point a video floods the back scrim showing close-ups of their faces and body parts – a bit overwrought and completely unnecessary. In the final moments, the dance corps returns and stretches out on the front lip of the stage to audience gasps at the pointillist painting created by the black and white unitards.

“Barber Violin Concerto” by Peter Martins also contrasted modern dance and ballet idioms. The two NYC ballet couples were fine; particularly Megan Fairchild in a frisky, nonstop action role, but Jared Angle could have used more weight and angularity. Sara Mearns exudes her usual flow of breath through each gesture and Ask la Cour served as a stalwart partner.

“Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux “by William Forsythe pits Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar in a parallel dance while pinpointing them in high-contrast lighting. Slick body shifts and vertical spins to floor-drops butt next to tight balletic steps and casual movements. Suddenly a leg snaps in the air, forging a taut balletic line. Jostling for position, they slink around in balletic street dance moves (Ramasar is particularly adept) and swagger off stage to the audience’s enthusiastic applause.

In a return to the stage after surgery, Wendy Whelan was poignant in an excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon’s “This Bitter Earth” sung by the great Dinah Washington. Her devoted partner, Tyler Angle added warmth to the supportive duet.

The final epic showcased the company's dramatic and technical aplomb in Alexei Ratmansky's “Namouna, A grand Divertissement” to the lush music of Edouard Lalo. A series of vignettes pitch the main character, Robert Fairchild (wearing a sailor’s outfit) in a fairyland world where evil bands and seductive women (donning much parodied head-gear resembling loud swim caps) try to interrupt his journey.

In one of the funniest diversions, Ashley Bouder dangles a cigarette from her mouth while executing a Bette Davis style, “I don't give a damn” dance along with a corps of three cigarette-puffing damsels. Despite the choreographic ingenuity and top-notch performances by by all the leads, “Namouna” outstays its welcome when several false endings——swerve into one more divertissement.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 7, 2014
The Sunday matinee of New York City Ballet’s 21st Century Choreographers program was a lot to take in. It wasn’t the stylistic diversity; each piece seemed to be fighting for the title of program centerpiece. Conceptually, not bad for a 21st century theme, but one needed to prepare with a cross-training regimen to ward off complete exhaustion by 5:30. The spring season has begun.

Timpani roar; men in polka-dot unitards emerge holding bayonets that are similarly dressed. After charging at an offstage enemy, the weaponry flees, becoming a band of women marching daintily en pointe ad infinitum while the men chug around for the same duration. Add a few red rovers, and you have 98% of installation artist JR’s Les Bosquets. Assessing the work is tricky – Does one pat JR on the back for working in a medium in which he has no training, or sympathize with Peter Martins, faced with the task of making the actual moves for a confused vision?

The work was ultimately a disservice to Charles “Lil’ Buck” Riley and Jookin’ – the Memphis-based street dance he has in recent years brought to international attention. Amidst stock formations of nearly forty corps dancers/set pieces, he and Lauren Lovette depict some kind of a relationship. Jookin’, like ballet, is a complete movement language with its own brand of theatrics and meticulous musicality. It’s a shame to see Buck attempting balletic pantomime between his idiomatic physicality, rendered ineffective by Woodkid’s “original” score – a soulless mishmash of Philip Glass’s greatest hits. Jookin’ in pure form is battled in social settings; JR has exploited that one aspect to create a farcical tale of star-crossed dance styles, apparently meant to commemorate the 2005 French riots, but too concerned with its own novelty to read as such.

Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto accomplished in 1988 what JR was trying to do. Two ballet dancers and two modern dancers experience their relationships by replacing each other in space and interlocking their limbs to create wide wingspans. Each pairing offers new possibilities – the modern man promenades the bashful ballerina on demi-pointe in plié rather than tall on her box. The comically violent relationship between the controlling danseur and the modern woman unfolds as a cantankerous game of horse to see who can do the wackiest movement. JR presented styles at odds; Martins used opposing genres (as well as genders) to draw a map of the human spirit in all its dualities.

Wendy Whelan made a much-anticipated return from hip surgery in This Bitter Earth, a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s Five Movements, Three Repeats. She and Tyler Angle did their best with spatially unfocused promenades to Dinah Washington singing the titular song superimposed over a Max Richter string quartet. Our ears are forcibly told that this dance is sad, but the movement never displays a reason for the melancholy.

William Forsythe’s Herman Scherman Pas de Deux and Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement cerebrally bookended intermission. Even with classical commissions, Forsythe’s form is ever present. The pair juts their arms in different timings and combinations; a sinuous phrase executed by Maria Kowroski retrogrades as partnering. The Ratmansky, playing with cliché, attempts to abstract Lucien Petipa’s 1882 ballet, but it is neither thorough in abstraction nor interesting enough in pastiche. Many sections feel like codas, taking you out of the work when you think it’s over, only to restart.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

May 2, 2014
The Limón Dance Company honored its founder in spirit, form, and content on Opening Night at the Joyce Theater, presenting two masterworks: Mazurkas (1958) and Psalm (1967 – restaged in 2002 by Carla Maxwell), and two premieres: She Who Carries the Sky, choreography by Dianne McIntyre, and Nocturne for Ancestors by Sean Curran.

This season of works was dedicated to and in celebration of the life of beloved dancer, teacher, choreographer, mentor, composer, friend, and colleague to the company, Alan Danielson, “a man whose heart was always open to adventure and others to find their path as well.”

Program A opened the show with Mazurkas. Women enter in cream colored dresses, the men in black trousers and white shirts breaking into duets, solos, and larger groupings, carving space with wonderfully articulated suspensions, piques, sautés, leaps… arms and backs so connected to a larger expression of humanity than mere technical perfection. Live piano performance of Chopin's score by Vanessa Perez enhanced the production staged by Sarah Stackhouse. All the creative elements, including Joshua Rose's lighting recreated by Stirling Baker, blended to convey moods and larger feelings of the spirit.

Diane McIntyre’s She Who Carries the Sky (World Premiere) honored company member Roxane D’Orleans Juste’s 30th year as an artist and director of the Limón Dance Company. A quote in the program by Edwidge Danticat discusses “people of Creation, Strong, tall, and mighty people who can bear anything.” Roxane personifies this ideal on stage through a series of experiences as the female heroine who journeys and stands up through tempests and life’s dilemmas, walking off in the end, strong and proud. Costumed by Andrea Lauer in a long salmon colored skirt, halter top, and scarf that serves as transition and scene change, she gestures and dramatizes a lifetime of experience in all four corners of the world on stage, but always coming back to center as the strong and enduring character who can “hold up the sky.” The creative relationship between McIntyre and Juste is apparent in this performance, both strong, peaceful, women who have endured over time and place. Music: Jon Hassel/ Farafina and R. Carlos Nakai; Sound design: James Swonger and Bill Toles; Artistic Consultants: Phyllis Lamhut and Kathleen S. Turner.

Nocturne for Ancestors (World Premiere) by guest artist Sean Curran, presents the thirteen company dancers in eloquent folk dance references integrated with modern dance in delightful motifs: circles that enlarge, diminish to fours, then two’s, line dances, all seamlessly woven together in full spirited couplings, with skips, hops, chasses, shuffles, and claps, often framing more stylized modern dance freezes of positions and statements. Costumed by Amana Shafran, the dancers are beautifully dressed in colorful variations of pants, and dresses based on East Indian design; music by Licia and Pedro H. da Silva; lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker. Curran’s Nocturne for Ancestors offers the company and the audience a deep breath of joy, gratitude, and life in community in this hearkening back to the heart of folk dance, no matter what culture, no matter what age.

The evening closed with the deep and epic work Psalm, for the full company with Raphael Boumaila as “The Just Man,” the central character. Costumed in subtle shades of grey pants and tunic tops, lined in reds and blues, by Marion Williams, and music commissioned in 2002 by Jon Magnussen, the dancers form and reform, often in circles around “The Just Man,” responding, framing, lifting, and uniting with him in communal soul search. Boumaila reaches beyond himself at all times with outstretched hands, body, and soul, calling and responding to the universe, personifying the spirit of God on earth and his importance to the life of others. Compelling “Alleluia” vocalizations pierce the atmosphere, with deep mood lighting by Steve Woods, recreated by Brandon Stirling Baker. Music, light, and dance evoke, as Limón states in program notes: the heroic power of the human spirit, triumphant over death itself.”

Kudos to the entire Limón family for this powerful and uplifting continuation of their 68th year!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY-- Mary Seidman

April 29, 2014
The dream of reviving the Dance Theater of Harlem became a reality last year under the helm of Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. Once a principal ballerina with DTH in the days after Karel Shook and Arthur Mitchell founded the company, Ms. Johnson took her company on the road and back to NYC for a season at the Rose Theater.

This year’s crop of dancers brings a renewed enthusiasm and sheen of sophistication. Intent on combining classical and contemporary choreography, Program B featured Robert Garland’s “New Bach” (2001), Ulysses Dove’s “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven” (1993) and Donald Byrd’s “Contested Space” (2012).

Classical steps get a slight, funky twist in Garland’s “New Bach.” It highlights the dancers ease at executing ballet basics that melt the taut body into easy hip and shoulder rotations. Lines of dancers pass through each other giving the audience an introduction to the company.

In contrast, Byrd’s “Contested Space” deconstructs the ballet space deploying dancers in large gaping leg extensions and flashy lifts. Sections break apart more like be-bop jazz than classical ballet, forcing the dancers to scurry in and out of positions.

Commanding the heart of the program, Ulysses Dove’s “On The Front Porch of Heaven” challenged the dancer’s ability to shift from speedy steps to total stillness. Set to a haunting score by Arvo Part, church bells toll—a reminder that Dove worked, lived and died in the era of AIDS. Spareness underscores the piece’s off-center balances, whiplash turns on one leg, and signature wide legged deep knee bends on a tilt. The piece demands total concentration on the part of the performers because split-second timing accompanies one body replacing another on stage.

The nascent Dance Theater of Harlem is blossoming featuring promising women and very strong men and resuming its place on the nationally recognized, New York City dance company grid.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 27, 2014
Program B of Ballet Hispanico’s run at the Joyce Theatre is a solid display of the company’s wide spectrum of movement from sexy to whimsical. Even with the long running time of two hours (including two intermissions), the evening never runs stale. Each piece is vibrant and diverse, showcasing the talented dancers and choreographers that the company commissions.

inspired by the name Maria, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Mad’moiselle is sleek and sexy. A dark color scheme permiates the look of the piece, with dramatic pops of bright red occurring throughout. Bright red wigs and incredibly high heels give the piece a high-fashion feel, while the movement grounded it ov in the modern world. The vitality in this high energy piece transfers into the following dance, Hogar, choreographed by artistic director Eduardo Vilaro.

Hogar, an introspective piece, begins with a strong solo by dancer Jamal Rashann Callender. The emotion he achieves within his solo set the stage for a powerful conclusion, carrying the feeling and strength from his movement onward. Another section in this piece included four men manipulating a female dancer, clad in a beautiful long skirt. She is carried, dragged, and spun, with sweeping motion so fluid and mesmerizing that it becomes ethereal.

The world premiere of El Beso, choreographed by Spain native Gustavo Ramirez Sansano closed the evening. Set to classic Spanish Zarzuela music, the dance explores the meaning of a kiss. A larger than life set designed by Luis Crespo and costumes by Venezuelan fashion designer Angel Sanchez add to the fanciful world built through the fast paced, and well calibrated movement. It was a mischievous exploration of kisses, where the audience audibly “aw’d” as the dancers gave each other tiny pecks in time with the driving music. A fun ending to a very solid night of dance, Program B reminds us once again of Ballet Hispanico's charm and prowess.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

April 25, 2014
Bringing tales to life through ballet is a long-standing tradition, one which French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj embraced - straying from his more recent penchant for abstraction - in his evening length "Snow White." Don't be fooled; this work is no Disney revival, instead honing in on the evil Queen's vanity ever-provoked by her young, beautiful daughter in an aggressively provocative, mysterious rendition.

The 30-year-old company Ballet Preljocaj premiered the ballet in 2008, though this week's presentation by The Joyce Theater Foundation at the David H. Koch Theater marked the New York Premiere. Opening with ominous fog swelling across the stage, Snow White's mother slowly paces through, soon writhing on the ground in the midst of childbirth. Suddenly the setting of a golden palace transitions us to a happier place with a corps of dancers taking on abstract, gestural movements that have a slight folk dance accent. Snow White, danced by the dainty Nagisa Shirai, and her Prince, the long-legged Sergio Diaz, peer down from their golden chairs poised above the action. A tender duet ensues between them, ending with one sprawled on top of the other, kissing, foreshadowing the racier scenes to come where the Queen struts across the stage as jealousy over her lost youth runs rampant.

The Grimm Brother's story is drama-ridden in and of itself, though Preljocaj amplifies this in his presentation of the Queen. Dancer Anna Tatarova embodies a swirl of narcissism and eroticism in this role - undeniably due to her black thigh-high tights, stilettos, and red-trimmed black cape - and in her execution of the forceful, suggestive movements. Love is second to lust in Preljocaj's "Snow White." This is evident in the most memorable scene of the ballet: the duet of Snow White and the Queen. As the poisonous apple is shoved into Snow White's mouth, the Queen drags her around, clearly the dominatrix in the fateful encounter.

Throughout, the costumes by fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier add to this sexual undertone, featuring low-cut necklines, high slits, and strappy corsets. Gustav Mahler's music is integrated with additional electronic soundscapes by 79 D, creating edgy, dynamic accompaniment. Most successful is Thierry Leproust's set designs which lend the work a touch of magic. A large golden frame turns into a mirror at the snap of the Queen's fingers; it reappears throughout, allowing the audience to watch her watch her reflection before it dims into a viewing glass of Snow White or a snippet of a scene we just witnessed. Another memorable set comes in the cavernous stone wall , which the seven dwarves (dressed as miners) crawl in an out of, scaling up and down in a series of acrobatics and visual patterns.

The movement integrated throughout is dynamic, varying from fleeting nods towards traditional ballet to abstract, gestural phrases, to the over-the-top theatrical. Adventurous partner work between Shirai and Diaz is well-executed - the Prince's dance with the lifeless Snow White is particularly intriguing. Nearing the end of the two-hour work, the Queen is forced into red slippers after intruding on Snow White's wedding; this pivotal moment where she dances to her is death comes across as choreographically out-of-place. Perhaps it's to parallel the Queen's submission to old age, but the movement coloring her final solo is more reminiscent of an infantile tantrum than one would hope for the evil Queen's demise, and the finale for that matter.

Nonetheless, Ballet Preljocaj's "Snow White" succeeds in transporting the well-known fairy tale through a more contemporary-feeling, adult lens.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jenny Thompson

April 20, 2014
Ballet Hispanico presented three Joyce Premiers Friday night during their two week run at the Joyce Theater. Program A included “Umbral,” (2013), “Sombrerísimo,” (2013), and “El Beso,” (2014).

“Umbral” from choreographer Edgar Zendegas centers on the Mexican celebration “Dia de Los Muertos,” or “Day of the Dead.” The piece opens with a male duet in the upstage corner and dancers scattered around the floor on the lower half. A scrim hangs in front darkening their appearances- a separation of worlds perhaps- it later falls halfway through the piece. The dancers of Ballet Hispanico are athletic and dynamic but the choreography in “Umbral” does little to show off their technique or artistry.

At one point the ladies (whom barely appeared in the piece, except walking on and off stage), walked on to the stage, and served as coat hangers for the men who took off their tops. The ladies then exited. In another section they take off their tops and dance facing the back of the stage, doing everything they can to not reveal their breasts. Perhaps, the piece is so centered in ritual and culture that it does not translate on stage. It twinges on appearing misogynistic at its core, and the lackluster movement does little to clear up any misconceptions.

Often with men’s dances the bravura and tricks are dominant over the crafting of movement. This was the case for Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Sombrerísimo.” The men tilted their legs, flipped, and flung each other into the air. Coupled with a few salsa movements, it had flair and fun but not much more. Inspired by Belgian painter René Magritte and his paintings of men in bowler hats, the six men donned hats and button down shirts. Mario Ismael Espinoza, the lead dancer in “Umbral,” shined in this piece; his suave looks and easy dancing made him a standout.

The redeeming work of the night was Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s “El Beso.” Draped in pleated blues and blacks from Venezuelan designer Angel Sanchez, the dancers pair off and group up in various formations, pecking and smooching in “an ode to the kiss.” Movement started small as the group inched from side to side, scooting their feet across with loose movement in the upper body. The choreography builds with fast paced jumps, and turns and the dancers synchronize. One qualm was with the sets, which seemed superfluous. A half circled tapestry hangs from the ceiling before coming from stage right, and a tasseled curtain covers up a male duet. The piece culminates in a charming coda, the performers truly able to show off their versatility and wit through quick foot work and relaxed expressions.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

April 12, 2014
“What is sacred to you right now?” inquired the program notes of Sasha Soreff’s Hineni. Premiered at the Performance Project at University Settlement only a few days prior to Passover, the title, Hebrew for “Here I Am,” calls for a particular presence from its audience to both bear witness and contribute to an intergenerational study on the idea of a calling and the myriad of routes one can take to reply.

For an hour, we peer on vignettes of modulating emotional intensity, connected spatially by a diagonal trailing upstage left. What could possibly lie beyond is as variable as each dancer’s response to the pathway. Three young guest artists from The Door take the first steps. Their methodical crawls from downstage right make the space seem miles long. They effortlessly pass a pool of light, but Soreff’s dancers all struggle intensely. Are the youngin’s oblivious to a present calling, or are they following a more instinctive signal farther off? Regardless, the work consistently affirms “the kids are alright.”

The first time the entire cast is onstage is the first time the diagonal disappears. They all seem to navigate their own diagonals, proclaiming their presence to themselves alone. After reinstating, it disappears again the first time the cast looks at us directly from a more visually dominant horizon upstage. This relationship of first times with a distorted path is subtle but symptomatic of the increasing ambivalence of Jeanette McMahon’s disembodied voice: “My leap of faith is not yours for the taking.” We meet Calling’s neurotic twin, Compulsion.

Soreff’s company is an incredibly mixed bag. Desira Barnes’ focus is so full you experience it vicariously to watch her. Ryan Leveille is a generous partner and an agile soloist. Nathan Duszny’s dance moves look too much like dance moves for the work, but he executes them with a raw honesty. You can hardly tell Mika Yanagihara was a Graham dancer when she speaks Soreff’s softer vocabulary; her dramatic intensity gives her away. Ana Romero, a newcomer, has a trustworthy stage presence, providing a grounding that allows these disparate dynamics to harmonize consonantly to Yoav Shemesh’s rich score.

It ain’t over ‘til the entire audience takes a comp class. The program’s questions were not rhetorical. The piece halts; Soreff leads a discussion about our criteria for sanctity, astutely bringing awareness to and translating body language as choreography. The audience catches on. More speak up in the hopes that their, at this point, eagerly pre-choreographed gestures will be made into art, but art isn’t the point.

After a small phrase is made, we travel with these movements on the diagonal that shapes the entire journey. The goal of Soreff’s art is real, hands-on community engagement. Her residency is doing (and accomplishing) highly necessary work – making dance accessible to laymen without dumbing it down. We dive into the frame yet can keep our discoveries once we emerge.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

April 11, 2014
If ever there was a species of movement with the same genetic code as the earworm, it would be Trisha Brown’s. Her phrases reveal like origami instructions. You leave attuned to methodology in everyday life, failing to conceal your attempt at the soft swing of her dancers’ joints. She is a teacher who avoids lectures for parables. At New York Live Arts, logic bore humanity.

Rogues opens sparsely – a dim stage sheltering two men in unison, preoccupied with the right angles in their elbows. In full-bodied shapes, they direct focus to microscopic details of their shared physicality. Neal Beasley reads like Nicholas Strafaccia’s scout master as his compact and commanding form forges a trail. They seem uncomfortable standing; each sequence increasingly lengthens. In larger glimpses, there is not one chief. Both have extra movements built in at different times, dismantling the balance of power by constantly juggling it. The rogues are such in the purity of their partnership.

Opal Loop/Cloud Installation #72503 continued this cooperative theme through highlighting the strengths and weakness of constituent parts. A quest to find spatial harmony by scratching visual itches, Judith Shea’s costuming adds challenges as her color scheme graces incompatible garments. The quartet travels through a billowing haze as a group, but each individual has a particular pathway in getting to point B. One movement is the initiation for endless subsequent phrases, but the common origin binds them together. We see a duet in the center with its halves on opposite ends of a diagonal line acting as solos. Whether the duet was separated or the solos were combined is inconsequential. There is simply possibility, but within, proclivity – the simultaneous need for others and ourselves.

Solo Olos surrenders human authority to the wisdom of what is there. Within the original palindrome, dancers walk to new positions and continue, constantly refreshing one image. Megan Madorin exits to sit with us. It is as an outsider that she begins to direct the remainders to “spill,” “branch,” and “reverse.” The calls are improvised; however, they guide the dancers on a journey of contrapuntal complexity back to their shared heartbeat. Try as we might, the unforeseeable fruits of choice are indomitable, yet Modorin’s job requires intimate familiarity with the material. Physically separated, she is with them on a level independent of space. She is pumping their blood.

A similar spatial notion lives in Son of Gone Fishin’. Tamara Riewe completes a solo offstage; six others clad in draping metals move like they’re trying on shrunken outfits, exploring the motivation to act. Stillness becomes unison when movement simmers and they wait for a reason to restart. The limits of dancing with someone are investigated through a couple spread to the outer edges, containing two duets by default. Riewe returns, urgently corralling the others with the same sweeping skip and jump that finished her initial solo the instant before the final blackout. Brown’s formalism is poetic in its rigor. Her dancers, coyly reverent, wear their thought process on their sleeves.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

April 10, 2014
This week choreographer Stephen Petronio and his thirty-year-old company returned to The Joyce Theater for an anniversary celebration. The evening program followed a chronological trajectory opening with one of his early works, then presenting two world premieres - one performed by Petronio himself.

"Strange Attractors Part I" is a 1999 work that aptly showcases Petronio's style - particularly in the physicality he requires of his dancers. Ghost's silky pajama-esque costumes add a dreamy element to the churning feel of the movement, which transforms from solos to duets or trios. It is a whirlwind of limbs slicing through space, interrupted by only rare moments of unison and the silent pauses the recur throughout Michael Nyman's original score. Most impressive is the timeless talent, Gino Grenek whose interwoven solo makes the vigorous technique appear effortless.

The world premiere of "Stripped" is a fleeting solo work, in which Petronio flirtatiously strips off his sports coat; this is made part comical as his head is completely wrapped in fabric. This fabric turns out to be a chain of ties that he unravels across the stage and back, at last revealing himself. While wrapped up, he softly performs an informal series of 30 gestures inspired by different emotions, his youth, and memories.

Following this performance, guest artist Melissa Toogood takes to the stage looking strong in Petronio's choreography; her solo begins the second world premiere of the evening, "Locomoter." This work parallels the earlier "Strange Attractions," as both hinge upon a visual effect of organized (certainly more organized in "Locomotor") chaos. The architecture of the dance sifts relentless movement through various patterns, consistently in reverse and often in a circular manner.

Michael Volpe's accompanying original score is an electronic one that offers the sudden sounds of laughter, echoing beats, and church bells. Most memorable is Barrington Hinds and Nicholas Sciscione partnering throughout. Together they lend a moment of rare vulnerability to the work's mechanical theme as one kisses the forehead of the other before whisking offstage. All the while, the ensemble donning color-blocked - tan in the front and black in the back - unitards (Narciso Rodriguez) fold in and out of the motion, each ultimately reaching a point of motionless standing before continuing on their dizzying path.

By the end of "Locomotor," it is evident that Petronio's choreographic style has continued to excite audiences; his abstract, rigorous, and technical style prevails - even after three decades.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jenny Thompson

April 10, 2014
Second Avenue Dance Company presented by NYU TISCH, put on a strong showcase of student work, with guest choreographer Kendra Portier. In terms of student choreographed pieces, one standout of the night was Who, Man. Choreographer Molly McSherry and a second dancer, Lauren Kravitz presented a quirky and lively piece. McSherry established the characters onstage quickly and effectively, and then developed the movement of those characters throughout the dancing. With baggy pants, and colorful wind breakers, these two danced to “”Tequila” by The Champs, coyly playing off the audience's focus. Small moments of contained focus, led to moments of fluidity, creating a seamless blend of humor and dance. It was a funny and well crafted piece.

Another standout piece was Blow choreographed by Bailey Moon. With the set consisting of a large white box on wheels, the black wrapping costumes set the dancers apart. The costumes, lighting, and movement match in a way that made the piece feel cohesive, especially paired with the strong music choice. Thrashing and gyrating took full swing and with huge surprises and virtuosic movements Blow came out swinging from the very beginning. The piece did seem to end too soon, there was more room for exploration with the box, though Moon hit all the big moments. As the dancer fell dramatically off the box as the lights cut out, you could hear the collective gasp from the audience.

All the dancers were accomplished and Kendra Portier gave them each a moment to stand out in the final piece “Harm of Will”. Choreographed with the dancers, Portier gave them movement that showcased their strengths, while putting together a beautiful and powerful work.

Full of potential and various successes, Second Avenue Dance Company put on a great show. These are all people to look for in the future dance world.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

April 4, 2014
In the four years since entering the New York Dance scene, Summation Dance has made its mark with aggressively physical choreography that somehow maintains a poised nature no matter what the underlying content or conjured ambience. Co-founded by Artistic Director/Choreographer Sumi Clements and Associate Artistic Director Taryn Vander Hoop, the all female company celebrated its 4th Annual NY Season at Brooklyn Academy of Music, presenting two world premieres.

Opening with the strongest work of the evening, "Updating Route, Please Standby" begins with the pattering of bare feet, creating a percussive rhythm as the lights reveal a collection of female dancers spread across the space each in what resembles a preparatory wrestling stance. Looks and body facings shift as they settle into a quiet pause before pacing to another spot. The work dances a fine line between swift, unmitigated edginess and simple prettiness - particularly in the technical movement phrases showcasing body lines, or the clear-cut formations and transitions.

Undoubtedly DJ Lorn's electronic musical accompaniment - which adds a busy, echoing element - helps create the powerful world in "Updating Route, Please Standby." The organized chaos of the work, presented through the intense stoicism and ferocity of the dancers, metaphorically takes on the human need to reassess and reposition one's views, relationships, and plans despite, or perhaps amidst, the incessant saturation of society.

The world premiere of "Hunt" follows, delving into the concept of the individual pinned against the group in a different way. This time the work has a historical influence - based on the tales surrounding the persecution of witches - which is reimagined in a feminist light. The nods to independence and strength are apparent as two slowly shift and move on the ground downstage, occasionally moving up to their knees. A row of dancers behind them, all dressed in airy, cream-colored togas (Brigitte Vosse), pass through multiple times largely moving in unison which creates a calm, decorative undertone to contrast the quirky nuances of the duo's simultaneous solos.

Collaborator Kyle Olson's original composition for "Hunt" is dynamic, evolving from soft hums to the sound of rain to electronic sections that build in intensity. At one point the dancers split into smaller groups of two and three and through shuffling steps, they rotate between each other and encircle the space. This dizzying pattern stirs up the work's trajectory, though "Hunt" does not achieve the level of captivating energy that "Updating Route, Please Standby" does. It is within these energized, powerful moments that Summation Dance and the ardent movement quality of Clements' choreography thrives the most.
EYE ON THE ARTS - Jenny Thompson

PAUL TAYLOR DANCE CO/Banquet of Vultures/A Field of Grass
March 29, 2014
Paul Taylor is that uncle at family gatherings, armed with jokes you only laugh at from hearing them relentlessly, who occasionally breaks character for profound thoughts – at least that was Wednesday’s portrayal (of twenty-three others). Armed with a marriage of virtuosic versatility and a compellingly diverse palate, the company tackled the obstacles of interpreting a choreographic chameleon and doing so in the mammoth space of the David H. Koch Theater to a result of pure totality, which, even when distant in framing, remained fully and consistently whole in execution.

Robert Kleinendorst smokes a joint. He executes a variation of dainty skips in circular paths, digressing to puff out exhaust in sukhasana. Company arrives, commencing the hallucinogenic trip, A Field of Grass. 1960’s dance tropes are tossed into disembodied numbers from community theatre productions of Hair. In a redemptive ending, a solo becomes a duet multiplying until the final odd number ejects Kleinendorst from his own party – this and his blunt signal his sole material existence.

Imagery may be light, but musicality is subtle. Set to groovy crooner Harry Nilsson, Kleinendorst first establishes himself “Mother Nature’s Son.” He and Michelle Fleet represent freedom in “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” as interracial romance. Feminism manifests through women undulating to a man’s backfired aspirations of being a “Spaceman,” and “The Puppy Song” levels animal and human partnerships of all orientations. The 1993 piece, through unthreatening presentation, employs subversive hindsight.

A masterful programming move, 2005’s Banquet of Vultures displays anti-war fervor the previous piece’s characters would undoubtedly support. Michael Trusnovec hollows space wherever he goes. Spotlights are cages in which blindfolded soldiers clash and the suited antagonist displays himself, his leg in flexed-footed side attitude resembling a bazooka. He erratically tangos with himself until Jamie Rae Walker dares to resist.

The two carry out an unnerving duet – the inevitably thwarted heroine holds a candle tight until the crooked commander snuffs it and her. The folly and power of groupthink reveal as the ensemble faithfully emulates their leader’s movement only to be chopped down; whether they prosper or fall, they are together. Curiously, it is the victorious villain rendered replaceable among faceless soldiers as Kleinendorst follows Trusnovec, thrashing to the ground, recovering like nothing happened, and marching onward to an unseen sequel in a keen nod to Kurt Jooss.

Cloven Kingom confounded the programmatic through-line, preventing complete emotional exhaustion. High-society folk are possessed by primal spirits and clunky geometric headgear to the sounds of Corelli injected with seductive rhythms. The dancers surrender control of their shifts between propriety and animalism. In what reads as innocent absurdity, one can’t help but notice that women become liberated by their “misbehavior,” while the men are rendered buffoonish.

Uptightness is rewardingly practiced to percussion while Corelli ultimately gets ironically sophisticated pelvises. It shows not hierarchies, but complete societies whose DNA have more in common than surmised. The sections seem to happen simultaneously and continuously, developing elsewhere. We conclude seeing every individual for who s/he is. They, like the movers embodying them, are self-aware but far from self-conscious.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

PAUL TAYLOR DANCE/Cloven Kingdom/Dust/Marathon Cadenzas/Black Tuesday
March 26, 2014
Finally, the dank winter smiled on the opening of the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s three-week season at Lincoln Center. Wonderfully mild weather drew people to a hearty evening of dance. Three works by Paul Taylor, the modern dance master choreographer, displayed his versatility and assuredness.

Baser instincts uproot courtly niceties in the 1976 Cloven Kingdom. Women in long flowing pastel gowns gently sway their hips and raise arched arms. Minute by minute, the graceful fluidity is overwhelmed by the jagged forcefulness of earthy angular desires. A high point arrives when four men sleekly clad in black tails enter facing front like one organism stomping and contorting inside a geometric dance form. Music ricochets from ornamental Baroque music to jagged, modern chord chards compiled by John Herbert McDowell. As the dance progresses, women don reflective Constructivist headgear by John Rawlings that simultaneously expresses galactic and medieval dimensions.

Unusual goings on accumulate in Dust where people are tangled amidst bodies, and cross the stage on their knees like acolytes. In counterpoint to the mess of bodies in tan leotards accented with crusty red spots, the excellent Laura Halleck stands apart from the pack twisting in fluid shapes over Francis Poulenc’s bright “Concert Champers.”

Good at corralling songs that evoke the ethos of a particular era, Taylor set Black Tuesday to the 1929 Great Depression era songs. Popular with audiences, each dance details in movement the song’s lyrics. Buoyant steps belie the ravaged lives. Humor streaks through “Are You Making Any Money” when Robert Kleinendorst slinks around in his best Groucho Marx routine while a parade of ladies taunt him. In a darker, more solemn passage, a pregnant Heather MacGinley lunges into wide bent legs revealing the tops of black-gartered hosiery and presses sideways, traveling without arriving anywhere special.

This year’s season premiere, Marathon Cadenzas extends the depression era aesthetics over the jazz music by Raymond Scott. Brightly lit by James Ingalls, the Charleston is stitched throughout the piece, joined to large attitude turns and open chests in Taylor’s depiction of the highly competitive Dance Marathons. Couples wear identifying numbers on their backs and sprint round until exhausted; some fall across the wayside while others continue to race against exhaustion. The cockily stylish costumes and set make this rather short piece feels like a tease for a larger, fuller composition.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE Co. Clytemnestra, Rite of Spring,
March 24, 2014
It’s not every day you get to announce your company’s 88th season. For Janet Eilber, this seemed routine as she outlined Program A of the Martha Graham Dance Company’s jam-packed weekend at City Center. Bringing together a classic, a premiere, and a treat, the performance was one that every Grahamophile could savor, but more importantly, one her detractors needed to witness.

Clytemnestra set the night in raucous motion, Katherine Crockett utterly transparent in the titular role resisting Hades and ricocheting through traumatic memories of the sack of Troy and the sacrifice of Iphigenia. It is, however, Lloyd Knight as the Messenger of Death who seals the work with arresting gravity. With only a handful of entrances, each consisting of the same viscid turn, hollowing contraction, and an arch that could wrap around Pluto, Knight unlocks his jaw, embodying the ominous howls of El-Dabh’s score, save the bone-chillingly silent iteration announcing Clytemnestra’s fate.

The zenith of her Greek ballets, Graham’s choices are precise and serve in telling the tale. Partnering between Clytemnestra and Agamemnon consists of lifts built paradoxically on pressing them apart. Movement geometry reveals the nature of relationships. As Agamemnon’s ghost haunts Orestes, the two share sympathetic angles with crossed weaponry, connecting the world of the living with the dead. Conversely, shapes clash between the sexes in war’s frenzy.

Graham thrice abandons her fully embodied storytelling for relatively pedestrian interaction, most significantly between the happy couple in their chamber. In her trademark prop usage, they exchange iconic possessions, and, ostensibly, genders. Agamemnon strokes his wife’s lavender veil, draping down his torso through his legs while Clytemnestra assumes a phallic relationship with her husband’s golden axe with which she soon slaughters him.

Billed as a one-act distillation of the three-act work, generic titles projected in place of movement make it more of a castration. Processing Graham’s iconography is a titillating puzzle; the edits serve no purpose other than cramming the work with others in the same night – a thrilling journey reduced to a PBS special.

Echo, by Andonis Foniadakis, shifted gears. An impressionist take on the myth of Narcissus, one would think a different company was speaking his fluid language. Investigating the oft-abused choreographic mirror, Lloyd Mayor approaches a reclining Lorenzo Pagano, struggling through the composition’s limitations on partnering. Peiju Chien-Pott and ensemble vigorously intervene, bringing them deeper into weight-bearing contact. We never know who the “reflection” is; further contemplation becomes futile when Pagano forcibly whisks Mayor away.

Graham’s final work, 1990’s Maple Leaf Rag offered a poignantly light conclusion. Joplin cranks away as every Graham cliché is masterfully composed into a vaudevillian gymnastic dog-show, centered on a rubbery bench/barre/tightrope/bird-perch/hurdle. Between Crockett’s hilariously grim fan-kicking passages, the company accumulates to observe quotations from repertoire. It’s as if all Graham roles, unaware of their pastel tights, were invited to celebrate their mother. Only Martha could have tackled herself so completely.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

March 24, 2014
Juilliard Dance Repertory 2014 presented a “throwback” to works from the late 70’s and 80’s Friday evening at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Classically based at their origins, Twyla Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen” (’79) opened, followed by Lar Lubovitch’s “Concerto Six Twenty-Two” (’86), and Eliot Feld’s “The Jig Is Up” (’84) rounded out the program.

Six female dancers dressed in cream/white colored leotards, blouses, and crushed velvet leggings and six males in white button downs and dress pants take the stage in pairs. Their leather shoes squeak as they twist and turn, playfully shuffling between duets, trios, quartets, and sextets. Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen,” is quick and witty with lighthearted music from Willie “The Lion” Smith, played extravagantly by Christopher Ziemba on the piano. A dancer will peak out of the curtain only to be pulled back in or thrown from stage onto the sidelines. The performers are sharp and precise in their execution, and at just tweleve minutes, the piece is short and sweet.

Another image of white, appears in the opening of Lubovitch’s “Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Barefoot in white tops and bottoms with a hint of color on each dancer, the cast of 13 circles up on stage. Gently passing one another they break off into groups, striking long arabesques and subsequently falling into fluent sequences. The core of the piece resides in the powerful duet danced Robert Moore and Dean Biosca. Elegant and emotional, the men lift one another, sustaining plank positions before whisking each other through the space. Technically strong they perform each partnered movement with ease. However, the pair lacks chemistry diminishing the power of the duet. Moore is a natural artist and Biosca a strong technician, their efforts not quite lining up to match synonymously. By the end of the three-part piece, the dancers have carried Lubovitch’s message and intention to present day. The dancers connect; it’s in the process of coming together that beauty becomes timeless.

Feld’s “The Jig Is Up,” combines Celtic music by The Bothy Band and John Cunningham with electric, fun dancing. The cast of 14 sashays into two parallel lines, as dancers fling themselves down the aisle, hands shaking and feet tapping. The costumes are representative of fashions from the past- holey and cut shirts, mismatched patterns, and beaded tights- it hinges on a Rodarte collection gone bad, but the full use of the stage allows for the outfits to not appear too distracting. Kristina Bentz let’s her hair down as she fouettes her leg in front of her and hinges back in her solo. A few strange transitions between the eight sections- blackouts, and music fades- reduce the flow of the work. If the work was a bit shorter, its impact might be greater, but the dancers appear to be having such a good time that it’s hard not to want to jig along with them.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

March 23, 2014
Montreal’s RUBBERBANDance Group, presented the 70 minute “Empirical Quotient,” at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. The company comprised of 6 dancers (3 male and 3 female), is an energetic, and talented collective. Led by choreographer Victor Quijada, the company explores it’s “unique style of movement,” combining elements of classical, contemporary, and urban dance.

Dancers flock the stage, stretching and warming up. The voice of the stage manager echoes from the sound and light booth. He calls places and gives lighting cues. Throughout the piece his voice is heard, “shit, shit,” he says as the house lights fail to dim. At another point he describes the moment a light shines on a dancer- “she does a weird thing with her arms.” She responds, “we can hear you.”

Huddling in a circle, the dancers stretch out, arms still linked, into a line. They fold in and out of each other, fluid with every movement and meticulous with each touch. Everything is reactionary. One dancer’s movements send a ripple effect throughout the group. A hand placed to a chest, causes the touched area to retract. Choreographically it’s layered with a loose structure. Paired with the operatic mixes of Jasper Gahunia, you feel as though you’re watching underwater, time is thick, movement is luscious yet you are unable to take a breathe.

Humor continues to be laced throughout- at one point the dancer Zachary Tang, emotionally leaves his complex duet, to flash a smile and a wink towards the audience. This element falls a little flat and doesn’t help to change the singular plane of the piece. Undoubtedly, this group is promising, yet much of the work delivered one dynamic, one energy, with no peak. It’s impressive that these dancers are not only technically skilled but can flip into break dance movement instantly. The headstands become tiresome though, and we crave a shift.

Aiding the group to find this change is the dynamite Lea Ved. She comes closest in establishing an arc of presence and motion. The shortest of the group, she appears tall and domineering. At one point Ved clicks her teeth to direct the gentlemen, all huddled together, out of her space. Rightfully so, Lea Ved deserves the stage alone.
EYE ON THE ARTS,, NY -- Bailey Moon

March 22, 2014
Chairs surrounded the performance space offering a 360-degree view of Lance Gries’ IF Immanenet Field at Danspace Project. A lauded dancer with Trisha Brown, Lance Gries retains his beautifully proportioned body and technical control.

His collection of dancers-- Diane Madden, Juliette Mapp and Jimena Paz -- possess the space with their open bodies and steady tenchnique, each performing individual sequences. One legged balances slip into steady lunges and walks balanced by arms stretched out followed by methodical laps through the space.

As if guided by interstellar sonar, dancers are drawn from corner to corner by the glow of standing lights, intimately pulling up close to seated audience members. Into the midst, Diane Madden, Trisha Brown’s lead dancer for many years and rehearsal director, enters wrapped in reflective silver panels. She forms a gravitational pull, quirkily twisting and turning, like the earth mother or the prankster goddess dropping in to see how the terrestrial community is faring.

Control and efficiency connect dance passages that stretch into meditative passages and effortlessly rise into stirring visual afterimages.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 21, 2014
New Work for the Desert, a new piece by choreographer Beth Gill, is a transient exploration of synchronicity and interaction. The blank white stage is shrouded in blue light as a silhouetted dancer slowly walks across the stage. Walking slowly with a clear intent, there is power in each step the dancer takes. Clearly on a journey, she exits the stage, continuing on her path.

Following a generous moment of emptiness, the dancer enters once more, in the same deliberate fashion. The lights begin to rise as she crosses to center stage, where she stops, casting four shadows onto the stark, white ground. While building movement phrases, she is joined by five other dancers who occupy the space she has journeyed to.

Accompanied by composer Jon Moniaci, New Work for the Desert investigates simplicity and space. Of the six dancers, two were dressed alike and danced in unison for the entirety of the piece. Engaged in quick and decisive movements, those two dancers blew across the stage like sand being swept up by the current of the wind.

The four other dancers entered and exited the stage, often dancing in smaller groups of two or three. Gill has an eye for structural movement, creating new shapes from the amount of bodies on stage. Employing sculpted movements, the dancers played off each other both physically and spatially. Momentum could be reversed entirely with a single, sharp arm blocking another dancer’s path.

The piece was danced beautifully, supported by a dazzling set and lighting design by Thomas Dunn. The he work transports you to a barren world where beauty can still be found. A hypnotic and thrilling piece, Gill created a vibrant visual composition.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

March 21, 2014
Martha Graham Dance Company returned to New York City Center for its 88th Season, bringing audiences two versions of a diverse program entitled "Myth and Transformation," featuring some of Grahams' most iconic works. An added bonus came with two world premieres by highly regarded contemporary choreographers Andonis Foniadakis and Nacho Duato - speaking to the Graham company's revamped focus on celebrating artistic risk-taking, contextualized by the timeless legacy of Graham's work.

The Thursday, March 20 performance opened with "Appalachian Spring." Seventy years ago, in the throes of World War II, Graham created this work with Aaron Copland contributing the score, and Isamu Noguchi, the set. Experiencing this work in 2014, its relevancy prevails in its elegant simplicity and representation of the American spirit. Blakeley White-McGuire and Abdiel Jacobsen pair well as the bride and groom duo and Katherine Crockett portrays the Pioneering Woman, frequently reintroduced into the action with her leg extended slicing upwards to the side, capturing an image of resilience and hope. The Preacher, Lloyd Knight, is followed by four females donning pale blue ruffled dresses, their movements colored with elements of folk dance - curtsies, repeated phrases, and skips are no strangers to this work.

The World Premiere of Nacho Duato's "Depak Ine" follows, and is breath-taking. In under five weeks the Spanish choreographer drew from his recent readings of Darwin, creating the captivating piece that aptly showcased not only the strength Graham dancers are known for, but their impressive range and versatility. With a body sprawled face-down beneath a singular stream of foggy light, a male dancer scurries out from the shadows, sliding on his back. A female dancer quickly follows, clasping on to him and peering between his legs at the lifeless body before them.

In a series of shadow-masked entrances and exits from all corners of stage, more bodies emerge and collide, evolving into wild beings, seemingly part-animal, part-demon. Once the stellar soloist PeiJu Chien-Pott finally emerges from her sprawled position, a sense of anxiety permeates as her chaotic convulsions are met with bouts of punctuated, elongated, body lines; and, a disturbing moment as she perches atop three collapsed male bodies, briefly shoving her fingers down her throat. Meanwhile the others swarm, until only one is left, sinking into a low stance, as he nuzzles into the fabric he's pulled from his shirt, up an over his head.

Along with the choreography, all the creative elements fit: Arsenije Jovanovic' "Athos-Montana Sacra" and John Talabot's "Fin" add the aggressive soundscape, Angelina Atlagic's costumes are unassuming yet varied and sexy, and the lighting design by Bradley Fields is haunting in the best of ways. The cryptic world of Duato's "Deepak Ine" pervades with domination, sensuality, and primal antics. Sandwiched between familiar Graham classics, this work's fresh vitality is heightened.

Closing the program is Graham's "The Rite of Spring" set to music by Igor Stravinsky. Graham herself starred in Léonide Massine's 1930 ballet to this score, after which she waited 54 years before revisiting the musical work as a choreographer in her own right. The clear-cut patterns, reliance on symmetry, and aura of subdued strength elicited particularly through the ensemble work, directly contrast the violence upon which the work hinges - it is, after all, based on a sacrificial ritual where a girl dances herself to death.

The talented Xiaochuan Xie performs as the Chosen One, her hair sweeping in circles as she is moved, tied up, and lifted by The Shaman, Ben Schultz. Most interesting is the presentation of this work with projected sets, a new production concept by Artistic Director Janet Eilber given the company's loss of historic sets and costumes during Hurricane Sandy.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jenny Thompson

March 20, 2014
Janet Eilber, Martha Grhaham Dance Company Artistic Director, graciously welcomed the opening night gala audience at City Center while underscoring Martha Graham’s affinity for all things ancient Greek. Graham’s repertory is streaked with Greek myths and classical ideas about democracy and individual action.

In a special presentation, the Graham Company invited dancers from the Hellenic Dance Company to perform one of Graham’s invigorating early works “Panorama” along with members of Graham 2. Created in 1935 for the Bennington student females, lines of dancers course through circular and diagonals lines, thrusting their bodies up in jagged leaps, arms stretched straight up in defiance. The vividly dedicated young dancers stirred up feelings of strength derived in numbers and unified action.

Vengeance and heroism tear the mask off “Clytemnestra” -- Graham’s masterly dramatic 1958 work. In an effort to connect contemporary audiences to Graham’s interpretation of Greek myths, projected introductory supertitles offer a brief synopsis. An impressively fierce Clytemnestra, Katherine Crockett is surrounded by an emotive chorus of six black clad furies sporting widow’s peaks on their foreheads. They fly around in a circle, arms pulled back by the elbows; torsos hunched forward and legs split in the air. The excerpt reveals Graham’s profound understanding of a female’s ability to summon deep sensuality as well as a commanding force.

For his premiere, Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis gravitated to the theme of Narcissus in “Echo.” According to the Greek myth, the nymph Echo falls in loves with the beautiful Narcissus, who alas, falls in love with his reflection in a pool of water. As opposed to Graham’s stark, angular shapes, “Echo” celebrates curved, luscious, intersecting, swirling movements.

In a string of nonstop turns, air born pops and drops to the floor, “Echo” resembles the Aegean Sea in a state of excitement. Men and women in variously cut long skirts by Anastasios Sofroniou tangle in the ebb and flow of the currents that carry the image of Narcissus reflected in the water. Suggestive, melodically liquid music by Julien Tarride, flings the two attractive lead men, Lloyd Mayor and Lorenzo Pagano into a bonded image. They spin apart like constellations in nonstop motion around Echo, the nymph who fell in love with Narcissus, delicately portrayed by PeiJu Chien-Pott.

The evening also paid tribute to HRH Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, Kitty P. Kyriacopoulos, and jewelry designer Ilias Lalounis. More of the repertory will be revealed the rest of the season at City Center.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 19, 2014
Alonzo King Lines Ballet returned to The Joyce Theater with the premiere of Constellation, collaboration with visual artist Jim Campbell. Mr. King explores the orientation of bodies to light and when it works, the affect is luminous, yet intimate. With a curtain of lighted LED globes hanging across the back of the stage, or draped around the dancers, the stage comes alive with the dancers creating a complex grid of patterns cutting through space like shooting stars. At other times the dance becomes gently swirling, arcing and spiraling, or evokes birds; wings beating, legs strutting. With the dancers holding lighted orbs in their hands, or the crooks of the knees or elbows, or even under their chins, the movement unfolds with drama and scope.

Israeli mezzo-soprano, Maya Lahyani, adds another layer to the rich tapestry of light, sound and movement, with her deep tone and emotional singing. Wearing a voluminous, deep burgundy, ruffled gown, Ms. Lahyani glides across the stage connecting and watching the nearly naked dancers. In direct opposition to Lahyani’s the opulence, the dancer’s costumed designed by Robert Rosenwasser and Collen Quinn flirted with skirts or little wired wings, in shades of grey, beige, and black. They added dimension while showing off the toned muscles and training of the eleven hyper- flexible dance creatures.

In addition to the Baroque music sung by Ms. Lahyani, and pianist Hadley McCarroll, the score included selections from Arvo Pärt, Leslie Stuck, Ben Juodvalkis, and Somei Satoh, as well as Russian Orthodox Church music. Each section overlaps in a continuous display and the eye has to work to decide where to focus. In the second half of the program, the duets with Meredith Webster and David Harvey proved the most compelling and well matched to Ms. Lahyani's voice. Their simplicity allowed one a moment to take in the subtle shifts of tone, shadow, and expressive line.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

LAC after Swan Lake
March 16, 2014
Jean-Christophe Maillot’s LAC after Swan Lake for the Monte Carlo ballet is more War of the Swans. Re-imagined with a new scenography by Ernest Pignon-Ernst, two tribes, one of the light, one of the night vie for the crown held by a young, troubled but exuberant Prince. Layers of psychological intrigue surface between mother and son, and erotically charged Majesty of the Night and the King.

Although the ballet splits Tchaikovsky’s famous music into odd combinations, a technically sharp and very attractive company excels in the feisty, modern ballet steps that sheath the production in a sleek, young veneer.

No more swan arms undulating into infinity or arabesques stretching into the vastness of mystery. This psychodrama focuses on the tussle between family members and evil forces. Men grab hands arm wrestling style, trying to out maneuver the other. This power grip transfers to the women in their relationships plunging everyone into a state of discontent.

Two family trinities battle for their territorial rights. The splendid King (Gabriele Corrado) and Queen (Mi Deng) plus the Prince, a technically crisp, spinner and jumper Lucien Postlewaite compete with the very appealing, and stylishly long legged Majesty of the Night (April Ball), the spitfire Black Swan (Noelani Patastico) and the meek, shivering White Swan (Anjara Ballesteros).

In this version, the Prince falls in love with childhood friend who is snatched away by the furious Majesty of the Night ferried in by two exhilaratingly threatening Archangels of Darkness (Christian Tworzyanski and Ediz Erguc). And when The Prince is confronted with the prospect of marrying a maiden, he rudely pushes them all away, rough housing with his band of buddies until the hard-edged Black Swan seduces him.

When the White Swan finally appears during the second half she emerges from the nether, and shivers over some bourees. In a very nice moment, she stretches her leg in a clean line along the floor to a point and back, accenting the music and the recognition of her love.

The Prince’s band of boys, and in particular the Prince’s Confidant (Joseph Hernandez) as well as the female corps was all very strong performers. Bustling with theatrical flair, the costumes by Philippe Guillotel accented the fantastical and nouveau Medieval look but the White Swan's fully sheathed arms and hands in feathery stuff resembles Edward Scissorhands' appendages in white – or the Grinch’s slinky, long pincher fingers. It made her look much creepier than the posh Black Swan.

An enthusiastic response to Les Ballets de Monte Carlo at City Center points to a NYC audience ready for a return engagement.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 15, 2014
DanceBrazil closed the Joyce Theater's Brazil Festival. Under Jelon Vieira’s direction, the festival has been instrumental in giving Brazilian dance American exposure not only since its 1997 formation, but since Vieira’s beginnings two decades prior. The program was a panorama: three contexts of the troupe’s blend of Capoeira with Afro-Brazilian infused movement. The performers were spellbinding in their execution of acrobatic puzzles at breakneck speed, and although little meat was left to chew once their bag of tricks had been unraveled, each piece had a continual sense of pulsation.

Fé do Sertão’s heartbeat is rooted in movement. Vieira’s portrait of his native Bahia begins with spines crouched away from us stage left. Recorded text simmers; crouches become individuated expressions, organically sealing the cast into an intimate community. Michael Korsch’s lighting is authoritative – wherever light shines, the company flows, like an eager fluid within a container constantly changing volumes.

After a captivating beginning, the piece quickly loses interest. Scenes that feel unfinished flash by like a talent show with transitions dictated by abrupt musical shifts. Live percussion is tragically tame as it attempts to keep time with the pre-recorded score. Crafted gestures surrender to stale mime, and exhilarating Capoeira sequences are spoiled by dancers turning to us, as if to ask, “How did we do?” In the post-performance talk, Vieira explained how the piece speaks to the Sertão region’s endurance of devastating droughts, but flourish overpowers poignancy.

Dancer Guilherme Durarte’s Búzios was the strongest work of the night. Its pulse is more spatial than physical – investigating divination’s role in modern Brazilian life, action always resolving in a circle. Gerard Lafustte’s lighting had a potent point of view, spotlighting only the full ensemble, never a soloist. Jamildo Alencar and Jorlan Gama share a tense relationship juxtaposing curiosity with the fear of knowing. Between episodes of Gama’s earthbound neurosis veering from Alencar’s calm incitement, Willians Ferreira delivers a solo of trembling hands - at once hesitant, accusatory, and exultant.

If it weren’t for different theatrical scenarios, Vieira’s Gueto might as well have been the same piece as the first. Nonetheless, its rhythmic base was the most fascinating. Dancers enter and exit from far upstage, shrouded in shadows – the motor propelling the piece is nothing onstage, but that which brews subsequent actions elsewhere. The piece concerns the ubiquity of ghettos, butit didn’t communicate much of this at all through the now predictable, dazzling tricks.

Vieira’s dancers ignite their viewers, regardless of the depth behind the surface, inspiring collective excitement that may not accomplish what political expression aims for, but feels just as cathartic.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

March 14, 2014
Legacy plans for single choreographer dance companies are becoming one of this generation’s most significant issues. One of the first to grapple with this complication was the Jose Limon Company. After years of turbulence, they found a strong direction supporting Limon’s legacy and inviting outside choreographers with sympathetic connections to create new works.

This model, preserving the choreographer’s canon and inviting choreographers to replenish the repertory was repeated by many including the high profile NYC Ballet, and Martha Graham Dance Company. Merce Cunningham took another route, disbanding the company while sustaing the foundation to oversee the Cunningham legacy and setting of Cunningham works on companies (similar to the Balanchine Trust).

Now Paul Taylor is planning his future: “I prefer to think that I will live forever—but at some point they won’t let me make dances anymore.” And whereas his physical body will ultimately succumb his body of work will live on. In a press conference at the Koch Theater, the Paul Taylor Dance Company announced Mr. Taylor’s plans to establish a coherent, legacy plan.

The $10,000 million campaign will be spearheaded by the sale of three of Mr. Taylor’s Robert Rauschenberg works of art at Sotheby’s including the Combines, Pink Clay Painting and Tracer. The lots will be auctioned off by Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s in May. Expected to raise $5million dollars, the works will kick off the fundraising campaign, and prove that Mr. Taylor is willing to put his own “skin” in the game.

A three-tier legacy mission replenishes the Paul Taylor canon with works by contemporary choreographers—to be selected by Mr. Taylor and the restoration of modern dance classics, from page to stage. One more development that will thrill many a dance-enthusiasts, the company announced the completion of joint talks with the musicians union, Local 802 about the use of live music, whenever possible, during the 2015 season.

When questioned about the contemporary choreographers Mr. Taylor might select, he smiled and replied, “I like movement and dance steps and I’m not wild about a lot of talking and equipment and special effects.” Well, that’s clear enough. This new direction will result in a name change from the Paul Taylor Dance Company, to Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 14, 2014
How marvelous to have the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Koch Theater once again, filling the stage with the mastery and musicality unique to this fine troupe of dancers. Set to the reflective yet dynamic music of G. F. Handel, Airs opened the evening. Walking, pacing, and circular running paired with floating arabesques reached and suspended, at times endlessly through space. There is elegance in the upper torso no matter how fast and intricate the footwork. Michael Trusnovec and Eran Bugge danced a duet of special sensitivity, performing a spectacular one- handed lift seemingly out of nowhere. There is no better partner in the company than Mr. Trusnovec. Laura Halzack was luminescent, powerful yet supple and deliciously musical.

American Dreamer, which premiered at the Vail International Dance Festival, followed with a western theme and sense of light humor. Set to songs by Stephen Foster, and with a nod to both George Balanchine and Martha Graham, Mr. Taylor explored a variety of relationships. The costumes and sets by Santo Loquasto included a simple ballet barre, (which the dancers darted under and over), a dramatic pulled- back stage curtain, and many hats and bonnets, which they donned as they danced. One of the funniest moments was a sleepwalking scene with 3 women, passed the men who tried--unsuccessfully--to rouse them from their somnambulistic state. The dancers flounced around in prancing, and thigh- slapping, yee-hawing gestures. Liive musicians and a singer, would add immeasurably to the experience, as would live music for the season.

Mercuric Tidings closed the evening, danced to the majestic music of Franz Schubert. Mr. Trusnovec and Ms. Halzack once again led the ballet with slicing arms and leaps cutting through space. Dressed in deep blue unitards and tights, dancers' flared fan kicks and liquid movements come in waves matching the music. Mr. Taylor is a master at the tableau, creating scenes of stillness like a delicate conversation. The forceful dancing of Michelle Fleet-- (always a secure and profound presence)-- stood out, along with Sean Mahoney and Heather McGinley, bringing the night to a joyous close.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

March 9, 2014
Current Sessions Volume IV, Issue I at the Wild Project showcased seven artists Friday evening, half of the group of 14 whose work would be shown during 4 programs. The curated program had a focus on dance, multimedia, and theatre. Among the diverse group, standout work was presented by Catherine Correa & Breton Tyner-Bryan, Kate Landenheim, Brendan Drake, and Guest artist Mor Shani & Paul Sixta.

Correa and Tyner-Bryan’s duet “Un Tanguito Caulquiera,” explores the romantic relationship of two women in the 1930’s. Stylized in dress and movement, the pair shared tender moments that briefly took us through their rushed narrative. The difficulty of dance with a theatrical base is that often the main focus is redirected with frivolous acting and gestures. Story and connection is portrayed when the movement actually begins. It’s in the grip of the hands, the eye focus, and the subtle moments when the emotional torment the two women are experiencing becomes clear. In the last moment, Correa in tears walks away, as Tyner-Bryan catches up with her, gently slipping her hand into Correa’s trench coat pocket. This was the story. The rest is just excess.

“Laurelai Emerges”, choreographed by Kate Ladenheim and danced by Shay Bares, is an excerpt of HackPolitik. The solo inspired by transgendered Internet activist Laurelai Bailey, has Bare’s in socks, black socks, and a simple blouse, and make up which resembled that of the band Kiss. Bares is captivating, his fluid quality and sad but intense eyes carry the weight of the piece. He stands foot beveled, glaring directly out to the audience and brushes his hair from behind his shoulder. A chilling effect.

Guest artists Mor Shani (choreographer) and Paul Sixta (filmmaker) presented their film “Love-Ism.” A look into the “human experience of intimacy”, various couples are seen kissing, hugging, and moving in a white space. At first it’s a young girl and presumably her father. Their “dance” is sweet; she pushes him, walks over his body and plants kisses. This later morphs into the same guy with a woman- falling into one another and folding to the floor repeatedly as various states of dress. The work is intriguing and smart; it’s another indication of movement translating successfully into the film genre.

The last work of the evening, “Mapping,” from Brendan Drake, had three women, two in blue dresses and another in a high waisted floral skirt with a tucked in white button down. It’s two against one, as Drake cleverly lays out a playful game between the ladies. Jackie Nowicki is quick in her movements and eloquent in her execution of the steps. She is powerful yet complimentary to the sophistication of Flannery Houston. Humor makes for a great ending.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

March 9, 2014
After 14 years, the flamenco festival is indeed a NYC institution. To honor it’s roots, Juan Ramón Martínez Salazar, Consul General of Spain in New York awarded Robert Browning, founder of the World Music Institute, with the “Cross of the Order of Civil Merit” in recognition of his extraordinary service for the benefit of Spain. Festival director, Miguel Marin joined Browning on stage.

In the early days, dancers and musicians were quilted together in hopes that everyone would show up and perform what they promised. Now, top performers, collected by Festival director Miguel Marin, vie to participate in the festival that has spread to several venues around the city. This year’s Gala Flamenca, directed by Ángel Rojas, gathered some of flamenco’s finest. In the first piece, dancers came out one by one, presenting their signature style as a way of introducing themselves.

An excellent evening of music and dance, men’s heels drilled into the floor under torsos held in a hyper-extended erectness while arms twisted at the wrists. Dominating their own power universe, the women –particularly Karime Amaya towered over the stage. From the moment she stepped in the light, Amaya exerted a strength bolstered by a provocative musicality. In a Seguiriya, Amaya trilled her foot so that minute vibrations circulated up and down her leg. Her proud bearing and powerful hips shaped the images and sounds produced by the singers Antonio Campos and Ismael de la Rosa, the guitarists Paco Cruz and Daniel Jurado, the violinist Roman Gottwald and the percussionist Miguel El Cheyenne.

Theatrical comic relief was injected by the portly, flambouyant Antonio Canales. Displaying technical snap, Carolos Rodriguez and Jesus Carmona seized on some audience grabbing moments defined by spitfire turns, rapid-fire heeltaps and any number of preening gestures. In a sophisticated demonstration of flamenco married to the balletic classicism, Jesus Carmona executed a clean technique defined by an elegant torso, restrained pyrotechnics glittering inside a riveting musicality.

A trio of females decked in red, form-fitting dress and massive ruffled trains. Karime Amaya, Lucia Campillo and Carmen Coy issued a glorious demonstration of the many personalities of great women in flamenco.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 8, 2014
Upon entering Danspace Project at St.Marks Church, audience members are instructed to hang up their jackets on fashion racks arranged at the church peak, and remove their shoes. Arranged in the center of the space several gym benches are pushed together and covered with a canvas tarp. The outskirts are lined on all four sides with low lying wooden benches for audience members to sit upon, while others choose to sit on the floor, close to the makeshift stage. We’ve already begun participating in Faye Driscoll’s “Thank You For Coming:Attendance.”

After singing a short song in the balcony, five dancers make their way onto the stage and link up. They twist, shimmy and maneuver around no set focal point- remaining connected by at least one point of their body. Weight and space fluctuates between dancers as they continue their complex game of Twister. Instead of untangling, their bodies become more entwined, and it’s difficult to make out who’s arm is who’s. Twister suddenly turns into a human Rubix cube, with no resolution insight.

Insolubility permeates throughout the entire 65 minute performance. As the dancers begin to unravel from their web, it’s time to change the space around them. Rolling as a singular human log, they remove the tarp and collapse into the laps of the audience stationed on the farthest side from the entrance. They slink out of their shorts and tank tops, and into lace blouses and sweat pants. Meanwhile the benches that were once the stage now become our new seats. Each side is asked to stand and move, as the taller benches are placed on top of our low-lying ones. Flowers, gold hats, spools of rope and cloth are passed out amongst us. Wendy Perron (Dance Magazine editor-at-large) starts a trend by turning her gold beret inside out, preferring to fashion the silver side.

The dancing resumes, and a gentleman plays a guitar, singing out each audience members name, with the dancers at times repeating the names. As the song peaks, the dancing, which has a comical and sometimes mocking edge, turns into a chaotic jumble. The spools come unraveled and stretched across the space, dancers’ pants unravel into stretched out cloth, and material is criss crossed in the center. The help of the audience pulls up the structure and it turns into a maypole/dome type structure hanging above us.

The dancers, now down to their briefs and bras, skip around the space, gathering towards the center and then retreating, gently touching the audience as they go back. As they continue, various audience members are brought with them, some having more difficulty picking up the sequence than others. Lights dim, and the structure slowly falls.

Driscoll creates an environment that seeks an innovative way for audience members to feel engaged. Her instrument, her dancers, are the strongest tool to carry out her point of view. Unusual, and alluring, their strengths are dimmed when the space becomes overwrought with activity. Perhaps next time instead of just exploring process, Driscoll might seek solutions, until then…I was happy to be in attendance, you’re welcome.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

March 7, 2014
As a part of The Joyce Theater’s three-week festival of Brazilian Dance (February 26 – March 16), Companhia Urbana de Danca made their Joyce debut with a two-work program. The company, which features eight dancers – exhibited a versatility and range of expression, yet were at their best in their more solemn, contemplative moments.

The first piece, ID: Entidades, choreographed by artistic director Sonia Destrie Lie alongside the dancers, was a dark, aggressive work that incorporated elements of hip-hop and contemporary dance. Performing in often near-darkness, the company moved with a controlled violence, conveying a certain psychological disconnect in the communion of styles they have absorbed. A melting pot of ballet, Brazilian, and urban dance, there was a longing and detachment between the dancers that brought tension and depth to the piece.

Na Pista, however, was a more playful, theatrical work – set in what appeared to be a dance hall or club. In the piece, the dancers played a version of musical chairs before competing for the attentions of Jessica Nascimento, the ensemble’s only female member. The work enabled each dancer to express their individual style, acumen and abilities. As the more wild and open piece on the program, it gave a New York audience the opportunity to appreciate the mutability and comic side of this young, strong company.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Geoff Lokke

March 3, 2014
Typically I’m weary of dance performances that are installation or theater based. More often than not they are over wrought with clichés and everything but actual dance movement. As I got off the Graham stop on the L in Brooklyn Friday night my suspicions grew as I walked briskly to what is formerly known as the Greenpoint Hospital. Upon arrival I entered through a side entrance, down two sets of stairs and finally into the lobby of 4Chambers a “sensorial journey into the human heart,” presented by Jody Oberfelder projects.

The intimate performance instillation is intended for an audience of 12. My group at the second performance was 7, 3 couples and myself. We waited for the show to start in a small room, with various heart paraphernalia, including books and portraits to engage us. At 8:30, Oberfelder enters and sits with us, standing up at one point as the lights dimmed to introduce the show and send us on our way.

I won’t ruin the experience and give too much away, but essentially 6 dancers serve as “docents” that lead you through the instillation one room at a time. Luckily for my group, we each had our own docent, except for two people who shared one.

I was struck by how much the closeness and intimacy that I experience on a regular basis, fueled my visceral and emotional response to what was happening before me. Not only are you seeing the performers dancing in unison beside and in front of you, but also at times you are “dancing” with them.

Each audience member will have a different experience. And unfortunately I was so caught up in mine, that I failed to observe and take note of what others were experiencing. I developed trust quickly with my docent, and when he left me at times, I was happy to see him return later. It was sensual: the dancing, the touch, the eye contact. No response is right or wrong Oberfelder tells us in the beginning.

The idea that dance has enough weight to carry itself into another medium such as interactive theatre is important to note. The eerie setting of the hospital, the dancers who moved with gusto and maintained intense focus, and the tight but intricate choreography all helped in making 4Chambers a positive experience.

Shows like Sleep No More are already doing work like this, and this genre needs to continue to be developed. Value exists in audience members who can appreciate dance not only from a plush seat, but also inches away from the action. It's invigorating to watch dance give audiences new reasons to appreciate the craft. Jody Oberfelder you’ve debunked my fears…for now. My heart beats red with appreciation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

March 2, 2014
Chairs surrounded the performance space offering a 360-degree view of Lance Gries’ IF Immanenet Field at Danspace Project. A fabulous dancer with Trisha Brown from 1985-1991, Lance Gries retains his beautifully proportioned body and technical control. His collection of dancers, Diane Madden, Juliette Mapp and Jimena Paz possess the space with their open bodies and steady tenchnique. The dancers lap methodically through the space in individualized sequences projecting one legged balances that slip into steady lunges and walks balanced by arms out-stretched.

As if guided by interstellar sonar, dancers are drawn from corner to corner by the glow of standing lights, intimately pulling up close to seated audience members. Into the midst, Diane Madden--Trisha Brown’s lead dancer for many years and rehearsal director--enters wrapped in reflective silver panels. Quirkily twisting and turning, she forms a gravitational pull, like an inter-stellar, prankster goddess dropping by to see how the community is faring.

Overall, control and efficiency connect dance movements stretching into meditative passages that effortlessly rise into stirring visual afterimages with just a spot of humor.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 27, 2014
Hair is grabbed, messed up, wrapped in towels, and brushed across the floor in the inventively partnered program choreographed by Jomar Mesquia for the attractive Mimulus Cia de Danca at the Joyce Theater.

Known for his deeply human films, Pedro Almodovar’s filmography serves as the inspiration for the sexual exploitations erupting between same and mixed sex couples in the Brazilian company’s performance of “Dolores” (2007).

Filtered behind a metal beaded scrim by Ed Andrade, a woman starts spinning round and round on the edge of stage, her skirt unfurling in the dim light. Men and woman enter, on the verge of love or anger. Tango sequences form the choreographic base as legs slice through opposing legs, pulling up tight, one body against the next. Part dance competition, part cabaret, men primp and snarl at smiling women before breaking into complex aerial moves.

Broadly theatrical, a woman screams—for no apparent reason—and although woman are tossed about like Caipirinhas, grabbing nicely shaped derrieres is an equal opportunity activity.

The soundtrack incorporates music from Almodovar’s films and popular Latin/European songs. Personal dramas play out and at the end; necklaces of plastic beads are converted to bondage gear until a string of beads hanging from the ceiling breaks spills over the bodies.

For bows, one couple after another swirls onto the stage in a line-up animated by aerial tricks that contintues for several minutes to the enthusiastic clapping of a happy audience.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 27, 2014
Impeccably dressed guests glided into the 42 Street Cipriani to celebrate the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 45th anniversary and recent renaissance under the artistic leadership of former DTH Principal ballerina, Virginia Johnson. In a series of organizational, board, management and artistic adjustments, the Dance Theater of Harlem once again is on the-road with a professional company head towards a season at the Rose Theater April 23 – 27.

It’s difficult to suggest anything topped the evening’s performance by the mightily energetic and appealing DTH school dancers, but there was an unexpected moment that thrilled everyone. When the opera star Jessye Norman introduced the Arthur Mitchell Vision Awardee, a visibly moved Patti LaBelle spontaneously broke into a stirring, a cappella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Because DTH has had education at the heart of its mission, the firs Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Medal for dedicated service to the field went to Jody Arnold. Her presenter, former NYC Ballet principal Damian Woetzel quipped, “she just can’t stop talking about dance education.” However, she walks the talk as proven by her plentiful support of the arts in NYC and instigation of dance education initiatives like the founding of the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd Street Y and her tenure as member of the Arts Advisory Committee for the New York City Department of Education. Ms. Arnold’s heartfelt speech paid special tribute to the support of her family.

From the business side of the community, Valentino Crolotti of the Goldman Sachs Group received the Virtuoso Award described the evolution of DTH from the days when Karel Shook and Arthur Mitchell to today’s incarnation and noted that the arts made him a better and more effective businessman and human being. Now that’s something that should be taught in al the business schools.

The evening ended on a high note when it was announced that the gala had raised $700,00 and by the time guests departed, DTH probably gained a few more donations and room full or DTH devotees.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 25, 2014
NYU Skirball is spotlighting China for 2014’s Visions + Voices Global Performance Series. The first stop this past weekend was Tao Dance Theater, a remarkable start as, despite being one of China’s leading contemporary dance companies, the troupe actually struggles in its homeland, receiving less funding than its more nationalistic artistic brethren. Choreographer Tao Ye takes advantage of his underground status like a devout monk through extremely focused work – taking up to a year to make a piece, devoting entire rehearsals to exploring the possibilities of one movement. Tao takes nothing for granted; his two US premiers teach us to do the same.

Distant bells sound in darkness, revving the motors for 4, a gripping opener. Dim light reveals four humanoids, already engrossed in velvety motion. We are late for the party, but the fluid articulation of their backs is sufficient company. Voices like rubber churn out an incomprehensible a cappella patter, which functions as both an alternate translation of what the dancers are saying and a guide, inspiring brisk teleportation of looped unison phrasework through space.

As we become familiar with the vocabulary, a creed of cool indulgence, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent how fully each body part is considered – feet don’t just leave the ground, they peel away, returning with refreshed pliability. In many ways the movement execution is choreography unto itself. Ma Yue’s lighting exists on the same plane, with clear spots and diagonals in muted hues carving out environments. It is not decoration or emotive expression, but a character to which the movers actively respond.

5, while also working with minimalist abstraction, reads more as communal ritual than formal meditation. Five bodies travel as a clump through clockwise orbits, never unraveling. Whereas the movement in 4 interacts with musical shifts, the dynamic of 5 remains constant against Xiao He’s multidimensional score of duetting flutes, clunky piano, sparse drum and bass, and cryptic growls – if Armageddon were in full swing you would still find this clan on the same path, rolling ever onward.

What looks like contact improvisation is painstakingly composed. “Clump” becomes architectural form, alternating porous volumes with intimate proximities, revolving in parallel and contrary motion. Dancers stand freely only three times before being fastidiously dismantled, as if any stance that cannot be executed without support from the whole is benevolently forbidden. This doesn’t stop one bold individual from choosing to remain standing, drawing the piece to a close as the figure descends on its own terms.

Li Min’s costuming provides androgyny that is as abstract but deeply human as the choreography. Gender is not manipulated into statement – rather, one gets the sense that these flowing garments are no more than fabric, draping over what are no more than bodies. Indeed, they seem to clothe movements more than their executors, making for a particularly satisfying curtain call. Nobody could clap for one dancer more than any other. You simply couldn’t tell who had done what – Tao Ye’s dancers are that transparent, and his work is that transcendent.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

February 22, 2014
Concentrated pacing begins while bodies clad in black unitards contrast the bright backdrop, creating a detached landscape of stoic faces; the simplicity in this abstraction is fleeing. The New York-based Jessica Lang Dance company (stocked with technically adept dancers – particularly the ladies) had its full season debut at The Joyce Theater this week, showcasing choreographer Jessica Lang’s contemporary-inspired ensemble work, balletic pas de duex, dance on film, and an array of glitzy production elements.

The six piece program opened with “Lines Cubed” (2012), the strongest of the evening’s three New York premieres. The color-centric work is split into four sections, each powered by a hue-derivative mood. That aside, its beauty lies in the choreographic architecture; dancers travel in shifting webs of lines, joint accentuations - a bend the wrist, a flex of the foot, - decorate the momentum of recurring patterns and sharp unison.

Following is the subdued “Mendelssohn/Incomplete” (2011) the first of what will become a two movement work. Set to the Felix Mendelssohn’s “Piano Trio in D Minor,” three sets of partners join and disband in fluid movement phrases, polished with balletic niceties. Most striking is that the work is left to stand on its own, existing solely in the relationship between the dance and music, which quickly proves to be a rarity in the program.

An excerpt from Lang’s 2013 “Aria” highlights the talented Laura Mead en pointe with dancer Todd Burnsed. Her fiery red dress (by Fritz Masten) parallels the palpable drama, largely led by the accompanying, powerful soprano solo “Son Contenta di Morire” of Handel’s opera, “Radamisto.” Adding to the program’s dynamics, a well selected excerpt entitled “The Calling” (2006) comes next. Simplicity once again prevails, with the stunning soloist Kana Kimura draped in white, her skirt consuming the stage. Her gestural movements are slow and controlled, with moments of an accentual thrash, allowing the audience to enjoy the illusion of her body being swallowed into the fabric as she twists around or bends her knees. The visual effect is memorable - it’s no wonder it has become one of Lang’s signatures.

The dance film “White” (2011) is a curious piece born from a collaboration between Lang and visual artist Shinichi Maruyama. Taking the theme of illusion a step further, the dance is presented (and manipulated) entirely through film, pinning dancers moving in real time next to those in suspended slow motion. It challenges the inherent limitations of the body in which the art of dance exists.

“i.n.k” (2011) closes the program, featuring a film of animated ink droplets slowly falling, rippling and splashing. The dancers and choreography often appear intentionally supplemental, along with Jakub Ciupinski’s eclectic, water-inspired, and rhythmic score. While Clifton Brown and Kimura’s earnest duet is the pinnacle of the work, there are countless other moments where Kimura succeeds at stealing attention; her body lines morph from slicing extensions to effortless silky ripples, as if swimming along the stage.

Lang has undoubtedly made a name for herself with over 80 commissions under her belt and talented dancers at her fingertips; her four-year-old company however, proves to still be in its infancy with room for growth.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

February 17, 2014
Surrounding all four sides of St.Marks Church Saturday evening, the audience faces into the stage. Decorated with crafty trash and recyclables arranged in large squares (from Tony Turner), the lights dim, and two figures approach the space. One in a hooded trash bag cape and the other in purple sweatpants and a trash bag harness, it becomes evident the next hour will involve the themes of pollution and the environment. The duet is “Benon” (harvest) choreographed and danced by Souleymane Badolo with Charmaine Warren dancing alongside him.

Warren follows closely behind Badolo as the two creep through the space. He drops plastic cups as he goes. They crash onto the floor creating a dizzying array of unpleasant vibrations that send the nails on a chalkboard feeling up my spine. This feeling continues for the first 15 minutes. Crushing and sliding the cups, the two dancers continuously pick up and drop the plastic, as if it’s a game…who can make the most noise?

Darkness falls on the space and Warren breaks into a powerless solo. An intermittent improvised saxophone tune by Jeff Hudgins aids only little to the bland textures of the minimalistic choreography. His music attempts to pick up the demure movements that are also accompanied by traditional recordings from Burkina Faso.

Switching places, Badolo occupies one corner of the space, performing what appears to be a ritual to “celebrate the harvest.” Attached to a new costume (a rosy pink top and bottom) is an elaborate grass attachment that gives the image of the lengthy wings of an eagle or Icarus before flight. Although the subject matter is unclouded, the dancing is unable to take off.

He flaps his arms stepping side to side, occasionally rotating underneath himself to whirl around. His presence is internally focused for much of the performance, but at times he reaches a standstill and his gaze turns outward. These are the noteworthy moments, when the performers attempted to not only connect with, but also please the audience that surrounds them. At one point, Badolo approaches two audience members, gets close, and stares them down.

In the final minutes, Hudgins joins the two dancers in the space. They emit groans and hisses to accompany the saxophone but like much of the piece, all of the elements don’t match up.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

February 17, 2014
Valentine’s weekend entailed a celebration of a specific kind of love – that which exists between mentor and disciple, built on the shared love of a discipline, bearing its own fruit. This is how Pascal Rioult has chosen to commemorate twenty years with his company. Dubbed “Martha, May, and Me,” the program at the 92 Street Y was a stripped-down preview for the upcoming Joyce season; nevertheless, this performance was its own entity. In the intimate space of Buttenwieser Hall, where Rioult’s earliest work was test-driven, you experience what the Joyce conceals – the life of every breath, the effort of every muscle fiber, and the palpable balance of nervousness and confidence as this generation of dancers tries on the traditions of generations past.

Beginning with May O’Donnell’s Suspension, first shown at Harkness in 1945, a strict vocabulary of diagonals is dispersed between seven bodies, clad in blues. When they meet in sculptural partnering, slanted limbs shift onto axis. The excerpt illustrates a journey in visual harmony from intricate counterpoint through forceful dissonance to transparent consonance as motifs are juggled spatially until they find their right match.

Next was the 1995 Rioult staple Wien, from which Pascal credits learning his craft. When juxtaposed with O’Donnell, compositional similarities emerge. There is a similar looping exposition of idiosyncratic gesture, but soon after, Rioult establishes a more symbolic spatial sensibility than his mentor’s formalism. New developments loyally decay into a clockwise group skidder, from which dancers beg the audience for sympathy, only to be shoved back into high society samsara. The interpretation of Ravel’s La Valse is masterful but lends itself to occasionally premature transitions.

Following intermission was an excerpt from Martha Graham’s 1940 play within a play, El Penitente. Each role was nourished individually by an artist who had played it before, Rioult coaching a stern and expansive Michael S. Phillips as the Christ Figure, former Graham dancer Ken Topping channeling Jere Hunt’s inner Eric Hawkins for the boyish curiosity and self-flagellating shame of the Penitent, and Associate Artistic Director Joyce Herring drawing out immaculate but forbidden grace from Charis Haines as Mary, Virgin, Magdalen, and Mother. The care and craft in setting the work was wholly apparent – focus and precision was at its highest level of the evening and never faltered.

Concluding the celebration were excerpts from Rioult’s 2008 Views of the Fleeting World, a piece that suffers from precisely what makes Wien so strong. Entirely to Bach’s Art of the Fugue, dances begin offering movement counterparts to what is arguably the most complex of musical forms, but when the movement has no more to say, it meanders on as decoration until the harmonic dramas resolve. The one section avoiding this trap is “Moonlight.” Rioult decides to represent Bach’s contrapuntal glory not with form, but with emotional imagery of comparable complexity – Sara E. Seger and Brian Flynn transition together from lying to standing, accumulating dimensional pathos through every level in-between.

A panel discussion followed, led by EYE ON DANCE creator and moderator, Celia Ipiotis. Nancy Lushington, one of the regisseurs of the O’Donnell, joined Topping, Herring, and Rioult in an enlightening discussion on the process of both setting repertoire and making new work that is true to one’s lineage without seeming derivative. Rioult’s solution is digging deeper, pulling from the essences of Graham and O’Donnell and avoiding a superficial mimicry of formal devices. This "genetic pool party" program, for one, makes that quite clear. A voice like Pascal Rioult’s is highly necessary in dance today. His approach to enlivening history is by no means curatorial; the repertoire and technique his dancers perform are not artifacts but shifting spirits, never without the ability to transform.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

February 17, 2014
Dreamy, shadowy movements gush from dancers stretched out behind the principal couples in British choreographer Liam Scarlett’s “Acheron” created for New York City Ballet.

Dreamy light by Mark Stanley adds folds of mystery in reference to Acheron one of five rivers flowing through the land of the dead in Ancient Greek mythology.

Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ Strings and Timpani drives the sting of pathos and impending doom. Although three couples head the ensemble, attention is drawn to the large ensemble work. Bodies stretch out in long lines, dip towards the ground and swing back up as if escaping fate’s claim.

Confident performances by Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar plus Robecca Krohn and Tyler Angle appear in relief to the background. An element of modern dance invades the choreography in the form of loose torsos, groundwork, and wavy hips most noticeable in the well-executed solo by the enthusiastic Anthony Huxley.

The dance unwinds over a pulsating, rhythmic flow until its final destination.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 14, 2014
The Royal New Zealand Ballet arrived at the Joyce Theater for the first time in 61 years under the directorship of NYC’s ballet star Ethan Stiefel. A former ABT principal dancer know for his elegant and clean classical technique, Stiefel invited another ABT principal dancer Gillian Murphy to help celebrate the NYC season.

Composed of 34 attractive and robustly trained dancers, the evening featured three ballets. The dancers were charmingly introduced in Benjamin Millepied’s 2005 ballroom ballet “25 Variations On A theme By Paganini” to the lushly romantic score by Brahams. Tidy interactions between five eager partners flourished into turns and leaps with the women holding onto strong, airy balances en pointe, supported by earnest partners.

Choreographically, the most visually compelling piece was by Andrew Simmons. “Of Day” captures dancers’ etched in high-contrast light while lines of silent bodies form a shadowy background. Tightly integrate patterns and themes materialized and melted into the air. Although utilizing a ballet vocabulary, its modern dance expressivity drew angular shapes in a hush of perpetual motion.

A score that culled music from Tan Dun and gamelan orchestras, the charged “Banderillero” (2006) referenced New Zealand’s proximity to Southeast Asia. Many passages capitalized on animated shapes associated with Asian temple statues. Warrior women sparred energetically with the equally tenacious men. On the floor a white square becomes the village center bordered by dancers. One by one, the dancers criss-cross the space, splitting off of the group and executing a solo—Soul Train style.

We hope RNZ makes a speedy return to NYC.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 9, 2014
LeeSaar the company made its Joyce Theater debut Saturday evening with the 55 minute “Grass and Jackals.” Founded in 2000 by choreographers and partners in life Lee Sher and Saar Harari, the company resides in Brooklyn and cultivates their movement based on the Gaga (created by Ohad Naharin) style and principals. Gaga in simplest terms focuses on sensations and a fluid continuation of those senses. For instance if you take a very cold shower your body naturally reacts with movement generated by sensations you’re feeling instead of movement derived from a circuitous place.

In the downstage corner of the stage, a young woman with emphasized black, bushy eyebrows and a black body suit meticulously unravels her toes, stretching to point them but never reaching a full arch. She maneuvers into a precarious, sexual position, hip flexors on the ground, legs in a frog like shape and upper body stretched up, she flashes a forced smile.

The rest of the all female cast enters and what proceeds is a mixture of body shaking, street meets strut walking, and high developpes. Lighting and stage designer Bambi turns the backdrop into a textured red as “Princess Crocodile,” plays and each dancer assumes the provocative pose from the opening except this time staring directly towards the audience.

Jye-Hwei Li, captivating and deeply in her element, was the most featured dancer. At one point she appears in a yellow bodysuit and at the end strips off her black suit to reveal a copper colored suit underneath. The rest of the group, all fairly young, was filled with talent and potential. They support one another well and each have individual moments to shine.

Sher and Harari are on to something, and their performance at the Joyce marks a fresh take for dance audiences. However, at times the piece did drag on, but suddenly would be saved with another light change or the remarkable ending. In the last few moments, string began to fall from the ceiling covering downstage from left to right. As more of it toppled, it gave the image of a transparent waterfall, in what I’m later told is actually strings of hot glue. LeeSarr has a vision; its work is just in need of some edits and fine-tuning.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

February 7, 2014
Spare in form, the dancers are nonetheless full-flavored in Pam Tanowitz’s season at the Joyce Theater. She distributes ballet steps inside modern dance structures assembling intelligent, musical sequences.

In the first piece, “Passage” two women, Maggie Cloud and Melissa Toogood, interact with the onstage violin soloist, Pauline Kim Harris performing a composition by John Zorn.

Ms. Kim starts out standing in the center, flanked by the two dancers in unitards mirroring movements on either side of the stage. The violinist travels between four different stations marked by a black music-stands. Arms windmill around an erect torso set over deep plies and steps that comment on the music’s rhythm including a spree of heels tapping out beats like Indian Bharatanatyam dances.

A group work “Heaven on One’s Head” features the Flux Quartet playing Conlon Nancarrow’s String Quartets nos. 1 and 3 for nine dancers—five men and four women. In a whimsical nod, the blood red curtain raises about 1/3 of the way up revealing legs tracing steps. It rises to reveal dancers in matching red velvet accented outfits.

Diagonal walks morph into runs that rise into lifts. Activity is concentrated on the legs with the arms straight up or out to the side, but never assuming the filigree of a ballet port de bras except for a chain of turns that included arms curved in front of the chest. That said, the steps thread many traditional ballet steps and combinations—what I call Cunningham Ballet. All the performers are well versed in Tanowitz’s stylistic imprint and the curtain comes down on a satisfying evening of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 3, 2014
Ballet in Cuba is a way out of the poverty. Or is it? Accoring to Secundaria, the highly competive National Ballet School opens its arms to dancers of all races and socio-economic stations. These "chosen" students are drilled daily in the classics and folks dance forms. But in the end, even the top male student might not be invited into the National Ballet Company due to racial politics.

Depite that reality, the documentary by Mary Jane Doherty – using a camera crew of one—herself-- provides a wonderful window on the competitive nature of ballet in Cuba. There’s a marvelous contrast between the slim, hard-working dancers and their round, loving mothers. Unlike the prim and reserved mothers seen around the lobby of School of American Ballet, these mothers chatter, sing and dance while waiting for their children. Like a fly on the wall, Doherty made her way inside the dance studios, rehearsals, and competitions and inside the homes of her featured students.

When the school is invited to South Africa to perform, the South African students watch the Cubans rehearse in awe. Mouths agape, they call them dancing machines as they watch little ballerinas rip off six or eight pirouettes or balance on pointe for ever and ever.

I will not reveal too much so as not to ruin the spine tingling end to the documentary. A strong song and dance culture, Cuba raises international caliber dancers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 3, 2014
Peridance’s 2014 Winter Faculty Showcase took place Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon at the Salvatore Capezio Theater. A varied program included duets, trios, and group casts up to 18 dancers, with styles ranging from contemporary to Afro-Latin jazz. Twelve pieces were broken into two acts, with noteworthy work from Manuel Vignoulle, Breton Tyner-Bryan, and Marlena Wolfe.

Vignoulle choreographed “Conversation,” a duet for himself and Jennifer Rose. Dressed in black pants and romantic style high collared “poet” shirts, the two played around on two chairs and a table to symbolize communication in creating a “richer and stronger kingdom,” as the program notes read. Vignouelle’s problem was giving the audience the literal narrative, topped by the jarringly forced acting and prop utilization. The real treat began when the dancing started and the “set” was left unused in the background. The partnering was fearless and intricate. Rose flung herself onto Vignoulle as he twisted her around his body in a swing dance movement; it was exciting yet tender and didn’t need a set to be validated.

The most sophisticated piece of the program was Tyner-Bryan’s “Self.” It wove delicate dancing, fanciful costumes, and soulful music together, intertwining the depth that collaboration between art forms can achieve. The three dancers were also the masters of creation: Tyner-Bryan, choreography and direction; Shay Bares, imaginative costume design; Mary Carter, fervent singing; and the fourth onstage performer was cellist Haggai Cohen-Milso. Laced with imagery and textures of New Orleans, the interactions between the performers was not always entirely clear, but it seemed to be just the beginning of developing characters and relationships that due to time limits couldn’t entirely be explored. Opening with a runway style fashion walk, the dancers began to tear off their masks, heels, and corsets, revealing deeper layers of themselves that they never entirely shared with us. A bellow of movement ensues and the dance closes with Carter singing “Dig Me Out,” an original song she wrote, just another indication of the talent and possibilities among this ensemble.

The next to last piece of the program was Sheehan’s “Kyte.” Dressed in black tights and socks, with black and white striped long-sleeved closed blazer jackets, the four dancers layered their swift footwork to Kyteman's drawn-out music. Refreshing choreography mixed a bit of contemporary dance with Celtic and Irish Step in this smartly staged and simple piece. Sometimes simplicity is best.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

February 1, 2014
He raised the barre for male dancers and proved dancers could be international stars. Rudolf Nureyev is the subject of a poetic documentary by Fabrice Herrault at the Film Society’s Dance on Camera Festival.

An Imminently photogenic man, Nureyev is seen in rare footage that reveals performance legacy. Not only did he strive for perfection inside the classics, he bent the rules and split boundaries to test movement in many different forms.

This dance bio is told through the amazing archival dance footage of Nureyev in his prime from 1958 – 1979. Throughout the film he speaks briefly about his career and in at one point explains how he did not start dancing until the age of 17 because he lived in Siberia—far away from any dance academies.

The early footage shows an enthusiastic young male dancer with a well-proportioned dance body in need of precision. What’s remarkable is watching his progression as a technician and artist through the clips that stitch together his interpretation of ballet and even modern dance classics. Snippets feature Nureyev in Giselle, Nutcraker, Moor’s Pavane, Apollo, Dances At A Gathering and so much more.

Naturally, there’s time spent chronicling his famed partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn and his work with the Paris Opera Ballet. His laser dedication to dance, and personal privacy resonate throughout the film. Many of the excerpts are black and white, hand-held camera images that appear blurry and shaky but that hardly diminishes the thrill of seeing the arc of genuine ballet legend.

Without much fuss or editorial imposition, Mr. Herrault built an inspiring visual tribute to a man who glamorized dance and inserted ballet into the national vocabulary.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

DANCENYC Symposium
February 1, 2014
DanceNYC launches another informational symposium designed to connect the dance community with current issues. A number of exciting panels are lined up including A panel on Funding Support for Dance and the community's newest, expanded dance space. Here is the ageneda:

9:30 - 11:00 AM
Dances for a Variable Population (DVP) is a multigenerational dance company featuring performers aged 24 to 83, which seeks “to bring the community into the concert hall” through inclusive, interactive performances and dance instruction.
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Anne Coates, Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement at the Municipal Art Society (MAS), presents a case study on the current and potential role of arts and culture as a catalyst for positive and sustained change in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Arthur Aviles, Artistic Director Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre; Co-Founder of the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!)
Eva Nichols, Outreach Director, Mark Morris Dance Group
Lakai Worrell, Co-Executive Artistic Director, Purelements: An Evolution in Dance
10:15 - 11:30 AM
This panel of locally focused funders will address the impact of geography on charitable giving. What does it mean to support dance in New York metropolitan area?
Doug Bauer, Executive Director, Clark Foundation (Moderator)
Cecelia Clarke, President and CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation
Jonathan Horowitz, Program Officer, Private Foundation Services at J.P. Morgan Private Bank
Leah Krauss, Senior Program Officer, NYC dance, Mertz Gilmore Foundation
Alton S. Murray, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Con Edison.
10:30 - 11:30 AM
A screening of selected short films from the 2013 Dance on Camera Festival.
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Gina Gibney outlines her vision for 280 Broadway and welcomes your feedback.
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Led by Caron Atlas and Kemi Ilesanmi, speakers will share examples of effective advocacy and coalition building, and engage attendees in a participatory exercise.
11:45 AM - 1:00 PM
This session brings together dance artists, educators, and policymakers to explore diverse models for youth dance education in New York City, and offer recommendations for building sustainable, inclusive education programs in schools and neighborhoods
Susan McGreevy-Nichols, Executive Director, NDEO (Moderator)
Juan Jose Escalante, Executive Director, Jose Limon Dance Foundation
Jamel Gaines, Artistic Director and Founder, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn
Daniel Gwirtzman, Artistic Director of Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company
Aubrey Lynch, Dance Director, Harlem School of the Arts
Pascal Rioult, Artistic Director, RIOULT
11:45 -12:45 PM
Jeffrey Rosenstock, AVP External Affairs and Executive Director of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in Queens will inform the NYC Dance Community about the opportunity to participate in a new initiative to integrate the work of dance companies in multiple neighborhoods throughout the City.
12:30 - 1:30 PM
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a public/private partnership formed between property owners, businesses, and public officials, with the aim of facilitating the collective maintenance, development, and promotion of a commercial district.
Monica Blum, President, Lincoln Square BID
Tamara McCaw, Board Chair, FAB Alliance; Director of Government and Community Affairs, Brooklyn Academy of Music
Lisa Sorin, Executive Director, Westchester Square BID
Seth Taylor, Executive Director, 82nd Street Partnership
Tim Tompkins, President, Times Square Alliance
1:30 - 2:30 PM
Victoria Bailey, the Executive Director of Theatre Development Fund, will share the research and evolution of the New Audiences for New York program.
1:45 - 2:45 PM
This interactive session will offer Symposium attendees the opportunity to learn more about the mission, programs, and application processes of arts councils located throughout the New York City metropolitan area.
Dick Caples, Executive Director, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (Moderator)
Melanie Cohn, Executive Director, Staten Island Arts
Bill LaRosa, Director, Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs
Joanne Mongelli, Deputy Director of Programs and Policy, Arts Westchester
Will Penrose, Program Manager, Artist Residencies, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Ellen Pollan, Deputy Director, Bronx Council on the Arts
Morgan Tachco, Grants Manager, Brooklyn Arts Council
2:45- 3:45 PM
An informal discussion with Lucy Sexton and members of the 2013-14 Bessie Selection Committee.
2:45 - 4:00 PM
Pamela Epstein, Assistant Director, Community Arts Development Program, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (Moderator)
Anne Dunning, Principal Consultant at Arts Action Research
David Johnston, Executive Director, Exploring the Metropolis
Sarah Maxfield, Independent Artist/Curator and Consultant
Ian David Moss, Research Director, Fractured Atlas
Monica Valenzuela, Director of Development and Community Programming, Staten Island Arts
Jennifer Wright Cook, Executive Director, The Field
3:00 - 4:00 PM
This workshop, led by Renata Mariano, Director of Eastern Region Health Services at The Actors Fund, will help you understand the Affordable Care Act and provide a clear guidance on what your options are.
3:00 - 4:00 PM
Are you ready to make a change? Learn to navigate your financial life with creativity, clarity and strength.
4:00 - 5:00 PM
Led by Jennifer Edwards and Sydney Skybetter of the Edwards & Skybetter | Change Agency, this session will explore conflicting visions of the future of the dance field in New York City.
Anne Dunning, Principal Consultant at Arts Action Research
Jennifer Edwards, Edwards & Skybetter | Change Agency
Chad Herzog, Director or Performing Arts at Juanita College
Jaamil Kosoko, Producing Associate for Humanities and Engagement at New York Live Arts
Sydney Skybetter, Edwards & Skybetter | Change Agency
4:15 - 5:30 PM
What are the distinct challenges and benefits of working at non-traditional or alternative sites?
Linda Shelton, Executive Director, The Joyce Theater (Moderator)
Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project
Tom Gold, Founder and Artistic Director, Tom Gold Dance
Anita Durst, Artistic Director, chashama
Aviva Davidson, Executive and Artistic Director, Dancing in the Streets
4:15 - 5:15 PM
Brighid Greene, Dance/NYC Junior Committee member and DFA Communications Associate, will lead an interactive workshop highlighting the collaborative process of dance filmmaking.
Inspired by contemporary dance, Movenze is a strength and conditioning movement practice that focuses on strength, coordination, agility, balance and body awareness.
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Symposium takes place at Gibney Dance Studio 890 Broadway.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 31, 2014
There was no stopping Martha Hill from spreading the gospel of dance through the American education system. A wiry woman from East Palestine, Ohio, Ms. Hill was a no nonsense woman who came to NYC, worked with Martha Graham in 1930 and landed a job at NYU. Although passionate about dance, she recognized the limitations of her performance and choreographic talents. As a result, the fledgling dance community would be forever transformed in 1934 when Ms. Hill founded the Dance Department in a new liberal arts college Bennington.

The story of American dance unfolds in MISS HILL: MAKING DANCE MATTER a fine documentary by Greg Vander Veer. Grainy black and white moving images of dance icons recall days of creative adventures and self-defining techniques. Through editor Elisa Da Prato’s sharp eye, the film's narrative is fine-tuned through the film clips and commentary by historians, dancers and educators close to Ms. Hill.

Her greatest legacy came as the head of the prestigious Juilliard dance department. Insistent on producing well rounded dancers, she Despite the antagonism that existed between modern dance and ballet professionals, Ms. Hill insisted her students be taught both and learn from the from the giants of dance including Antony Tudor, Jose Limon, Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Charles Weidman, Martha Craske, and Anna Sokowl.

Finally, the indomitable Ms. Hill met her match in Lincoln Kirsten. Juilliard was invited into the Lincoln Center complex, but Kirstein made a "land grab" for Julliard’s dance studios. Ford Foundation money was siphoned into NYCB for George Balanchine, and serious politics nearly flattened Juilliard Dance department's footprint. Daunted but not broken, Ms. Hill wrangled two out of six studios and in a late night stealth operation described by Dennis Nahat, she occupied an office for the department.

Questions might arise about subjects Mr. Vander Veer chose to interview and/or include in the final cut. But there are always mitigating circumstances that play into the final-cut including politics, copyright issues and an individual’s availability. For the most part, MISS HILL: MAKING DANCE MATTER is a ringing endorsement for the future of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 31, 2014
“Soaking Wet”, four evenings of short dances, opened Thursday with the first of two separate programs that night at the West End Theater. Curated by David Parker and Valerie Gladstone, the program featured works from Angela Maffia, Silva Dance Company, Heidi Latsky, and Jordan Isadore aka Sara DuJour. A small audience of 30 nestled into their chairs, as the dancers presented their work in the half circle style stage, and gathered at the end for a short talk back lead by Gladstone.

Maffia’s “Axis Obliquity”, a duet, was based on Ben Munisteri's movement motifs, and performed by Maffia and Blain Horton. The piece was structured with strong shapes and classical modern dance moves. Garbed in blue, the dancers struck a series of pauses, which interlaced with the lullaby sounding music of Hung I Chan could have put one to sleep. But the movement quality began to pick up near the end with a sharper attack that juxtaposed against the soft sounds.

Leandro and Janete Silva of the Silva Dance Company presented “Nos” (We), a duet that plays on “the dualistic nature of humanity.” Mr. Silva, shirtless and in dress pants and Ms. Silva in just a white button down and black trunks, pushed and pulled from each other, narrating a break up gone bad. Filled with angst and acrobatic movements, it lacked a bit of the passion the pair was trying to play up. Although some impressive flips and jumps were featured throughout, suddenly the attention was just on Mr. Silva for the last half of the pice, and the duet became more “I” than “We.”

“Interlude,” showcased Latsky and five other dancers, one whom is deaf and another with cerebral palsy. Choreographically lean, the six dancers crowded uncomfortably in the small space. But aside from the kitschy costumes (one dancer in a blue feather choker, black tutu, and a sparkly lace bodice), Latsky created something to be applauded. Unfortunately I only began to appreciate it after learning of her process, creating dance that promotes “inclusions and diversity in the arts." The dancers were always precisely in sync with one another and most of all the dancing was polished and well rehearsed.

Finally, the most entertaining piece of the night was Isadore’s “Petrushka.” Dressed in a flesh colored fish net top, gray drop crotch pants, platform sneakers, and a blonde top knot, Sara DuJour (Isadore), gyrated and split his legs to the music of Michael Jackson and Missy Elliott among others. A take on the Russian classic, the black and white film projected onto a tarp on the wall, as DuJour strutted around with a baseball hat, expressing love and loss through sighs and slow dancing. The comedic factor that DuJour usually has on the website and in a series of videos that cross culture dance, fashion, history, and music was lost in the stage version, but it was still good for a few good laughs.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

January 30, 2014
In the late 1970’s the dance field panicked. They feared the disappearance of a distinctly American urban dance form called “hip hop.” Considering the preponderance of street dance in music videos, modern dance, ballet and clubs, the reports of the death of Hip Hop were greatly exaggerated.

Many dancers incorporate the gymnastic and rubbery hip-hop vocabulary into their choreography, but Rennie Harris creates concert style hip-hop ballets. At the Joyce Theater, the well-versed Philadelphia based Rennie Harris Puremovemnt performed an excerpt from a full-length Rome and Jewels and P-Funk as well as Students of the Asphalt Jungle and March of the Antmen.

The nigh opened on the choreographically strong Rome and Jewels, an excerpt from a full-length evening piece cast from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or more to the point “West Side Story.” Two competing street gangs rough each other up using the jargon of street dance moves. Tragically, Rome’s heartthrob Jewels belongs to the opposite posse. What sets this apart from the other pieces on the program is the insertion of modern dance moves threaded through the recognizable hip-hop steps. Structurally more complex, this work threads athletic moves into more lyrical breaths and counter-point. Spoken words reference the original text and the universal struggle between young lovers and antagonistic families.

Rather than relying on the usual hip-hop A-B-A structure, the choreographic counterpoint thread athletic moves into more lyrical breaths and movement arrangements that split into unexpected directions.

This is not to say that the remaining pieces were not energetic and engaging, but the format becomes predictable. Unison chorus surrounds the flashy personalized moves of a soloist who feeds back into the circle or is joined by another dancer. There’s no end to the athletics and the audience’s admiration of dancers, both male and female, executing their “identifying” moves-- head spinning, one shoulder head stands, arm an leg locks, etc.

In the end, Rennie Harris shows young people that professional dance embraces many forms.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipitois

January 26, 2014
This past Thursday, Elisa Monte Dance hosted a Gala celebrating the company’s 33rd anniversary. In celebration, the company performed three new works choreographed by Joe Celej, Associate Artistic Director Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and Eilsa Monte herself, at New York Live Arts. The night opened with Celej’s piece “their roots rest in infinity.” The trio of men who performed this work (Justin Lynch, Thomas Varvaro, and Prentice Whitlow), executed the choreography beautifully. Exploring themes of support and expansion, Celej’s movements brought a fluid strength to the bodies of these talented men. The dancers were firm, stable, and engaging, allowing this piece to transport the viewer to a truly thoughtful place.

The second piece of the evening was a new work by Rea-Fisher titled “Persona Umbra.” The lights came up on the stage to reveal dancers Maria Ambrose and Mindy Lai seated, facing the back, legs outstretched in front of them. Suddenly the dancers burst into motion, using their thighs to quickly inch upstage. As the movement repertoire began to expand, the same sharp energy continued to resonate. From the thrashing, witty movements to the costuming choices (designed by Naomi Luppescu) this piece had a strong punk rock feeling to it. With the hard-edge movements, it felt as if the dancers were rebelling against a larger idea. However, as the piece continued, it evolved into something more organic.

Drawing from the motifs set early on, and Rea-Fisher brought them into a new and earthier context. Whenever the dances met to find moments of repetitive unison it was electrifying. Lai and Ambrose danced remarkably well as a unit; it felt as if all their impulses originated out from precisely the same place. Safe to say “Persona Umbra” is a force of excellence.

Monte’s “Lonely Planet” closed out the night strong. Performed by the entire company, “Lonely Planet” examines some environmental and sociological problems of the 21st century. Paul Lieber’s abstract projections served as a kinetic texture to the breath and sweeping motion of the dancers on stage. Largely utilizing canon structures, Monte established movement patterns that simulate a feeling of chaos, transitioning from natural to urban exploration jarringly.

Energy pulsated as the company lifted, transported, and spun with each other. Circular motifs could be easily spotted throughout, but always in unusual ways. Matching the lighted silhouette of the earth spinning behind them, the dancers moved individually and in groups, circularly throughout the work.

David Van Teighem’s composition added an epic feel to big moments and matched tones when asked for a quiet tension. The piece focused on how the dancers aided or prevented one another’s movements, hitting on the questions Monte was asking about inner-connectivity in the modern world. An impressive and powerful new work by Monte, “Lonely Planet” is a grounded display of the incredible work this company delivers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

January 21, 2014
On a night when the city went into a snowy deep freeze slumber, NYC Ballet opened its season with three brightly etched pieces depicting the many different moods of George Balanchine.

A modern ballet tightly wrapped around its score, Concerto Barocco is a beauty. The almost all female cast is dressed in white tunics over leotards and tights. They join hands twisting and arching under arms in daisy chains that stretch out into double lines. To underscore the dominant melody, the principals, a soulful Sarah Mearns and lanky Maria Kowroski, swing legs up and down, and drop into deep lunges before whisking around and each other in counter-point. The sole man, Tyler Angle arrives about 1/3 of the way onto the ballet, but he is primarily relegated to lifting Kowroski in lateral lifts from one point in space to another.

Because of her profound musicality and extravagant lyricism, Mearns spreads her movements amply across Bach's Concerto in D minor for Two Violins. Although even in height, Mearns and Kowroski are unevenly matched in execution, with Mearns surging through the score and Kowroski uneasily stepping over the notes.

Crisply quirky, Kammermusik No. 2 switches gears corralling a male corps behind two perky pony-tailed girls, Rebecca Krohn and Abi Stafford. The men execute jagged steps, flexed feet while hunched over, arms stretched out to the sides, elbows bent upwards resembling Horton modern dance technique. In bounding steps, the ladies prance, knees lifting high and spring from one step to another. At times the men pulled together into what a postmodern football huddle, breaking apart into jazzy springs off the ground. Ms. Krohn and Ms. Stafford slipped easily through their spins and pops, ably supported by Jared Angle and an increasingly strong contender, Amar Ramasar.

Evening festivities ended on champagne high with “Who cares?” Hershey Kay’s chart-topping American songbook selections form the ballet's spine. Dancers in brightly colored, I mean really bright, costumes carousel through the romantic ballads and upbeat songs course in front of a tipsy outline of the NYC skyline. A strong cast flicks off difficult combinations with fervent good nature.

But the highpoint arrived when Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild embraced the music and each other. Both are consummate performers, both know how to underscore the beat and excavate essence of phrase. In “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” Peck radiates confidence while knocking out one-leg balances and lines of turns into daring mid step pauses and breathless leaps. Warmed to the bone, the audience shuffled back out into the brittle night.

January 20, 2014
It's difficult not to admire a remarkable dance instrument, and then doubly satisfying when the interpreter is an equally adept choreographer. Jean Butler is all those things. Originally known for her sparkling step dancing in Riverdance, Butler stripped gears and plunged into an intense study of modern dance. She came out the other side designing thoughtful dances that start from deep inside and slowly shed one layer after another until the whole piece is revealed.

Slim and attractive, her narrow torso is lifted but not stiff over legs livened by impeccably arched, articulate feet. The movement combines the postmodern phrasing of a Merce Cunningham and the liquid flow of Trisha Brown, but in the end it's all Butler. She travels silently across the stage to various sound and music motifs, slipping into easy, side-to-side hip swings -- what I like to call "post-modern" funk routines. There's coolness in the soft knee bends, and a total command of all the body parts. It's difficult to hold an audience’s attention in the absence of pyrotechnics and dancerly gymnastics, but Butler commands total dedication trough her simplicity and riveting, Zen-like presence at the Joyce Theater.

In contrast to this meditative explosiveness, Mark Haim's delightful "This Land Is Your Land” blends a cast of mixed body types and cultures spinning out from behind 5 colored panel curtains. In round-robin format, performers emerge one by one repeating a simple step movement at first holding a Styrofoam cup of café in one hand that's dropped into the trash can at the edge of the stage prior to the dancer's exit. Although the dance steps remain relatively simple, imitating a line dance with minute variations, the soundtrack feeds in American “country-western” and R&B pop songs.

When café cups are traded in for paper bag covered beer cans, the performers repeat the loping steps forward, backward and side-to-side, but now their shoulders slump forward, and their balance shifts precariously. Outfits alter, adding items to suggest club dancing or work, until items start to peel off revealing naked bodies of every age, and body type imaginable. They reverse course and rebuild, their outfits and continue. With a limited movement vocabulary, Haim creates a full spectrum of urban society and issues related to consumerism, environment, economics and cultural politics. A great piece for touring, each night community members could potentially feed into the cast of professional company members and paint a different portrait of America or any other country.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY--Celia Ipiotis

January 16, 2014
Parson’s Dance celebrated its 30th anniversary season Tuesday evening during a gala performance at the Joyce Theatre, with two different programs continuing through the 26th of January. The evening was a culmination of past and present, including a new work by Parsons, a piece from Robert Battle, Paul Taylor (a nod to Parson’s extensive career with Taylor), and the notoriously popular “Caught.”

The program began with “Introduction” a world premiere from Parsons that included all eight company members and new music by Rubin Kodheli. Overall, the piece served as a fundamental presentation on what makes up the Parsons Company. Individual dancers had moments to shine, and the movement was grounded in traditional modern technique with jazz flair.

“Brothers” which originally premiered in 1982 is a short and straightforward duet choreographed by Parsons and Daniel Ezralow. The number is playful with dancers Ian Spring and Steven Vaughn briskly rolling off each other’s backs and bouncing their body weight betwixt one another. When the dancing concluded the ending became futile, as the two men slowly stared down each other, turned and walked into the darkness upstage.

Robert Battle’s “The Hunt” featured the four females of the company in an intense, gyration fueled number. The movement was often salacious and it’s organization basic. The ladies' wide-open mouths, and vampire-like hissing generated an uncomfortable feeling, as if we were looking in on a ritualistic sacrifice.

The most sophisticated and refreshing piece of the evening was Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom,” which highlighted the four gentlemen in debonair tuxes and slicked hair. Limp wrists and knocked knees combined with “grown up” leap frog (back walkovers and rolls instead of hops) produced a fun, and quirky dance that showcased the dancers in their strong “suits.”

Guest artist and former Ailey dancer Clifton Brown performed Parson’s “Caught,” (1982) a solo piece that uses strobe lights to capture a dancer’s in air and space shifting movements across stage. The solo, which has become synonymous with Parson’s name, was an appropriate choice to celebrate an anniversary. It is clear why the company has been around for so long. Although his choreography at times feels dated, and his dancers manufactured, he has a gift at attracting a fan base that has kept him around and will continue to for many years to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

January 12, 2014
It starts when a young Asian man stands facing the audience, rather calmly, then assumes a pose in profile of a runner, frozen. This is repeated until another person appears from the side of the stage. One after another, forty-five people who looked like they were plucked off the street in front of the Public Theater, enter from a stairwell through a side theater door and onto the stage. Seated in the back corner of the bare stage, musician/composer Brandon Wolcott and cellist Fjola Evans slide through an edgy classical soundscape that bubbles around the performers.

A great swathe of body types, ages, and personalities swarm the stage-- at times curving into small clusters of two, three or four mirroring each other’s movements. Intermittently, theater type “trust” games pop up, so a woman falls back into a man’s arms, or people roll over one another.

Created by 600 Highwaymen and directed by Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone each person performs a series of two or three choreographed moves. The personal movement statements are repeated, and morph slightly when relating to other people. In response to some trigger, the crowd runs laps around the space at about 10 minute intervals filing back out side doors, and then returning. They re-enter, one by one, to the community center, gazing calmly at the audience’s collective stares.

Images of renown post-modern dance choreographer Steve Paxton’s State performed at MOMA last year floated around my mind while watching The Record. Basically, in State, Paxton collected over 50 people and directed them to walk, following various paths across the stage, freeze for one minute, and then move again. This was repeated several times. In the process, an overwhelming sense of the individuality and community of humanity took hold of the audience. 600 Highwaymen are inheritors of that creative route.
The Record is presented as part of the Public Theater's Under The Radar Festival.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 10, 2014
The Joyce Theater presented Focus Dance as part of the Gotham Arts Exchange. With four programs each consisting of two works, Focus Dance celebrates American modern dance, both in America and internationally. Program A showcased Vicky Shick and Dancers and doug Elkins choreography.

Vicky Shick’s Everything You See opened the night. Originally choreographed as a site specific piece for Danspace at St. Marks church, a translucent fabric divides the stage horizontally down the middle. Dancing occurs simultaneously on both sides of the partition for the majority of the piece. When originally performed at St. Marks, the audience was seated on both sides of the curtain, thus giving two different perspectives on the same movement, but because of the proscenium stage, Everything You See is shown in its frontal format. With a mix of smooth continuous movements and jarring, stiff moments, this piece explores what the eye is drawn to.

By partitioning the movement, the audience is given complete autonomy as to where they place their focus, and Shick plays with that idea. The quick, stiff movements, the patterns through space, and the use of levels invites the audience gaze to many different points of the stage at the same time. Shick wants the audience to have to make a choice, thus giving every member a different viewing experience of Everything You See.

Scott, Queen of Marys, by Doug Elkins choreography was performed as the second half of the night. Clad in cool spandex costumes, Elkins’ dancers glided across the stage with powerful grace. Elkins’ usual blend of modern and street dance expanded to include elements of classical irish step dance, matching the gaelic tones heard in the music. Patterns often used in the irish step dance were reconstructed in modern and hip-hop technique, making for an interesting juxtaposition of style. Though the group work is solid, it is in Elikins’ duet work where his choreography stands apart. In Scott, Queen of Marys there is a solo between every combination of the sexes. Since the women and men are blatantly costumed differently (as well as the soloist), gender is brought to the forefront. Gender roles are played with, both in the partnering and in the attitude of the performers. With a unique and stylish take on dance, the piece closed the night out strong.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

January 10, 2014
It was a postmodern occasion Wednesday night at The Joyce Theater, marking one of four diverse FOCUS DANCE programs to grace the stage this week. Minneapolis-based choreographer Morgan Thorson and British-born Keely Garfield presented their starkly contrasting works in the evening performance.

Thorson's "The Thing of It Is" (2013) is her most recent brainchild, danced by Jessica Cressey, Max Wirsing, special guest Anna Marie Shogren, and Thorson herself. A dancer paces across the stage, bypassing two dangling red curtains and visibly enjoying the Michael Jackson song bellowing from the speakers. Others join, each grounded in the beat-driven pace dictated by the music while travelling their unique, albeit intertwined, paths. An added element of humanity: they acknowledge us, their expressions softening when facing the audience head on. Meanwhile we observe as they discover one another.

“The Thing of It Is” is an ever moving merry-go-round of rhythm and movement, shifting in and out of solos, duets, and fleeting trios. Even when accompanied by silence or stillness, a palpable energy remains. Cressey is smiley in her red sweatshirt and sneakers, often emerging as leader among the collective. Their movements are gestural, awkward, and even humorous. For several seconds Wirsing punches himself in the forehead simultaneously stomping his right foot. Bent towards their feet, two relinquish their stillness to reach out and touch the other’s leg, foot, or hand. Pink tape is peeled off their costumes and stuck to the floor. Why we don’t know, and it doesn’t seem to matter. As the energy builds, two microphones are placed center stage amidst the now skipping bodies. The word, "Hi" is exhaled into one, triggering an immediate blackout - a period at the end of Thorson's stream of consciousness.

Following is Garfield's fifty minute "Twin Pines"(2010), a wonderfully curious work that begins with a hint of dance theater, transitioning to an abstract and meditative second half. Garfield is one of the five performers, proving both feminine and aggressive in her movement. One moment she’s singing the Beach Boy’s “Don’t Worry Baby” atop a tree stump with a stoic expression across her face. The next, she’s on the floor as her legs twist, lift, and open before her male partner; in this subtly sensual encounter clothes hangers in her hands flutter as if dainty wings. Soon after, she's engaged in a choreographed fight with the men around her.

Quirky moments are no stranger to this work: Matthew Brookshire moves from his harmonium to guitar while crawling like a cat, Anthony Phillips grazes the floor with a vacuum while humming and later pours milk into a hat, Brandin Steffensen wears a pink sleeping bag as a cape. Equally interesting is the scenic layout - a blend of a fantastical forest and an apartment - with instruments, tree stumps, jars balancing green hardhats, and gold curtains busying the stage. In particular, Brookshire is a gem; his original music and sweet, folksy voice add to the intriguingly lonely-yet- interconnected world conjured throughout the work.

The second part of "Twin Pines" begins with Phillips voice “Observe yourself resting," he implores. His calm cues continue to call for a full body meditation as Steffensen and Omagbitse Omagbemi conversely expel their energy through jumps and quick bursts of contact improvisation, spliced with pauses, repeated phrases, and the tender taking off and returning of Omagbemi's shirt. An eerily beautiful moment occurs when Garfield and Omagbemi enter in yellow cocktail dresses over their colored sweatpants, sitting on two tree stumps before a table dressed with teacups. They don’t drink tea, rather there’s an aire of shared loneliness between the two before the piece continues on. This week’s performance run of FOCUS DANCE features assorted programs also including the works of Vicky Shick, Doug Elkins, Yvonne Rainer, Urban Bush Women, Jean Butler, and Mark Haim.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

December 23, 2013
Fresh Tracks at New York Arts Live is an invigorating and powerful showcase of NYAL residence artists’ works. Six original pieces were performed to large success with varying content and approach. Each piece was a unique and impressive display of what these artists have been working on during their residency, with a few stand outs.

Halo, choreographed and performed by Gabrielle Revlock, involved the use of a hula hoop to explore the energy around the moving body. Visually exploring the negative space of energy in almost every conceivable way, Revlock created a hypnotic display and a gripping tension with each revolution of the hoop.

The duo Ben Grinberg and Nick Gillette, accompanied by musician Adam Kerbel, performed the work Communitas. Drawing on their acrobatic backgrounds, the two dancers used extreme trust to deliver a funny and gasp-inspiring work. They pushed themselves to the limits of what they could do, challenging gravity and finding new ways to find balance.

Other works included a poignant piece about either movement or history by Martita Abril and Leslie Parker, while Daniel Holt presented a high energy blend of street and contemporary dance, and Maximillan Balduzzi studied mortality with help of dramaturg Susan Mar Landau. It was a strong night of dance, placing all of these artists as names people should look for in the future.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

December 16, 2013
Framed by a quirky, fun take on the classic Nutcracker, The Knickerbocker Suite acts as a great showcase for the young dancers of the Manhattan Youth Ballet. Set around the quintessential sights of New York City, this clever adaptation presents Tchaikovsky’s music in a new light.

Colorful storybook images open the night, and a great poem by Elliott Arkin sets a playful tone. The choices of setting for each classic variation are spot-on in context and feel. A great example of the adaptive success can be seen in the Arabian variation set in a coffee shop, where a young femme fatale seduces a young professor. Dancer Erin Chong oozed sultriness in her body language and facial expression, which fit so well with the score that Tchaikovsky could have written it just for this scene.

All of the dancers had a great energy and put on an impressive performance. A standout of the night was Kira Anderson as the Butterfly in A Waltz in Central Park. Dancing with grace and poise, she consistently hit her mark, and with a great ensemble and effortless partnering from Louis Picuira de Pimodan, this piece stood out among the many.

Dancer Sophia Williams, who danced the part of Clara, also shone in the maturity she brought to each of her movements. With fully extended lines that never stopped reaching, Williams ended the night just as strong as she began it. A vivacious display from these young and upcoming dancers, the talented students at Manhattan Youth Ballet have achieved something wonderful for the holiday season.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Annie Woller

December 14, 2013
Run, run, run…seemed to be the theme of Juilliard Dance’s New Dances PLUS: Edition 2013 which took place at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater Friday evening, the third of five shows. World premiers’s were presented by choreographers Takehiro Ueyama (Class of 2017), Brian Brooks (Class of 2016), Darrell Grand Moultrie (Class of 2015), and Pina Bausch’s “Wind von West,” made its U.S. premiere danced by the Class of 2014.

Ueyama’s piece Nakamuraya, inspired by Kabuki theatre, saw dancers whipping long, purple skirts left and right as they crossed the stage (most often by running), and petals fell from the ceiling. A great debut for these young dancers, and some stand outs (Riley O’Flynn) among the group of 24. Ueyama’s movement is athletic and grounded but sometimes lacks specificity. At times the piece hit stagnant moments, and the lighting did little to benefit the traditional feel and flow.

Torrent, by Brian Brooks was most successful among the three choreographers of utilizing such a large cast. The concept of “line” was used throughout, as dancers filed into groupings (by running) and tore away (by running) as others joined. His movement is often based in gesture, and elements are often complex in their detail. At times this is beautiful but often it is overwhelming.

Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Seeds of Endurance, had the technically gifted Class of 2015 (once again) running around in flesh colored skirts with a hint of red underneath. The gentleman later removed their shirts and the ladies their skirts halfway through. Gorgeous moments resonated throughout. At one moment Solana Temple thrusts herself in a flying birdy into the arms of two guys sitting on the floor (the audience collectively squealed), in another Amelia Sturt-Dilley falls back with ease into the arms of her partner, shooting an extended ballerina leg out in front of her. The piece was laced with a racially charged message from the costumes (a darker color for the African American dancers) and the groupings (often separating black, white and Asian dancers) but fortunately the dancers saved it from being kitschy and overdone.

The much anticipated Wind von West (1975) could have actually used some of the running from the other pieces. It’s not to say that Pina Bausch isn’t a dance genius. Her form of dance theatre is luscious and unique and the creation of this piece pre-dates her more theatrical works, but Wind von West felt like an odd choice for the Class of 2014. Understandably, it was an honor for the department to work with three Bausch company dancers to reconstruct a piece that was only performed by Bausch's company and the Paris Opera Ballet. However, since the Juilliard dancers are not steeped in Bausch's intensely personalized technique, they looked unusually muted.

Four scrims with doors on both sides separated the stage into different rooms. In the second, a metal bed sits, holding a single pillow and a white sheet. A group of dancers curve and arch their chests in the third room, clumped together, occasionally allowing space for a dancer to break from the monotonous movements of the collective.

In the front room, the space that opens towards the audience, two women embrace on the floor as another stands gazing into the darkness of the fourth wall. Light peaks down a corridor created by the scrims, highlighting the musculature of Alexander Anderson. Throughout the 30-minute piece the groups slowly exchange positions and rooms, deepening their plies and poses with every collective breath.

With that said, these dancers did the piece justice and I doubt many other dance groups could have pulled off their performance, which aligns itself closely with the values of Tanztheater (intimacy and a blending of movement and artistic expression among other elements).

Daphne Fernberger as the soloist oozed emotion and juiciness in her every step, and was strongly supported by the calm solidarity of her classmates. Although the fine opera singers and orchestra enhanced the production, it was unfortunate that they covered up Fernberger in the last bow, for she was the true star.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

December 14, 2013
Dance as we know it, is in a constant shift of realms. Interplay between mediums, genres, time, and space questions the context and constructed notions we as audience members have about the form. Cori Olinghouse grapples with these complex ideas in her presentation Saturday night at Danspace in St. Mark’s Church.

The program begins with Ghost Line a 15 minute, 16mm film by Shona Masarlin and Olinghouse. Dressed in vaudeville and 20’s era costuming, Olinghouse gestures towards the infinite space in front of her. She toe taps her oxfords and points her cane, as the picture zooms in and out, surrounded by an occasional burst of black and white swirls on screen.

Video then becomes real life as the performance transitions to live dance with Ghost Lines. The singular becomes plural, as four lines (two blue, two lime green) stand from floor to balcony. Four other dancers each garbed in different character outfits join Olinghouse in the space. From costumer Andrew Jordan, one dancer (Eva Schmidt) wears all black, an intricate ensemble of shapes protruding from the sleeves and a fencing mask. It resembles the work of designer Gareth Pugh in its avant-garde whimsicalness.

The interactions are subtle. Most often one dancer performs quick footwork or small hand gestures and the figure in black shadows them from behind. A presence and relationship that is never entirely clear. Exchanges are often interrupted by black outs and when the lights come back up, the scene has shifted. The most exciting moment happened when Michelle Dorance brought her soft, sliding moves into a tight, electric tap solo.

Olinghouse in similar dress as the film, a top hat, pants with suspenders and oxfords, appears intermittently throughout, testing the boundaries of time that she herself has created but also questions. She succeeds in creating something original, what that is exactly I can’t be entirely sure. In the final moment she crosses her feet, gliding into a deep plié, before taking her upper body with her in a shrug. In a semi bow, she seems to be saying “I don’t know either.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

December 12, 2013
Tere O’Connor’s Bleed is a fascinating exploration of movement and connection at BAM’s Fishman Theater. Created as an amalgamation of three previous works, O’Connor has transformed Bleed into a larger, novel creation. Inter-body connections often look and feel incidental within the dance, but those casual mirrorings build into something very intentional and grand.

The group of dancers assembled for this piece is outstanding. With a huge variety in body type and movement quality, the intuitive performers make the piece feel deeply organic.

A motif that recurs throughout the piece is a succession of quick feet stomping while the dancers make a dramatic “o” face. Sometimes funny, sometimes alarming, this facial expression sets the tone for the piece. Its interpretation is malleable, and O’Connor explores all the ways it can be manipulated.

With a strong, beginning, middle, and end, Bleedcontinuously asks you to keep looking, and looking to see what you can find.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

December 10, 2013
The gala evening of the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble and From the Horse’s Mouth’s recent residency at the 14th Street Y featured both programs from the run – the part-storytelling, part-chance-operated From the Horse’s Mouth (from which the company gets its name), followed by Anna Sokolow Way, a pastiche of several works from the late choreographer’s career.

Among the pieces sampled in the anthology work were Ellis Island (1976), Kaddish (1945), Frida (1998), Dreams (1961) and Session for Six (1958). Perhaps best were the highlights from Magritte, Magritte (1970) – a work rife with Beckettian slapstick, which featured Sokolow at her most absurd and charming. Even in her more demonstrative, serious work – there is something compelling in Sokolow’s severity, her demands on dance, and her belief her work could further her ideas of social justice.

An unexpected and fascinating aspect of the gala performances was witnessing various motifs and movements resurface throughout the night, as the pieces appeared to be in dialogue with each other. Although a heartfelt tribute to a beloved figure in modern dance – and legend to Juilliard actors and dancers alike, both From the Horse’s Mouth and Anna Sokolow Way offer only fragments of Sokolow’s vision. However, these scattershot allusions do an admirable job of presenting many facets of a unique choreographer and polemicist.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Geoffrey Lokke

December 6, 2013
There is no denying that Anna Sokolow was quite the dynamo. The current From the Horse's Mouth program certainly attests to this. Rare video clips, live dance performance, and numerous personal anecdotes paint a picture of the dynamic, dauntless choreographer and her multifaceted influence - particularly in the fields of modern dance, music, and theater.

From the Horse's Mouth, currently in its fifteenth year, is a commemorative performance series conceived by James Cunningham and Tina Croll that has honored countless dancers and choreographers to date. As the title suggests, spoken word serves as the driving force, offering rare insight into the profound creative, professional, and personal impact one artist has on others throughout their life.

Sokolow was a dancer turned choreographer who began training with Martha Graham and went on to form her own company, the Players' Project. She traveled through Mexico and Israel teaching and choreographing and became a longtime faculty member at the Julliard School. All the while, her abrasively honest ways and remarkable skill at making dancers emote and acknowledge their individuality left a notable impact.

Jennifer Muller comments on Sokolow's uncompromising belief that the truth to be paramount in dance. "She would put you in a position and say, ' Do what you have to do next.' Then, as you moved she'd say, 'I don't believe you." Deborah Zall remembers tireless and demanding rehearsals that led to her ask Sokolow, "What do you want?!" Her response: "I don't want to see Martha [Graham]. I don't want to see Anna. I want to see Deborah." Close to 25 individuals took part in the multimedia performance, passing the microphone and weaving in and out of structured improvisation on stage. The performers' surrounding abstract movements - a hop with arms raised, a bend at the waist, a slow lunge - color the various live testimonials taking place center stage. Intermittently, this format is replaced by a slow procession across the stage including colorful costumes, silly props, and a sense of drama.

Other shared tales vary from the hilarious to the surprising, moving, and powerful. Celia Ipiotis recalls Sokolow's "passionate voice" and the time she appeared on an Eye on Dance television program focused on social commentary in dance in 1984. Kevin Conroy tells of the day he refused to let Sokolow kick him out of her Julliard dance class, which earned him a slap followed by a kiss on the cheek at the class' end. Deborah Jowitt will never forget when she asked the dancers to run as fast as they could to the end of the stage and stop suddenly. When they failed to do this to Sokolow's liking, she threw a chair towards them; they sure stopped suddenly then. Most touching are Joel Thome's memories about his time working with her through the Lyric Theatre in Israel. "You understood music better than almost everybody and I will love you forever, Anna," he notes.

From the Horse's Mouth and Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble (the successor to Sokolow's Players' Project, founded by Jim May) have partnered to present this collaborative program, which continues through December 8 at the 14th Street Y.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

December 5, 2013
Dressed in a white jumpsuit and red sneakers, Reggie Wilson strides on stage, introduces himself and his place of origin. One after another, each company member dressed in red outfits by Naoke Nagata does the same. The template is set. These are individuals who share common experiences in the struggle for freedom and dignity. After traveling through Turkey, Israel and Mali, Wilson reformed the Moses narrative through his travels, Zora Neal Hurston’s “Moses, Man of the Mountain” told through the African American vernacular and his company members.

Silver tinsel strewn on the floor and split in the center is the one obvious nod to Moses parting the Red Sea. But soon, Wilson opens his suitcase stuffs it full of tinsel, in preparation for his own journey.

Dipping into Mideastern and African song-cultures, music sets the frame, including “Wade in the Water” a gospel hymn most closely associated with Alvin Ailey’s American classic “Revelations.” In a nod to Ailey, the company members cluster together, arms straight up in a “V” then split into individual movements. More than anything, a sense of community saturates the dancers as they sing along to hymns, or sit on the lip of the stage facing the performers.

The vocabulary tends towards pedestrian walks, runs forward and back, and jumps bound in individualized body isolations, sassy hip swings, and liquid serpentine steps that pop in the air. Most of the steps accumulate one after another, picking up steps, adding them on much like a “line dance.” At times, upraised fists release to form prayerful hands,. Midway through, five disco lights designed by Jonathan Belcher flip on, covering the space in watery bubbles.

A loosely flowing narrative spreads a geographic thread through African ethnic forms, villages, rituals to American dance clubs and jazz halls. It states: movement and music connect our personalized tribes--shared experiences equal family, whether in the club or village square.

The eight spirited dancers at BAM’s Harvey Theater add their voices to the ever-changing definition of community and fulfillment in Fist & Heel’s performance of Reggie Wilson’s Moses(es).
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 26, 2013
Now in its 22nd season, choreographer Henning Rübsam’s company Sensedance presented three premieres alongside earlier works in a program styled Two by Two. Rübsam, a resident choreographer for Hartford City Ballet and on faculty at Juilliard, appeared in two of his pieces on the evening.

The program’s title references the pas de deux that made up the bulk of the program, and it was in these pieces that Rübsam was at his best. The choreographer showed his sense of humor in Save the Country and Russian Lesson (music by Laura Nyro and The Grooves, respectively). Save the Country, with its flashes of violence, playfully contradicted the breezy folk-pop throughout the piece. In his wry and cocky Russian Lesson, Rübsam’s two male dancers (Juan Rodriguez and Matt Van) strutted to a mod groove while a French voice gave a baffling crash course in Russian. Less successful was Borders, a slow moving, strained piece, while intending to be contemplative, came off a bit lifeless.

Whereas the pas de deux generally had an easy charm about them, the larger scale works – Half-Life Reloaded and Brahms Dances – felt overworked and cramped on this small stage. Half-Life Reloaded, in a new septet version of a quartet from 2011, suffered from Rübsam’s decision to set it to the Slovenian industrial band Laibach – brash, aggravating music that also proved a distraction from the dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Geoffrey Lokke

PARA-DICE (Stage 2)
November 23, 2013

An intriguing and charismatic performance graced the Danspace stage as Patricia Hoffbauer presented her work, Para-Dice (Stage 2). It was a night packed with fun and stimulating dance conversation. In collaboration with the other performers, video designer Peter Richards, and many other technical designers, this fascinating and quirky piece acts as a conversation about culture and the evolution of ideas.

The dance piece is somewhat disguised as a lecture, because Hoffbauer talks, instructs, and asks the audience specific questions about film and culture. Punctuating the piece with chunks of wit and humor, Hoffbauer is so completely captivating--it is near impossible to look away from her.

Self-reflective conversations and audience interaction engage the viewer into this world where everyone knows specific trends in dance and film. Moments of Yvonne Rainer’s “Trio A” are danced and clips of movies such as “Black God, White Devil” are projected, all with an assumption that they will be understood in the context of historical importance.

Hoffbauer does not leave the audience to make these connections themselves by discussing with her dancers the importance of these moments in creative history, adding layers upon layers of meaning in an already powerful piece. Moments of video, discussion, and dance fill the night with thought provoking and humorous ideas; a complete joy to watch her and the skilled cast: Tom Rawe, George Emilio Sanchez, Peter Richards, Peggy Gould, Elisa Osborne, Alyssa Alpine, and Laura Gilbert.
Looking forward to the sequel!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 22, 2013

    Photo: Kristin Clotfelter | Credit: Stephanie Berger

The empty BAM Fishman performance space is decorated solely with propped up plywood. Pieces of black duct tape are torn and placed on it, triggering dancer Ching-I Chang to begin her unrelenting mission of dragging a microphone across the tape-speckled wood. The hands of others interrupt her linear and circular paths, sometimes she is physically moved from the wood’s range, other times tape is ripped off altering her rhythm, and yet her movement continues. This postmodern approach is not left to stand on its own in choreographer Susan Marshall’s newest work however, as an electric score by David Lang soon dominates.

Created by Marshall in collaboration with her company of six dancers, Play/Pause is an hour-long movement-music adventure. The piece explores high art in the form of theatric, live performance verses that of pop culture’s music videos. Each form is pared down to its simplest elements, oftentimes showcasing their intersection. Sections of ensemble work riddled with ripple effects, repetition, and the ever-popular step-touch-and-snap are interspersed with more dramatic solos and duets featuring full-bodied movement and a recurring motion reminiscent of striking a drum. An underlying stoicism also exists throughout which makes the pop culture sections particularly humorous, emphasizing a robotic element with the form’s strictly guided choreography.

Narrator Pete Simpson is disconnected from the rest as a seemingly trapped character in the whirlwind of performance episodes whether they nod to live or digital performance. Meanwhile David Lang’s indie-rock score (with additional music by St. Vincent and The Antlers), travels between amplified electric rhythms to silence. The quieter moments usually indicate a “pause” before the next section of “play.”

The mix of varied lighting (by Eric Southern) and minimalist set design (by Andreea Mincic) propel the versatility of the work as each element serves an integral purpose. Sometimes the lights shine straight-on exuding a fleeting Broadway feel, though soon resort back to something more artsy such as pure darkness aside from blue-lit plexiglass framing the performer’s faces. The wooden wall adjusts from a space separator back to a musical instrument.

Well into the piece Simpson calls on the audience to breathe with him, in through the nose and out through the mouth. This collective, calming, mid-performance exercise certainly juxtaposes the electric energy of Lang’s score and the bursts of Marshall’s movement. We are taken in a new direction for the remainder of the piece as the dancers emphasize their existence as live-performers. One catches his breath audibly over a microphone. Others later exhale onto the illuminated plexiglass screens, their breath made visible. “Thank you,” Simpson says as the lights go out.

Susan Marshall & Company celebrated the New York premiere of Play/Pause as part of BAM's 2013 New Wave Festival.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

November 21, 2013
There is no doubt the dancers of Complexions Contemporary Ballet are appealing. Tuesday night at the Joyce Theater, they managed to not only show off extreme extension and polished technique but also individual charm while maintaining group integrity.

Associate Artistic Director Jae Man Joo choreographed the opening piece, which was making its New York premier. Entitled “Recur,” the work was a reflection on the past and the memories we bring with us from previous events. At times showy, the choreography maintained a fine line of the ballet/contemporary style the company claims and competition tricks. It was the final duet between the eye catching Terk Waters and Gary W. Jeter II that took the piece from simple dance to piece of art. The men melded into one another, rich and luscious in their every move. In the final image, Jeter’s legs are wrapped around Water’s hips as he leans backwards, the top of his head reaching towards the floor… the audience gasped.

In Jeter’s “You Do What You Can…” it reads like the dancer is not as skilled in choreography as he is his technique. With music ranging from Cee-Lo Green to spoken word from “Boondocks,” the piece struggles to find consistency. Strong male bravura moments are displayed throughout, but the ebb and flow is more murky than clear.

Jae Man Joo’s “Flight,” has similar thematic qualities to “Recur,” in its solo centric grouping. Luckily each of the dancers (Jourdan Epstein, Samantha Figgins, and Waters) are uniquely captivating, but as an audience member I was craving contact, there was barely a moment of acknowledgment between the three.

“Never Was,” a duet by Alejandro Cerrudo was pretty but never found a climax or an end. Just as I began to push to the edge of my seat, the lights faded and it was over.

The final work for the evening was a new piece by Dwight Rhoden to the music of Stevie Wonder. “Innervisions,” is fun although one high kick and grande jete too many. It is clear the dancers are having fun, and we can’t help but smile and groove along with them.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

November 19, 2013
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular signals the start to the holiday season, and this year's production is fresh, sparkling and shiny. Opening Night was a benefit for the Garden Of Dreams Foundation, which helps children and their families facing homelessness, extreme poverty, illness and foster care. An atmosphere of magical anticipation filled the Music Hall as the stage opened on a snowy scene of fabulous Rockette reindeer, and the show took off from there.

Santa, played impressively by Charles Edward Hall, flies thought the skies of NYC, (in 3-D of course) landing at Radio City to introduce a perky, and dare I say "hot" tap number to The Twelve Days of Christmas. Every move was animated and sharp and represented the excellence of the dancers. Clearly, Linda Haberman, director and choreographer is inspired and has reignited the fire in this well rehearsed cast.

From the Nutcracker Suite, danced by bears of different countries, and a charming and talented Clara to the classic Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, each number feels exciting and bright. The sightseeing bus shows off more gorgeous costume design as the Rockettes go from chic red and green checkered coats to fantastic spangled dresses. Dancing Santas filled the stage to a big band number played with extra exuberance by the orchestra under the baton of Gary Adler.

"Closer Than You Know" is a more recent addition to the production and brings young Kayla and her mom, Tracy played with a good sense of humor and earnest delight by Santa at the department store. A difference in opinion over the appropriate Christmas present takes the pair to Santa's workshop where he unveils a new video game. With more 3-D film animation, the Rockette Aliens come up through the floor to battle each level. By making them work together to defeat the "humbugs" with holiday cheer, Santa brings us to the current day and the realization that spending time together and sharing is what counts.

The new dance number Snow is a stunning example of what truly remarkable dancers the Rockettes are. In synchronized free-form choreography and more gorgeously glittering pastel costumes each dancer has a moment to shine in a mélange of holiday tunes about snow, while snowflake soar wirelessly above the audience!

The Living Nativity tells the story of the first Christmas, complete with live sheep and camels and wonderful pageantry of music and light, and allows for a quiet moment of reflection. The show ends with "Joy to the World" and everyone on stage, representing the verve, dynamism and spectacle that IS New York City.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

November 18, 2013
“Everything is going to be just fine,” says the voiceover at the beginning of the hour and ten minute long performance of Hofesh Shechter’s latest piece “Sun.” Apart from the 20-minute pause that took place Friday night at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House due to a technical glitch with the sound, Shechter sets this piece up to be everything but “fine.”

A hodge-podge of eras, styles, and movements fills the stage as dancers of the Hofesh Shechter Company enter, sporting an array of white costumes with black trim. A “ring master” figure (Erion Kruja) takes command and leads us through a twisted and non-stop adventure of political antics and most importantly entertainment.

Words don't do this theatrical dance piece justice. It’s a mix of pastoral settings (including card board cut outs of sheep and a wolf), Israeli infusions, courtly gestures, and Commedia dell ’arte inspired costumes. Aside from the intricate patterns of dancers and movement that Shechter weaves on stage, he is more importantly layering a fusion of ideas that we rush to grab onto, for he too often makes them ephemeral. Black-outs and repetition are his choice of tricks this round.

Shechter’s intense level of skill and cleverness are certainly aided in part by the brilliant lighting design work of Lee Curan. Hundreds of miniature light bulbs hang from the ceiling as the rest of the stage is lit in bright smog. Vaudeville and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” were two images that resonated from the imagery and ambiance set up on Friday evening.

The movement is at times fast paced and at other moments simple and slow, but the alluring dancers keep us entertained even when they stand completely still. Not just to gush, for I certainly could’ve done without certain moments of the piece, such as a series of non-stop black outs and a moment when a dancer begins to strip down. It wasn’t perfect, but Shechter is on to something much bigger than a beautiful dance.

Tragedy and injustice happens in the world, whether it be a wolf killing a sheep or soldiers in combat that meet an untimely ending. Where does the artist fit in when there are bigger issues in the world than entertaining (or distracting) the public? The answer may not be clear, but the show must go on and the sun must rise. Art must continue to be created. And my hope is that Schechter will continue to take part in that creation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

November 17, 2013
Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener presented their site specific work, “Way In” this past Saturday as a part of Danspace Projects. This enthralling night of dance is presented on a stage completely decked out in hot pink lace. The recorded poetry of Claudia La Rocco fills the space for the first section of the performance, wiith prose commenting on stage activity.

La Rocco draws attention to the cast of two dancers (Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener) and two non-dancers (La Rocco herself and Davison Scandrett), as well as the movement which she accurately described as “captivating in its seeming aimlessness.” The four performers move through the space, dancing, showing signs to the audience, and even gliding across the floor on a roller dolly.

A prolonged embrace transitions the piece into its second section, where Riener and Mitchell consistently reach for each other from opposite sides of the stage. By sending all of their energy across the space, the audience becomes aware of the vast amounts of negative space that lays between them. In this section, they create meaning in the emptiness, beginning to answer one of their driving questions of how one builds or escapes already existing meaning.

As the sections continue, the dancers change from black unitards into jumpsuits made of the same hot pink lace that covers the ceiling and walls--later revealing shiny dance shorts covered in dollar bills. Interaction and lack thereof is at the center of each section, showing different ways that meaning can be derived from two bodies in space.

In the final tableau, the pink curtains are drawn back and La Rocco stands veiled at a microphone, as Scandrett arranges the lighting and the two dancers lay, half naked, at her feet. In a nearly indiscernible speech (due to a sound mixing board under Rainer’s and Mitchell’s control), this veiled bride asks the audience to consider how their viewership role has affected the piece’s perceived meaning.

At times playful, at other times quietly intense, “Way In” is always thought-provoking, providing the audience with a meta viewing experience, from which they cannot look away.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 16, 2013

Gina Gibney presented a new hour-long work at the Florence Gould Hall Thursday evening. Created in collaboration with her six company members, “Dividing Line,” is broken into eight movements, with original music from Son Lux.

The piece begins with six dancers downstage, their backs toward the audience. As the gorgeous, billowing music performed by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) starts, one dancer (Amy Miller) sneaks forward, separating herself from the group behind her. It is this beginning image that resonates throughout the entire work, creating divisions of relationships through time and space. A series of duets, trios, solos, and quintets follows, intersected by blackouts.

The quality of movement is athletic yet intricate. One moment a dancer flings himself to the ground, the next he stands in a wide fourth position, quietly spinning his hands behind his back as if spooling thread. As a whole, the group succeeds in their floor work; the material is innovative yet the dancers make it feel familiar. They ease into the ground with directness and their transitions from one position to the next are seamless. In one sequence Miller, on her back, continuously winds her legs up and around her head in a 360-degree motion, increasingly becoming faster until her legs resemble the hand of a clock in turbo speed.

Miller’s dynamic quality to her dancing held the sometimes-disjointed work together. Her presence was heavily noted in the first movements through solos and duets but then regretfully she seemed to disappear until the end.

Other strong performances came from the two other female dancers of the group, Natsuki Arai and Jennifer McQuiston Lott. Choreographically however, their roles were unclear and at times they seemed like only back up dancers to Miller’s powerhouse presence. A memorable moment came when the three ladies, albeit briefly, danced together. Individually unique but together a force, it was reminiscent of the days when the company was comprised of only female members, a history that Gibney may want to consider repeating.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

November 14, 2013

The final program of the American Dance Guild Festival was filled with interesting works from many choreographers. A screening of the Eye on Dance interview with Anna Sokolow and Sophie Maslow was meant to begin the evening, but due to a late start and technical issues the screening was postponed until the reception.

With that somewhat rough start, the evening finally began moving with an energetic piece by modern dance pioneer, Isadora Duncan. In traditional Duncan style, “Ode to Aphrodite” was filled with strong feminine power and beauty. Duncan’s piece along with Remy Charlip’s “Surpreme Court” and Anna Sokolow’s “Kaddish” represented foundations of established modern dance while most of the other works were more recent.

“All into my Arms” choreographed by Elizabeth Shea, relied heavily on contact improv techniques, and with two brilliant and captivating dancers, the piece was a joy to watch. Jean Churchill’s “In the Long Run” employed two older dancers to a largely successful degree. These dancer’s, Peggy Florin and Maria Simpson, explored how their bodies existed in space in an overall, sedate but stimulating display.

Four other pieces, by Tina Croll, Teresa Fellion, Sasha Spielvogal, and Jenny Showalter completed the night. It shaped out to be a generally strong concert addressing the contributions of dance pioneers and current day practitioners. The night ended at the reception, where Celia Ipiotis presented the full length Eye on Dance program with Anna Sokolow and Sophie Maslow. The interview with these two women discussed dance as a convoy for social discussion and change. Ipiotis uncovered precise reflections on dance's versatility and impact on society.

Because ADG commendably keeps dance history alive through dancer's bodies, EYE ON DANCE proved a potent partner, contributing a smart and thought provoking end to a fine evening of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 9, 2013
When the usher warned me the solo at Rose Theater ran 90 minutes, I was concerned. But by the end of the show, elation replaced reservation. An astonishing dancer and compelling performer, Kahn captivates his Lincoln Center White Lights Festival audience.

Cinematic in scope, Akram Khan’s DESH merges past and present. A harmonious tapestry of physical, visual and aural memories compose a personal history that straddles East and West.

In the first few moments, Khan slips into view holding a lantern and heading to a small burial mound topped by a bedraggled little tree. Out of the silence, Khan wields a huge mallet and pounds out fifteen ear piercing slams chased by echoes. And then, the stories begin.

Fluid movements initiate from Khan’s hips, bent knees and supple articulate fingers. As much mime as dancer, Khan kneads together traditional Indian Khatak foot slaps and rhythms into contemporary and street dance vocabulary.

The musical composition by Jocelyn Pook dramatizes Khan’s time travel through British urban scenes and Bangladeshi rural spaces. Everything loops together, the abrasive noises generated on urban streets and the sounds of nature piercing poor rural towns.

Khan conducts imaginary conversation with his young niece who, like Khan at that age, is less interested in mystical stories and family lore, and more enamored of Lady Gaga and technology.

Stooped over, Khan draws two black eyes and a round mouth on his baldhead and imitating a human puppet, Khan’s arms gesticulate in the telling of tales by an old man who among other things, cooked and fed his 200 member community. Family stories continue to spill from his expertly morphing body from father, to son, niece to elder.

In one gorgeous moment, Khan bends over to tie his niece’s shoes, when the laces turn into magically animated live drawings by Tim Yip depicting a lush forest, home to beautiful creatures and forbidden. Later, silhouettes of masses rioting, reference Bangladesh’s nation-building struggles.

At the end, curtains of silk ribbons drop down, causing Khan to swirl in and out of the forest of ribbons, push through the sound of a monsoon and appear suspended upside down reminding me of an image from the controversial jazz song about lynchings called “Strange Fruit” and made famous by Billie Holiday.

It closes as it began with Khan wielding an oversized mallet into the earth, shaking awake all the spirits.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 9, 2013
The first program of the American Dance Guild’s Cross Pollination contained a wide breadth of dance styles and techniques. With special focus on the late choreographer Remy Charlip, a range of dances by emerging and well established choreographers made up an altogether unforgettable night.

Before the performance started, there was a brief introduction by Eye on Dance's Celia Ipiotis. She presented a clip of the Eye on Dance television interview with Remy Charlip, adding a layer of context and meaning into the two Charlip pieces to be performed. In her introductions, Ipiotis described the invaluable collection of materials collected from the more than two decades of recordings from the EYE ON DANCE educational television series. Funds are being raised to organize and restore the EYE ON DANCE" Leagacy Archive for future generations.

Charlip's “Ten Imaginary Dances” (read by David Vaughan) opening the night and “Twelve Contra Dances” finishing the first half. The charm and wit of Charlip’s work is palpable, and both pieces are refreshing in their simplicity. Classic works by Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were also performed. Teeming with power and importance, both soloists were so well trained in their specific technique that every movement flowed with authenticity and grace.

One of the most moving pieces of the evening was “Improvisation: Dancer and Sarod.” Appropriately titled, this was improvised piece between dancer Margaret Beals and Sarod instrumentalist Andrew Rai. Everything within this piece became intensely intimate as Beals and Rai interacted. With clear respect and appreciation for each other as artists, they gave life to a truly special moment on stage.

Other pieces by Sue Bernhard, Yuke Hasegawa, Nai-Ni Chen, and the ever brilliant Lars Lubovitch filled the night, shaping a skillfully structured and executed night of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 8, 2013
Two chairs, a table, and a glass of water. Those are the objects that set the stage at Danspace for Noé Soulier’s self exploratory piece, Idéographie. Labeled as a ‘dance of ideas’, Soulier has created a captivating investigation of how the movement of the body is perceived by the self.

Ideas are presented through the use of spoken word and gesture, and Soulier structures the presentation of ideas in a way that opens new perspectives on the dancing body. He addresses broad ideas, like subconscious perception, by breaking down the physical realities of how the body interacts with space.

The chair is sat in, the glass is drunk from, but not before the process is intricately described, including the initial observation of the glass and how the hand knows just how to grasp it.

As the lights drop to black and a final pirouette, the audience is left with a novel understanding of their own bodies and how, to paraphrase Soulier, there is a difference between observing your body and observing a body that happens to be yours.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

November 8, 2013
It begins innocent enough; dancer Leslie Kraus paces forward presenting a paper butterfly as red- orange as her hair. Amidst her shifting facings and swirl of her arms, the butterfly rests in the crook of her elbow, between her toes, on her lips. It is not all angelic though, as her sudden body pulses, building in intensity and frequency, suggest.

Kate Weare Company celebrated the New York premiere of “Dark Lark” on its November 6 opening night for a full house, which also marked the company’s debut as part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Choreographer Kate Weare’s hour-long dance piece explores sexuality, identity, and fantasy through movement, and proves quite mesmerizing.

Kraus is soon joined by a male dancer who plucks the butterfly from her mouth as she lies idly on the ground. He gathers other butterflies, piled at cellist Chris Lancaster’s feet, and decorates her face with them. This bizarre yet serene moment evolves into their partner work interspersed by frozen poses, fueled by tension. Aggression then takes over with the entrance of a second male – she is tossed, twirled, and swept between the two.

Lancaster’s dynamic, original score accompanies the work and its emotional journey, traveling from delicate to electronic, speckled with pauses and occasionally the sound of his physical scratching against the instrument’s wood. Positioned downstage left, the barefoot cellist quickly becomes an integral performer within the work; his passion is palpable and his musical dialogue with the dancers and choreography is undeniable. Dance and live music are brought to an equal playing field in “Dark Lark” – refreshing.

Also accompanying the work are white poles swept in circles and jabbed into the floor. Various geometric, translucent structures are huddled upstage and are occasionally illuminated, serving as an asymmetrical scenescape with passageways. Weare’s versatile movement stands on its own, however. The five company dancers break in and out of solos, duets, trios and ensemble work. A lighthearted segment including piggy-backs and a hint of folk-dancing is fun, but appropriately fleeting. “Dark Lark” thrives in its quirky-intensity, flirting with darkness: control shifts between the dancers, dynamics change, soft sultriness melts into domination.

One of the most memorable dance scenes includes Douglas Gillespie strutting onstage in a fur shrug and pink sequined heels. His costume outshines the more conservative rest (designed by Sarah Cubbage), and his partnering with a fellow male dancer highlights their technique and Gillespie’s exaggerated body lines - to the tip of his platform heels.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

November 7, 2013
Montreal-based choreographer Marie Chouinard brings her troupe to the Joyce Theater with two New York premieres: “Henri Michaux: Mouvements” and “Gymnopédies.” Using Belgian poet and artist Michaux’s book “Mouvements” as a sort of choreographic score, Choinard’s black-clad dancers translate the collection of India- ink drawings and accompanying poem and afterward into movement. With the abstract drawings projected onto a white backdrop in succession, the first dancer studies the image in silence and then recreates the shape with her body. This “word for word” reproduction of the projected images continues in a tag team effort between three dancers.

As an industrial soundscape kicks in, new dancers emerge, and the objective seemingly shifts from literal representations of the images into movements that represent the feelings evoked by the inkblots. Erratic brush-strokes translate into spastically waving arms, convulsing torsos, and wide-open mouths.

While this conceit is initially engaging, the uninterrupted sequence of flailing movements and the driving undercurrent of the music eventually become monotonous. Dancer Carol Prieur’s harshly guttural French recitation of Michaux’s poem from underneath a strip of flooring barely interrupts the proceedings; the other dancers continue with their gesticulations, nimbly avoiding the human bump in the floor.

“Gymnopédies” takes an intimate look at duets, and by intimate, well, it’s safe to say that the scant fabric covering the dancers’ bodies—when they are wearing clothing at all—is the only barrier preventing the simulated coupling gyrations from becoming reality. Satie’s noted composition serves as the connecting thread, with the dancers themselves taking turns at the piano to play the piece.

Their skill at the piano is quite remarkable, infusing the notes with inflection and emotion, which comes in stark contrast to the action taking place on the rest of the stage. Whether shedding layers of stiff white fabric as if hatching from a cocoon, or clowning around with bright red noses, the dancers are fully committed to the absurdist narrative, even during an extended twenty-minute choreographic curtain call that began after many in the audience had already gotten up to leave.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore

November 4, 2013
Originally choreographed by Michel Fokine and presented in 1908, Les Sylphides (Reverie Romantique: Ballet sur las musique de Chopin) starred legendary dancers Olga Preobrajenska, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky.

American Ballet Theater acquired Les Sylphides in 1940. This ephemeral white tulle ballet returned to ABT at Lincoln Center simultaneously with the re-issue of Benjamin Britten’s long lost complete orchestral arrangement of Chopin’s score in this, Britten’s centennial year.

A delicate ballet, Les Sylphides relies on harmoniously symmetrical patterns and friezes. Purely abstract, it dramatizes Chopin’s clear, romantic music. Women in long, filmy white tulle dresses, slide through space like puffs of little clouds. Cast in the central role, Hee Seo is flanked by the flamboyant jumper Isabelle Boylston and the demure Sarah Lane.

Corps members flowing in responsive, interlocking daisy chain patterns frame soloists supported by the sole male, Thomas Forster. Ballerinas peel away from the pastoral still life to present their solos then reconnect in duets, and trios only to slip back into their own spot inside the elegant picture frame.

After intermission, energy rose in the audience when Twyla Tharp’s Bach Partita grabbed the stage during American Ballet Theater’s short season at the David Koch Theater.

Complex duets play in relief against a streaming Greek chorus of dancers commenting on the soloists. Three couples break into the foreground, ripping off turns and quicksilver shifts from one leg to another. Insistent, small soft pliés trigger the nonstop, seamless motion that collects into clusters repeating in canon form.

The central couple, Gillian Murphy and Marcello Gomez stresses the movement’s athletically sensual side, while Polina Semionova and James Whiteside dig into the soulful nuances of the hip shifts inside plies, and sharp shoulder twists. And in one large wide attitude turn after another, Semionova’s legs gulp wide-open spaces.

Stella Abrera and Calvin Royal III hold the third leg of the triumvirate. Not as dramatic or grand as Murphy and Semionova, Abrera is less confident negotiating the intricate steps.

“Bach Partita” demonstrates Tharp’s freshness, choreographic vigor and musicality. It's been gone too long.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 1, 2013
Even though he switches characters’ genders and digresses a tad from the main narrative events, Michael Bourne is enamored by the classic Tchaikovsky canon of 19th century ballets.

When he toyed with Swan Lake, converting the Swan Queen and her feathery corps into a gaggle of men, audiences were split. Some hailed the piece’s novelty; others disparaged Bourne’s audacious revamping.

On this occasion, Bourne arrives at City Center with his version of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. It’s about Aurora, the beautiful princess who falls under the spell of the wicked witch, Carabosse and sleeps for 100 years. Ballerina Hannah Vassallo turns Aurora into a vivaciously rambunctious young lady.

On the whole, the first act moves along at a brisk pace. In Bourne’s adaptation, when the royal couple is unable to conceive, they dip into the black arts unveiled by the evil fairy Carabosse. Once the beautiful girl baby is borne, the couple forgets about Carbosse who subsequently throws a death spell on Aurora that is conveniently converted to a sleeping spell by Count Lilac (formerly, The Lilac Fairy).

Adept at theaticalizing dance, Bourne’s male Carbosse and Count Lilac ramp up the drama while the main fairy dances retain much of the traditional choreography. As she grows up, the animated Aurora expresses free spirited, nature-loving tendencies. She rips off restrictive clothing to release daring leaps and passionate turns, while running and playing with her sweetie, the attractive royal gamekeeper.

Fast forward to 1911, Aurora is celebrating her 21 birthday in the ballet’s most engaging section. Bourne depicts an airy Edwardian lawn party in front of the castle. Men in white suits escort women in long, white, filmy dresses by the marvelous set and costume designer Lez Brotherston. When the music opens into a waltz, the couples follow along until the score breaks into a faster rhythm that gives the young folks an opportunity to bounce around in frisky ballroom dances of the era like the maxixxe, quick two step moves that jostle couples up and down.

In the midst of this picture book tableau arrives the dark Carabosse. Things don’t go so well after that, including some neck biting and sleep for 100 years.

When Aurora wakes to Leo’s (Chris Trenfield) kiss, it’s 2011. From this point on, the ballet loses part of it’s dramatic force. But, Bourne fills the stage with contemporary characters celebrating Aurora’s modern wedding. A well-rehearsed company, the leads are all quite good, but at times, particularly in Act III and Act IV, Bourne’s choreography challenges his dancers’ technical capabilities.

For the many people who are not tied to the traditional Sleeping Beauty, Bourne’s re-imagining offers a more playful and popular approach.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 1, 2013
“Dark Theater” presented by Dance Heginbotham is a stunning description of emotion and synchronicity. Walking into BAM Fisher theater set in-the-round theatre, a simple eerie piano tune plays. Though the stage is empty, there is a spotlight shining on a grand piano hanging from the ceiling by chains. As the first movement of this 50 minute piece begins, the dancers enter in bright green unitards with a flurry of quick and quirky movement.

Matching the instrumentation and dynamics of the movement, each dancer parades around the stage as the lights display dramatic greens and pinks. Heginbotham often uses a mixture of limb isolation and small articulations to enhance what is happening in the score of the music.

This applies even more in the second act of the performance once the piano has descended and pianist Yegor Shevtsov enters. As he begins to play the same eerie tune heard before curtain, a spotlight appears on the ceiling where a dancer clad in the same green unitard lays, visible from below. Soon the remaining five dancers enter on one side of the stage, now with more variant costumes.

Once again employing minute articulations and complex traveling patterns, the group moves across the space. They dance around the piano, fixated on their comrade laying above. Each dancer moves as if creating each note that Shevtsov plays. It is clear the dancers' focus is aimed at the the girl in the ceiling, eventually drawing her down to their lower level. Now on the other side of the stage, the girl in green meets the group who called to her. She dances a angular and and energetic solo, inspiring each of the group to join in.

Heginbotham presents a narrative through his movement and staging, but he leaves it open enough for each audience member to walk away with a different interpretation. Every moment lands and leaves the audience desperate for more.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woler

October 31, 2013
Larry Keigwin has an easy way with dance composition. His choreography looks unforced, and although abstract, suggest relationship narratives. In his season at the Joyce Theater, Keigwin encores two and debuts two ballets.

A domestic drama, Keigwin’s popular “Mattress Suite” employs a large bed mattress as a multi-dramatic device. On either side of the vertical mattress moves a couple in anticipation of matrimonial harmony. Then the mattress falls and the frisky couples joyfully mesh until it is up righted to become the wall that separates emotional antagonisms and newfound sexual connections. While coasting over hummable, popular songs this series of vignettes traces a relationship's arc from connection to separation closing on Etta James’ soulful rendition of “At Last.”

Against the brick exposed back wall of the Joyce Theater stage, “Natural Selection” draws on the company’s amiable athleticism. Caught in clusters, dancers bend torsos down as legs shoot upwards in air born body turns. Individuals break away from the mesh of bodies, urgently traversing the stage, flipping upwards and levitating across the back wall upsetting the sense of social equilibrium. Created in 2004 to a score by Michael Gordon, “Natural Selection’s” ritualistic eruptions linger in the memory.

There is nothing mysterious about Keigwin’s New York premiere “Girls” to a string of songs by Mr. Entertainment, Frank Sinatra. Granted, whenever Sinatra is linked to contemporary choreography, the indelible image of Twyla Tharp’s “Nine Sinatra Songs” takes hold. In this case, Keigwin features three women Ashley Brown, Emily Schoen and Jaclyn Walsh wearing high-waisted pants, suspenders and shirts (by Anaya Cullen) in a whip-dash trio moving through the yellow, purple, blue and red razzle-dazzle rain curtains. Easy body contact and swivel foot turns, bump against hips swinging sideways in jazzy lilts and independent camaraderie.

The final piece created a buzz among the sharply dressed gala patrons because it featured four of NYC Ballet’s bright young talents, Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck, Daniel Ulbricht and Lauren Lovette along with Keigwin’s strong company members.

Outfitted in long, loose pants and rolled up long sleeved shirts, the men whip around women in knee length, filmy dresses performing a winning piece that has ballet dancers in bare feet (tough on dancers unaccustomed to the friction of bare skin on a bare floor) coupling and uncoupling in liquid movements that flow over the music of Adam Crystal’s “Canvas.”

Particularly surprising was Fairchild and Ulbricht’s skill exhibiting a sense of weight in knee bends and quick, little floor push offs. Men dip almost imperceptibly to the floor then pop up into raised, back leg beats. As dancers zip across the stage, there are unexpected encounters that grow into sweetly zany contemporary couple dances. A fine closing number in an engagingly programmed evening of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 26, 2013
In a feat of athleticism and grace, Ballet Inc.’s first showcase delivered an exciting night of dance. The program consisted of seven dances all choreographed by artistic director Aaron Atkins. Though there were some technical issues, Atkins’ choreography paired with a talented group of dancers, shone through. Thrust into a giant theater last minute, the company had to quickly adjust to the space. Luckily, Atikns had an able cast that managed to fill the stage with their virtuosic movements and high energy.

The lighting throughout the evening was also a hindrance to these talented dancers, as their faces were hidden and the dark costumes often blended into the dark background. That being said, the movements in each piece were still attention grabbing and allowed the audience to be drawn in. Atkins has a real talent for finding explosive moments within his choreography.

One of the standout sections of the night was the duet between Chloe Slade and Jesus Olivera in the fourth section of “Fallen Angels.” Set to a remix of Schubert’s Ave Maria, these two dancers fight to reclaim their ethereal state. Slade is lifted high into the air, and then next thing she slides into the splits, in a beautifully tense moment. All the other works also managed to contain dramatic and striking moments.

As if saving the best for last, the final piece “No Words” really highlights Atikins choreographic style. This piece illustrates an interesting sense of musicality, and each dancer gave a remarkable effort, ending the night on a high note. Ballet Inc. has set the groundwork to becoming a new company to watch in the ballet world.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

October 24, 2013
Bred on the high adrenalin, acrobatic moves composed by Elizabeth Streb, Brain Brooks presented “Run Don't Run" for his strong, eight member company Brian Brooks Moving Company.

A sheath of red wiry cloth strands (Brooks and Philip Trevino) curtains BAM’s Fishman Theater splitting the audience into two sides. Dancers thread their way through the thin wires at first forming vertical triangles with two bodies lifting one straight up between them. Breaking the rhythm, two men run across changing facings.

At various intervals dancers clasp the wires into bunches at one end so they could fan out at the other end like a horn of plenty. Every few minutes, a different sequence is repeated using different spatial levels. Dancers pass through silently walking on their knees, falling back in arches or lying on the floor. Intermittently bodies press down on the wires, or create physical pressure points between bodies.

Dressed in loose sleeveless shirts, and pants there's a casual intensity that informs the movement choreographically limited, but visually compelling “Run Don’t Run.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 24, 2013
The Houston Ballet’s program at the Joyce Theatre consists of four pieces, each more exciting than the last. With pieces by the diverse Mark Morris, Ben Stevenson, Hans van Manen, and Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch, it is a well rounded evening of dance.

First on the program is Mark Morris’ “Pacific.” Company dancers beautifully glide across the stage to the a live rendition of Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, by Lou Harris. The connection to the music and the relationship of colors between the costumes and lights, makes the piece, in usual Mark Morris fashion, easily accessible and a joy to watch.

After a brief intermission that seems to come too soon, dancers Ian Casady and Sara Webb take the stage to perform “Twilight.” From the moment the dance begins, it is clear that choreographer Ben Stevenson created this duet for these two specific dancers. Casady and Webb performed the large virtuosic movement with a quietly stunning energy. The subtlety and grace of the piece is breathtakingly beautiful.

Immediately following this duet, Jim Nowakowski dynamically enters the stage with a contrasting high energy to set the scene for “Solo.” This incredibly unique piece by Hans van Manen is brimming with non-stop, playful energy. Nowakowski’s energy is completely matched by his fellow performers, Connor Walsh and Oliver Halkowich. They each perform impressively athletic movement with such a sense of playfulness and style, that it is hard to keep from smiling as they enter and exit the stage.

“Play,” the program's final piece draws the evening to a rousing conclusion. The dancers enter the stage at the tail end of the second intermission, interacting as videos of dancing children are projected on the brick wall behind them. Stanton Welch has put together a cool, urban exploration of everyday movement as dance. Moby's driving electronic music coupled with the pedestrian costuming, including dance shoes disguised as sneakers, creates a cohesive picture of the movement. A forceful ballet, Play brings the Joyce’s program for the Houston Ballet to a strong finish.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --Annie Woller

October 23, 2013
So many legends have graced the Apollo stage, but arguably none more influential than the R & B musician James Brown. Dancers and musicians are indebted to his singular American sound and signature footwork.

Determined to celebrate an artist of our century, Miki Shepard devoted countless months to organizing "Get on the Right foot" -- a dance tribute to James Brown with PHILADANCO and a handful of individual artists. Choreographers were invited to interpret a roster off Brown's songs looped together by choreographer Otis Sallid.

On opening night, the slimmed-down Reverand Al Sharpton spoke briefly about the legend, the raw talent who influenced his hair-do and life devoted to always “Getting On The Righ Foot.”

A compendium of souldance sequences sheathed in modern dance choreography shimmy into funky club routines peppered by tap, hip-hop and Indian-dance inflected solos. One of the most impressive sights is the size of Philadanco men--- tall and muscular but lithe as a gazelle. Choreographers contributing to the evening included Souleymane Badolo, Thang Dao, Abdel Salaam,Camille A. Brown, and Ronald K. Brown.

Dressed in blue zip up jacket and loose pants topped by a bling hat, the engaging Derick K. Grant made a persuasive case for loose hipped, funk tap riffs and slides choreographed he choreograph with Sallid. In an unexpected move, hip hop dancer Ephart Asherie demonstrated girl power through the B-Boy styled quick steps and back spins and acrobatics.

But a performance by British based Aakash Odedra (of Indian and African parents) wowed the audience in his aptly titled “Ecstasy” to a tabla pumped musical selection intermingling “Get on the Good Foot,” “Make It Funky” and additional Southeast Asian sounds. The slim Odedra’s bare chest peeked through a long sheer robe over thin pants as the hypnotizing soundtrack guided his fluid body airily spinning in a large circle, looping into the floor while lightly stamping a bare foot to accent the beat. A barrage of cheers and howls interrupted his performance because rather than producing moves that imitate the music, Odedra’s kathak inflected choreography complicated and elevated the music.

Conceived by Otis Sallid, the dances linked together some of Brown’s greatest hits energetically enhanced by Philadance dancers who know how to “sell” a dance, take on 70’s styled street and club characters in their hip snapping, street-smart dances and snares. All the personalized approaches had their strong points, especially Brown's West African mix of pop and modern dance, the more visually abstract piece by Thong and Badolo's stepped up, feel good concoction.

Sallid succeeded in suggesting a sense of the street and club scene that bathed in James Browns’ mighty sound through Joan Myers Brown’s Philadanco dance company.

This program continues through Oct. 25 at the Apollo.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 21, 2013
A cloak of mystery covers Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s double-header program at BAM over the space of a weekend. Originally created for the Avignon Festival, Cesena was performed as the sun rose, En Atendant gathered momentum outdoors as the sun set.

Ghostly figures hold hands, slide sideways and kick up a little dust (literally) in the dim perimeters of light. Medieval connotations filtered through the gorgeous madrigal style singing and playing by the musicans on stage.

The afternoon offering, En Atendant first a single bent knees rises weightlessly, and drops shifting into long arm stretches or casual stances. The gesture is passed along to dancers grouped in folk-style circles and lines that filter through one another, and break off into couples. Several male solos jut through the watery movements, arms flinging, legs jabbing in the air, as torsos whip around in air turns before dropping to the floor. This whirlpool of energy that occasionally ends in a body lying lifeless on the stage, is tapped down women dancing about in little skip, walks and lightly held arms.

In the evening, a recurrent image of the right foot turned-in, dragging slightly behind the others suggests Medieval paintings of people wrapped in bandages on crutches stumbling through the era’s many ills including the Plague. A quiet intensity builds through their casual alertness and soundless jumps cut next to violent gestures. Despite the dark theme, the dancers organized their forms in strong bands of lines that bubble up into connected curves.

The concept is attributed to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Bjorn Schmelzer, created and performed by Rosas (De Keersmaeker’s Company) and graindlavoix (an early music/art collective) featuring a the excellent voiced Annelies Van Gramberen.

En Atendant opens to the sound of effortful breaths that finally produce a musical note, and the closing sound is human breath. In the Cesena dancers and musicians blend together, vocalizing and moving as social unit. Once again, physical exertion produces the sound of breath, the sound of life.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 19, 2013
Intermezzo Dance Company presented its debut at the 92nd St Y Harkness Dance Center, celebrating the music of Giuseppe Verdi. Craig Salstein, currently a soloist with American Ballet Theater, conceived the company in the hopes of creating new works in the classical ballet genre "using the music of great composers as an inspirational springboard." Upon first viewing, he is most definitely on the right track.

Dancing to live music by The Wyrick Quartet, led by Eric Wyrick, ( concertmaster of the New Jersey Symphony) the evening opened with Veils, a dramatic ballet by Raymond Lukens. The music is a specially arranged suite of dances from the opera Un Ballo in Maschera, and the action takes place at a masked ball. The five dancers: Shoshanna Rosenfield, Aran Bell, Carlos Lopez, Kurt Froman and Rina Barrantes, we're deliciously mysterious and completely involved. The choreography displayed their strong classical technique and Ms. Rosenfield stood out as 'the sorceress' with all knowing dignity and power. There were lovely duets, a fun tipsy dance for two men, bravura solos, and I long to see this danced on a stage with a backdrop and lighting.

The second half of the program centered around Verdi's String Quartet in E Minor, choreographed by four different people. Danced in simple leotards and tights in shades of black and grey, the Allegro by Marcelo Gomes, began with swirling port de bras, and diamond shaped lifts swinging laterally. It was pure dance, with some interesting hand gestures, circular groupings, and some lovely interlocking and interweaving amongst the dancers.

Lisa de Ribere created the Andantino section which was inventive and matched the music wonderfully. Stephen Hanna, Nadezhda Vostrikov, Nancy Richer and Kaitlyn Gilliland joined the group, and again their technique was evident and a true pleasure to behold. Two trios stood out, one with Ms. Rosenfield, Mr. Lopez and Mr. Froman, and Ms. Gilliland showed her special fluidity and a new strength and shape in all her movements.

Most intriguing was the Prestissimo by Adam Hendrickson. Mr. Hanna and Ms. Gilliland propped against each other with one arm and repeated the dance, each taking the others role in a conversational dialogue. It was stunning! Gemma Bond made a physical fugue with the dancers in the Scherzo Fuga. A variety of levels crated musical drama and the lifts were acrobatic and exciting.

Mr. Salstein has given dancers and choreographers a rich opportunity with this company and classical ballet has found an environment in which to grow.
EYEON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

October 19, 2013
David Dorfman’s most recent evening length dance work, ‘Come, and Back Again’, had its premiere this past weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Harvey Theater. The work takes on the ambitious task of looking at the mess a person leaves behind in their life in relation to those they love. This is done with varying degrees of success. The piece is an unabashedly personal one for Mr. Dorfman. He opens the piece with a monologue that compares himself (“a mess”) to his auspiciously organized and departed father. It also features appearances and performances from David’s wife, the lithe and stunning Lisa Race, and his son Sam.

There is a sincere and affectionate undercurrent to the work (lots of hugs, lots of forlorn stares) that is meant to remind the audience that whatever mess we do create those that we love are there to pull us out of it. This type of honest emotional outpouring is something that has become increasingly rare both in concert dance and performance art in general. Dorfman and his cast of daredevil dancers (Raja Kelly, Kendra Portier, Karl Rogers and Whitney Tucker) have a rapport with one another and the choreography that resonates to the back of the house.

The works also features live interpretations of the music of Benjamin Smoke directed by Sam Crawford. The soundtrack lends a dramatic and wrenching edge to the atmosphere on stage. The set and media design (by Jonah Emerson-Bell and Shawn Hove respectively) are seamless in their integration. The backdrop of a junkyard heap painted white serves as a metaphor of mess that, much like the rest of the piece, comes off a little too clean. There is a sense of skirting the edges of making a mess without doing so. Set pieces arrive and then leave, dancers come and go, and songs begin and end. The cyclical nature of the transitions, while making for an unsullied passage of time (you rarely notice the piece is an hour at all) doesn’t quite match the gritty nature of the sound score or the brutal honesty of the subject matter. You are waiting for the inevitable collapse (be it emotional or physical) that never comes.

All in all, the piece comes across as almost a eulogy. For what, we are not entirely sure. While a lot of the experiences came out of Mr. Dorfman’s recent brush with mortality in a car accident the incident is not mentioned at all. The dancers all wear black for the majority of the piece and there is a lot of waving but ‘goodbye’ is never heard. This may speak more to where Dorfman is in his career trajectory than anything else. He has gone to the edge and come back but what happens next remains uncertain. He stands at a crossroad where he begins to build his legacy rather than simply ‘making a mess’ albeit an artistic one. The piece leaves one feeling almost incomplete, longing for more of something inexplicable. Then again, that is probably exactly the point.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --- Chafin Seymour

October 14, 2013
Stylistically, Doug Varone’s dances are full of heart. Plump, loopy side swirls, are accented by lush drops to the ground followed by lyrical recoveries. In contrast, the company from Argentina takes the Tango as it’s kicking off point. Part of the Dance Motion USA international program, Doug Varone and Dancers collaborated with Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The new program at the BAM Fishman Theater began with Varone’s poignant “Boats Leaving” created in 2006 to the music of Arvo Part, Te Deum. This was followed by Angiel’s 8CHO a steamily airy tango suite of dances between women suspended in harnesses, lightly tromping up men’s’ thighs in spiked heels or sliding down extended legs. Once earthbound, they complete complex leg whips that curl inside and outside a partner’s legs as torsos pull together and apart.

Finally the two artists merged in what was a sensational collaboration entitled Bilingual to a score by minimalist composer Steve Reich. Dancers are mingled imperceptibly. Bodies stretch across the stage in a straight line facing upstage, they move forward and back, setting up the movement vocabulary that blends Angiel’s tango tensions en l’air and Varone’s creamy, feathery suspensions.

Instrumental to the program’s success are the riggers of the bungee harnesses. For instance, when three dancers are suspended against the backdrop, they are organized in a trill, one higher than the other. That aerial patterns are formalized by the riggers. Emotionally and rhythmically Bilingua accelerates in a slow burn as it builds from the ground to the air, and the choreography becomes more architecturally complex.

Riggers and dancers are unified in a visually extraordinary succession of contrasting movements until the final, breath-taking scene where one batch of dancers is suspended swinging side-to-side in contrast to another mass moving vertically against the backdrop. In an odd, but wonderful way, the finale echoed the visually stunning ending to Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto”—a sensational finale that builds on three different spatial layers—low, middle and high from men on their knees, next to those standing cleared by women lifted in leaps, flying through the rows of dancers.

Varone and Aniel’s creation, “Bilingua” deserves a long life.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 13, 2013
Deeply inquisitive about all forms of art, choreographer William Forsythe fiddles around with media folding movement into musical, visual and theatrical forms. How the body illuminates creative expressions rumbles around the stage through rhythmic steps and moveable cardboard planks in William Forsythe’s “Sider” an entry in this year’s BAM’s New Wave Festival.

One cardboard plank leans against another before dancers emerge dressed in all form of casual pants, shirts and hoods and soft booties suggesting wacky medieval outfits designed by Dorothee Merg. Trademark Forsythe vocabulary is released in the loose limbs, swift shifts of body weight through the feet, hips and back. Folks slide across the space, wielding cardboards twice their size and exposing existential quotes like “In Disarray” or “He Is To That As That Is To Him.”

At any given point, the cardboards break up the space and visible images along with the lights (Spencer Finch) that got to black between sections and later flickering like projector. Dollops of wit lubricate the bounding dancers, wielding boards overhead, crashing and forming a homeless style cardboard hut. Without notice, dancers spilled off the stage into the laps of audience members, eliciting a good deal of laughter.

Evidently, Sider’s rhythmic structure is based on an Elizabethan tragedy (I surmised Hamlet because I thought I saw Ophelia singing her mad song or maybe Richard III—crooked back and slimy actions). To hear the text and and movement suggestions from Forsythe, the dancers wear mini earphones while a brooding, atmospheric soundtrack by longtime collaborator Thom Willems mixes with the tect. Mainly, this sense of imbalance keeps the dancers in the present.

And at the end, the happy audience rose to its feet when the youthful grandfather in jeans and loose T-shirt, Billy Forsythe, came out to bow to the audience and his excellent company.
EYE ONTHE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 11, 2013
Three unique duets and the tour de force Men's Stories celebrated Lar Lubovitch and 45 seasons of musical and moving dance at the Joyce. The soulful clarinet duet, by Mozart, Concerto Six Twenty-Two, opened the evening with the quiet companionship of Tobin Del Cuore and Attila Joey Csiki. Their subtle embraces, interlocking arms, and generous amplitude of their solos made for a gentle transition from real world to that of the theater.

In Vez, (a re-working of the 1989 Fandango) Clifton Brown and Nicole Corea appeared sensual and dynamic. Held aloft in Mr. Brown's articulate and buff arms, Ms. Corea seemed to be both an instrument he was playing and the musical counterpoint. Clad in black velvet cropped tops and legging the couple was sleek and yet fiery, smoldering at times, yet glowing. Elements of the tango were in evidence and collaborated nicely with the new score by Randall Woolf, which was performed to live guitar and voice of Gyan Riley and Melissa Hughes.

A third duet, The Time Before The Time After, was the oldest piece, from 1970, yet it seemed not only fresh but the inspiration for so many other choreographer's who have come after Mr. Lubovitch. Dancing a tempestuous pas de deux, Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Reed Luplau expressed the effort it takes to maintain a serious relationship. At times they melted into one another, only to become agitated and frustrated, tempting and goading one another. Ms. Skarpetowska looked broken by the end, yet knowingly caressed Mr. Luplau.

The second half of the program was devoted to Men's Stories, A Concerto in Ruins. Nine men dance to original music in an audio collage by Scott Marshall, expressing simple elegance and physical prowess of male dancing. Wearing black jackets, pants, shirts and ties, the formal attire sets the scene as the actions of brotherhood unfold.

Through the exquisite port de bras and juicy, yet crisp moves of Clifton Brown, the youthful ardor of Anthony Bococinni, the passionate and clearly etched dance drama of Mr. Csiki, and the bravura technique and synchronicity of Mr. Luplau-- the piece both develops and unravels.

All nine men inhabit the piece, and yet Mr. Lubovitch's signature movements are visible. From the low attitude back with wind-swept arms and high chest arcing in space, to the elliptical arms, and the ever present circular nature of his work, the piece builds, virtually popping with male energy and sensitivity. It's easy to understand why Men's Stories, A Concerto in Ruins is considered a classic.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah WIngert

October 5, 2013
“A Rite,” a full-length collaboration between two icons, Bill T. Jones /Arnie Zane Dance Company and Anne Bogart and her SITI company, opened at BAM’s Next Wave Festival on October 3.

This is not Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring “but rather an exhilarating meditation on the cultural and historical upheavals in early 20th century and their 21st century reverberations. Composed of chards and references to the past, the piece raises a series of questions. “What is it about that particular night?” Ellen Lauren, portraying a music professor, asks about the famous opening night of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” but equally important, what lessons carry over to us today?

The lessons of war for one and the lasting effects on the veterans of all wars. SITI’s Will Bond plays a shell -shocked soldier returned from war who tries to soldier on, but whose memories of the horrors of combat take their toll and he ultimately opens fire on the performers, killing them all - a powerful image that speaks to the massacres of all wars but also to today’s senseless mass murders. Nine dancers and six SITI company actors first appear arms raised high as if in an eternal protest against all things unacceptable in our world.

They break into stomping and jumping , running in and out, clapping and lifting, as a voice rings out “We’re here because we’re here.” And here they are, actors dancing and dancers speaking, (dactors as they dubbed themselves), a memorable example of “two companies making one community” (to quote Anne Bogart).

Stools are tossed around, put down, sat on and even used as bridges to cross over uncharted territory. There is cacophony and noise aplenty but also quiet, softer moments of couples walking in pairs, separating and coming together again.

We are left with a final, indelible image. Will Bond, stage rear, runs forward behind a “curtain” of black ribbons. He moves with large, determined strides. Perhaps he is running away from all wars into a future in which generations do not have to be sacrificed. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Philippa Wehle

October 1, 2013
Jealousy planted by the villain Iago destroys Othello in Jose Limon's classic American dance The Moors Pavane. Set on American Ballet Theater, Francisco Ruvalcaba (courtesy of the Limon dance Company) as The Moore guides the fierce anger and sadness through weighted gestures and burning focus. Composed as a quartet, Thomas Forster (His Friend aka Iago) and The Moor break into competitive duets, grasping arms and pulling away in a tug of war. The two powerful male bodies entwine when Iago wraps his body around the Moor to spew venomous lies in his ear. The unsuspecting Moor's Wife (Julie Kent) is betrayed by her friend (Stella Abrera). Delicately embracing, their torsos sway sideways, and drop into cushioned deep plies as the women become entangled in a court dance that ends in violence.

Colin Dunne takes a page from Savion Glover's tap interactions with many different forms of music. A talented traditional Irish step dancer, Colin taps out an array of rhythms to the classical score composed by Linda Buckley and performed by the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Initially slapping his feet on the hard, miked wood surface the sounds emitted are hard and clear. After a bit, Colin unfurls a rug on top the raised platform so the hits reverberate and beam a deeper texture. A worthwhile tactic, the form can be further developed.

With black hats tipped sideways, the smart looking ensemble of six men swivel hips above tight overlapping steps in the audience favorite “Sombrerisimo” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa for the Ballet Hispanico. Echoing the Latin street dance culture where men dance together, the tautly pulled up dancers tip hats and don macho poses anticipating evening action. Underneath the athletic moves runs a Latin score by Banda Ionica featuring Macaco El Mono Loco, and Titi Robin. The imminently danceable music whisks the men into muscular hijinks and vertical pile-ups underscoring the company's strong male population.
Completing the program, Nacho Duato’s “Sinfonia India” -- Inspired by the ritual dances of the Mexican Indians – dancers romp to the music of Carlos Chavez. Performed by the attractive Dutch troupe Introdans, everyone moves fluently through the openly joyful steps. While arms stretch out to the side, jauntily flexed feet pivot bodies forward and back. The sunny outfits stretch into lines, and fold back into folk style circles, bountiful leaps and rounds of community bonding.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 30, 2013

Gibney Dance Center
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” Presents
EYE ON DANCE on “The Rite of Spring”
Date: Friday, Oct. 18 at 6:30pm
Location: Gibney Dance Center (890 Broadway)
EOD: TV Episode #234 (recorded in 1987)
Topic: The Unearthing of The Rite of Spring
EOD Guests:*Millicent Hodson (Dance Historian), *Kenneth Archer (Art Historian)
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987.
Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring.”
Post EYE ON DANCE DVD Screening Conversation
Guests: Beatriz Rodriguez and Carole Valleskey (Former Joffrey Ballet principals cast as “The Chosen One” in “Rite.”
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Topic: Experiencing the reconstruction of a groundbreaking piece and assessing the results.
Q & A followed by Reception
**Please note: Ms. Hodson and Mr. Archer only appear on the recorded EYE ON DANCE video.
SUMMARY: Dance historian Millicent Hodson and art historian Kenneth Archer discuss their reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The rite of spring) for the Joffrey Ballet. They describe various aspects of the original production by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1913, including the interaction of the collaborators Nikolai Roerich, Nijinsky, and Igor Stravinsky. Hodson talks about Nijinsky's transformation of the academic ballet technique, and the role played by his assistant Marie Rambert. Archer displays a costume re-created from Roerich's designs, and discusses Roerich's use of symbolism in its decorative motifs. The guests also describe their experiences in working with the Joffrey dancers, seen in several recorded excerpts from the reconstructed ballet. The program also includes a recorded interview with Rambert, in which she discusses the creation of the ballet.
For more information contact:

September 30, 2013
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” Presents
EYE ON DANCE on “The Rite of Spring”
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 at 6:30pm, Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway

Date: Friday, Oct. 18 at 6:30pm
Location Gibney Dance Center (890 Broadway)
EOD: TV Episode #234 (recorded in 1987)
Topic: The Unearthing of The Rite of Spring
EOD Guests: *Millicent Hodson (Dance Historian), *Kenneth Archer (Art Historian)
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987.
Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring.”

Post EYE ON DANCE DVD Screening Conversation
Guests: Beatriz Rodriguez and Carole Valleskey (Former Joffrey Ballet principals cast as “The Chosen One” in “Rite.”
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Topic: Experiencing the reconstruction of a groundbreaking piece and assessing the results.

Q & A followed by Reception
**Please note: Ms. Hodson and Mr. Archer only appear on the recorded EYE ON DANCE video.

SUMMARY: Dance historian Millicent Hodson and art historian Kenneth Archer discuss their reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The rite of spring) for the Joffrey Ballet. They describe various aspects of the original production by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1913, including the interaction of the collaborators Nikolai Roerich, Nijinsky, and Igor Stravinsky. Hodson talks about Nijinsky's transformation of the academic ballet technique, and the role played by his assistant Marie Rambert. Archer displays a costume re-created from Roerich's designs, and discusses Roerich's use of symbolism in its decorative motifs. The guests also describe their experiences in working with the Joffrey dancers, seen in several recorded excerpts from the reconstructed ballet. The program also includes a recorded interview with Rambert, in which she discusses the creation of the ballet.
For more information contact:

Carole Valleskey, a former principal dance with the Joffrey Ballet appeared in numerous acclaimed roles including “The Chosen One” in the recreation of the 1913 Nijinsky-Stravinsky “Le Sacre du Printemps.” Currently the Founder and Artistic Director of the California Dance Institute which is affiliated with Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute—Valleskey merges her Broadway musical theater, ballet and teaching background into an arts education focus. She completed a BA from California State University.
Beatriz Rodriguez, a former principal dance with the Joffrey Ballet appeared in numerous acclaimed roles including “The Chosen One” in the recreation of the 1913 Nijinsky-Stravinsky “Le Sacre du Printemps.” a Dance Magazine Award recipient, she is a practitioner of Iyengar yoga, a dance and ballet, teacher and coach. As a role mode for young Hispanic dancers, New Jersey Network Youth Showcase Organization presents a scholarship award in her name.
The creator, producer and moderator of the award-winning TV series EYE ON DANCE (EOD), Celia Ipiotis directs the nonprofit arts organization Arts Resources in Collaboration (ARC) that is responsible for the fundraising drive to safeguard the EOD Humanities Archive. A former dancer, choreographer, company director and videographer, Ms. Ipiotis produces the Internet cultural journal, EYE ON THE ARTS. She also lectures at universities, advises dance media projects and curates EOD and holds a BFA degree from OSU and MA from New School for Social Research.

September 28, 2013
The second Fall For Dance program at City stitched together international, urban and ballet motifs. Man and woman, two halves of the same whole formed the narrative fork of the poetically delicate and visually flavorful “Vibhakta.”

Before the dance, the soothing voice of a narrator relays an ancient myth that believes man and woman were created in one body through the power of yoga. Similarly the two dancers are symbolically coupled, one body slightly to the side and in front of the other. Ankle bells magnify the complex rhythms generated by the bare feet and the evocative musicians seated on the side of the stage. Dramatically expressive eyes flare and smile in the faces of Bijaini Satpathy and Surupa who are dressed in deep rose and saffron colored pantaloons. Chests lifted, their deeply bent knees harmoniously contrast against flexed feet and vibrating hyper-extended fingers forming an ecstatic vision of humanity.

In contrast the second piece Center “Selected Play” by 605 Collective, dressed in casual street clothes, drew on the pedestrian moves of a group that resembled a clot of abstract West Side Story gang members. Loosely hunched over, dancers casually dropping weight onto bodies and then pushing off. Set to a lightly jazzy score by Kristen Roos, at different times one person would pull away from the group mesh only to be re-absorbed.

Charlotte Broom and Christopher Akrill, artistic directors of Headspacedance, performed a duet by Mats Ek. Stretched into arabesques against an arched back, the pleasant work was an exercise in classical aplomb to a score by Sibelius.

This past year, the Dance Theater of Harlem revived its professional company. In 2002, Choreographer Robert Garland “Gloria” taps into voices like jazz and spiritual music, poets and writers that form Harlem’s rich cultural legacy. This tribute to Harlem and the company’s vibrant school spotlights school students and company members. Utterly excited young dancers stretch out in a long line of simple ballet movements, and behind them the elders feed in. Of particular notice in this charming dance was the very gifted Da’Von Doane. It is wonderful to see DTH’s solid return to the dance community.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 28, 2013
The New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies), NYC’s premiere dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, announces legendary dance historian Nancy Reynolds as the recipient of the 2013 NY Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance Award. The award will be presented at the 29th legendary Apollo Theater on Monday, October 7th Nancy Reynolds, former New York City Ballet dancer, will be honored for profoundly altering and enriching the field of dance preservation and archival research. Reynolds currently serves as Director of Research at the George Balanchine Foundation, where she conceived and continues to direct the Balanchine video archives, giving new life to his works by filming former ballet stars, on whom he choreographed principal parts, as they coach Balanchine’s work on current dancers.

This groundbreaking project, started in 1994, is a masterful conservation for future generations of dancers, often recreating dances that have been lost. To date more than 50 sessions have been filmed – accessible at more than seventy libraries around the world, including the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The project is an invaluable resource for educational institutions.

Reynolds has simultaneously published authoritative dance history books such as No Fixed Points, a nine-hundred page history of Western dance in the twentieth century, and Repertory in Review, a history of City Ballet’s repertory from 1935–1976. She edited Lincoln Kirstein’s book Movement and Metaphor and contributed to the International Encyclopedia of Dance. She directed Annual Bessie Awards ceremony at the research for Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works. Each of her books is considered an essential addition to any serious dance "Nancy's innovative project, filming original dancers from Balanchine's work as they coach younger performers, ensures that the deep body memory of that choreography can be passed on. Her project is a gift to the world and we are honored to be able to present an award that celebrates her dedication to dance history and preservation,” said Lucy Sexton, Director of the NY Dance and Performance Awards.

The Bessies, termed by The New York Times as “the dance world’s version of the Academy Awards,” will take place on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 8:00pm at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. The 2013 ceremony will mark The Bessie Awards’ third year at the Apollo Theater. Presenters include such dance royalty as Christopher Wheeldon, Meredith Monk, Steve Paxton, Desmond Richardson, Annie-B Parsons, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Joe Levasseur and Rajika Puri. Performances of work by 2012 Lifetime Achievement honoree Paul Taylor from Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Joanna Kotze and Juried Bessie Award winner Darrell Jones will also be featured.

September 26, 2013
This Wednesday marked the first night of the annual Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center. Currently in its 10 programs and dance companies through October 5.

Richard Alston Dance Company’s “The Devil in the Detail” opened the evening performance on September 25. This New York premiere pairs contemporary ballet with Scott Joplin’s ragtime music (played live by pianist Jason Ridgway). The dancers glide on and off stage, donning sunny costumes before the blue backdrop, in a series of solos, duets, trios, and fleeting ensemble work. The balletic movement ebbs into jazzier, gestural moments, giving the work a lighthearted feel. Most well-executed is the timing with the musical accents – sometimes mid-jump, other times a simple isolation, or a comedic glance.

Gabriel Misse and Analia Centurion follow with the world premiere of “Esencia de Tango,” which speaks to the history of Argentine tango. This enrapturing performance highlights Misse, Centurion along with dancers Carlos Barrionuevo and Mayte Valdes. The theatrical, passionate, aggressive nature is expected (and delivered). However, the exquisite choreography that plays with their agility in footwork is truly impressive. Their expertise in this dance style shines, which is audibly acknowledged by the audience.

Hailing from the New York City Ballet and the Het Nationale Ballet, Sara Mearns and Casey Heard, respectively, perform a powerful duet choreographed by Justin Peck (also from NYCB). The world premiere of “The Bright Motion” accentuates Mearns’ fluid strength en pointe and her laudable technique. The elegant image of her slowly lifting her left leg up and behind into a high arabesque is particularly memorable.

The opening night of the 2013 Fall for Dance festival closes with DanceBrazil’s adaption of “Fe do Sertao” (2013), choreographed by Artistic Director Jelon Vieira. With live musicians upstage in the shadows, the cast of dancers are squatting, clustered, and swatting at the air around them. Marquinho Carvalho’s music has a jungle-esque tribal feel, which spurs ahead the grounded, full-bodied motion as the dancers travel in a herd across the stage and breakaway into acrobatic capoeira.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson th year, the festival will continue with performances featuring various

September 21, 2013
Women’s long formal gowns swept the promenade floor before the opening of New York City Ballet’s Fall Gala performance. New ballets were mated with fashion designers for an intermissionless, festive evening of premieres and bling.

A brief video portrait of the working process connecting designer, choreographer and the all-important costume shop executor Marc Happel introduced each dance.

Already marked as a refreshing young choreographic talent, Justin Peck’s mirthful “Capricious Maneuvers” to a score by Lucas Foss, keeps Ashly Isaacs, Brittany Pollack, Kirsten Segin, Taylor Stanley and Andrew Veyette weaving through peppy spins and bouncy jumps. The effervescent red, white and black costumes by designer Prabal Gurung stylishly enhance the movements, particularly hip flicks and underlines the snappy tension formed by two dancers moving against three. Satisfyingly structured, Peck’s ballet is framed by a strong architectural design and a hummable musicality.

In contrast, Benjamin Millepied’s tougher dance sensibility joined forces with Nico Muhly’s modern score and Iris Van Herpen’s shiny black plastic costumes plus over-the knee, below the toe-shoe, boots resembling a neo futurist Barbarella-style. Couples vigorously grab arms and sniping legs in Millepied’s vigorous “Neverwhere.”

Firmly performed by Emilie Gerrity, Sterling Hyltin, Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon, Tyler Angle and Craig Hall, the dancers made a “squish squish” sound as they moved, interjecting live noises into Muhly’s score. Losing focus when the dancers gather into large group sections, Millepied is best when he splits dancers into taut couples.

The final premiere by Angelin Preljocaj takes a turn towards experimental gothic expressionism. “Spectral Evidence” -- a piece that might also be called “Dancers Vampire Diaries” -- takes its cues from the Salem witch trials. Men in smart black suits and white preacher collars march around the women in white outfits streaked in red by Olivier Theyskens. They move to the chants and spoken recitative by the grand master of avant-garde music John Cage.

Initially women materialize from behind white slabs, cover mens' eyes with their hands that turns into a rousing, all-male tribal throb. Intent on gnawing, I mean seducing the men, the women in soft shoes, shift loose torsos sideways and back while circling their heads. Robert Fairchild lashes out and slashes the air with his arms finally succumbing to some spirit that force
s him to lip-sync. Although the audience was not audibly amused, I suspect many parts of the ballet were meant tongue-in-check. Maybe when everyone relaxes the humor will assert itself?
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 17, 2013

On a crisp fall evening under a nearly full moon, Oskar Eustis, Director of The Public Theater and Arlene Shuler, Director of City Center, welcomed dance back to the Delacorte stage. For many summers in 1960, 1970 and 1980 folks lined up to see freewheeling modern dance companies. At that time, the atmosphere was always charged by anticipation and drugs, and in 2013, on the 10th Anniversary of Fall For Dance the audience was back—still excited, but not so high.

This program of four works spotlighting Streb Extreme Action Company, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, New York City Ballet and Paul Taylor Dance Company appeared without the benefit of curtains, sets or wings and could easily be called “Dance Exposed.”

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Streb’s opening entrée “Human Fountain” was a natural for outdoors. A forty-foot high, three level catwalk like metal structure towered in the center and below sat a large square of plush, white cushions. Dancers in red, skintight unitards streamed across the front, then climbed the structure and began peeling off the platforms arching backs in mid-air, twisting and snapping body parts before landing on the cushions. Bodies spilled Granted, dancers spilling from such heights, landing within inches of other bodies produced heart-stopping thrills, but the beauty came from the musically designed patterns and pauses and choreographed variations on a theme of bodies in flight affectively trilling over Mozart’s music.

New York City Ballet’s sharply structured “Red Angels” by Ulysses Dove featured Maria Kowroski, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jennie Somogyi and Chase Finlay along with electric violinist Mary Rowell playing the music of Richard Einhorn live on-stage. A bracing work that gets cheers during City Ballet seasons, the chilly air seemed to make the dancers a bit cautious. Couples attract and repel each other. One after another, they strut into view, unfurl legs skyward, deploy arms straight out to the side as toe shoes drill furiously into the ground until legs snap out in a wide bent-kneed stance with one heel lifted and bodies spread into the iconic arabesque—on pointe—no support. The ultra-precise movements and architectural symmetry gives “Red Angels” the look of elite, post-modern voguing.
EYE ON THE ARTS—Celia Ipiotis

Ronald K Brown/ Evidence brought a piece entitled Upside Down, from 1989. Amidst some green and blue smoke, this West African dance by Mr. Brown was full of swinging arms, a pulsing beat and colorful costumes by Brenda Gray. The first part was a ritual, a premonition of community mourning. While the men clustered in a group, the women skipped in a spiraling circle around them. The second section was performed to live music performed by the singer Oumou Sangare, super-chic and cool in her headscarf, batik peplum top and pants. Soft, undulating hips, and small, intimate gestures allowed the dancers to express sincere emotion, until the entire stage burst into vibrant wind milling swirls of energy. There was stand out dancing from Solomon Dumas and Annique S. Roberts, who performed with clarity and obvious joy.

Paul Taylor's Esplanade brought the evening to a magnificent close. The soft peach/pink costumes combined with the walking, skipping, and running of the opening movement seemed heightened against the night sky and moon. A feeling of generosity permeated this ballet, offering an invitation to simply enjoy dance. As the second section unfolded, a sense of longing, mystery and pain emerged--especially visible in the intimate connection between Michael Trusnovec and Jamie Rae Walker. It was especially poignant to see the dancers drop to their knees (usually covered by the wings) and begin to crawl onto the stage, as well as provide a hand to catch one another from a flying exit. Michelle Fleet possessed an honest sense of fun in her dynamic skittering solo, and Parisa Khobdeh was wild and brave in her leaps and rolls and slides. By the end it was hard to tell if Mr. Trusnovec was being blown by the wind in this most beautiful of settings...or if his dancing was creating the crisp breeze!
Fall For Dance at the Delacorte was hosted by The Public Theater--and we hope, many more!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Deborah Wingert

September 15, 2013
Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Professional Development Program premiered Brooklyn-based dance company Leimay’s cerebral and multi-disciplinary world premier “Becoming-Corpus” at the BAM Fisher theatre. The performance was an experience of visuals created by lighting design, sound recordings, and manipulation of the human body.

The contrast of meditative stillness and extreme physicality, as well as hypnotical motions, re-conceived the human body. As if clay molded by the lights, sounds, and concept, the dancers became purely physical— skin, organs, faces, muscle, bone—bodies writhing. While the movement might otherwise have been grotesque and sexual, the dancers, stripped of their humanity, were molds expressing a visual, and the obscenity was an afterthought.

“Becoming-Corpus” is one example of the versatile performance and visual artwork specific to choreographer Ximena Garnica, and her partner, video and installation artist Shige Moriya, the duo who direct Leimay. This newest work was accompanied by an art installation at BAM Fisher’s Peter Jay Sharp Lobby, which underscored the work’s atmospheric suspension and dislocation of time and space. Seamlessly constructed, the work successfully created a world of disconcerting disorder that redefined space, time, and the human body. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock-Lewis

September 8, 2013
Celebrating their 10th Anniversary season this year, Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre took the stage at BAM’s Fisher Theater in an evening program filled with athletic contemporary dance and eclectic sound schemes, featuring two world premieres.

Opening with choreographer Dusan Tynek’s 2010 work, "Base Pairs," seven dancers careen in and out of angled formations, their facing and focus ever-evolving. This work marks Tynek's reaction to the debate on banning the study of evolution from curriculum, with which he disagreed. His dancers press on through movement series, at times as simple as a sharp look to the right, quickly building to more intricate moments of lifts, or fleeting, abstract partner work. Their white leotards each have a skeletal design splayed on them. An unrelenting metronome ticks for the fifteen-minute piece, the only escape being a recording of Lucinda Childs husky voice reading a poem by Cynthia Polutanovich which evokes a couple’s erotic encounter.

For those not familiar with the Czech-born Tynek, who has developed his own Brooklyn-based company, he was greatly influenced by modern dance legends Lucinda Childs and Merce Cunningham. This is immediately evident in “Base Pairs,” and in his following world premieres, as they each keenly draw upon the abstract, modern dance structure and its physicality.

But it’s not all about technique, lines, and pictures. Going a step further this season, Tynek scrapped the norm of using “music,” instead presenting an entire evening of dance accompanied by many a non-traditional sound score. Furthermore, each of the three dances was inspired by another layer - explorations of specific ideas from science and mythology.

The world premiere of "Romanesco Suite" takes on the theory of fractals (the repetition of patterns). Accompanied by noise reminiscent of footsteps crunching through the woods, the dancers - donning multi-colored shorts and graphic t-shirts - peel in and out of various paths. The liquidity of the work’s rhythm is layered with sudden pauses and shifts to audible jumps and stomps. Organic transitions take the dancers from their feet, up and over into a lift, tumbling back to the floor, continuing on their way through this obstacle course that they all seem to be at home in.

"Stereopsis" (which literally means "the ability to perceive depth”) is a primal, rhythmic work that conjures the island of Cyclops in Homer's "The Odyssey." The work creates a whirlpool through movement, with dancers ebbing in and out of a circular path, criss-crossing and discovering new partners. Tynek himself performs, twisting and contracting in the dim orange lights, cryptically speaking the words of Cynthia Polutanovich’s graphic and eerie poem, also entitled “Stereopsis.”

The female dancers are in billowing purple tops, while the male dancers wear brown cut-out leotards; all have brown-fringed cuffs at their ankles. This work plays up the drama, and the dancers step back against the wall to join in the recitation of words, and repeated phrases from the poem. Their voices, auto-tuned and echoing, resound from the speakers. Those moving through the space continue to serve as instruments through integrated rhythms of their shuffling feet and verbal exclamations, “Huh!” The lights dim as the group unwinds from their circle marching off into the darkness.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

September 6, 2013
Dušan Týnek and his eight member company, Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre, convinced the public of his ascending stature in the modern dance scene of New York during the Opening NIght performance of his 10th anniversary season.

With audience seated on three sides of the stage, Base Pairs (2010) opened the evening with seven dancers costumed in white cut-off unitards, designed with literal and figurative skeletal and organ parts stenciled around the dancer’s center (costumes: Karen Young and Ceri Isaac). A passionate love poem by Cynthia Polutanovich narrated intermittently by the dispassionate voice of Lucinda Childs and a constantly beating metronome in an upstage corner, became the musical influence as the dancers connected and disconnected in unison, duets, trios, and quartets, circling and lining up in numerous configurations, completing the theme which started the fifteen minute piece: the fleeting vulnerability of relationships as time marches on.

Romansco Suite, a World Premiere features 8 dancers dressed in various colored pedestrian styled tee shirts and shorts (costumes: Dušan Týnek). The Cunningham influence on Týnek is evident as he juxtaposes slow, medium, fast walks, runs, and dance patterns framing and intruding on partnered vignettes. Dave Ruder creates a sonic sound design, overlaid with pedestrian sound effects, and, once again, as in the first piece, Týnek sets up a theme... this time of spatial pathways and movements at the outset, then explores the many possible configurations to completion with his versatile and facile dancers.

Another World Premiere, Stereopsis, which refers to “a way of seeing multiple perspectives all at once” closed the evening. Based on a contemporary poem by Cynthia Polutanovich, which alludes literally to the sea journey of the Greek Ulysses, the piece opens in darkness as Týnek stands alone on stage, speaking the text, and of the haunting mystery of the soul, lost and searching. Eight dancers in paired partnerships circle and surround him, incorporating aggressive angular arms and fisted hands, costumed by Karen Young in ancient Grecian looking brown leotards and boots adding lavender blouses on the women.

The 30 minute piece evolves as the dancers become a Greek chorus, calling out and responding with guttural sounds, vocalizations, and excerpts from the text, all of this exaggerated with sound amplification and reverberation... concluding with all dancers circling in unison at the end, expressing in dance and voice what words can never say: the inexplicable mystery of life and experience.
EYEON THE ARTS, NY --Mary Seidman

August 25, 2013
LaMama Theater was host to Drive East: A Journey Through Indian Music and Dance, a week long festival. On Saturday evening Kalamandalam Shanmughan, performed a solo from the 18th century, Rare Arts of Kerala.

Performing in the style of dance theater called Kathakali, this example combined masterful makeup, stylized gestures full of nuance, and rhythmic stamping. The makeup and costuming was done by Kalamandalam Sukumaran and is said to take 6 hours.

The red, green, white and black colors create separate zones on the face and the whites of the eyes were made red. I have never been so taken with watching a performers eyes as I was here. Every movement was expertly musical and each look registered as specific and different. The costume included a white hoop skirt and included the same colors as the makeup, as well as many gold chain beads around the neck, golden bracelets and epaulets, and jingling bells attached at the knees. A magnificent head piece completed the look with a multi colored and sparkling tower.

The story is based on the childhood recollection of the character Ravana, and is an excerpt from the play Ravanobhavam ( Birth of Ravana). Viswanath Kaladharan introduced the the young anti-hero and gave a synopsis of the story, which tells of his rigorous penance to receive boons from Lord Brahma, in the hope of gaining his favor.

Subtle at first, the dance unfolded into simple shifts of a pinkie, or forefinger--then, a palm or sole of the foot is displayed to the audience, combined with gentle rocking of the pelvis creating a sense of drama. Only the left hand was decorated with pointy silver fingernails, making the circular gestures stand out.

As the movements began to grow in scope, the intensity increased, matching the percussive recorded music. And always present were those magical and expressive eyes! With his body swaying, Mr. Shanmughan walked with power, stamping and yelling as the piece built to its culmination. His focus, detail, and concentration never flagged and his energy throughout was extremely impressive

The program stated that there would be sub-titles in English shown simultaneously with the recital, and that would have been helpful. Even so, the narration of the story stayed with me and the dance was mesmerizing and immensely satisfying.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

August 5, 2013
“Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as a natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the ‘higher’ against the ‘lower’ races.”—W.E.B. Du Bois

These words head the program notes for Kyle Abraham’s “Pavement” which was shown this past Thursday at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. I was already feeling relatively dark considering the exceptionally rainy weather but those of us that toughed it out were treated to a work that, while bleak in tone, touches on found moments of joy, beauty and quiet within a setting it is rarely found.

“Pavement” is a reinterpretation of John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood set in Abraham’s native Pittsburgh. With the city’s historically black neighborhoods of Homewood and Hill District as a backdrop, the piece creates an emotional time capsule of early 90s nostalgia when the state of the black male in urban America was just as dire as it is today but in a way that was more readily discussed.

What sets this work apart is the ability to successfully synthesize elements from pop culture with those more directly associated with “high art". Abraham’s movement tends towards an accented mix of ballet, modern and hip hop infused floor work. The sound score ranges from ambient electronic and opera music to score and sound from Singleton’s film. With all these elements at play it is easy for piece like this to feel cluttered. However, Abraham successfully navigates the usual pitfalls of abundance and is able to distill his ideas into an eloquent statement on race, masculinity, urban decay and the intersection of each. What keeps the message clear is the choice of images and moments of pause that are pulled out and elongated to give time to digest the otherwise swirling mix of bodies, bravado and gunfire.

Abraham takes the time to properly evoke his setting: through physicality (an inserted hand dap, a chest pop), celebrity references in dialogue (“Nah son, Oprah definitely has more money than Michael Jackson!”), or the clever stage setting (a net-less basketball hoop and backboard that double as a projector screen, sneakers hanging on a wire).

He then fills it with a cast of colorfully depicted characters, both in costume and performance. The dancers’ sweeping elegance and nuanced physicality resonated even through the rain soaked night. Mr. Abraham himself makes a spirited turn as a kind of Griot narrator that ranges in role from one of the “fellas” to the brother on the corner asking for change.

The final image leaves a lasting impression. A pile of prostrate bodies hands symbolically placed behind the back lie in the space; videos of the demolition of a public housing compound plays on the backboard and Donny Hathaway softly croons as the lights fade. There is a resignation here, an acceptance of being restrained in a subsidiary position that lies at the edges of this piece. subsidiary position that lies at the edges of this piece. With the recent Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict and the bevy of vehement reactions to it, artistic works that generate at least a discussion of the issues examined in this piece are more important than ever. “Pavement” stands apart as one the first work to do so in a way that does not pander or preach simply but simply “is”.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --- Chafin Seymour

July 28, 2013
Cedar Lake 360 ° Installation is a three week summer intensive program in which 32 dancers are chosen to learn about the discipline and etiquette expected of professional dancers. Each day the dancers have a daily ballet class with Karin Averty or Nina Goldman, and then go on to learn the diverse repertory of Cedar Lake.

Chess, is the culmination of their work. In two groups, Blue and Red, 16 students performed alongside several of the Cedar Lake Company dancers in their Chelsea home. Jon Bond, Rachelle Scott, Ebony Williams, Jason Kittelberger and Acacia Schachte created the original choreography and the audience is encouraged to move around and view the work which takes place on various stages around the perimeter of the center floor stage. Two white strips of marley floor are maneuvered into different runways or aisles and the dancers dance on, next to, or around them. Most people stood rather still, turning in place to view the action around them, but if one moved, the piece grew in scope and the angles changed the way each dancer was viewed. It was wonderful to get closer.

The lighting, designed by Clifton Taylor, set the mood and focused the attention in the space. Each stage was illuminated purposely or left dim to create mood and space for the dances to unfold. There was a wooden muti-level series of perches that 3 dancers climbed on, eventually sitting, as if animals in repose. As the dancers passed between the audience to get to and from their dance zone, it was quite a thrill to feel their presence and experience the intensity of purpose and focus. One woman was filming and company dancer Guillaume Quéau circled, interrupting her, causing her to acknowledge his proximity. I was envious of this intimacy.

Original composition, arranged by Jasper Gahunia, consisted of a variety of musical pieces edited to enhance the movement. Make up and hair by Matthew Rich and Molly Weinreb, and the costumes, (also by Mr. Rich) showed off their youth, and chiseled muscles while adding a glamourous edge.

These impressive students were brave and persevered through some difficult partnering and falls. An improvisation structured by Billy Bell and Navarra Novy- Williams provided a current example of the demands inherent in contemporary work. Each dancer was committed and seemed to grow as the piece progressed.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deobrah Wingert

July 26, 2013
Lincoln Center Out of Doors was the place to be on Wednesday July 24. Swarming throughout Hearst Plaza, hundreds of New Yorkers, from toddlers to adults, shuffled in herds to catch a glimpse of Mark Dendy's "Ritual Cyclical" - a dance experience happening before, behind, between them.

This world premiere was inspired by Dendy's reflection on the notion that, "a person living in New York City is exposed to potentially 220,000 or more people within a ten minute radius of their home or workplace in a given day." His eighty dancers traveled through crowds, splashed in the reflecting pool, and coiled within inlets of the Met Opera's widows, all performing a work that no one person could possibly absorb in its entirety. In fact, there were hundreds in attendance who witnessed a wholly different performance than I - seemingly Dendy's case in point. The only constant was in the music echoing from the speakers by the Kronos Quartet.

Dancers made themselves known initially by moving towards the pool, led by some hypnotizing draw, starring at the water, touching it and passing it back to others. Most dressed in white, they huddle by a corner of the pool, shifting in group movements: arms raised with wrists flicking, crouched and undulating in ripples, shaking in a collective tremor. Meanwhile, dancers Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves pace through the kneedeep water, circling each other. Following a lift, Reeves dips Krogol hair first into the water, triggering a dial up in the duet's intensity. A man with ripped jeans and a striped tie around his head darts in and out of the pool's bystanders, mumbling and shaking at times.

Behind us in the grove, dancers in royal blue prance and turn, pausing to embrace a tree or hop over benches that encase the area. I step over a sprawled out dancer with a neon Con Ed vest on, walking towards the passageway, between the Met Opera and the grove, which houses a group of jewel-toned, gowned dancers, and a man in a suit. The jazzy, social dance sequence expands, movements sweeping up and over the benches. The tie-on-head character returns, rolling out from under a bench and running off somewhere.

To the left, something very unrelated is happening: a group dressed in camouflage steals nearby attention as they settle into the pose famously recognizable as the Iwo Jima flag raising - American flag and all. Suddenly dozens of dancers sprint towards a stage set outside the Lincoln Center Theater, hundreds following to see; I pass a dancer atop a window sill, ripping up newspaper and letting it blow into the crowd.

A male soloist takes to the stage with Charles Ives' "They Are There" playing, but is soon overcome by shouts - "Fight, Fight, USA, USA, Strength is Freedom" - and Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner" (as rearranged by Stephen Prutsman and Kronos). Six male dancers embody their camouflaged outfits, with combat-inspired, athletic movement. But it's not over yet...they strip their olive green to reveal white-silver hot shorts, instantly bobbing into an Elvis Presley stance. A vixen in black velvet pushes through and together they continue to Elvis-impersonate their way to the show's finale.

The hour-long work, though interspersed with fleeting picturesque moments of movement, refuses to find a niche within the average dance-lover's expectations. Rather, it emphasizes absolute randomness - perhaps that which colors the New York City streets daily.

Mark Dendy's "Ritual Cyclical" was presented as a part of Lincoln Center Out of Doors' "Kronos at 40" program, continuing through Sunday July 28.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

July 21, 2013
Dance Works Unhinged is a benefit for the Ailey Dancers Resource Fund, which provides dancers with career transition grants, creative endeavor grants and emergency loans. While preparing for their upcoming tour in September, as well as learning a new work by Azure Barton, for December, the dancers of the Ailey Company created new choreography for one another.

The Saturday evening performance demonstrated the dancers' talent and passion. Opening with Elegiac Lament, choreographed by Jamar Roberts, six women of Ailey got to shine. Dancing in orange silk dresses, (also by Mr. Roberts) Sarah Daley, Ghrai DeVore, Demetia Hopkins, Megan Jakel, Rachel McLaren, and Akua Noni Parker were visions of feminine power and grace, dancing to jazz by Alice Coltrane.

Sincerely Erika, by Jermaine Terry, was a pulsing, broken solo for Belen Pereyra, who danced with breathtaking conviction. Sean Carmon choreographed All These As You Please to "Idem the Same" ( spoken word) from "A Completed Portrait of Picasso" by Gertrude Stein. Edgy posturing, sassy hips, and expressive faces created a flirtatious environment which showed off the personalities of its three ladies: Ms. DeVore, Jacqueline Green and Fana Tesfagiorgis. Mr. Carmon also designed the slinky t-shirt dresses they wore. ( I would buy one in a second!)

Ms. Jakel performed Improv #1, to live accompaniment composed and performed by Kwami Coleman. Wearing a black and nude bodysuit, designed by Dante Baylor, the graphic angles and cutouts were a wonderful counterpoint to her quirky, swishy, dynamic musical responses to the music.

Closing the first half was Chemical Water, choreographed by Yannick Lebrun. It was danced to mélange of tribal sounding music which transported us to the jungle...amazons with arabesques! Each woman had moments to shine.

In the second half, classical music reigned, beginning with a a witty duet to Bach's Fugue from Sonata No. 2, entitled Next of Kin, by Marcus Jarrell Willis. Matthew Rushing danced alongside Mr. Willis in a comic yet heartfelt duet. Wearing khaki shorts, button down short sleeve shirts and bow ties, the two cavorted, pranked, shimmied and embraced.

Intermezzo was a lyrical pas de quatre for Ms. Daley, Ms. Pereyra, Samuel Lee Roberts and Jermaine Terry danced to music of Ryuichi Sakamoto. With choreography by Kanji Segawa, the dancers flaunted their balletic line, grace and ease of partnering.

The choreography of Kirven Douthit-Boyd in Light As Air highlighted the graceful, elegance and exquisite line of Alicia Graf Mack. It was a lush solo performed to "Courant d'air" by Renee Aubry, and was a jewel.

The evening closed with Just Move, by Hope Boykin danced to the allegro from Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. Ms. Jakel, Ms. McLaren, Mr. Terry and MIchael Francis McBride brought the challenging choreography to life with vibrant technique and expressive musicality.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert musicality and joy of life!

July 15, 2013
Tap icons and lesser-known talents shared the stage at Symphony Space on during American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap Internationals: Global Rhythm program. Presenting an updated cultural and global perspective on tap, a style that began on plantations in the 1800’s, Artistic Director Tony Waag shared an array of tap from around the world.

With a variety of instruments used for live accompaniment and an extensive supply of props and costume accessories, each piece brought something new, keeping the energy high and the choreography fresh. While the incorporation of elements from cultures around the globe put a unique spin on tap dance, using this historically American dance style as a bridge between cultures proved to be a challenge.

The standout performances of the evening were the pieces designated as “USA.” The first dance on the program, performed by Corey Hutchins, was an impressive opening. Hutchins showed off his incredible agility, making apparent the growth of tap dance and what the feet are now capable of doing. While Cicilia Yudha’s tender and dynamic solo from “Germany/Indonesia” was a one-of-a-kind perspective, using shoes with seemingly impossible sensuality, Brenda Bufalino, American tap icon, received much more stage time and appreciation after her refined precision of tap moves she had learned from the original masters.

Toward the end of the program, Ryan Johnson, a hip and playful soloist, danced an updated and current version of American tap. Using his body as percussion, the audience’s applause as part of the show, and without any tap shoes, Johnson’s body morphed into a drum-set playing hip-hop rhythms at a club.

Tap Internationals presented a plethora of talent, ranging from a group of talented students to famed dancers. Even though the range of cultural theme was at times contrived, confused, or unclear, the variety of the show offered enormous opportunity for showcasing the range and possibilities of tap dance in cultures.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock Lewis around the world.

June 30, 2013
The New York Philharmonic made magic in A Dancer's Dream at Avery Fisher Hall. The charming conductor, Alan Gilbert, introduced the program, Stravinsky's "Le Baiser de la feé, (The Fairy's Kiss)" and "Petrushka. Opening with a tutorial mimed by Mr. Gilbert to his recorded voice, he rehearsed the audience for an important 'scream,' to be performed later, leading us into the madcap antics of Doug Fitch, director and designer of this production.

With projections, cutouts, puppets, cameras and the exquisite dancing of Sarah Mearns, the orchestra's lush sound filled the Hall, creating a magical world. In fact, Ms. Mearns wandered to the stage from a seat in the house as a projection of snow became actual falling snow accompanying her ascent. Dramatic dance choreography by Karole Armitage showed why Ms. Mearns is a leading dancer of our time. Her ability to inhabit this world of close-up camera shots projected in real time combined with her luscious, natural technique, beckons the audience to follow her.

At times the props, films, and little models compete with the dance for our attention....and they are marvelous! From yodelers and goats, to a bulging cheese wheel with a tiny train running through it, to icicle light sabers, we are whisked into the dream. Based on the haunting story of The Ice Maiden by Hans Christian Andersen, Ms. Mearns, and Amar Ramasar, (both principals from New York City Ballet) win by drawing us into their spell through their excellent dancing.

Mr. Ramasar begins as a Bunraku puppeteer, waltzing a white jacket and mask enticingly with Ms. Mearns. Her solo matched the oboe, pushing and reaching, and their duets were romantic and tender, full of deep arabesques, effortless pirouettes and high flying leaps.

All is well until a shadow crosses the moon and a dancing shadow (a gypsy danced with mesmerizing intensity by Abbey Roesner) calls her back to the Ice Queen. Ms. Mearns sends a pleading look, as cutout snowflakes return to the screen, revolving slowly, and she kneels down, overcome by finding love and the experience of losing it. Tears welled up in her eyes as she bowed, and many in the audience were equally moved.

Petrushka began at the Shrovetide Fair, and introduced the comic and whimsical orchestra as players in the story. Wearing Russian hats and scarves, drinking tea from a samovar, and reveling in the fairground atmosphere, the musicians were filmed by a camera and projected as the story unfolded. Many seemed to relish the games of "musical chairs" and the chance to dance and act a bit.

Two opera singers ( Eric Owens/ the Moor, and Anthony Ross Costanzo/ Petrushka) were the silent film stars, along with Ms. Mearns as the ballerina. In a flower embellished pink tutu, (designed by Irina Kruzhilina) she showed her desire for the Moor, and her disdain for Petrushka. Folk dancing matryoshka, a spinning ferris wheel and carousel, and an acrobatic bear dancing in a ball, ( the audience participation/ scream moment!) added to the frivolity of the light hearted story. As the live-action Moor, Mr. Gilbert was effective as he disposed of the puppet, Petrushka, walking into the audience and bringing the evening back to reality.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

June 28, 2013
Constantly exploring different aspects of music, tap dancer and musician, Savion Glover enters the rhythmic center of jazz, classical and popular music in his program STePZ at the Joyce Theater. Back for another season, Glover and his dancers (each season he gathers a pick-up company of tap colleagues) breezed through a two-part program that never lagged in spontaneity and sparked wide swathes of technical prowess.

Always acknowledging his long-gone peers, the tap masters who formed his tap ethos, Glover set up two sets of staircases referencing the great tap hero of films Bill Robinson and the unbeatable team of The Nicholas Brothers. A worthy counterpart, Marshall Davis Jr. tapped across from him as they traded phrases like jazz musicians in an improvisatory jam. The women Ayodele Casel, Sarah Savelli and Robyn Watson, carried different meters in the their bodies, lighter and sultrier than the men who sped into the more athletic range of taps and clicks, slides and spins.

Glover continues to discover new sounds in his taps. The tonal structure varies depending on where his tap hits, and the thud of his heel underscores the bass rhythm anchoring the toe’s rippling crescendos.

Performing to taped music on an amplified (mic’d) wooden platform, Glover shot percussive rhythms across Shostakovich, Stevie Wonder and towering jazz figures like John Coltrane, Charlie “Bird” Parker and Miles Davis.

In a mesmerizing moment, Glover’s foot began vibrating tapping out a beat peppering the Shostakovich score, and continued for what felt like 5 minutes. A cunning dancer dedicated to expanding the reaches of tap, Glover is an artist to see—and see—and see again.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 28, 2013
Certainly setting the tone for the evening deemed equal parts music and dance, vocalist Helga Davis's performance of "WANNA, for Lar" welcomes the audience, giving a stunning a capella performance highlighting her keen ability to reel in her voice in diminuendo. This opening tribute to choreographer Lar Lubovitch was just the first in the Tuesday, June 25 celebration of his work and company upon entering their 45th Anniversary Season.

Next up in the "Capture/Release: A Celebration in Honor of Lar Lubovitch" program, was company member Katarzyna Skarpetowska's world premiere of "Listen, Quiet." Instantly it creates a curious world with: the cello and percussion players on stage in the midst of dancer Nicole Corea's and Red Luplau's abstract partner work; the projection of a wooded area and a slowly seated, torso-shifting, nude woman along with images of floating paper; and the use of holiday ornaments and seashells as hanging drums as well as a typewriter for clicking audio.

The duo of dancers join and separate. Sometimes, together, they jaggedly move over one another on the floor, other times one sits by a musician and watches the other spirals into a brief solo or series of repetitive movement. Paola Prestini's diverse music adds to the eccentric landscape of the work, and the dancer's movement seems to suggest a sense of loss, perhaps frustrated struggle, within this unknown world.

Alternating back to music, Andy Akiho's "LIgNEouS 1" uses violins, a viola, cello, and marimba, as a projected doodle winds and curves throughout the piece across the black backdrop.

Lubovitch's 2011 work, "Crisis Variations" highlights dancers Skarpetowksa and Brian McGinnis as they pull away from the ever-moving huddle of bodies enwrapping the space. Following is the world premiere of composer Daniel Wohl's "Capture/Release" which works in an electronic vibe and dramatic pauses and accents.

The treat of the evening came in the in the finale - Lubovitch's world premiere of "As Sleep Befell," pinning six male dancers within a horseshoe of musicians and vocalist Davis in the center before a projection of light streaming through grey clouds. Everyone in white (even the musicians), there is an inherent angelic sense aesthetically, and the choreography makes a unit of the six men, each rippling through fluid patterns, often physically connected. Prestini's music takes a turn for the more upbeat, echoed by the dancers jutting their weight onto their forearms before fully extending onto the floor, or their bodies pulsing side to side in a more jazzy feel.

"Capture/Release: A Celebration in Honor of Lar Lubovitch" was a one-night only performance co-presented by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pace University, VisionIntoArt, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company as a part of the River To River Festival 2013. This annual, free festival - which continues through July 15 - offers over 150 activities including dance, music, film, theater, installations, literature, and visual art over the course of a 30 days.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

June 23, 2013
Head down, the vile sorcerer charges the innocent Swan Queen, Odette and her beloved Siegfried. Fear permeates the grand finale because the ram-headed sorcerer, Roman Zhurbin knows how to inject high theatricality into the tragic classical ballet, Swan Lake. Seconds after the sorcerer threatens the couple, Odette (Isabella Boylston) races to the back of the stages, runs up a hill and pitches herself over the cliff into the beyond. In short order, Prince Siegfried, Danil Simkin follows and springs even higher and arching his back into a flying fish dive disappearing in the nether-world.

Prior to this point, technique trumped theatrical interpretation. An American Ballet Theater soloist, Isabella Boylston does not have to worry about strength. In the past, she proved capable of executing difficult steps and demonstrated a knack for comic roles. Her partner, Daniel Simkin is sympathetic and a diamond sharp technician. They seem to like each other well enough, but more like brother and sister---not “until death do us part” lovers.

Swan Lake tests a ballerina’s technical and theatrical mettle. Ephemeral and silken, Odette glides through space, communicating tenderness and anxiety in the light ripple of her arms, supple feet and extended arabesques. Then in Act III, the evil, tantalizing twin Odile appears, arms and legs piercing space. Better suited to the Odile role, Boylston plunged into the driving arabesques and breathless double fouette turns without fully revealing the explosive personality in her physical demeanor or face. At times, Boylston held her hands as if protecting a manicure, disconnecting arms from body. It will take a while for the narrative to filter into her fibers.

Simkin’s refined, slim body bounds weightlessly in feathery leaps, keeping beats tightly knitted, while attentively escorting Boylston. In the Pas de Trois, Misty Copeland, Simone Messmer and Joseph Gorak were a charming trio, with Messmer featuring a dignified and bountiful expressiveness. The all-important corps draws on the power of synchronized movement, occasionally suffering from inconsistencies in the leg positions and rhythms.

Set to the lush music of Peter Tchaikovsky conducted by Ormsby Wilkins, Swan Lake is choreographed by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --- Celia Ipiotis

June 20, 2013
The Wednesday evening performance of Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance gave audiences a snippet of the larger Musa! Festival - a collaborative effort to showcase dance and live music spearheaded by Cherylyn Lavagnino along with choreographers Zvi Gotheiner and Dušan Týnek. Over the course of the two-week festival they presented several shared evenings of dance, and two solo evenings each at Baruch Performing Arts Center.

With a grand piano and music stand set up downstage, pianist Evelyn Ulex and bandoneonist JP Jofre are the first to enter: the duo's live musical accompaniment certainly has a flare and a tango-esque feel, which aligns well with Cherylyn Lavagnino's opening ballet, "Compadre." Most intriguing is how "Compadre" is also performed by a duo, dancers Justin Flores and Ramona Kelley, with a great deal of movement in close vicinity of the musicians.

It allows for the audience to share focus, and view the both pairs both as equals in the performance - which worked extremely well, though is unfortunately not a common practice when it comes to dance with live music. The movement is speckled with intricate partner work - particularly in the lifts - and with the music setting the tone, the dance achieves a subtle sultriness.

The second and final work on the program is the full, three-movement ballet, "Treize en Jeu," performed to recorded music featuring musicians Jane Chung (violin), Sarah Biber (cello), and Andrea Lam (piano). However, this piece did appear with live music on several other dates throughout the festival.

In simple, elegant black costumes by Rabiah Troncelliti, a cast of thirteen dancers enter and exit the space in a series of solos, pas de duex, trios, and corps de ballet sections. The all-male portion of the choreography is outshined by that of the ladies' and the partnering; dancer Ramona Kelley stands out as well in her poised yet cunning persona in performance.

"Treize en Jeu" exemplifies Lavagnino's tendency to blend contemporary movement within the framework of traditional ballet. Not only do the dancers beam with smiles from time to time (always nice to see), their movements transition from classic and picturesque to angular, palmsdown straight arm work, and recurring poses with a hand poised on a released hip, the other arm bent upward to their head. The transitions between are organic, adding to the aesthetic, as does the technique of the dancers.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Jennifer Thompson EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

June 17, 2013
The charming Eliot Feld takes to the stage to welcome a full house, introducing the community that is Ballet Tech: “It is about dance, dance, dance, and children, and dance, dance, dance, and opportunity, and dance…and dance.” After endearingly hopping off the stage, Feld’s life’s work unfolds in the form of talented Ballet Tech, New York City Ballet (NYCB), and School of American Ballet (SAB) alumni solos and two works performed by young dancers – including the premiere of his latest kid-packed ballet, Upside Dance.

Opening the evening, Feld’s 2004 work, A Stair Dance features five young Ballet Tech dancers, evermoving in patterns of hops, jumps and weight shifts, up and down a set of wooden stairs. Dedicated to the multitalented Gregory Hines, the dance’s palpable rhythmic nature is certainly a nod to Hines’ tap dancing legacy.

Principal NYCB dancer, Tiler Peck follows, dancing Feld’s Impromptu (1976) with the accompaniment of harpist Nancy Allen. Unsurprisingly, Peck shines in the solo technically as through her honed performance quality.

Wu-Kang Chen (former Ballet Tech Company soloist and current Artistic Director of HORSE in Taiwan) performs the premiere of Feld’s Is. Space-conscious, the dance uses a bare brick wall and ballet barres: Chen winds under and about the barres, climbing atop to tight-rope walk. His movements, often far upstage or downstage, make the space appear larger, his movements all the more stark.

Kaitlyn Gilliland (former NYCB principal dancer and current SAB faculty) takes the stage in Of Inwit. This premiere stirs an image of gorgeous turmoil; her hair constantly splayed over her face, her body jerking jaggedly, occasionally thrashing, or pausing in a slow extension.

The last solo work is the comical, off-kilter, theatric Zeppo - also a premiere. Feld’s choreography calls on dancer Wei-Chia Su to be not only dance but really perform. After stripping down to a dance belt and drum playing on his own behind, Su slides back into his white onezie, fingerless gloves, polka dot and striped socks, and bowler hat – think grown man dressed as part toddler and part clown. His umbrella prop appears throughout the rolling and jumping and shuffling footwork. Su’s entertaining performance is also a nod to his history dancing for Feld.

The program closes with Upside Dance, which is particularly impressive due to the sheer number (37 to be exact) of young ballet dancers filling the stage. Half dressed in pink tights and black leotards, and half dressed in black pants and white t-shirts, it evokes the gender roles that the art of ballet thrives on. The young dancers are well trained, making the ensemble work and formations clear and visually impressive. In addition, the Scandinavian folk music that accompanies the work is fun drawing rhythms from the choreography and a joyful energy; there are even choreographed sections of loud squealing.

Ballet Tech is a tuition-free New York City public school under the artistic direction of Feld, who has an extensive history dancing at SAB, NYCB, (among others), and has choreographed over 145 ballets for renowned companies worldwide. Since its inception in 1978, Ballet Tech has offered dance education and training to almost 17,000 talented students.

It is clear from the production, including many a professional dancer and those that will one day regularly grace NYC’s stages, that Feld’s impact on the ballet and greater dance community is highly valuable.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

June 16, 2013
In the theater dance extravaganza, Romeo and Juliet by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, much is demanded of the men. Romeo and his pals Mercutio and Benvolio are rarely still. Technically complicated and intricate choreography couples high, back-attitude air turns that swoop into a lunge, and pull-up into a revolution that pops into a jump, ending on one leg. It’s easy enough to do a quadruple pirouette, more difficult to turn four times, reverse direction and spring into a leap.

Besides the technical demands, MacMillan imbues the action with deep dramatic shading that adds considerably to any given performance. And if the three, high-spirited fellows don’t share a camaraderie; much of the ballet’s theatrical center deflates. Granted, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet are integral to the tragedy, but the male trio and their antagonist, Tybalt, drive the action.

Several American Ballet Theater casts tackled the full-length ballet including David Hallberg and James Whiteside--Romeo; Polina Semionova and Paloma Herrera-- Juliet; Patrick Ogle and Sascha Radetsky-- Tybalt; Jared Matthews and Craig Salstein --Mercutio; plus Joseph Gorak and Luis Ribagorda-- Benvolio. Both casts met their roles handsomely, with Herrera shining as the sunny, carefree Juliet and Semionova embracing her heartbreak. Confidently presenting a clear, classic line, Hallberg stutters in the trickier turn sections in his first Act solo—a technical handicap shared by Whiteside.

Exquisitely arched feet animate Semionova’s intricate footwork and lithe musicality, while Herrera’s solid, technical spunk declares her youthful enthusiasm and eventual despair. Interestingly, I believed both the Juliets were madly in love but not necessarily with their Romeos. Both couples danced at each other rather than in sync with each other.

The most successful male combo was Whiteside, Salstein, Ribagorda and Radetsky. Totally invested in the street-wise hand gestures, back pats, winks and all around guffaws, there was more chemistry between Salstein and Ribagorda than Romeo and Juliet. As the dark, fuming Tybalt, Radetsky revealed a deep centered weight essential to the character and vital to the bombastic music driving the Grand Ballroom dance where Romeo and Juliet connect.

The performance on Thursday, July 13 was dedicated to Frederick Franklin, the dearly loved ballet dancer, teacher, director, and raconteur extraordinaire. He last appeared on stage three years ago in the role of Friar Laurence, exuding warmth and un-ending kindness to his Romeo and Juliet, and all the dancers he ever touched.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 14, 2013
DanceTeacher Magazine features EYE ON DANCE

June 8, 2013
Shady characters plot the sale of humans for riches, kidnappings, and even a marriage or two in the cartoonish swashbuckling ballet Le Corsaire. Two seasoned American Ballet Theater dancers Paloma Herrera and Gilian Murphy-- assumed the role of Medora, a beautiful young Greek woman who catches the heart of the handsome pirate Conrad who is s flanked by his pseudo friend Birbanto and exotic slave, Ali.

Both Herrera and Murphy managed the choreography’s technical complexity with a sense of humor and theatrical assurance and both were partnered by Marcelo Gomes. More chemistry was evident between Gomes and Herera, but then, he was a last minute replacement the evening he escorted Murphy. An attentive partner, Gomes exhibits strong, classic lines and never reaches beyond his technical capabilities.

In the crowd-pleasing role of Ali, Ivan Vasiliev wowed the audience with his suspended elevation and nifty leg crossing and corkscrew twists while still in flight. His landings were clean, and even though pirouette preparations start with an exerted twist away from the turn’s revolution, his ability to rhythmically slow down the spins, face front to a leg extension deserve notice. Behind me sat a couple of young men from the Juilliard Dance Department, and all I could hear was “oh, no, he didn’t!” and spurts of laughter at Vasiliev’s technical audacity.

Although less spectacular, Whiteside had his own way with beats, multiple turns and buoyant leaps. Both women were regal in their demeanor, Murphy more imperial and Herrera more impetuous. Capable of extending their legs and holding shapes without losing turnout, they are conscious of classical form while embodying stylistic interpretations. When they ripped into a marathon of pirouettes, Murphy was astonishing in her triple revolutions and Herrera maintained a steady ripple of doubles.

Both garnered waves of applause. In the more delicate Jardin Anime section, large boughs of flower garlands arc over company members and young ballet students in pink. Lyrical and imbued with a coquettish charm, Murphy and Herrera leaned over curved arms replicating the garlands graceful arch, toes picking nimbly off the floor.

The three Odalisques challenges up-and-coming dancers and included Melanie Hamrick, Kristi Boone, Leann Underwood (a strong talent), Gemma Bond, Adrienne Schulte, Christine Shevchenko. As Gulnare, Medora’s friend Misty Copeland traded on spirited athleticism while Stella Abrera retained a more muted interpretation while being chased by the portly pasha comically portrayed by Julio Bragado-Young.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 6, 2013
On opening night at the Joyce Theater, Rioult Dance presented four works: Iphigenia, (World Premiere), Prelude to Night (2002), On Distant Shores (2011), and Bolero (2002).

Pascal Rioult’s focus on women as central figures permeated three of the evening’s works, featuring strong and moving performances by Jane Sato, Penélope Gonzalez, Charis Haines, and Marianna Tsartolia.

The evening began with the world premiere of Iphigenia, by far, the most intriguing and beautifully crafted work on the program. Rioult proves his growing ability to successfully collaborate with several well known artists, weaving many intricate parts together with his amazing cast of technically astute dancers, to unite all into a coherent, inspiring whole.

Rioult’s dance roots belong to Martha Graham, and we can definitely see this influence in the formality and strength of dance technique, focus on a female heroine with supporting iconic chorus, and concern for Greek myth, tragedy, romantic drama, and universal themes of family, patriotism, fate, sacrifice.

With live music composed by Michael Torke, Iphigenia, and conducted by Richard Owen, the curtain rises to an austere, abstract wooden set designed by Harry Feiner which depicts Agamemnon’s shipwreck, or of a landscape suggesting ancient Greek or contemporary locations: woods, a thicket, a house, the world.

The two main female characters, Clytemnestra, the mother, danced by Marianna Tsartolia and Iphegenia, the daughter and heroine, danced by the small, compact Jane Sato, begin the Greek story of Iphegenia’s eventual sacrifice to appease an angry goddess in order to win the battle against Troy.

Jim French’s lighting, contemporary, flattering all white costumes by Karen Young which also suggest an ancient Greek design, and narration by Jacqueline Chambord based on Euripide’s original text, support Pascal Rioult’s choreography quite successfully as his male and female cast enact an interpretation of Iphigenia through a half hour of abstract modern dance pinned to a narrative.

Prelude to Night (2002), with music by Maurice Ravel, depicts a central female figure in a dream state through time and space danced this evening by Penelope Gonzalez, supported by David Finley’s lighting that suggests nightmare, fear, the unknown. The success of this choreography falls victim to its melodramatic adherence to the dominating musical score.

Rioult continues his fascination with strong, yet vulnerable women and Greek themes in On Distant Shores (2011), with the exquisitely fluid, technically brilliant, and memorable performance of company dancer Charis Haines as Helen of Troy, supported by a handsomely strong male quartet depicting Trojan War heroes: Brian Flynn, Josiah Guitian, Jere Hunt, and Holt Walborn. The well-rehearsed company ended the evening with Rioult's signature dance to Ravel's insistently seductive Bolero (2002).
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman ---by Mary Seidman

June 5, 2013
Popular culture songstress Queen Latifah and classical clarinet star beamed their talents across the stage at New York City Ballet’s Gala crowd during a wonderfully upbeat evening. Both stars projected clear, warm notes and a total command of their instruments.

Dance snippets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins framed “Soiree Musicale” -- Christopher Wheeldon’s premier of a work made for the 1988 School of American Ballet Workshop. Elegant women in full-skirted tulle dresses and long sleeved gloves ease into a waltz with their partners led by Lovette and Finlay. Delicate movements form a lacey tableau that slips in and out of shifting partnering. Women circled the men in cautious pairings that blossomed into passionate partnering.

“Soiree Musical” set to a bouqet of social dances by Samurl Barber established sophisticated evenings in grand ballrooms, where men extended their arms to women and women nodded graciously in a mysterious dance of connections and remembrances.

In “A Place For us” Wheeldon fashioned a dance for two equals starring two of New York City Ballet’s most compelling dancers, Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck. Dressed in white, they gripped hands elblows down, arm wrestling style, extending away and pulling towards each as her legs flared out and he lunged deep into the ground.

An artist who crosses over classical and jazz genre, famed clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman played onstage along with pianist Nancy McDill. Exuding an aura of improvisation, the dancers reacted in a spontaneous manner to Andre Previn and Leonard Bernstein’s sontatas for clarinet and piano. Innately theatrical, Fairchild hugged gravity in low to the ground, salty draws.

The evening ended on a buoyant note, when Queen Latifah sang Gershwin’s jazzy “The Man I Love” from Balanchine’s “Who Cares” featuring Amar Ramassar, a natural at exuding American jazz/vernacular dance and the frisky Sterling Hyltin.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 3, 2013
With stamping feet, fiery rhythms, and electrifying intensity, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana stormed into the Joyce Theater in celebration of the company’s th anniversary season.

Accompanied throughout the evening by four virtuosic 30 musicians, the program opened with “Mujeres,” a veritable sampler platter of the elements of flamenco—from castanets to fans, shawls to dresses—demonstrating the passion of this traditional Andalusian music and dance. More than just colorful props; the “bata de cola” dresses sport a substantial train, which the women artfully brush out of their way with a swift backward kick that is incorporated seamlessly into the complicated footwork.

When held by hand, the trains become a dance partner that the women use to either repel, or entice the male dancers. Much like tap or Irish hard shoe dancing, in flamenco both the men and women wear short heels to enhance the sound of their feet, which often move at warp speeds, while maintaining a relaxed stillness throughout the upper body embellished with flourishes of the arms and wrists.

In “Martinete/Seguiriya” the complexity of the percussive foot patterns is brought to the fore, executed with panache by Ángel Muñoz, the Spanish Michael Flatley in both talent and sheer bravura.

Throughout the program, the dancers and musicians remained tightly connected; there was not a single moment in which the foot strikes and the accompanying guitar and percussion were not completely precise, a cohesion that heightened the contrasts between moments of furious tapping and silence.

The one departure from the more traditional demonstrations came with “Luz y Sombra” (Light and Darkness), a piece choreographed by co-founding director Roberto Lorca in 1986 in response to his AIDS diagnosis. After a brief duet by a white-clad couple, the piece took a more interpretive, introspective turn with the arrival of the couple in black. As the angel of death figure, dancer Leilah Broukhim used her black shawl to great effect as she steadily, yet almost lovingly, pursues dancer Muñoz who, despite clearly conflicting emotions, ultimately welcomes her embrace.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Jessica Moore

May 19, 2013
A soloist approaches the audience, her legs shooting out to unravel quick footwork, soon reeled in as she settles into a smooth, softer quality. Her decided focus shifts from one direction to the next. She pauses against the spot-lit brick wall downstage to watch her fellow Pam Tanowitz dancer enter the space. The company, under the artistic direction of Pam Tanowitz, is known for repertory that toys with the line separating ballet and modern dance. At times, Tanowitz blends the abstract and picturesque, the pointed foot and the flexed, and at other times, she allows for a section of balletic partnering, to be followed by another dancer making a peace sign, or flashing an open jazz hand.

This performance marked the World Premiere of her newest evening length work, The Spectators. Above all, this piece has an elaborate architecture to it; a testament to Tanowitz’s cerebral creative tendencies, also reminiscent of Merce Cunningham’s style. One pattern evolves into the next – a series of quick turns, jumps, slicing arms, then suddenly a balanced pause. Every movement appears to serve a purpose from the purely decorative to purely practical. It is clear that Tanowitz and her dancers worked very closely with the music, as the movement anticipates and compliments the livelier sections and electronic, sporadic interludes. The work features a recorded score by Dan Siegler, as well as two additional works by Annie Gosfield played live by the FLUX Quartet.

The dancers each don a jewel tone and command a specific course along the stage throughout the dance. They are incredibly stoic, directing the audience’s attention to the overall map of their collective, moving bodies, rather than individual performers. One section cuts all light above the dancers’ knees, highlighting their quick-moving feet which occasionally dip above the channel of light. Another section repeatedly goes to a black out after a dancer travels upstage with multiple turns, running back to re-set and repeat once the lights rise. Intertwined throughout are moments of ensemble work, fleeting unison, solos, and duets, including a surprising romantic pas de deux near the end, complete with a charmingly awkward kiss.

In particular, Tanowitz’s use of the space is exaggerated and very effective in The Spectators: the dancers continue performing in the wings, push off walls, encircle the side lighting equipment, and jump off random outlet boxes. Tanowitz’s The Spectators was presented at New York Live Arts.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

May 16, 2013
There was lots of dancing but not so much differentiated choreography at the Joyce Theater when the terrific Hubbard Street Dance Chicago came to town. All the dancers are insightful, strong interpreters, but in Program A of two programs, the choreography by Aszure Barton, Robyn Mineko Williams, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar resemble one, long, frenetic scenario punctuated by dancers sliding --legs apart--across the stage. Also, throughout the evening, dim lighting design—intended to create a theatrical, high contrast ambiance--cast the gorgeous dancers in shadows, frustrating the eyes of many in the audience.

In Burton’s piece “Untouched” a woma, Jacqueline Burnett, strides out of a parted curtain and digs, deep into a wide legged knee bend. Her rootedness stirs the rest of the cast into dramatic looks and supportive holds. Choreographed in association with the dancers, the music by Njo Kong Kie, Curtis Macdonald and “Ljova” was applied after the piece was set. Clearly capable of modern ballet technique and compelling theatrical expressions, the choreography cast a mysterious ambiance over the dancers' interactions.

Nimble position shifts, leg shutterings and sharp dives through open areas in Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Pacopepepluto” to music by Dean Martin and Joe Scalissi elicited laughs because of the incongruous, abstract steps pushed against American songbook crooners. Dusted in white and wearing Andy Warhol wigs, “Too Beaucoup” was a constant flicking of hands, and legs. Appendages jutted out to the back or side in a unison procession.

Program B features Ohad Naharin’s “Three to Max” and Mats Ek’s “Casi-Casa.” In the future, Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton, who has much to be proud of, might consider programming shows with more definition.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

May 12, 2013
A feeling of nostalgia was evident the minute the overture began for NY City Center Encores! presentation of On Your Toes. With the orchestra, led by Rob Fisher, at the back of the stage, the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart score ushers in the bygone era of Vaudeville. A spunky trio of Dancing Dolan's set the scene with Karen Ziemba, Randy Skinner and Dalton Harrod, singing and tapping away. After a bow in underwear and flirtation with a chorus girl, Junior is made to 'get out of theater life and go to school,' in the hopes of saving his reputation.

The scene flashes forward 15 years later, around 1935, to a classroom at Knickerbocker University, where Junior Dolan, (the charming and engaging Shonn Wiley) is a music professor. While leading his class, we meet his student-love, Frankie Frayne, played by Kelli Barrett. Ms. Barrett has a divine voice for the stage and brings humor and poignancy to her song "It's Got to be Love."

As the action shifts, we meet prima ballerina Vera Baronova, (played by Irina Dvorevenko, formerly of American Ballet Theater) Peggy Porterfield, the patron of the ballet, (the saucy Christine Baranski) and Segei Alexandrovich, the director (Walter Bobbie). They represent the Russian Ballet, where Mr. Dolan hopes to stage his new jazz ballet. Ms. Dvorovenko plays her role with subtle, biting wit, displaying a delicious ability to poke fun at her own heritage. Her spat with lover/ partner Konstantine Morrosine ( Joaquin De Luz) is full of typical backstage banter and rivalry.

When the cast of characters come together in La Princesse Zenobia Ballet, Mr. Dolan saves the day, returning to his dance roots. Filling in for a missing slave dancer, he adds immense frivolity and laughter to the scene, while Ms. Dvorovenko and Mr. De Luz provide some truly first rate dancing and old-world glamour.

Act II includes a show stopping number to the title song, "On Your Toes," which is truly brilliant. The tappers and ballet dancers go at it; on the ground, on top of benches and in the air! Mr. Carlyle is at his best here and the audience cheered in recognition of his perfect blending of the 30's and today. The entire ballet cast was terrific and there was stand out dancing by all.

The story wraps up with the Balanchine ballet, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, which was unfortunately a bit cramped on the half stage. Mr. Dolan saves the day again, dancing the role of the hoofer, with surprising panache. All of the previous discord is alleviated, and the old and new worlds of the theater come appreciation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

May 8, 2013
On Monday, May 6th the night sky over Manhattan was luminous as dancers performed for Dance Against Cancer: An Evening to Benefit the American Cancer Society. The event marked a milestone – the 100th birthday of the American Cancer Society. No wonder the AXA Equitable Theater was all a-glow!

The evening began with each of the dancers dedicating their performance in memory or support of a loved one challenged by cancer. Hosts, Erin Fogarty (Manhattan Youth Ballet) and Daniel Ulbricht (New York City Ballet), co-founders and co-producers of Dance Against Cancer spoke of their desire to celebrate dance, life and to find a cure. With many people to thank for bringing this celebration to light, those mentioned included Gerald M. Appelstein, Rose Caiola, Stuart Coleman, Julia Gruen, Heather Watts, Damian Woetzel and Christopher Wheeldon.

The American Cancer Society’s Donald Distasio thanked Erin and Daniel for their passion and resolve in creating the event three years ago, the tireless efforts of the host and planning committees, and most importantly, a huge congratulations and thank you to the dancers who all donated their time and talent for the benefit performance.

The gala program of 18 inspiring and life-affirming performances by 15 choreographers featured stars from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and Norwegian National Ballet.

Each and every one of the artists brought something powerful, memorable and special to the stage. Highlights did include a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s new Cinderella and two pieces from Memphis jookin' knock-out Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, “Improvisation” and his signature “Swan” to Saint Saën’s The Dying Swan (where he balanced on the point of his sneaker for 10 - 15 seconds-- longer than Ashley Bouder in The Rose Adagio!)Misty Copeland entertained in a jazzy and humorous turn in "Paganini" while Alicia Graf Mack awed us in "Light as Air." Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle brought the evening to a fitting close with a pas de deux from Wheeldon's "This Bitter Earth."
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --- Michelle Audet

May 3, 2013
Neon blue and shout-out-loud pink outfits announced the bright start to New York City Ballet’s season at the David H. Koch Theater. Two decidedly all-American ballets “Who Cares” to a sparkling score by George Gershwin and “Starts and Stripes’” propelled by Hershey Kay’s leg strutting parade music bookended a dance feast stuffed in the middle by Charels Ives’ dreamily quirky “Ivesiana” and the showpiece “Tarantella” composed by the only non American, Moreau Gottschalk.

Perky and appealing, Tiler Peck brandished her brand of effortless technique and cheerful camaraderie opposite the low-to the-ground, smooth operator, Robert Fairchild. Both have the gift of connecting with their partners and linking steps into one, long, delightfully modulated breath. Pony tail bouncing, Abi Stafford projected a youthful freshness but the prances and pop up jumps were a bit earth-bound. Gaining in presence and technical confidence Ana Sophia Scheller wrapped herself easily alongside Mr. Fairchild, lightly holding balances and swift weight shifts. The cast bounded to the jazzy music but the ballet belongs to Peck and Fairchild.

Decidedly odd in its construction, “Ivesiana” levitates in one of the eeriest section marked “The Unanswered Question.” Janie Taylor floats over the heads of the huddle of men who hold her thin, long body erect, blond hair flowing down to her hips. This ephemeral, spiritual image of a woman in all its haunting simplicity throws off a haunting refrain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 29, 2013
Dances Patrelle presented three ballets at the Dicapo Opera House, representing choreography from three decades, as a lead up to their 25th anniversary. Francis Patrelle choreographs with a flair for narrative ballet and a love of musical collaboration.

The afternoon opened with Black Forest Carousel, choreographed in 1991 to the lush and dramatic Fantasia for Piano, Four Hands in F Minor, D. 940, by Franz Schubert. Two men in velvet frock coats court two women in chiffon and lace empire waist dresses evoking a royal setting, as designed by costumer Rita B. Watson. The four dancers move generously, showing fleet footwork and an easy port de bras. At first, there appears to be a definite flirtatious coupling, but feelings of loss and regret permeates the scene. At one point the dancing resembled four voices singing, as in La Boheme, displaying romantic eloquence and individual personalities.

What do We Do About Mother, starred Jenifer Ringer and Jonathan Stafford from New York City Ballet. Ms. Ringer originated her role in 2007 and time has deepened her expressive and genuine way of presenting her characterization. This autobiographical ballet shows snapshots of a family faced with an aging mother. Reflections from the past coexist with the current chore of packing up the home to a commissioned score by Patrick Soluri, which is both moving and haunting.

With the action centering around a music box belonging to mother, the drama is explored through a son ( John Mark Owen), his wife ( Amy Brandt), a daughter ( heart wrenchingly played by Heather Hawk), and her partner ( Julie Voshell). Ms. Ringer's body language as the old woman, listening but not reacting to the anguish around her, transforms when she revisits her youth. From newly married bride, dancing with her charming and devoted husband, to expectant mother, to the sudden loss of her husband, Ms. Ringer and Mr. Stafford are pure and vulnerable. When I saw this ballet at the premiere I found it sad, but this viewing left joyful memories.

Concluding the program was Rhapsody in Blue, danced to the ebullient music of George Gershwin. Josh Christopher danced Gershwin with verve and spunk and all of the dancers demonstrated an appropriately "swell" attitude. While Mr. Patrelle shows George through time- Lower East Side (Jason Stotz), Tin Pan Alley ( AJ Negron), and Concert Hall (the dashing Grant Dettling) a stream of glamorous dames filter through as well. It is Patrelle's love for ballet and good music that is captured with elegance!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

April 29, 2013
An eclectic assortment of dance makers assembled for Dance Under the Influence at the Museum of Art and Design. The evening, curated by Valerie Gladstone, was an opportunity to see works in process and hear about the elements that influence these choreographers.

The evening opened with filmed work by Pontus Lidberg. "Rain," a duet filmed in a warehouse-like space, is a sensual and evocative dance for two men. Water created a filter through which the interlocking bodies of the men could actually be seen more clearly. In a second clip, "Within," close-ups revealed various angles of Mr. Lidberg, himself, dancing on a suspended platform amidst trees or by the sea. The perspective allowed his curved shapes and pensive mood to stand in relief of the scenery. The most intriguing clip was from a study for a new work, done entirely in water. A scarf or shirt floating, became Mr. Lidberg suspended, dancing in the water, until the camera pulled back and the focus morphed to view him stepping out of a claw foot tub.

"Jared," was a study of current New York City Ballet member Jared Angle by Elena Demyanenko. Mr. Angle moved in subtle ways, at times stealthily and animal-like, his gaze soft but constant. The sound of his feet as they swept across the stage and the repetitive figure 8's and L-shaped arms reminded me of a radar screen. In a post performance talk-back Elizabeth Hoffman ( who composed the music previously and independently) shared the experience allowed her to "hear new thing's from seeing the dance."

Susan Marshall explored a love of pop-culture, juxtaposing it with ideas of "high art." Her piece, entitled Unstrung, began with an art installation of paper and tape being placed and removed. Audibly enhanced by a microphone, it created a tempo as well as accompaniment for a long, lanky Christopher Adams. The dance and sound coexisted, reacting to one another, providing an interesting oeuvre for Ms. Marshall's fascination with "step, touch" (dance move)of popular pop music videos.

Sara du Jour performed "Les Saras" which took its influence from Motown Girl Groups such as The Supremes, The Chantels and The Chiffons. Wearing a variety of nude colored fringe and floral, the über popular socks of current contemporary dance, and messy head wraps and topknots, this comic drag duet was both really funny and a strong statement of effort in dance.....visible and invisible.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

April 25, 2013
The annual Youth American Grand Prix Gala, founded by Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev in 1999, had much to celebrate at the David H. Koch theater in New York City. A backstage documentary on the organization “First Position” racked up tons of attention and awards, while last year’s gala event mixing young competition winners and international dance stars was screened in film theaters across the nation in association with Emerging Pictures.

Every year, the young winners of the grueling dance competition are featured in the first half of the gala program—and every year, they are the real heros drawing screams and wild applause. This year was no different.

The evening’s host, Mark L. Walberg of the Antiques Road Show, introduced the young professional hopefuls from countries as far away as Brazil and Japan.

The young stars included Elli Choi, Lada Saratkova of Russia, Daichi Ikarashi of Japan, Maria Clara Coehlo and Adhonay Soares Da Silva of Brazil, Gisele Bethea and Maria Kochetkova plus Jorge Barani of USA, Jinchang Gu of China, Lou Spichtig of Switzerland. All the performers exhibited raw talent and fearlessness. This competition gives them an opportunity to study with schools associated with world-class companies. Of course, it’s amazing to see the astonishing physicality and technical ability encased in such young bodies, and gratifying to know that dance professionals will mold that dance force into the subletities that define an artist.

After intermission, professionals from the modern and ballet community appeared to an awed audience. Of note was Svetlana Lunkina who recently left the Bolshoi and exquisitely performed the role of Nikiya from La Bayadere. Clifton Brown took on swanky Brubeck’s “Take 5,” Cuba’s Viengasy Valdes and Osiel Gouneo executed a rhythmically clever piece by Peter Quanz “Double Bounce,” Dorothee Gilbert of Paris Opera Ballet and Marcelo Gomes of ABT swooned over each other in the “Romeo and Juliet” balcony pas de deux, Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet, Herman Cornejo of ABT and YAGP alum and Boston Ballet dancer Alejandro Virelles got a great ovation in “Le Corsair.”

Americans included Maria Kochetkova and Lonnie Weeks in Wayne McGregor’s tangy “Borderlands Pas de Deux,” while Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle shot through the world premiere of Emery LeCrone’s “Partita NO. 2 in C Minor” – but the most thrilling moment came when the much beloved Nina Ananiashvilli transformed herself into the “Dying Swan” while the YouTube “crunchin”—(like hip hop with extra toe work and rubbery knees) -- phenom Lil Buck in white top, pants and sneakers drew a contrasting orbit around Ananiashvilli’s feathery arms and piquant toe work.

Near the end, when the swan –- back to the audience--undulates her arms (as good as any street dancer) Lil Buck chose to drop to his knees and rotate around her ephemeral figure. The audience stood up.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 24, 2013
Dressed in a sleeveless white dress, a petit, dark haired woman climbs deliberately up a tall black ladder punctuated by little snippets of Otis Redding’s R&B classic “Try A Little Tenderness.”Bare feet snuggle together and apart on each step as a voice-over text filters through: “Do you feel that,” “Wow that tastes good.”

Commissioned by NY Live Arts for the Live Ideas Festival, Donna Uchizono’s “Out of Frame” explores connections between her choreography and Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book about comatose patients miraculously awakened by a new drug.

Perched on top the ladder, Uchizono articulates her fingers, changes focus and when her legs weightlessly float up and out, she appears suspended in mid-air. A video projection on Uchizono's face spills over the backdrop suggesting the inner and outer self. Built on a series of minute movements, when Uchzono reaches out beyond her body, the gesture feels all encompassing. Touching on sensual triggers and one's sense of space, text is tightly aligned to the lighting by Vincent Vigilante magnifying the piece’s contrasting elements: light and dark, inner and outer, quiet and joyous.

Uchizon’s “State of Heads” (1999) features three fine dancers who resemble wind up dolls in a distorted reality. Suddenly, a blast of sound by James Lo and white light designed by Stan Pressner reflects off the white Marley floor and back wall, revealing a man--Levi Gonzalez-- in a suit. The sound continues rumbling at a low pitch and two women—Rebecca Serrell Cyr and Hristoula Harakas—haltingly enter in baggy, large hoop like skirts without the hoops.

Parallel patterns cause the women to pass in front or behind the man, but as time passes, the movements become less distorted and the distance between the three lessens. Peculiar line dances morph into active body contact allowing weight to drop from one to another uniting the three individual universes into a community.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 19, 2013
Ballet Hispanico is not your typical tutu-ed ensemble; rather, it has quite a contemporary flare, isn't afraid to integrate different styles of music and movement, and tips a hat to Latino culture with each work. Under the Artistic Direction of Eduardo Vilaro, the company is now in its 43rd year, currently celebrating its 25th New York Season at The Joyce Theater.

The second performance of their two week run featured Program A (one of three), and opened with the 1983 work and 2013 company premiere of "Jardi Tancat." Choreographed by Nacho Duato, the piece is set to and inspired by the Catalonian folk tales sung by Maria del Mar Bonet. Starting in silence, six dancers collapsed to the floor jump up to their feet, their arms rising.

Through the athletic work the dancers' posture varies, largely hovering in a curved over, introverted manner, emoting a sense of despair and loneliness. Pairs of dancers intermittently break away to sit or stand with their backs to the audience by the large, upright sticks scattered upstage, melding into the minimalist, barren landscape. Occasionally the footwork is reminiscent of that of flamenco dance, credited to the use of the Spanish zapateado technique integrated in Duato's choreography.

The world premiere of "Sortijas" opens the second act. A relatively short, but sweet duet between dancer Lauren Alzamora and Jamal Rashann Callender, marks Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto's first commission for Ballet Hispanico. Rashann Callender carries Alzamora out in a lift as fog floods the stage and the dance unfolds in a series of partner work, interrupted by various blackouts. Unexpectedly it ends with the two center stage as black paper airplanes shoot out from both wings, cluttering the floor.

The evening closed with the sexy, club happy 2012 work by Meritxell Barberá and Inma García entitled "A Vueltas con los Ochenta" (Turning Eighties). Eleven of the company's fifteen dancers take the stage in this number covered in leather, fishnets and sequins. The piece explores Madrid's 1980's cultural revolution (better known as "La Movida") in a snapshot of a night of fun, freedom, and partying. As the curtain rises, the dancers' movement instantly commands attention as each moves to the rhythm of their own headphones in a comedic, yet relatable scene.

Though often described as a contemporary dance work, "A Vueltas con los Ochenta" also employs a bit of jazz dance, social dance, and even has organic theatrical moments. Amidst the crowd surfing, camera posing, lip syncing and apparent overdose, the movement is sharp, yet bouncy, occasionally spurting into sections of fluid improvisation and simultaneous solos.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

April 16, 2013
Elisa Monte Dance, celebrating its 32nd anniversary season at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, has managed to create a distinctly unique style which is both forceful and subtle. Monte contrasts a physically grueling choreography with a vulnerability and tenderness - which is betrayed only by the twitching of the dancer’s muscles.

The physical power behind such movements is controlled and reserved, preset but expertly concealed under an unyielding surface. Only occasionally does Monte allow her dancers to succomb to the pull of their wilder natures, allowing for that trapped physical force to come unleashed and pour forth. It is this expert use of physicality in which Monte, and her troupe, draws their success. Monte uses physical power in the way most people use words, alternatively reigning in and letting loose her dancers to create a conversation about loss, fear, or any message she chooses to convey.

Monte pushes her dancers the furthest in Volkmann Suite, an allusion to the portraits taken of the troupe by Roy Volkmann. In this piece, the dancers Clymene Baugher and Prentice Whitlow leverage one another like spring boards, exuding sensuality and power as strongly as the sweat that pours from their brows. For a moment we fear that Baugher won’t make it through the grueling choreography, but with the support of Whitlow she manages it; precisely, cleanly and perfectly.

Pushing her dancers to their limits and forcing them to work off one another to successfully complete the piece is the essence of what Monte has built over the years. It’s difficult to think of a more powerful, or appropriate way to send a message.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessie Gonthier

April 16, 2013
The Joyce Theater skipped uptown to the David H. Koch Theater for a gala event and two-programs featuring the Nederlands Dans Theater. Two major choreographers Jiri Kylian and Hans van Manen cultivated NDT into an internationally recognized dance troupe. Absent from our shores for close to a decade, the company returned under the leadership of Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot. Still animated by strong male and female dancers this European modern-ballet dance company brought two pieces demonstrating deep dance theater roots.

Sehnsucht by Leon and Lightfoot with considerable help from the lighting designer Tom Bevoort, contrasts a man in bare chest and white pants against a couple enmeshed in a domestic drama inside a floating cube designed like the interior of an apartment room. Their intense physical connections combine unlikely lifts, requiring extraordinary core strength. In a nod to Fred Asiataire’s famous “ceiling dance” in Royal Wedding, the cubicle rotates refiguring visual orientations so when a dancer stretches a leg up the side of the wall; a rotation suddenly puts them on the floor. Precise, determined movements by Parvaneh Scharafali and Medhi Walerski contrast against Silas Henriksen, the single man in white---conscious vs. subconscious? At one point, the surrealistic room disappears, and a large corps of fine looking men in black pants and bare chests break into a bracing routine accented by a series of split, horizontal leaps and hand under shoulder-high raises, bent leg. Action returns to the mysterious couple, entwining and rejecting each other, until the light returns to Henriksen twisted into the floor.

“Schmetterling” the second energetic piece by Leon and Lightfoot, sprang from the type of communal dances born of folk dance and contemporary routines embraced by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. A string of songs from albums like 69 Love Songs, Memoryhouse and Blue Notebooks gathered dancers in black dress coats, skirts, berets and socks. It was all about the force of bodies extending through space, springing up and sliding off the floor. Dancing in front of an accordion pleated back curtain, the folds separated to reveal a mountainous landscape barely touched by daylight. Although the segments began to feel redundant, the young audience delighted in the earthy funkiness that gave the finely trained dancers a scrappy, devil-may-care aura.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 15, 2013
Works & Process at the Guggenheim presented Restless Creature, the inaugural work of the Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative. Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob' s Pillow Dance Festival, moderated the event which introduced this program and the collaboration between Ms. Whelan and four male choreographers.

The idea for this collaboration began in 2005 when Peter Boal asked Ms. Whelan to choose a choreographer she desired to work with. She chose the Shanghai born Shen Wei, who created Body Study III for her, to the music of Morton Feldman and Iannis Xenakis. Performed to live accompaniment by Cameron Grant on the piano, the piece explored the perimeter of the stage while revealing the sinews and muscles of Miss Whelan' s arms and legs. She described the feeling of becoming "human calligraphy" under the guidance of Mr. Wei, and expressed how she appreciated his clearly defined approach, combining ideas of mindful breath and precise direction.

Thus began the idea of working with the four men to create pieces the choreographers would perform with Ms. Whelan. Ms. Baff spoke to Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Alejandro Cerrudo and Brian Brooks, recalling how each met Ms. Whelan, their mutual admiration for the extraordinary dancer/ artist, and the simple desire to "share in order to create." Each participant spoke of the importance of connecting, the joy and discovery inherent in the process of creating, and the chemistry that is evolving.

Several sections of choreography by Mr. Beamish, as yet untitled, were danced to the music of Borut Krzisnik, evoking a theatrical, timeless feeling. The steps from the waist down were balletic, but the upper body, head and neck were used in a totally new context. There was a feeling of invisible force acting on both dancers, as if time held them together...... and apart. A voluminous red taffeta skirt enveloped Ms. Whelan and provided a colorful addition to the dance, creating swish and momentum to their interactions.

A final excerpt, First Fall, came from Brian Brooks, and had its inception at the Vail International Dance Festival, 2012. In a chiffon yellow-green dress, and hair down, Ms. Whelan and Mr. Brooks seemed to be engaged in intimate conversation, manipulating one another, with subtle intensity. Mr. Brooks' ideas of gravity, physics and momentum led to a spellbinding walking/ falling section. As the piece ended, once could only wish to see it all again.....and eagerly anticipate the entire Restless Creature at Jacob's Pillow this summer.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

April 13, 2013
Dance Theatre of Harlem presented its second program of its inaugural season at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. This program was varied and rich, providing work this young and talented company can grow into.

Gloria, by Robert Garland, opened the evening with a spirited and lively procession accented by seven young dancers from the DTH School, to the symphonic music of Francis Poulenc's, "Gloria in excels is Deo." Wearing attractive chiffon draped costumes, designed by Pamela Allen-Cummings, in hues of turquoise, chartreuse and grey, the dancers ran, leapt and swung their arms with expressive joy and evident technique. It was a pleasant meld of neoclassical and contemporary choreography. In a mesmerizing solo Da'Von Doane seemed to conjure Ashley Murphy into being his parter, while Michaela DePrince stood-out for her expansive jetés.

A pas de deux entitled "When Love," by Helen Pickett displayed young, innocent love. The dancers, Emiko Flanagan and Dustin James, fully embodied the sentiment however, the text was more interesting when one only heard snippets, allowing the dance to speak for itself.

"Glinka Pas de Trois" by George Balanchine was an excellent example of how young dancers' technical proficiency. Miss DePrince and Miss Murphy were vivacious, piquant and fresh as they tackled each challenge the choreography threw at them. Having seen this same piece at the Joyce Theater last year it was a joy to see such improvement. Samuel Wilson, however, was a bit stiff in the upper body and lacked the necessary power in his legs to make the jumps look buoyant.

Alvin Ailey's "The Lark Ascending" was beautifully staged by Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, and the dancers were impressive in their upper body arcs and soft pointe work. This ballet was first danced in pointe shoes by the Caracas Ballet, and DTH does it justice. Gabrielle Salvatto and Fredrick Davis were completely devoted to one another and embraced the rich panoply of extensions and off balance partnering. Mr. Ailey's work is a marvelous counterpoint to Balanchine and Garland.

The final ballet, "Contested Space" by Donald Byrd provided a contemporary vernacular and made these dancers work! While a bit long, the dancers relished the acrobatic assignations which allowed a display of personal achievement and personality. Jehbreal Jackson was flexible and pliant, and Miss Murphy once again displayed her scissor sharp leg work and ease of turning. I look forward to following Dance Theater of Harlem's growth and development.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

April 12, 2013
Much of the dance community was holding its collective breath in anticipation of the return of the Dance Theatre of Harlem ballet company. Over the years, the school persisted in the Harlem – based DTH dance center. But dwindling finances and rocky management forced the nation’s premier African American Ballet Company to disband. In it’s heyday, Virginia Johnson was the company’s star ballerina. Now she holds the reigns to a company re-born without Arthur Mitchell, the company’s visionary founder, but with the goodwill and support of many NYC institutions and individual supporters.

Opening night on the stage of the Rose Theater, Ms. Johnson greeted the audience thanking the company’s lead supporters and then -- the curtain went up on a fully prepared ballet company.

When former NYC Ballet principal Arthur Mitchell formed DTH, George Balanchine kindly gave the company a strong foundation of Balanchine works for the new generation of ballet dancers raising the roof in Harlem.

Staged by Richard Tanner, Agon, the neo classical “leotard” ballet associated with Mr. Mitchell, opened the program. Four men face back, turn around and execute what looks like a pixilated version of a ballet bar. The isolated steps surge into bodies rocking back on heels, leg extended, arms bent at the elbows and wrist broken. Odd balances off-center, acrobatic plunges and turning leaps into barely outstretched arms give this ballet a gnarly, suspenseful edge. Everyone managed the ballet’s asymmetrical balances and turns coiling inward and outward, but the partnering proved devilish. Due to financial considerations, the music was taped, but this recording sounded slow, contributing to the ballet’s diminished crispness. If this was the coming out dance, then the company is on its way.

A crowd-pleasing romantic ballet, The Black Swan Act III pas de deux from Swan Lake drew on the talents of Michaela DePrince and Samuel Wilson. Technically, DePrince proved more than capable of sustaining balances, elevating her leg beyond her shoulders and whipping out single and double fouettes. But the interpretation was questionable. Here was a smiling, sweet-hearted, delightful swan—instead of a beguiling, wicked swan known for slicing arabesques and villainous glares. Staged by Anna Marie-Holmes, it’s hard to make sense of this radically untraditional interpretation.

A new collaborative work choreographed by John Alleyne, to text by Daniel Beaty and music by Daniel Bernard Roumain, “Far But Close” hewed closest to the dancers talents. Tautly performed by Ashley Murphy, Stephanie Rae Williams, Da’Von Doane, and Jehbreal Jackson, the live music performed by Mr. Roumain on Violin/Piano and Dana Leong on Cello along with spoken word text by Mr. Beaty and Nicole Lewis helped elevate the production. The narrative drew a portrait of urban relationships complicated by protective emotional outerwear while opening up to an embracing partner despite previous, possibly abusive experiences. Couples pull apart and sink together in a combination of contemporary and classical ballet moves. Slides resembling moonwalks and jazzy hip swing suited the dancers.

For the sheer-fun of it, DTH closed the program with “Return” an upbeat dance based on the R&B rhythms of James Brown, Alfred Ellis, Aretha Frankin, and Carolyn Franklin. A crowd-pleaser, the thin choreography by Robert Garland (1999) recycles typical club and Soultown dances of the era. Yes, the audience likes “Return” because they can hum along and shimmy a little in their seats, but the dancers proved they are capable of so much more.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 19, 2012
On Saturday October 27th, Celia Ipiotis & EYE ON DANCE returned to Gibney Dance Center's "Sorry I Missed Your Show" in a free screening of a select EYE ON DANCE episode with an intimate, and entertaining panel discussion following.

The episode took us back to the 1988 New York City Ballet's (NYCB) American Music Festival - a festival celebrating choreographer-composer collaborations that has continued as an annual event. Featuring NYCB principal dancer Lourdes Lopez, along with choreographer William Forsythe and composer Charles Wuorinen, the historically significant dance talk show gave a glimpse of what this collaborative creative process is like from each angle.

Lopez recalls her rehearsals with Forsythe, and his non-NYCB style that she found both challenging and exciting. Wuorinen comments on working with different choreographers and his preference of some direction and structure, rather than an open-ended task of creating a new piece of music for dance. Forsythe thinks back to opening night performances and the anxiety of watching it all come together and the feeling the music is suddenly much slower than remembered. Most endearing is Forsythe's impromptu solo improvisation at the episode's end, showing the need for strong coordination in his angular, off-balance, balletic style.

Curated by Celia Ipiotis (Creator/Producer of Eye on Dance and the Arts), the panel discussion following the screening included former NYCB principal dancers Heléne Alexopoulos, Peter Frame, and Jeffrey Edwards, along with William Forsythe himself. It was a special treat to have Forsythe, currently Artistic Director of his Germany-based Forsythe Company, in town and in attendance for this event.

The experience had by the dancers in working with Forsythe was clearly a lasting one. Each had anecdotes about what it was like working with him in creating “Behind the China Dogs” (1988) – having to spell their name with their bodies at the first rehearsal, the sexy costumes they wore, how he gave each a Dr. Suess book at the process’ end. Furthermore, the discussion gave true insight into Forsythe’s career path, and how much he enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what ballet was at the time, which took him out of the brand-name companies that prevail in New York, to Europe where he found greater artistic freedom.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer Thompson

July 18, 2012
An enthusiastic audience greeted Pilobolus for their summer season at the Joyce Theater. Two programs delve into company staples and new works with two of the three premieres anchoring Program A: Automoton plus Skyscrapers.

Mirrors and white gloves figure into Automoton by Sidi Larbi Cherkaouni and Renee Jaworski’s body pyramid building construction. Dancers travel in front of a large French Bistro mirror tilted forward plus three doors sized movable mirrors.

In one of the first, ever-shifting tableaus, dancers line-up one behind the other, white-gloved hands fanning out to the sides, suggesting a Hindu deity. Soon, the integration of body and mind, outer self and inner-self curls into intense but effortless bodies intertwining in the shape of pyramids and couplings that connect dancers into one extended form. Human groups collect, mutate and open onto different vistas. Images in space are broken up by the splintered reflections. Forms shift to the new-agish soundtrack by APPARAT; Max Richter. creating images in front of and behind the mirrored spaces.

A great opener to any dance gala, “Skyscrapers” is based on an original concept and choreography by Trish Shie. Costumes, couples and backgrounds are color coordinated in the wonderfully amusing parade of couple after couple steamily dancing in a line from one end of the stage to the next. Each entrance includes a costume change that matches the dominant color of the projected video scene by Paula Salhany.

Tango dusted gestures marry same and opposite sex couples in tight, short duets. Tautly vertical bodies are electrically connected by latched eyes, and body conforming moves, except for the time when one man drags another man in a dress, black calf-length socks and heeled shoes across the floor like a mop. But as soon as “Skyscraper” arrives, it’s gone. Rare is the occasion when a dance feels too short---but this crowd favorite is one of those rarities.

The rest of the very fine program includes the 1997 Genome by a Pilobolus co-founder Jonathan Wolken and Robby Barnett. At once poignant and lighthearted, four men in black Speedos resembling ancient Greek Olympic athletes (only the Greeks competed naked) flex and extended their muscled bodies. Arms around each other, three men extend flexed feet forward forming a ledge and rock a man’s body forward and back. In a state of suspended animation, the quartet shifts from one body to another pulling away and invisibly being drawn back to the group. Although humorous moments glint, the echoes of mortality and fraternity prevail.

Two women, the petite Eriko Jimbo and taller Jordan Kriston engage in body politics in “Duet” by Barnett, Alison Chase and Michael Tracy. Finally, the cheeky, collaboratively choreographed 2004 “Megawatt” gets the audience clapping from the first image of dancers feeding in from the curtains on their bellies in worm, scrunching fashion. Athletics abound closing Program A on a rousing note.

Oh yes, one more “hit” of the evening—the utterly hilarious short film “Explosions” by Dumt & Farglit. David Letterman – the TV comedian who habitually tosses watermelons and other stuff off the top of the Ed Sullivan Theater—would love this film.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

July 15, 2012
Mortality infiltrates a sun-speckled village aglow with youthful anticipation in the Paris Opera Ballet’s visually striking production of the romantic ballet “Giselle.” All a flutter over the attentions of a handsome beau, Giselle (Aurelie Dupont) a village maiden, pours her heart into her new love, but happy minutes turn into dark hours of loss and remorse. Bright sunny days of blissful youth slip into the dark mists of a bewitched forest.

Seated on a wooden bench, Giselle pulls the petals delicately off a daisy miming the rhyme " he loves me he loves me not” ending on "not" until the exquisitely elegant Albrecht (Mathieu Ganio) swiftly "discovers" a lost petal on the ground that proves, yes, he loves her! Joy overwhelms them both and they dance alongside the villagers despite the mother's dire warnings of Giselle's weak constitution.

An exciting classicist, Ganio‘s bracing technique flows through the maze of elevated leg beats, one-legged multiple turns starting and ending in a “tight” fifth position and lengthy balances. Without overacting or grandstanding, Ganio’s character interpretation invisibly wraps around the technique, making him a completely believable, handsome Prince.

In an earthier, more mature portrayal Dupont’s expressions are those of an old soul inside a young, excitable maiden. Dupont and Ganio are physically well matched, but emotionally amiss.

In the Act I Village scene, the folk dances are geometrically appealing forming starfish carousels, airy clusters and arms crocheted into arched bridges. Lucid and musical mime sequences, plus appealing costumes by Claudie Gastine, add to the overall, pleasing theatrical effect. In the Peasant Pas de Deux, Fabien Revillion partners Charline Giezendanner who steals hearts with her coquettish manner and brisk, lively technique.

When Giselle learns that Albrecht is a really a prince engaged to a beautiful princess, his deceptions rip-apart her weak constitution and she whirls herself into a death only to be resurrected as a ghostly Wili.

After Ganio realizes the repercussions of his actions, he visits Giselle’s grave and is accosted by the pack of jilted women—Wilis—who haunt the environs. Here the Paris Opera Ballet reveals its true glory in the pictorial beauty of the corps. Unison movements are enhanced by the delicacy of raised arms, elongated necks, sloped shoulders, and airy steps. The group patterns are particularly pleasing in their symmetry and design, like the double row of four dancers holding center, while three rows of three dancers each fan out to the side.

This cast’s Myrta, the insistent queen of the Wilis, is Emilie Cozette who is supported by a fine Aurelia Bellet and Laura Hecquet. There is one visual surprise in Act II: the curtain rises on four cloaked men gambling in the misty woods, and looking a lot like Shakespeare’s “rude mechanicals”—an itinerant acting troupe in "Midsummer Night’s Dream."

Appearing out of the mist, Giselle is now a filmy vision in flowing, white tutu. Her approach, elegant but pragmatic, lacks the etherealness associated with the puffy jumps, whirling turns on one leg, molasses thick unfolding of legs and thin, beaded runs on point.

Intent on helping Albrecht dance until dawn, and thereby save his life, Ganio soars in his leaps, beats that press legs apart before landing, easy turns and smooth collapses to the floor.

Overall, the company’s heritage shines in this strong production of Giselle.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 13, 2012
In essence, Ron Housa’s 74-minute documentary tribute to Jacob’s Pillow is a recruiting film; not for dancers as much as for the Cause of Dance itself. If you’re already on-board, whether as bun head or balletomane, cultist or choreographer, then there isn’t much to “Never Stand Still” that you don’t already know. In fact, as you’re reading this, just the words, “Jacob’s Pillow”, are enough to delicately set off daydreams of having permanent summer reservations in the Berkshires.

If nothing else, those dreams can only be augmented by “Never Stand Still”, thanks to its sharp-toned digital cinematography by Jimmy O’Donnell and Etienne Stuart of both the lush green backdrop of western Massachusetts and the varied stages and rehearsal venues of this Mecca for contemporary dance. As you revel in the Pillow’s bucolic, utopian aura, the narration, by none other than Bill T. Jones, unobtrusively weaves in the necessary historic details: How Ted Shawn bought the historic farm in 1930 and by the end of the decade had used members of his trailblazing all-men’s dance company to build many of the stages comprising the Pillow’s performance complex; then, Shawn’s expansion of the festival’s reach and reputation throughout the mid-20th century up to his death in 1972.

What difficulties may have ensued in the wake of Shawn’s passing are barely alluded to in the film. We are instead pushed to the festival’s present-day glory primarily through interviews with a glittering array of talking heads: Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Suzanne Farrell, Marge Champion (looking and sounding fabulous at 90-whatever), Bill Irwin, Judith Jamison, onetime Pina Bausch protégé Shantala Shivalingapppa and Merce Cunningham himself, live and in color from the Great Beyond. The post-Millennial diversity of the festival’s offerings is likewise presented in kaleidoscopic fashion with the Royal Danish Ballet, the Australian-based Chunky Move Dance Company, and the Brazilian-based Mimulus Dance Company all offering tantalizing samples of their wares.

They and everyone else in this film leave you wanting more, which may well have been the effect both Housa and the Pillow wanted to establish. Still, there are more than performances you wish “Never Stand Still” had additional time for; for instance, suggestions, at least, as to what it takes in terms of credentials or reputation for a company to be added to the Pillow’s summer schedule -- or for a dance student or novice to be part of the prestigious education programs. But that would take longer than this genial, leisurely tour has time for. So if you know somebody who loves or parents a dancer and wonders, as Bad Boys of Dance founder Rasta Thomas says, “what I’m doing here,” “Never Stand Still” isn’t a bad way to at least get their minds and hearts moving.
“Never Stand Still” Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow” will be available on DVD July 17.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gene Seymour

July 12, 2012
Classical purity, grace and charm define the Paris Opera Ballet. These traits were evidenced in the first of three programs performed as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Entitled: “French Masters of The 20th Century,” the selections represent different spokes of the French dance ethos.

Serge Lifar’s “Suite en Blanc” scores deep into the abstract, classical elements of traditional ballet technique. A star with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe, Lifar was born in Kiev, Russia, and studied with two major figures: Bronisiava Nijinska and Enrico Ceccehitti. After Diaghilev’s death in 1929, Lifar assumed a berth at the Paris Opera Ballet until 1958.

Clean and precise, the steps connect the roots of ballet to contemporary developments. The corps assembles in an assortment of patterns, circles and lines, delicately forming shapes that outline supple torsos, easily weighted arms, taut legs and precise body facings. Six female leads demonstrated different technical capabilities with some excelling in balances, others in turns, intricate pointe work or leaps.

All held their torsos lightly over working legs and all the men were substantive partners, but no one was truly outstanding. Performed to the lilting music of Edouard Lala, the stage was an ocean of women in white tutus and men in black tights and white shirts.

A student of Serge Lifar’s, Roland Petit danced with the Paris Opera Ballet for several years until he branched off to form his own companies. Although schooled in the classical style, Petit’s choreography delves into emotional and dramatic elements expressed through motion. A storyteller, Petit’s “L’Arlesienne," based on Alphonse Daudet's play, forms a tragic love story between Vivette (Isabelle Ciaravola) and Frederi (Jeremie Belingard). Set against a tapestry sized faux Van-Gogh rural landscape, a young man and woman prepare for marriage rites surrounded by their community. Much like Bronislava Nijinska’s “Les Noces” men and women are segrated and perform strong folk inflected group dances around the dedicated couple.

After the union, the relationship starts to fall apart. An extremely sympathetic dancer, Ms. Belingard’s expressive, highly arched feet etch clear, strong circles on the floor and crystalline point work. But the weight of the dancing and acting falls on the fully capable and dreamy Belingard.

Why he starts to go mad is not clear, but there’s no arguing the impact of fluid leaps that riff into effortless turns and then melt into the floor. Simultaneously athletic and lyrical, Belingard’s duress is magnified through his expressions and escalating steps until he flings himself out the window into the black abyss.

Guaranteed to blow the roof off of any theater, Maurice Bejart’s “Bolero” closed the Paris Opera Ballet’s opening night program. A “chosen” bare-chested male stands on top an enormous, raised disk surrounded on all sides by bare-chested men in black pants. With the first notes of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, Nicholas Le Riche raises his arm, hand catching the light, fingers flair slowly pressing down a smoothe, hairless chest to the groin. The second arm repeats the pattern over a pulsating lunge.

In the grand tradition of postmodern dance, gestures accumulate one after another, pulsing lunges getting deeper and deeper mounting alongside the music’s orgiastic waves. Silently, two men rise in front of Le Riche. They begin another movement accumulation referencing Le Riche’s trajectory and adding pelvic pumps echoed by Le Riche that build into full tilt, seductive pelvic rotations.

Two by two, four by four and more the men rise encircling the disk and all along, Le Riche never stops dancing. At one point Bejart references a Greek sailor folkdance when a circle dance breaks into a line of men, arms on each other’s shoulders facing sideways, bent legs raised, as the standing leg slowly lowers to the ground and everyone snaps back up, twisting bodies to the opposite side. By the time all the men stand throbbing to the music in unison, the climactic end releases a tumult of applause.

When this ballet was first choreographed in 1961, it created a palpable stir because it preceded the days of gender politics, best-selling soft-porn books and mainstream male strip bars. No, nothing subtle here, but utterly captivating and loads of fun.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipitois

July 10, 2012
Tap dance comes in all sizes and sounds. Intent on making his own individual mark, the congenial Jason Samuels Smith took his place on the Joyce theater stage with his company and a live jazz combo.

Improvisation forms the heart of tap dance and in the first piece “Imagine” Smith shifts around light tap flurries swinging to Charlie Parker's "bebop" and Horace Silver's "lonely Woman." Credited as the pieces’ “improvographer” (instead of choreographer) he punctuates syncopated rhythms and underscores the melodic vitality.

Over the past couple of years, Samuels’ has expanded and deepened incorporating traditional tap steps and contemporary dance body positions. In “Charlie's Angels” to the music of Charlie Parker (one can never get enough of a good thing) the ladies of tap step out: Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, and Dormeshia Sumbry - Edwards.

These women add an intricate netting of sounds that tickle the higher register, only to plunge into the basso, hard taps associated with men. Gone are the dainty tap twirls defining female tappers, instead these ladies prove the vigor and athleticism infiltrating all sexes and levels of performance.

The final entry “Chasing The Bird” suffers from audio imbalance between the jazz musicians, Baakari Wilder 's spoken text and tap soundtrack. Clearly, Smith loves jazz music and the bebop musicians who changed the sound of American music forever, but this piece needs some re-focusing.

Regardless, the dancers unfailingly ripped up articulated patterns while their bright personalities infused the theater with a strong promise of tap to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 6, 2012
Vertigo Dance Company from Israel presented MANA (2009) as part of the 80th Anniversary season at Jacob's Pillow. The dance by choreographer and director Noa Wertheim, examines things old and new, current and ancient, light and dark. Compelling stage design and beautifully draped costumes by Rakefet Levy-School of Theatrical Design, combine with the dramatic lighting by Dani Fishof-Magenta.

A lone man, Micah Amos, cuts a striking figure before the silhouette of a white house. Wearing voluminous dark clothing, Amos gently circles his elbows then breathlessly fling his arms up to the sky.He appears to grasp at the mystical light, perhaps attempting to be a "vessel of light"- the Aramic translation of 'mana' found in the ancient text of The Zohar. Tomar Navot joins him and they take part in a prayer or ritual, sharing the simple comfort of human touch.

A square door opens, backing away and separating from the house, allowing more dancers to enter the scene. Moving in unison they cast haunting shadows, their movements becoming watery. The women are covered in long sweaters and head scarves, as the group dances to poignant old-style movie music. Intensity and volume build matching Ran Bagno's shift to electronic music.

In a black ruffled top and shorts, Rina Wetheim-Koren enters on sexy tip toe. She weaves through the dancers, a large gray balloon suspended with strings from her shoulders. Her long arabesque with extended arms looks like a broken bird, while the quiet power of Eyal Vizner provides an expressive counterpoint to her delicacy. Three women shed layers exposing shoulders, arms and a triangle of back, evolving into a particularly feminine section that evokes feelings of desperation and agitation. Five men stand and watch from the side, reminding us that we too are voyeurs.

A sensitive pas de deux for Mr. Vizner and the young Nitsan Margaliot stands out along with Emmy Wielunski's stunning, fluttering hand-movement. Mr. Vizner, Mr. Amos, Mr. Margaliot and the vibrant Ruth Valensi form a moving quartet. It demonstrates the equality and strength of men and women who stay grounded while wishing to the hovering gray balloon.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

WITHIN (Labyrinth Within)
June 29, 2012
The inventive and stunning premiere of the dance theater piece WITHIN (Labyrinth Within) by Pontus Lidberg for Morphoses graced the stage at Jacob's Pillow. An award winning filmmaker,choreographer and dancer from Sweden, Mr. Lidberg's work is not well known in the US, but it will be.

Mr. Lidberg opens the piece, lying on the floor in a blue Oxford, grey pants, and beige socks, in front of a large moveable white screen. Surrounded by two groupings of red flowers, he moves in silence, rolling in a contemplative fashion as if conversing with himself or a memory. While he works at arranging and re-positioning 3 single flowers, the strains of a violin permeate the quiet in a haunting score by David Lang. A sense of mystery begins to build as two men and two women enter. Their multi-layered movements elicit questions about the relationships between these five dancers .

As Mr. Lidberg reaches a finger to the sky, it arcs gently touching the floor, causing the lights to go off. A film of him amidst trees and adjacent to the sea begins as the "live" Mr. Lidberg dances with his film version. The drum beat pulses while the strains of flute and oboe interject. To watch a close up of the dancer on film while observing the dancer in full view on the stage creates a heightened sexual tension.

A man in a grey vest, the darkly handsome Jens Weber, and a woman in a red flowered dress, Gabrielle Lamb --the feline siren, enter as the film shifts to a parquet floor with arched windows. They dance tango-like, as she ducks her head under his arm in a way that is both escapist and sensual. The moves are repeated on the screen as the dancers enter and exit from film and stage.

Youthful passion describes the woman in blue, and the other man, (Frances Chiaverini and Adrian Danchig-Waring) as he places his hand on her heart then lifts her suspended in the air, holding only the back of her head and waist. Ms. Chiaverini and Mr. Danchig-Waring epitomize a natural ardor with their expressive limbs and dynamic energy.

Film clips are interspersed with the staged dances until the incomparable Wendy Whelan appears on film, entering only to sit and watch. Unfolding in her dances with Mr. Lidberg and Giovanni Bucchieri, she plunges us into a world of intense questions.....only to be pondered and answered by 'seeing' WITHIN.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

June 29, 2012
All forms of Indian Dance are flooding the New York City area including the wildly popular Bollywood films that capture the exotic mash up of Indian rhythms and club beats creating an infectious musical film genre.

A towering figure in modern dance, Pina Bausch plucked a talented Indian dancer Shantala Shivalingappa and incorporated her into the evening-length piece “Bamboo Blues” inspired by Indian Dance sensibilities. That’s where many from New York first caught a glimpse of Ms. Shivalingappa ripping up the floor in a solo that mutated effervescently from one shape to another, unfurling like an exotic flower. And so her solo recital at the Joyce Theater was met with some anticipation this summer.

Intent on embracing contemporary moves flecked with Indian dance accents, she embarked on a series of four solos broken up by snippets of film. Although she changed clothes and music, the solos by Ushio Amagatsu, Savitry Nair, and Shivalingappa merged into one larger work. Only the piece choreographed with Pina Bausch, “Solo” expressed a strong personal style. Legs spread, knees bent, pelvis weight shifted forward and back balanced by Shivalingappa’s long arms delicately extended, fingers unfurling like lotus blossoms.

The video by Alexandre Castres shot close-ups of Shivalingappa in traditional garb, her gestures reflected in the water. Perhaps the Narcissus reflection was meant to represent the two faces of Shivalingappa--one rooted in classical Indian dance, the other in contemporary forms--but it read “precious.”

The captivating persona that appeared in Bausch’s production remained uninflected at the Joyce Theater, but with more time, and creative input, Ms. Shivalingappa might still unfurl her inner Gods and Goddesses.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 28, 2012
Secure in her technique, Isabella Boylston made her debut as Odette/Odile in the classic ballet “Swan Lake.” Re-jiggered by Kevin McKenzie, the white and black tutu ballet retains much of Marius Petipa’s original choreography accented by this generation’s upgraded technical flair. Arriving in time for the second half, I missed the serene white swan section, where Prince Siegfried falls in love with the lyrical and pure Princess Odette. Trapped by the evil sorcerer’s spell, Odette’s only chance at re-claiming full humanness is through true love—with a virgin male.

Intent on marrying-off Prince Siegfried, Queen Mother (Nancy Raffa) throws a lavish ball inviting the land's eligible maidens. A series of “character” dances including the dramatic Czardas led by Luciana Voltolini; Spanish Dance’s energetic Simone Mesmer & Alexi Agoudine, Luciana Paris & Julio Bragado-Young; the high-jumping Neapolitan’s Grant DeLong and Blaine Hoven and a group Mazurka perk up the court’s festivities.

In a grand flourish, trumpets announce an unexpected guest, Odile. Dressed in a short black tutu, Odile is escorted by the magnetic von Rothbart -- Jared Matthews, who skillfully weaves through the tricky turns into leg extensions while wooing all the single maidens in the room.

Stunned by Odile’s appearance, Prince Siegfried believes she is Odette (lover’s haze). Rather than portraying Odile as the evil, mesmerizing swan intent on stripping Siegfried of all worldly happiness, Boylston presents a self-assured, iron-willed vixen. Solid arabesques strike out while arms sharply whip back pushing the chest forward and eyes straight ahead. In the famous solo section defined by the execution of 32 fouettes—leg shoots out to the side and pulls into turns on the standing leg—she got the audience’s attention by ripping off a series of triple instead of single turns.

For his part, Daniil Simkin seamlessly flees through the air in picture-perfect leaps and air revolutions. A far more emotional performer than Boylston, Simkin, proves a facile and devoted partner.

Once recognizing his monumental blunder, Siegfried races back to the lake where the towering and wonderfully evil Vitali Karuchenka tries to slice Siegfried and Odette apart. Instead, the white clad, and much softened Odette pitches herself into the abyss, followed in short suit by Siegfried in a fabulous, arched back dive to his death. (In another lifetime, Simkin would be an Olympic caliber diver).

Happily for all, the audience embraced the couple in their applause.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 23, 2012
Two men sit facing us. One is dead silent and starring straight ahead. The other speaks and asks questions that no one responds to…“How does it feel to look through the lenses of life?”

Opening with the movement theater work Await... we are taken from one scene to the next, each slightly bizarre and unfinished, stirring up intriguing storylines. We watch Dance Imprints Director, Dagmar Spain put on white cardboard cut out butterfly wings and undulate her body against and away from a column where three stuffed bags hang – the cocoons. Moments later the lights fade down and up, exposing husband and wife figures poised on chairs beginning a back and forth of complaints that turns into a soft image of peace – their palms touching – then suddenly an aggressive kissing/neck biting exchange.

Women in little black dresses sit in chairs facing each other, why, we don’t know. Newspaper is balled up and tossed, and stuffed under one’s dress. This figure, now seemingly pregnant, rises and moves, with a woman in white following her as if her spotter. The work closes with a male solo that ends with him muttering “I hate ants!” followed by Spain hunching at a café table with a recording of a woman’s thoughts fearing she’s being stood up echoing through the space. Closure to the various snippets exploring time and waiting come as a man greets Spain, a flower in hand, saying “Hey, you came early.”

The second act of the just over an hour long performance presents the work Yellow is not Gold. A mysterious dance that highlights five women in flowing frayed white and taupe costumes (Kristina Karmazinova) amidst hanging material and curtains, it is co-directed by Spain with Carolyn Morrow, with movement created collaboratively by the performers. It is a wonderfully mystic journey as each individual explores the idea of treasures in life - “Amber is a jewel. Who wants to be a jewel?” a voice reverberates through the speakers as one ponders what to name her child.

Through winding solos with draping fabric, projections of sand drawings and a pacing violinist, the five women join intermittently. Their heads bob back and forth, they strip off their layers to nude colored bras and panties, they pick one another off the ground only to revert back to the floor. Deirdre Towers is mesmerizing in her solo, her soft and elegant movement trickling down to the twist in her fingertips. The mix of vulnerable moments and images of strength contrast in the dance well, creating a foreign place where these women are alone with their own uncertain stories and yet coexist, aware of one another.

Dagmar Spain/Dance Imprints presented Yellow is not Gold including Await… at Danspace Project at St. Marks Church.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

June 22, 2012
The Jose Limon Dance Company displayed its pioneering modern dance roots and new directions at the Joyce Theater. A major revival of Jose Limons’ 1956 “The Emperor Jones” (staged by Clay Taliaferro) opened the well balanced program and ended with the world premiere of Rodrigo Pederneiras’ “Come With me,” to a commissioned score by Latin Jazz artist Paquito D’Rivera.

Referencing Eugene O’Neil’s tragedy, Daniel Fetecua Soto (The Emperor) and Durell Comedy (The Trader) lead a strong ensemble of six men in a ballet about the demise of a cruel, self-appointed ruler of a Caribbean island. Dressed in a flashy white military outfit and red plumed admiral’s hat, Soto sits spread legged on a large throne. Arms open wide, palms face forward, fingers splay before plunging downward, grasping the throne and his fleeting power. In contrast, Comedy breezes by in his white suit and hat, limbs loose and eyes on Jones. Throughout the piece, Limon inserts what are considered Hip Hop moves including back spins and serpentine dives adding a folk sensibility to the modern dance vocabulary he helped build. Comedy was particularly strong, easing through odd balances and shifting from light to weighted moves and Soto captured the right shoulder generated swagger of a delusional leader.

In most performances, Roxanne D’Orelans-Juste performs Limon’s “Chaconne” to J.S. Bach, but on this occasion, the modestly compelling Kathryn Alter danced the solo. Dressed in pants and shirt, there’s a simplicity and rigor to the solo that relies on musical shadings in discreet sections. Quick turns and stops, airy jumps and spirals switch from one facing to another demanding precision and internal lyricism -- all calmly delivered by Ms. Alter to rounds of applause.

Dubussy’s composition “La Cathedrale Engloutie” forms the title of Jiri Kylian’s 1975 piece. Pianist Anna Shelest played live, while Elise Leon-Drew, Francisco Ruvalcaba, Belinda McGuire, Raphael Boumaila danced as couples against the sound of the sea and wind broken up by wisps of Debussy’s stirring music. Arms draw up in a “V” formation making the dancers resemble sails and conjuring up images of the sea. At times, a woman’s arms are suspended around a man’s neck, and slides forward like a large wave, until feet move rapidly in an undertow retreat. Splintered driftwood contributes to the sense of a windswept, ungoverned place.

Closing out the program, the company emerged in a bright new piece “Come With Me” by Rodrigo Pederneiras to a commissioned score by Paquito D’Rivera. Attractive and light as the dancers looked in this piece, the choreography did not reflect the Latin Jazz score’s rhythmic complexity or sonic texture. The Limon dancers pull out the basic beat and move in unison against a score’s counterpoint. However, the audience was pleased with the choreography and music’s colorful light-heartedness.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

June 21, 2012
“Bet she doesn't get flushed down the sink in the original,” quipped my friend after Odette’s demise. True enough, but then, lots of stuff in Graeme Murphy's “Swan Lake” for the Australian Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater never made it into the original. Question is, why call it “Swan Lake”---why not call this revised, inverted and deconstructed ballet "The Baroness and Some Swans?" Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s score remains, but sections are flipped around and tempi slow to a screeching slow burn.

More a costume ballet in the vein of “Downton Abbey” (beautiful costumes and sets by Kristian Fredrikson) than a pristine, classical ballet, it opens on the lovely English garden wedding festivities celebrating Prince Siegfried’s (a strong Kevin Jackson) betrothal to the high strung and fragile Giselle---oops, I mean Odette (a first-rate Madeleine Eastoe). Supportive duets between Siegfried and Odette are busted up by the steely and obstructive Baroness von Rothbart (Lucinda Dunn). Evidently, the Baroness has put a spell on Siegfried, spurring bold interference and lustful body clasps. Gone are the signature, clear arabesques and liquid swan-like arms and torso. Lots of bent knees, flexed feet, torsos dropped straight-down head to feet and floor work replace the ballet’s original lyricism and humanity.

Despite the dismantling of iconic solos, duets and divertissements, Murphy demonstrates a strong theatrical sensibility. Plenty of visually compelling ensemble passages suggests Murphy has an eye for staging Broadway musicals. However, for anyone who knows the ballet and can visualize movements over the score, this was a very frustrating exercise. It was like someone switching the lyrics to a popular song.

That said, after Odette—in her desperate angst-- whips off a circular series of fouettes (that was part of the mad Giselle scene) she lands in the asylum. From her sequestered room, Odette sees the frosty lake and swans out her window.

The curtain rises on an enormous disc tilted toward the audience and covered in black in the middle of the dark, frozen wood. Large group sections take advantage of the disc, forming Busby Bekley style kaleidoscopic patterns. Well, Siegfried returns, but all does not go well and Odette is whisked down a hole in the center of the disc—where she probably saw a White Rabbit with a watch shouting "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 20, 2012
Saturated comic book colors infiltrate Alexei Ratmansky’s new version of “The Firebird” for American Ballet Theater. Altered from the original created in 1910 by choreographer Michel Fokine and composer Igor Stravinsky, this magical Firebird (Osipova) does not travel solo, instead she belongs to a flock of ruby red avians. In short, when the handsome Ivan (Marcelo Gomes) enters a weird, surreal garden erupting in red tipped octopus tentacles that belch smoke, he catches and releases The Firebird, who grants him her aid and protection in future scrapes.

A born jumper, Osipova’s leaps explode vertically and horizontally, while snapping her arms at sharp angles or excitedly fluttering her limbs. Crisp pointe work juts out of movements that twist upward and downward, referencing contemporary dance as much as ballet.

Bold and passionate, Gomes stretches into long leaps flanking Osipova and furiously getting his hands around a quicksilver dancer. Moving on, Ivan stumbles upon a squad of blonde, big- haired Stepford Wives in emerald green gowns, who move in mindless—and sometimes comical-- unison. One maiden (Simone Messmer) stands out, capturing Ivan’s heart. Enter the wicked sorcerer Kashchei -- a droll, over-the-top David Hallberg. He slinks around, ravenously whirling through the maidens, imperiously pulling up his tall, lean black-clad body over the proceedings. Well matched, Gomes and Hallberg exert equal strength.

Alas, Ivan, with the Firedbird’s help, finds Kashchei’s Kryptonite (an oversized Ostrich egg) and cracks it, ending his spell. The maidens are released, switching from emerald green to virginal white gowns and Ivan unites with his Maiden.

The program also included a strong performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Thirteen Diversions” to Benjamin Britten and George Balanchine’s Apollo featuring Maxim Beloserkovsky in the title role. Beloserkovsky’s discreet performance as Apollo suggested he was more man than God.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 19, 2012
Twelve chairs decorate the stage, a dancer in each, shifting from one subtle move to the next – slumping to perched, a heel lifted, then a hand touching the face. The World Premiere of 12 Chairs opened Keigwin + Company’s hour-long program with a series of synchronized, robotic, always-slightly-different body angles, evolving at times into rippling transitions.

As the work progressed the movements grew more full bodied, with legs swinging, and musical chair-like switching of places. The dozen chair dancers in an arry of street clothes, looked as diverse as their individualized styles and comical, exasperated, and entranced facial expressions.

They move into a line downstage rippling their body up and out of the chair to the floor and soon one-by-one stand and convulse and twist, leaving the audience to wonder who this motley crew is and where they are going.

A calming pale green backdrop takes over for Trio, danced by Aaron Carr, Kile Hotchkiss and Emily Schoen, which was commissioned in 2011 by Works & Process at the Guggenheim. A departure from Keigwin’s comfort zone of underlying humor found in the quirkiness of movement, this piece is classic and clean-cut. In their chrome gladiator skirts, the three dancers travel in curving paths, the movement phrases rippling until they suddenly make contact - pulling and extending their bodies away from one another.

Contact Sport marked the second World Premiere of the evening showcasing a quartet of playful, flirty school boys moving to a compilation of the raw, sultry lyrics of Eartha Kitt. A streaming curtain of blue silver streamers serves as the backdrop to their organic interactions involving gestures and passed contact. The lighthearted dynamic between the four is emphasized in humorous moments including repetitive ear grabbing, lots of circling elbows, pulling down another’s pants, and piggy-backing off stage.

Bringing the evening program at the Joyce Theater to an excited close was the presentation of Megalopolis. In this 2009 work that has become a crowd-favorite, it is hard to find yourself not bouncing along to Steve Reich’s edgy “Sextet-Six Marimbas” which transitions into MIA’s “World Town” and “XR2.” The clubbing, futuristic beings strut – and I mean strut - across the stage, corner to corner and through vertical fluorescent lights.

Fritz Masten’s black and silver unitards with differing sparkly blocks on each compliment the piece perfectly, as do the dancer’s visible “I’m all that” attitudes. Their hips undulating, they proceed through the space in lines chugging forward and swinging their hips, and as the pace picks up so does the sassiness and sharpness of their movements. It’s like an alien, partying, club scene that we all want to be invited to.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

June 12, 2012
Clustered into one program five female choreographers appeared in “Working Women” organized by Gotham Dance Festival at the Joyce Theater. Monica Bill Barnes & Company excels at what I like to think of as “air guitar dancing” —that is people seated in chairs, dancing vociferously with their arms, torsos and legs to funky music. “Luster” ran its course over Ike and Tina Turner’s juggernaut “Proud Mary,” and “Luster (part 2: the big finish) closed the evening to Lionel Richie’s romantic “Angel.”

In between, came “Beauty” a parody of what constitutes beauty by the socially in-tune Jane Comfort and Company. Jodi Gates, (formerly a leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet) devised a compelling duet “Balletix” built on the tension of ballet inverted through modern dance expressions. The theme of duets continued with a couple of more strong entries, Loni Landon Projects’ “Don’t Forget to Go Home” and Carolyn Dorfman’s “Keystone.”

The Light Has Not The Arms to Carry Us” by Kate Weare drew together intrepid performers in a knotty piece while “Recorded Forever In Between The Cracks With Real Passion” by Pam Tanowitz threw a more mysterious scrim over modern dance noodlings.

A shock of white hair matched white gloved hands in Camille A. Brown’s reference to Black Minstrels in a solo from Mr. Tol E Rance. Weighted down by years of stereotyping, Brown slouches--back hunched over, hands dangle puppet-like while legs move to the march of pride and prejudice.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 4, 2012
What could be more fun than life in The Bright Stream Farm Collective? According to Alexei Ratmansky's "The Brite Stream" based on the Soviet- era 1935 ballet by Fydor Lopukhov to a commissioned score by Shostakovich, administrative buffoons and egotistical peasants kick up quite the party atmosphere.

This comedy, and there aren't too many dance comedies, gives Ratmansky free reign to develop a vivid palette of characters. Following in the footseps of deft theater directors, Ratmansky assigns each character a specific movement motif establishing identities clearly and speedily. Driving the ballet along, Shostakovitch's bright musical score bubbles through marches, folk riffs, and waves of melodic passages.

When a train unloads a troupe of entertainers to help celebrate the harvest, two ballet stars bump into a former ballet mate, Zina. The social dynamics get a melodramatic shaping when Zina's husband gets gooey over the ballerina, and an elderly Dacha couple fancy themselves attractive to the glamorous ballet couple.

The first act set- up is coiled around animated community circle dances, acrobatic exaltations of joy, Cossack squat kicks, and arms overlapping shoulders in dances of camaraderie. Workers are awash in Elena Markovskaya's brightly colored outfits featuring women in solid colored skirts draped over bright prints and turban scarves, alongside men either in black Cossak uniforms and red sashes or tan pants and white shirts. They stand out from the light blue sky and floating clouds suspended over a field of sunflowers.

The stage full of workers rip through bouncy hops and turns, facing each other in two lines of men and women, then tumbling into cartwheels and the signature body bob where a woman's arms stretch over two men's shoulders flipping her body forward and back as if on a swing or a bell ringing from a church steeple.

When dancing together, Zina and the ballerina mirror each other's stretched out arabesques and fouettes. In a poignant moment, Zina draws her foot along a wide circle on the floor, as if describing a longing for her ballerina days (same gesture appears with equal poignancy in Frederick Ashton's The Dream).

In one cast, Paloma Herrera (Zina) and Gillian Murphy (Ballerina) were matched and in another, it was Xiomara Reyes (Zina) and Isabella Boylston (Ballerina) who replaced an ailing Osipova. Both casts were effective, but Herrera and Murphy share physical and technical attributes that heighten the competitive tension while swallowing oceans of air in their gaping leaps and ripping off wicked turns. Appealingly fresh and innocent, Reyes was congenial and Boylston fared particularly well when she dressed up as her husband repeating his earlier, high flying solo of leaps and back leg beats.

Of course, the funniest bit comes in the Second Act when the two young couples punk the older Dacaha couple. The male ballet dancer squeezes into a white tutu and the ballerina slips into a dark suit. Again, two casts realized the roles with distinction. Tall and lean, David Hallberg (Ballet Dancer) and his flippy cowlick bound out towering over the stooped, Dacha elder Victor Barbee. Slipping between shlumpy guy and delicate ballerina, he nearly makes a case for men on pointe. Finely boned and half as tall as Hallberg, Danil Simkin is an utter marvel on point. Hilariously transforming himself into a sylph, he clutzes about and then effortlessly holds a one legged balance and rips off a triple pirouette. Oh, yes he did. (Question: Might he be cast as Giselle, say as part of an ABT Gala excerpt?)

In the role of the errant young husband, performed on two separate nights by Marcello Gomes and Herman Cornejo, both navigate their speedy turns and jumps with aplomb while forming a convincing picture of an easily distracted young man. Another juicy role goes to the over-the-hill flirtatious elderly Dacha lady played by Martine Van Hamel and Susan Jones. Both are quite funny, but Van Hamel takes an exaggerated approach, in movement and largely inscribed make-up while Jones injects the subtle timing of a master comedienne--not unlike Red Skelton. One of last year's performance shockers, Jones wowed audiences because she played her part straight, injecting total believability in her outrageous, girlish bourees and hefty jumps; arm wavings and almost back-bends.

And although many deserve mention, Craig Salstein proved his dramatic chops by completing filling out his role as the Accordian Player with physical detail that points to a blossoming, top tier dramatic dancer.

This ballet undeniably highlights the dramatic and ensemble capabitlites of American Ballet Thaeter at the Metropolitan Opera House.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 3, 2012
A visually compelling evening in not only movement, but also in bold design and production opened the first night of the Gotham Dance Festival with Brian Brooks Moving Company’s 2011 piece, Descent. Laser-like beams of light slice across the stage horizontally as a man slowly carries another – frozen, lying sideways, facing the audience.  Two other’s pace through with another propped over their shoulders and backs. One pair evolves into a duet inspired by contact improvisation as one, remaining stiff with vacant eyes falls one direction and the next, while his partner dives and lunges to his rescue.  As slots of light splay on the stage floor vertically, the space takes on an amplified 3D feel with criss-crossing rays of light, designed by Philip Trevino.  

A hazy glow shines above the laser-beam, illuminating a piece of sheer white fabric that a dancer below, in the shadows, uses as a board to blow up and about in the space.  Others join, their cream, red and fuchsia fabrics ebbing in and out, swirling and floating as if in water.  This image of calm serenity is soon shattered with light beams again criss-crossing, this time creating dotted patterns on the floor.  This is the landscape as the dancers begin a highly athletic section, sprinting from the corners of the stage to the middle, sometimes jumping to be caught by a passerby.  The organized chaos of running, flying bodies rebounding off one another, compliments the more upbeat turn in the music composed by Adam Crystal.

The short and comical video Rapid Still (2008) floods the screen.  Choreographed, performed, filmed and edited by Artistic Director, Brian Brooks, it features him moving in an impossible airborne manner, his body flailing and shaking at unbelievable speed – all of this accompanied by the edited, sped up sound of his panting breath.  Ending in an endearing manner, his body hits the floor, breaking into real time as he laughs.

Closing the first act is an excerpt from the Brian Brooks Moving Company’s work, Motor (2010).  Brooks and dancer David Scarantino walk out of the darkness towards the audience.  Wearing only briefs, you are drawn to the work their bodies are doing as their pace increases and the movement becomes more and more physical.  Switching legs every so often then hop in tandem with one another, occasionally posing in a running stance.

The program built up to the much anticipated New York premiere of Big City.  As the curtain rises, the audience can’t help but gasp at the transformation of the stage with dozens of metal rods hanging down like tinsel, with hinges, creating angles amongst this steel jungle. A red-suited man lies on the floor until another steps on him and balances.  Other dancers in flowing dresses and colored suits enter dancing in their own bubbles, twisting about with their arms wrapped at their elbows, whimsical.  Soon they begin to interact, constantly switching partners and wrapping around one another before breaking into pairs, balancing on each other’s backs as the other rises to their knees and slides back down to their stomachs.  The company’s mastery in catching each other - effortlessly and when least expected - shined in this piece.  As the dance comes to an end, one female dancer tiptoes onto her partner’s palms creating a surprisingly romantic image. At one point the dancers move the metal rods, straightening them, though I was left wishing they had interacted more with their intricate setting.

Brian Brooks Moving Company kicked off week one of the 2012 Gotham Dance Festival at The Joyce Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – J. Thompson

May 29, 2012
Superheroes have nothing on Ivan Vasiliev, the hunk of a Bolshoi dancer featured in ABT's full-length, exotic ballet La Bayadere. Intrigue and malice couple in a dance of love and vengeance when the handsome warrior Solar (Vasiliev) falls in love with the temple dancer Nikiya (Alina Cojocaru) despite his betrothal to the Rajah's steely daughter Gamzatti (Misty Copeland).

Cat fights and opiated dreams decorate a ballet famous for a white, filmy corps that descends a ramp with the majesty of a postmodern follies revue repeating one hypnotic arabesque followed by another and another and another….

In contrast to Copeland’s privileged arrogance, Cojocaru radiates a sensuous fragility. Sweeping her into his arms, Vasiliev lifts Cojocaru with the ease of King Kong palming Fay Wray. His bulky thighs signaling a power jumper, stage-eating leaps defied gravity, hovering in the air and dropping to a soft landing. Investing the role with high drama, his burning eyes favor Cojocaru. Although a very fluid dancer, Cojocaru falls off her center in some tricky turns requiring arms held up like an urn while trying to rotate twice with one leg bent in back, raised waist high.

In her debut, Copeland was feverishly applauded. No one doubts her assertive technique, but she will need time to expand her unassuming personality into the imperious largeness of Gamzatti.

Natalia Makarova choreographs this production of La Bayadere after the original by Marius Petipa. A visually grand production, the colorful Southeast Asian-inspired costumes are by the once one-and-only, Theoni V. Aldredge.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 28, 2012
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet danced a varied and compelling program at the Joyce Theater on Saturday evening. These dancers are sleek, muscled, driven creatures who dive into each work. As they explore and push the boundaries of their elegant and clear ballet technique, they enter the world of each choreographer.

"Simply Marvel" by Regina van Berkel opened with Oscar Ramos making quiet waves with his arms to the gentle introduction by Paganini. Wearing a crinkled top and knee length smooth pants or smooth tops and crinkled skirts or shorts, designed by Ms. van Berkel, the texture of the costumes matched perfectly with the choreography, providing a layered effect. Soojin Choi and Matthew Rich, danced a duet of soft spirals, displaying exquisite control. Acacia Schachte stood out for her facile pointe work and serene presence. The dancers formed moving sculptures, building to a section of 'shaking'- paroxysms of joy and musical acuity.

Alexander Ekman's "Tuplet," is an 18 minute exploration of sound, rhythm, and gesture combined with film projections, perpetuated by the cast of six. It was performed to strong effect as we hear the dancers -" ka, ka voom, pa pa, schwak, ta, ta ta dah" - expressing their version of the sounds of their choreography. The open stage and visible stagehands setting up didn't add very much, but once the dance began my 12 year old companion and I were spellbound!

The evening concluded with the enigmatic choreography of Jo Strømgren in a piece called "Necessity, Again". Set to music by Charles Aznavour and Bergman Slaslien, and text by Jaques Derrida, the piece juxtaposes the intellectual with the emotional. The dance becomes a physical expression of the songs relating to the emotions of desire, relative to the rational nature of daily life. Two dancer drag twine hung with letters across the stage, eventually suspending them like a clothes line.....perhaps to dry, or to be re- read, shared?

The lively Navarra Novy-Williams, Joaquim de Santana, Vania Doutel Vaz and Ms. Schachte were notable for their clear characterization and musical sensitivity. A stunning pas de deux sensually danced by Ms. Choi and Nickemil Concepcion involving a table, turned into a pas de quatre, when two men joined, creating even more possibilities. Mr. Rich and Ebony Williams performed a charming duet where she attempted to escape his "literally beating heart" which pulsed so vividly we saw it!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock-Lewis

May 22, 2012
Upon learning that her beloved is betrothed to another, the village maiden, Giselle goes mad and turns into an ethereal Wili-- the kind that give men the willies. At the Metropolitan Opera House, Alina Cojocaru stepped into the coveted role of Giselle joined by the wildly popular Angel Corella in one of his final performances with ABT before retiring on June 28.

A dome of foliage parts to reveal a castle on a distant, manicured hilltop overlooking the light infused countryside where villagers prepared for the harvesting festivities. Despite fragile health, Giselle's heart is light because she loves the dashing young man who woos her through teasing games and attentive dances. Suspicious of the confident bloke who steals his girlfriend, Sascha Radetsky (Hilarion the huntsman) vows to unmask the heart-stealing nobleman, Count Albrecht, posing as a local peasnat.

Enticed by her sunny beau, Giselle opens up, her lithe body sensitively responding to the musical cues in lilting jumps and feathery, springy steps. Simple and vulnerable, shyness covers her face and carriage. In contrast, Albrecht's open face and body emphatically embrace all experiences.

Still one of the most delightful male performers, Corella's plies are not as spongy as they once were, but his technical precision is impressive. A well matched couple, Cojocaru and Corella breeze through the rustic, airborne dances.

After a royal party arrives revealing Albrechts’ royal roots and betrothal to another, Giselle's frail constitution dissolves. In the famous mad scene, Cojocaru simply gives up hope. She doesn't pitch herself into a cyclone of despair; instead she projects a palpable, profound loss of belief in any reason to live. It's truly heartbreaking. In response, Albrecht loses his cavalier shield and despairs at what he has wrought.

Lost to this world, Gieslle reappears in Act II as the wili who retains her compassion. The cool dark, wooded sphere is ruled by the ruthless Queen Wili Myrtha (Gillian Murphy), who is intent on keeping her domain male-free. When the despondent Hilarion and Albrecht enter wili terrain to mourn at Giselle’s grave, Myrtha takes offense.

Forced to dance nonstop, Hilarion succumbs after a series of blurry leaps and turns, but Albrecht prevails. When Cojocaru appears to protect him, air surrounds her limbs and weightless hops. But she holds back in the initial whirlpool of puffy turns--leg bent low behind he--and when slipping through a long, line of traveling hops. Her balances, however, emerge soundlessly out of motion and Corella demonstrates clean beats, uninhibited jumps and turns.

By far, the most commanding figure in the Second Act was Gillian Murphy. Her rapid-fire point pricks and robust leaps consume the stage and call everyone to attention. Incandescent in her filmy, fast bourees (tight runs on point) Myrta pumps much needed energy into the production and sea of corps dancers in white tulle.

In the end, Albrecht lives and Giselle melts into his memory.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 21, 2012
Who knew that Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn maintains a terrific performance space- the Bond St. Theater? Currently in residence is the entertaining "Judge Me Paris," a baroque burlesque opera by Company XIV. Possessing ribald humor, live music, exquisite singing and passionate contemporary dancing the sexy entertainment is directed, choreographed and conceived by Austin McCormick. Set up to look like stage and dressing area, framed by lighted mirrors on two sides, guests are welcomed into the space and handed a glass of rose wine.

As the performers warm-up and prepared in full view, the audience takes them in with voyeuristic intrigue. Surprisingly, the man who handed me my drink was the performer Jeff Takacs, who played Zeus. Tall, dark and handsome with a rich and resonant voice, Mr. Takacs introduces the story and it's players, at times part emcee, part guitar- playing comic. Paris, (the very attractive dancer, Sean Gannon), chooses 'the fairest' of three goddesses and bestows upon her prize of the Golden Apple. And thus begins the fun!

Mercury, danced by the sensual, gamine Cailan Orn, leads Paris to view each goddess and hear her plea. Amber Youell playing Juno, wife of Zeus who 'renews her virginity yearly,' is clearly a woman of her own making. In a gold lame pannier, thigh-high patent leather boots, a whip in hand, she lures Paris to consider her. Brett Umlauf, as Pallas, is a pillar of strength. A diminutive figure, with buff biceps and a killer voice, Ms. Umlauf and her retinue of soldier women in feathered helmets and beige lingerie present another view of the pleasure of power and submission. And finally, the blonde bombshell Venus, dressed like a nightclub singer/ prom queen, is delightfully portrayed by Brittany Palmer. Luscious and sweet, she lounges in her bath, covered in bubbles blown around by her lady in waiting.

The musicians of SIREN Baroque--wearing corsets, garters and period frock coats as they play violins, cello and harpsichord--join the talented trio of goddess-singers, from Morningside Opera. Every moment is full of desire, dedication, and wonderful detail. Every element --from the costumes, by Olivera Gajic, set design by Zane Pihlstrom, lighting by Gina Scherrer and projections by Corey Tatarczuk—is thoughtfully presented. The additional filming and projection of the singers and Paris draws us closer to the action while experiencing the whole picture. Looking forward to the next production by the talented Company XVI!?
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Deborah Wingert?

May 21, 2012
Company C, Contemporary Ballet chose NYC as part of their 10th anniversary tour. Directed by Charles Anderson, formerly of NYCB, this company proposes to allow inventive young choreographers to create work in the contemporary ballet vernacular.

A short film opened the program demonstrating work in the studio. Mr. Anderson spoke of the importance of teaching, asking them to be "in the moment" and encouraged them to display who they are.

An excerpt from 'Appalachia Waltz' by James Sewell was danced by a trio of women in long dresses and pointe shoes. This lyrical dance revealed a deep sense of community among the dancers. A pas de deux, "Key to Songs", with music by Morton Subotnik, followed showing Kristin Lindsay and David Van Ligon emerging from the darkness in Mr. Anderson's sculptural choreography. These dancers clearly posses fine technique, but the piece felt more like a sketch. Third was David Grenke's "Vespers", a duet to the raspy voice of Tom Waits. Lying flat in white pajamas and bare feet, Jacqueline McConnell is lifted, dragged, rolled, and carried by Oliver Freeston. Like a rag-doll, she is manipulated in a breathless expression of desperation.

"Indoor Fireworks", was a collaboration between Mr. anderson and Benjamin Bowman to the music of Elvis Costello. It tried hard but was too literal, waving a white flag to the song 'Wave a White Flag', or showing slow-motion punches to a song about dysfunctional relationships. It borrowed frequently from Twyla Tharp and ran out of steam. Sparkling double tours and pirouettes from David Van Ligon came too late and the choreography neglected dancers' obvious strengths. Even their youth and vigor couldn't sustain the supposed fireworks.

"which light in the sky is us?" closed the program with choreography by Gregory Dawson. It attempts to be mysterious with a line of dancers across the stage, backs facing the audience, as a male slinks on holding a lighted ring in each hand. There is a tribal feeling with cool lighting and rectangular pools of light by Patrick Toebe, creating haunting moments in silhouette and panels of light for the dancers to congregate in and escape from. The movement is a good challenge for the dancers, allowing Ms. McConnell to stand out for her spiky attack, but there was a lack of finesse in the partnering and it felt ragged.
Prudent editing would benefit future anniversaries.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deborah Wingert

May 21, 2012
New York City Ballet's program opened with the charming and high-flying cast of Jerome Robbins's "In G Major." This seaside romp with costumes and sets by Erté, and music by Maurice Ravel allowed the talented corps de ballet to shine in energetic leaps and playful turns. Maria Kowrowski, with jazzy hips and sinuous developés, and Tyler Angle, all smooth masculinity and easy pirouettes, danced an expressive duet which is the jewel at the center of this ballet. In an otherwise bright dance performance the orchestra sounded muddy, but the playful insouciance of the entire cast prevailed.

"Leibeslieder Walzer" displays Balanchine's masterful choreography, allowing four couples to venture into an elegant ballroom from another time. Johannes Brahms' piano duet and vocal quartet are set to poetry by Friedrich Daumer and Goethe. Each couple,wearing Karinska's mid-century Viennese costumes, waltzed around the drawing room.

Megan Fairchild, partnered by a passionately ardent Chase Finley, used her upper body to nice effect, while Tiler Peck and Justin Peck were paired in a wonderfully musical series of pas de deuxs. Ms. Peck seems to grow and develop with each performance, embodying the music with just the right temperament. She is able to show the details while never forgetting to be in the moment. Jonathan Stafford cut a dashing figure as he pursued Maria Kowroski. Her radiant beauty and exquisite line was on display as Mr. Stafford whisked her through each promenade.

Sterling Hyltin and Robbie Fairchild appeared gloriously entranced by each other, making every moment intensely romantic. His handsome bearing and subtle gestures allowed the delicate Ms. Hyltin to melt into his arms and become lost in his gaze. There was a moment when their fingertips breathtakingly reached to form a circular port de bras, yet didn't touch. It must be noted that the cast also danced with intimacy and a sense of community which will only deepen as they continue to dance together.

Christopher Wheeldon's "Les Carillons was a buoyant closing ballet. Danced to the enchanting music of George Bizet, the choreography was inventive and pushed the skills of balletic partnering to new heights. Taylor Stanley, Lauren Lovette, and Russell Janzen partnering the lush Teresa Reichlen, stood out for clear, musical dancing. Ana Sophia Scheller was especially vivacious in her dramatic and folk inspired solos while Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Stafford had more than enough energy as they flew through their challenges. Ashley Issacs, Andrew Veyette, and Adrian Danchig-Waring, completed the lively cast, joyously dancing Wheeldon's vibrant choreography.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Deborah Wingert

May 21, 2012
Dance was main the event at NYC Ballet’s Gala. There were no curtain speeches, no special gala ditty or honorary awards cluttering the evening’s camera-popping proceedings.

Celebrities and ballet supporters flocked into the David H. Koch Theater, stopping for glamour shots and toasting each other on the Promenade. But once the audience settled into their seats, eyes focused on two world premiers by Peter Martins and Benjamin Millipied and George Balanchine’s extra starry “Symphony in C.”

A French theme of sorts united the evening’s pieces. Martins designed a spacious piece to the music of Marc-Ancldre Dalbavie, French born Millipied made his dance “Two Hearts” to a commissioned score by the contemporary American composer Nico Muhly, and Balanchine’s grande “Symphony in C” glided over a score by Goerges Bizet.

Wide expanses of space are consumed by the dancers wearing filmy netting tops over strong geometric patterns and brightly colored under-slips by Gilles Mendel in Martin’s “Mes Oiseaux ." Open arms and flash leaps spray across the stage hurtling the three females – Lauren Lovette, Ashly Isaacs and Claire Kretzschmar in an orbit around the sole male, a highly composed Taylor Stanley.

 Initially, the females rippled through repeated movement phrases that eventually merged into unison comments. When Stanley enters, his legs circle in long arcs, torso leaning back and arms floating out to the side. Martins challenges his dancers’ technical skills with Lovette finessing the material to her advantage while Isaacs and Kretzschmar demonstrated more forced concentration. Although the spotlight falls primarily on Stanley, Martins’ dance opinions flourish inside his complex partnering choices—choices often lost on the eye as bodies pass swiftly from shape to grip.

"Two Hearts" pulls its emotional content from the woeful 18th century Appalachian folk song about a tragic love triangle sung by the soulful Dawn Landes. Strongly invested in every step, Tiler Peck and her partner Tyler Angle rotate and in away from each other in a duet exuding a poignant love. A robust corps of six men and six women snap out images of buoyant camaraderie and youthful trills. Muhly's extremely listenable and danceable score dove into spooky David Lynch territory trumpeting the final devastating ballad. The finely-tuned dancers looked fresh and sleek in Laura and Kate Mulleavy’s black and white outfits, while Millipied clearly wore his newly opened heart on stage.

Festivities closed on a starry wave of brilliantly white tutus studded in Swarovski crystals. Returning ballet to its grand and royal roots, George Balanchin'es 1947 "Symphony in C," complements Bizet's upturned melodies while Mark Happel's new costumes catch the bright lights and expectations for an exceptional season.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 17, 2012
Founded in 1984 under the artistic direction of Igal Perry, whose two new works “Conflicted Terrain” and “El Amor Brujo” bookended the show, the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company’s return to New York after a brief hiatus demonstrated a deep pool of talent within the company that bodes well for this group.

Set to Henryk Gorecki’s “String Quartet #3” performed by a string quartet led by cellist Nan-Cheng Chen, “Conflicted Terrain” puts the music at the forefront of the action by making the musicians an integral part of the piece. Placed on movable wooden platforms, which the dancers pull about the space with thick ropes, the quartet migrates around the floor, revolving, splitting apart and then coming back together. All of this movement allows different parts of the music to emerge, illuminating certain details that might not transmit in a stationary performance.

As the music in the first section swells, the dancers quickly pull the quartet towards the audience, making the musical crescendo both audible and physical. When not engaged in moving the musicians, the dancers largely remain paired off in spotlights that appear throughout the space. In a repeated tableau, a woman perched on one leg with the other lifted high to the side and arms arched out like wings, is forced into motion when her partner steps into the light, bumping into her extended leg.

Given the opening image of the spunky Madison McPhail seductively rolling her shoulders and swaying her hips to the music, Sudeikis’ “I am you,” should be a light, jazzy number that breaks up the general intensity of the other programming. Unfortunately, the piece veers dramatically into melodrama, particularly as the exuberant dancing is continually interrupted by making the dancers stand in a line and speak. Against an orchestral score, the dancers take turns filling in the phrase “I am…,” building into the inevitable conclusion: “I am you.”

In “The Ungathered” Sidra Bell creates a shadowy world where dancers in dominatrix-style leather and studs struggle against each other and the confines of a darkly lit, smoke-filled space, attempting to claw their way up the walls, presumably towards some sort of escape. Amidst this struggle come moments of straight ballet technique—supported leaps and pirouettes—which starkly contrast to instances of flopping on the floor and running around the space. Combined with an eclectic soundscape of electronic music, heavy breathing and some voiceovers, the effect is otherworldly, if somewhat unclear.

Although presumably the main attraction, Perry’s new “El Amor Brujo” was an underwhelming take on a Spanish gypsy love story, which relied heavily on flamenco-influenced posturing and dramatic prowling about the space. Only the stunning Joanna DeFelice—featured throughout the performance—was able to transcend any deficiencies in the choreography, maintaining an appropriately detached coolness throughout. The PostClassical Ensemble, seen through a sheer screen, played Manuel de Falla’s score with precision and insightfulness.

That the whole show maintained an elevated level of speed and physicality is a testament to the dancers’ endurance. It is evident that this is a fairly new company, as unison sections were never executed entirely in tandem and, at times, it felt like the individual dancers were competing with each other instead of working together to form a coherent whole. However, given the technical prowess of the group, with a few more months to coalesce, the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company could truly be something special.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore

May 16, 2012
Immaculately conceived, John Jasperse’s “Fort Blossom revisited (2000/12)” is a memorable piece of dance theater at NY Live Arts. Visually pristine, half the black stage floor is covered by an unspooled white Marley floor. Two attractive nude males (Ben Asriel, Burr Johnson) and two costumed females (Lindsay Clark, Erika Hand) are joined by clear plastic cubes for the men and amber cubes for the women. Men stay pretty much on the right side of the stage and women on the left. Exquisite exercises in erotically charged and abstract movements shape this duet-times-two to a soundscore by Ryoji Ikeda.

In alternating passages, the men move, then the women and finally they blend into a quartet. Simple combinations prevail. Men’s bare legs rise, circle to the back, and bend forward, backsides provocatively pointed to the audience. Later, they slip onto the floor, one on top of the other separated by the plastic cube. Soon, a rippling motion starts in the torso and travels to the hips in a graceful humping action that continues until the prophylactic cube deflates. On the other side of the stage, the women strap the plastic objects to their backs resembling butterfly wings, turning and gracefully folding and unfolding arms and legs.

Unlike his more recent works, in this piece, Jasperse claims full ownership of the choreography and design—and it shows. Equally playful and controlled, “Fort Blossom Revisted” reveals a strong choreographic mind and deep consideration of the body politic.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 14, 2012
A magical and thought provoking evening celebrated RIOULT at a gala performance at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater. The full house bubbled with energetic anticipation. "Celestial Tides," last year’s premiere, opened the evening with gentle lifts in dappled light against a deep blue and white projection to the luminous music of J.S. Bach. Harry Feiner and David Finley provided the projection design and lighting, respectively, while Karen Young costumed the muscular and lithe dancers in teal bathing suits and trunks evoking the sea. The women seemed to be playing in the water, supported by the men acting as waves. Swirling whirlpool lifts spun the women around while the forceful jumps and kicks suggested the sea’s power. A second projection of a flowing waterfall, animated by Brian Clifford Beasley, accompanied the rocking and yearning duets. A sense of discovery and joyous musical dancing prevails, as dancers became constellations advancing in waves across the sky.

"The Violet Hour" received its world premiere and was inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Pianist and composer Joan Towers performed her own compositions, "Tres Lent"and "Catching a Wave," with the handsome cellist Raman Ramakrishnan. Light emanating from one side of the stage illuminated the dancers’ stately walking and running like tumbleweeds blown across an arid land. Dressed in beige trunks and tops embroidered with texture by Maria Garcia, the pilgrimage progressed into melting, leaping and suspended lifts reminiscent of craggy rocks or cacti. As a man and a woman kissed three times, Eliot's poetry, full of hope, dreams, memory and desire, came to mind, imbuing the piece with mystery.

"Firebird," performed to Igor Stravinsky's suite closed the program. Mr. Pascal Rioult's choreography began with a menacing group that looked like insects or animals, rising from the mist, plodding along, until they encounter the "firebird." She is the exquisite young dancer Sierra Glasheen, wearing a white dress and holding two peacock feathers. Her playful whimsy causes each member of the group recoil at her touch, as if they cannot bear her simple human kindness. The entire cast possessed expressive arms and fingers allowing the audience to hear the delicacy of the music while exposing the intensity and purpose in each gesture. Moved from alienation to love by the sheer simplicity of the young Firebird, Mr. Rioult's choreography enlivens Stravinsky's iconic score -- it’s a re-awakening!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Deborah Wingert

May 10, 2012
A man stands with one hand on his chest, breathing – loud and quick. As time passes his breaths begin to form a curious, mesmerizing rhythm, until he stops suddenly, and the female dancer standing patiently throughout, comes to life with movement. All the while a projection of a single white line grows on the backdrop, dipping onto the floor, creating a doodle.

Before long the duo is joined by a third and the smooth finish to their moves is switched out for jerky angular jabs of arms and legs, palms out, flurries of shaking. Performed by choreographer Ivy Baldwin and dancers Lawrence Cassella, Molly Poerstel-Taylor and Eleanor Smith, Baldwin's "Ambient Cowboy" flings us into a bizarre, dynamic environment, with ever-changing tones of loneliness, love, and intensity.

In particular, the set design by Anna Schuleit created uniquely each night in real time and projected onto the entire stage along with the piece offers a unique element. Despite moments of stark loneliness focused repetitive dance phrases that ebb and flow in their patterns, there is this other unexplained presence that is out of the performer’s control. As one falls to the ground, the white scribbles become angrier, criss-crossing over her still body until she is completely covered in this white splotch.

The music (Justin Jones) sneaks up on us and then fades away, giving the dancers’ bodies moments to create their own rhythm accompanied by audible breaths and “swooshing” sounds, a movement conversation of sorts.

"Ambient Cowboy" travels from warm scenes of a soloist rolling her shoulders quick and girly turns into a classic partnering moment with Poerstel-Taylor spinning around like a dance figurine in a jewelry box, guided by Cassella. Baldwin’s choreographic interest in deconstruction and meshing of unexpected elements suits this piece well – you leave NY Live Arts unsure of where you just were, in a good way.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

May 7, 2012
The Scandinavians to a large degree and the Dutch in particular embraced two distinctly American artforms: modern dance and jazz. Both have proliferated in the Netherlands, and one of their representatives, Introdans Dance Company appeared at the Joyce Theater. Founded by Ton Wiggers and Directed by Roel Voorintholt, the well rehearsed, technically adept company performed three works at the Joyce Theater.

Only the opening piece, “Funf Gedichte—Five Poems” by Nils Christe registered as a memorable composition. Clean and tightly structured, a series of duets placed four men and four women in body challenging lifts, twists and drops. Zachary Chant appears and disappears in flesh colored tights, like a conductor directing the community of dancers.

Flashy without much punctuation, the second work “Paradise?” by Gisela Rocha gives the dancers a post modern, off kilter lexicon. Snippets of a jazz inflected rendition of “Over The Rainbow” by Mara Hulspa filters in and out as does a kicky little tap routine by Rashaen Arts.

Finally, Ed Wubbe's "Messiah" wove large, misty dance patterns throughout the music but did little to enlighten Handel’s lush score.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 7, 2012
An all -Balanchine night opened on a neoclassical wonder, Concerto Barocco (1948). A pristine, all female corps forms the animated scenery that sets off the two leads, Teresa Reichlen and Abbi Stafford who replaced an injured Sara Mearns. Kaleidoscopic sprays of daisy chains twisting in and around, lengthening into crisp, unison legwork clarify Bach’s giddy score. Lanky and technically sound, Reichlen adroitly maneuvered the swift leg lifts and feet crossings forward and back. In contrast, the smaller Stafford rarely completed her counterpoint phrases. Replacing Justin Peck, the lone male, Ask la Cour adequately fulfilled his role supporting the two leads.

Another Balanchine neoclassical marvel Kammermusik No. 2 (1978) crackles to the jazzy score by Paul Hindeminth. Now the corps is composed of all men, fronted by Rebecca Krohn and Abi Stafford. All the buoyant lyricism of Concerto Barocco is flipped into a Cubist structure in the brisk Kammermusik. While the two women bounce lightly over the score, the men cut against that image flaring flat arms, that retract into insect appendages, walking briskly and rocking back on their heels while flexing their feet. Adrian Danchig-Waring and Jonathan Stafford led the bracing corps: Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Zachary Catazaro, Cameron Dieck, Sam Greenberg, Ralph Ippolito, Andrew Scordato, and Joshua Thew.

Always a crowd-pleaser “Tchaikovesky pas De Deux” coupled a light and dazzling Ana Sophia Scheller with the jaunty Gonzalo Garcia. Alternating sequences of horizontal stag leaps, and pin curl turns, Scheller gains in confidence and artistic momentum with each performance. Delight imbued the cheekily competitive couple and the inherent enthusiasm spilled into the audience.

Flash and colorful splendor soak the stage in Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” choreographed by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Eye popping sets and costumes by Marc Chagall establish the folktale’s magical world where Star Wars characters threaten the village’s maidens. Prince Ivan (Justin Peck) saves the long gowned maidens with the help of an enchanted Firedbird—the ever-enchanting Ashley Bouder. At once vulnerable and commanding, Bouder’s point-sharp technique has lengthened and softened over the past couple of seasons. Suspended arabesques and wavering, swan like arms, crystallize into flash turns and dagger sharp leaps. In the final wedding scene between the Pince and his Princess, all the wondrous creature-like imaginings and villagers assemble in a memorable life painting.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - - Celia Ipiotis

May 1, 2012
What makes a prima ballerina special? That question was posed during the “Gala Tribute Honoring the Legendary Natalia Makarova”--the Russian ballerina who streaked into the west and rode the crest of popularity throughout her tenure as a dancer with ABT and companies around the world.

Makarova appears in film snippets chronicling her rise in the ranks of the Mariinsky theater, defection to the west, establishment of an international career, motherhood and renovation of the full-length La Bayadere.

The smartly produced evening fades between the film and live performances reflecting Ms. Makarova’s accomplishments. Snippets from La Bayadere bring forth Ekaterina Kondaurova and Veronika Part. The long Ms. Kondaurova returns in William Forsythe’s off-kilter, leggy “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and as the fiendish Black Swan.

Already a star, Natalia Osipova and her equally ebullient partner Ivan Vasiliev went modern in Mauro Bigonzetti’s Serenata, and although it’s always enlightening to see the many aspects of a ballerina, one thirsts for Osipova in the classics, like her remarkable turn in the Pas de Deux from Giselle.

Another ballerina darling, Diana Vishneva swooped through the Bedroom pas de Deux from Manon while leggy Maria Kowroski kicked her way through Slaughter on Tenth Avenue that led to Ashley Bounder’s lilting rendition of “Other Dances.”

Tamara Rojo danced “A Month in the Country,” Alicia Amatriain and Friedemann Vogel coupled in “Onegin,” Yuan Yuan Tan transformed into a White Swan and Ms. Rojo, Denis Matvienko, Ms. Kondaurova and David HalbergGillian Murphy came through in the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere.

At the end of the fine tribute coordinated by Artistic Producer Natasha Gamolsky-Radinskaya, Natalia Makarova appeared to her adoring audience hoisted high in the air by two suitors and the adoration of everyone in the audience.

The gala benefited the Youth American Grand Prix, an international dance competition that spent several days in the David H. Koch theater coaching and viewing some of today’s most talented young dancers.

Award winning competitors included:
Gold – Adhonay Soares da Silva (14), Bale Jovem Do Centro Cultural Gustav Ritter, BRAZIL
Silver – Giuseppe Basillio (14), AS Ballet, SWITZERLAND
Bronze – David Preciado (13), Los Angeles Ballet School, CA, USA Women
Gold – Juliet Doherty (14), Fishback School of the Dance, NM, USA
Silver – Grecia Marian Meza Posada (12), Escuela Superior de Musica Y Danza de Monterrey, MEXICO Adhonay Soares da Silva
(14), Bale Jovem Do Centro Cultural Gustav Ritter, BRAZIL
Bronze – Maria Clara Coelho (13), Balletarrj Escola de Danca, BRAZIL
For more information on the Youth American Grand Prix’s exciting work, please click HERE.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 1, 2012
It never pays to cross a woman or a seer in Greek Dramas. Stuff happens—and according to Trajal Harrell, some pretty wild shenanigans erupt. At NY Live Arts, Mr. Harrell barrells into his meditation on the question “What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing ball scene in Harlem had come downtown to perform alongside the early postmodernists at Judson Church?”

Trajal Harrell's “Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (L)” hypnotically deconstructs the material layering one dramatic form over another. A company of five attractive male dancers wade into an interlocking circle of text, movement and music that splashes snippets of the Ancient Greek drama inside a gay socio-theatrical subculture.

First one, then another dancer in black pants, bare chest and open jacket fill in three blocks of light performing highly individualized, club inspired moves to a seductive score. Silently slipping down the theater aisle, Harrell sits on a step and reads a poetic manifesto from his iPad.

Met by the tall, willowy Thibault Lac of the French inflected, mellifluous voice, they sit on a shiny silver draped platform (reminiscent of the platforms set up for Southeast Asian musicians) and begin a verbal round: We are-----Kanye West and Jay-Z—pause, pause—We are—the Olson twins—pause, pause—We are—Mona Lisa—pause, pause, etc.

Runway voguing featuring men in outfits that bridge Ancient Greek chic and Harlem ball costumes, threads its way through the text like the string stretched across the stage referencing Theseus’ perilous voyage into the Labyrinth.

The distinctive company of male performers includes Stephen Thompson, Ondrej Vidlar , and the man on the incredibly high spiked heels and remarkable kinetic sensibility, Rob Fordeyn.

At just about two and a-half hours, some people were fidgeting. But it is possible to sync up with the mantric rhythms and feel the experimentations of downtown dance with all its noodling and folly, smile on the marriage of the tightly constructed ancient Greek myths and Harlem balls.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 27, 2012
On the heels of an enormously successful gala honoring Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Ballet Hispanico stepped into the Joyce Theater for their Spring Season.

In Program A, two premieres marched ahead of Eduardo Vilaro’s 2011 “Asuka.” Newly installed as the artistic director (replacing the organization’s founder Tina Ramirez) Vilaro’s Cuban background seasons the rhythms in “Asuka.”

Couples swing easily between same sex couplings and traditional partnering—in the same way men dance with men and women with women in dance clubs throughout Latin America. The unmistakable voice of Celia Cruz “Queen of Salsa” brightens up the congenial piece anchored by a soulful Jessica Alejandra Wyatt adorned in a pure white dress.

A choreographer-about-town, Ronald K. Brown created “Espiritu Vivo,” that featured the loose limbed Jamal Rashann Callender. Soft, bent knees, easy arms and a casual carriage draw dancers onto the stage in the first couple of sequences. Calm gives way to jubilation in the final Spring section that releases West African inflected modern dance patterns popping against club dance sequences and communal conversations.

Opening the program, Cherry red shoes gleam underneath crisp white over-the-knee full skirts. Women line-up across from the men in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s smartly crafted piece “Nube Blanco.” A modern dance/flamenco remix, there are plenty of visual puns including men and women hobbling around with one spiked heel on and one off, as well as a dancer in a big white powder puff swirling through the corps. Lighting by Josh Preston adds to the stylized humor and urban dance glam scene.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 26, 2012
Known throughout as the signature dance shoe, Capezio threw a fete at city center for its 125th anniversary. The audience poured into the City Center lobby to toast the evening’s performers, Capezios founding father and the long running ruling family --the Terlizzis-- who continue to shape shoes for the future.

And what better way to open a show than synchronized excellence of six Rockettes sweeping through “A Tribute to Irving Berlin.” A dancer who could easily join that line of beautiful legs, the willowy, self-poised Ann Reinking colored in the 61st Capezio Dance Award Winner Tommy Tune's many attributes as a friend, choreographer, director and dancer and his legendary long legs. Another recipient of Capezio’s gratitude was Nygel Lythgoe and Dizzy Feet for his dedication to inserting dance into schools everywhere.

The evening's buoyant program put together by Anne Marie DeAngelo spotlighted dancers from the realm of ballet, hip hop, ballroom, tap, modern dance and circus acrobatics. Misty Copeland whisked through Tchaikovsky's “Pas de Deux” partnered and framed by another ABT dancer, the fine Jared Matthews.

Couples (Travis and Jaimee Tuft, Russ and Katusha Wilder) whirled through Dance Sport Ballroom episodes and able-bodied Bad Boys Of Dance led by Rasta Thomas flew though airborne combinations twisted around funky hip-hop. Subtle and romantic, Cartier Williams contributed fluttery taps suggesting a tap dancer of fine potential.

All the performers brought a sense of individuality and devotion to the show including the attractively edgy Noah Racey and Jeffrey Denman. In a nod to Broadway great Bob Fosse, Jennifer Dunne, David Warren and Dana Moore danced his signature Manson Trio from “Pippin."

Two dancers who helped promote hip hop as a concert form, Mr. Wiggles and Crazy Legs ginned up excitement. Mr. Wiggles broke into astonishingly crisp isolations in “Industrial Rhythm” while Rock Steady Crew dropped and spun in easy, looping turns.

Exaggerated skis supported Steven Marshall and Nicole Loizides, two MOMIX dancers, as they hinged forward parallel to the skis issuing great oohs in “Millennium Skiva."

During the final turn, a cavalcade of performers crowded a happy stage proving that Capezio shoes form the bridge between all forms of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 23, 2012
Harlem Stage’s 13th year of the “E-Moves” dance series opened on three “E-Merging” choreographers, Simone Sobers, Nikky Hefko, and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and one “E-Volving” choreographer, Sheetal Gandhi. Rare as it is to find emerging choreographers with sufficient resources and guidance to fully realize their vision, these artists premiered bold, satirical, and tasteful work at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse. The first three pieces on the program were concise and appealing.

Simone Sobers presented a trio, entitled “Her,” exploring a woman’s desire to unleash her wilder side in the face of the traditional behavioral expectations. The three women flipped between composed, wild thrashing, and in-your-face sexuality. As they threw their limbs, their faces maintained a restrained composure, as if they wanted to yell out in pent-up anger, but would not allow themselves.

The next piece, “myself when i am real,” was a soft and sweet contemporary ballet pas de deux, intended as an exploration of the music from a piano improvisation by Charles Mingus. Accompanied by a live pianist, the movement of the two delicate dancers developed, reflecting the changes of the music. From the gray chiffon costumes, to the airy lifts, this stylish piece reminded us that ballet can still be fresh.

A post-modern combination of movement and visual art choreographed and performed by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko entitled “other.explicit.body” closed the first half. Racially charged and satirical, the piece accumulated from simple arm circles repeated over an NPR discussion about “Blackness,” adding piercing noises from a live electric guitar, and finally Kosoko screaming the statement “I’m reading” and yelling out the title of books about race. Dressed in a white sweat suit with “Black Power” and other such variations spray painted on it, Kosoko performed the entire solo chained to an aluminum weight placed center stage.

After a brief intermission, Sheetel Gandhi performed “Bahu-Beti-Biwi,” a tour de force solo, which seamlessly melded traditional Indian dance, modern dance, spoken word, song, and visual arts. Deeply rooted in Indian heritage, but also relevant and contemporary, her solo combined the detailed finesse of Indian dance with the complexity and depth of modern dance. As if on a voyage inside her head, we experienced her feelings and memories. Gandhi threw herself full- heartedly into every moment of this autobiographical and emotionally charged work.

She seamlessly transitioned between playing herself, exposing her insecurities, fears, and self-indulgences, and acting the part of an important person in her life--her grandmother for example—demonstrating the effect her traditional Indian family has had on her as a woman and as an artist. This work of art was as light-hearted as it was emotional, and as goofy as it was elegant.

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from the “E-Moves” dance series is how important it is to give every growing artist the resources and guidance necessary to develop works.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock-Lewis

April 18, 2012
Young and enthusiastic the Barcelona Ballet under the direction of the ballet darling, Angel Corella swept into City Center. An enjoyable program opened with a large-scale romantic ballet by Clark Tippet who danced with ABT, Christopher Wheeldon's flashy, all-male quartet and a colorful but messy nod to Spain's cultural roots and future traditions by Rojas & Rodriguez.

A cast of twenty-three dancers spread out in Tippet's neo-classical ballet “Bruch Violin Concerto No.1.” Unexpected, needlepoint footwork relies on a strong classical line dipped in teaser lifts that require men to place their palms in the center of a woman's back, pressing he body up overhead. Many technical details were left unfinished, but most of the dance was crisply navigated -- particularly by Ana Calderon and Aaron Robinson, the spry couple in Red as well as Yuka Iseda in Aqua, and the magnetic Alejandro Virelles in Pink.

Originally created for “The Kings of Dance” (a play on the Four Tenors concept), “For 4” by Christopher Wheeldon unleashed the showy talents of Barcelona Ballet's young men: Kirill Radev, Alejandro Virelles, Aaron Robison and Dayron Vera. Scissor leaps flip into blurry quick foot to ankle turns, and bountiful male bravura antics to a score by Franz Schubert. More princes than kings, the young men represent the company’s exciting potential.

Artistic Director Angel Corella commissioned a piece from two Spanish choreographers, Rojas & Rodriguez, to music by Hector Gonzalez. The stew of musical influences combines Spanish folk, social, street and concert dance influences. And although the program notes assert the piece, suggested by Corella, follows Palpito, the main character (Corella) who frees himself from the past in order to embrace new horizons. Well, that particular trajectory wasn’t so clear in the choreography, but the dancers’ versatility was apparent. Women slap ruffled skirts back and forth while men in toreador outfits paw the earth, stand taut and swivel their hips to claim attention.

In the central role, Corella projects an undeniable charisma unleashing fine air turns, sharp leaps and a clean technique. Various dance forms bubble up under shabby sheik, Victoria’s Secretish costumes by Vicente Soler. Despite the choreography’s choppiness, the company embraces the Spanish flavor with fervor.

Enthusiastically welcomed by the audience, Ballet Barcelona exudes an on-stage ease and commitment to building ballet in Spain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 17, 2012
The well-regarded Elisa Monte Dance Company opened its 2012 season with performances at the Ailey Citigroup Theater featuring three world premieres and two revivals that demonstrate the group’s versatility and energy.

Appropriately, the evening began with the opening duet from “Amor Fati” (1999), a brief exercise in largely gymnastic partnering that serves as the prelude to the whole work. In this performance, it introduced one of Monte’s signature pieces, “Pigs and Fishes,” a 1982 work originally commissioned by Alvin Ailey for his company. The movement shows hints of African influence, especially in the way the arms are often joined together to form a circle that loops towards and away from the center of the body.

If the arms are not locked together, then typically only one arm moves at a time, slicing forward and back while the hips respond by swaying side to side. The propulsive music by Glenn Branca buoys the dancers, carrying them through to the end of this physically demanding work.

“Outside In,” the first of the evening’s premieres, is the work of company member Joe Celej and features new music by composer Ben Doyle. Three dancers sit entwined together on the floor; as the piece progresses, they never lose contact with each other, rushing to fill holes recently vacated by another dancer. At one point, company strongman Prentice Whitlow hinges backwards while simultaneously supporting a dancer seated on each of his thighs, providing resistance for his outstretched arms. All the while, their movements are hazily projected onto the back scrim, creating a ghostly counterpoint to the action happening before the audience’s eyes.

Associate Artistic Director Tiffany Rea-Fisher’s “In Absentia” also features new music by composer Kevin Keller; the work itself, however, covers familiar territory, exploring the ideas of timing in romantic relationships. As the central couple, Clymene Baugher and Joe Celej demonstrate obvious metaphors of conflicting emotions by alternately pushing away from each other, then coming together. Baugher, although clearly skilled and certainly the most heavily used dancer throughout the performance, appears to overcompensate for her lack of lower body flexibility by relying on exaggerated facial expressions that detract from the performance.

Monte’s premiere of “Unstable Ground” proved to be the disappointment of the evening. With jarring music by Lois Vierk, the dancers largely writhe around on the ground from side to side as new dancers slither their way into the group. The men and women are dressed in shiny leotards of various shades of earth tones; however, the mesh panel on the back of the men’s costumes is placed in the front of the women’s costumes, revealing their bare breasts underneath. It remains unclear what this gratuitous exposure adds to a work meant to explore unexpected shifts in our environment and economy.

Fortunately, the evening closes with another recent Monte piece, “Vanishing Languages,” (2011)—an energetic, vibrant work that investigates the extinction of indigenous languages around the world. Some movement phrases are performed by opposing groups of four, each shifting their hips or sweeping their arms in a pattern that is uniquely theirs; with alternating sequences of turns, high leg kicks and slides to the floor, each dancer creates his or her own distinct language that may or may not be understood and repeated by the others.

Despite some of the choreographic shortcomings, the audience responded warmly to the program, cheering loudly when Monte appeared for a final bow.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore

April 16, 2012
With the premiere of “Compromised” at the Hudson Guild Theatre, Wendy Osserman Dance Company explores the polarization of the political stage through an evening-length work created by Osserman in collaboration with four dancers.

Set to musical arrangements of Eric Satie and drummer Victor Lewis, the score also includes interviews with people representing both right- and left-wing viewpoints. The tone of the performance is generally light and breezy; Osserman manages to avoid treating this over-wrought subject with a heavy hand.

As a soft hum of jazzy drums starts to play, dancers Milan Misko and Cori Kresge enter from the back of the small theater, heads bobbing like chickens, eyes alert, scanning the scene. Both dressed in dark suits, Misko takes the lead as Kresge dutifully echoes his movements—the image of an eager campaign aide comes to mind. The movement itself appears loosely choreographed; the dancers frantically gesticulate their hands and then casually traipse about the space, seemingly without any clear purpose or intention. Misko at times looks to be psyching himself up for his big campaign speech, while Kresge keeps her place behind him, always moving, yet never in the spotlight.

The second section, “Forward or Back” takes a literal approach, pairing Misko with Cara Heerdt to execute a prolonged series of wobbly balances that reach in opposite directions as the two move forward and back along a diagonal line. Heerdt occasionally swivels her hips seductively, and when the two finally make contact, it seems inevitable that Misko is about to jeopardize his political ambitions for a passing distraction. The deal is sealed when Heerdt pitches over into what is known in yoga as a “downward dog,” extending her back leg to reach to Misko and beckoning him back to her with her foot. When Misko meets his political rival— a striking Lauren Ferguson—the two struggle to gain the upper hand, even pacing dramatically around each other. Subtlety of messaging is not a cornerstone of this work; Osserman clearly drew direct inspiration from the characters and situations that typically accompany any sort of political campaign.

Osserman herself appears several times throughout the piece, often accompanied by text that pits progressives against conservatives; this ideological split is reflected in the lighting, which alternately illuminates and darkens halves of the stage. As if trying to guide the discussion, Osserman stands center stage, directing traffic with her hands before finally giving up; apparently the effort of making opposing sides listen to each other is just too much.

Osserman’s movement follows the light, improvisational vein established early in the piece; it often appears that her body is making its own decisions about what it wants to do—sometimes she tries to control it, and sometimes she just goes with it.

This sort of tooling around does not make for particularly engaging choreography, but it does alleviate some of the predictability of the subject matter.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore

April 16, 2012
Rukimi Vijayakumar, stunning and poised, immediately captures the audience’s gaze as she steps center stage donned in gold with bells wrapped around her ankles and jewelry sparkling beneath the lights. She begins to move, striking intricate poses specific down her finger placement and animated glance.

Erasing Borders: DanceFEST INDIA Concert II was presented at La Mama Club. Pulling from the classical South Indian dance form Bharatanatyam, two up and coming choreographers (Vijayakumar and Preeti Vasudevan: Thresh Dance) trained also in Western modern dance showcased their cross-cultural work.

A series of Bharatanatyam dances, full of expressive faces, elegant mudras (symbolic hand gestures), and sharp poses with the legs often bent between turns and stomps, open the show. Prior to each, Vijayakumar takes the microphone offering some background to the story and spiritual qualities that color each solo.

In “Sako Sako Priyai,” she transforms into a lover of the Hindu deity, Shiva. Humor runs through the movement, driven heavily by facial expressions portraying annoyance with her far-too popular love interest. Next Vijayakumar expresses the beauty of lord Krishna in “Kasturi Tilakam.” The spotlight shines down upon her as she sits in a deep lunge holding one arm over her head, the other bent in at her chest.

Following is Savitri: A Journey in Eternal Night by Thresh Dance (Contemporary Indian Dance Theater). Dancer/Choreographer Preeti Vasudevan is joined by vocalist Kyra Gaunt in a unique part dance-part musical duet interpretation of a debate between the mortal woman, Savitri, and the God of Death (Yama) who is on the verge of taking her husband’s soul.

The dynamic between the two evolves becoming more and more endearing and comical throughout. Laughs are heard from the audience as Vasudevan’s decided upper body movements are complimented by moans, squeaks, and loud, heartfelt notes sung by the gowned Gaunt. Unexpectedly, Vasudevan’s poignant glance shifts to her singing counterpart as she breaks her own silence with a “Shhh!” before returning to her dance. Alongside the melding of traditional and contemporary Indian dance found in Vasudevan’s movement, the music composed by John Hadfield and verses from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri create the theatrical atmosphere.

The evening concert closes with Vijayakumar once again taking the stage – this time in a completely different form. Her hair falls over her shoulder in a loose braid and a leotard and long plain skirt parallel the simple look. An excerpt from her work-in-progress, Reaching Out dives into gestural exploration through modern dance. Her skirt becomes a part of her movement as she pulls at it and tosses the fabric. Inspired by her acting experience in The Lady of Burma, the piece has a dramatic aire and includes spoken word at points.

The festival presented by Indo-American Arts Council and Trinayan Dance Theatre, included three dance concert evenings, family friendly performances, as well as various panels and workshops.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson

April 9, 2012
When seeing hip-hop dance, you expect something from music videos, clubs, perhaps from a street performance at the park. It’s something catchy, easy to follow, and really, really fun. But when you go to a performance at a venue dedicated to the development of art, you expect something experimental, and very, very different. And when you combine those two polar opposites, what do you get? Decadancetheatre’s performance at the Joyce Soho. Founding artistic director Jennifer Weber formed an all-woman company of hip-hop dancers on a mission to fuse hip-hop and contemporary dance. Two skilled dancers began the evening with an excerpt from a world premier entitled “4.”

Set to the Summer Concerto from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, the choreography's energy shifted without warning between aggressive and subdued. The aggression was detailed, musical, and powerful. Contemplative moments were appropriately calm, but their harsh contrast with the rest of the piece made them enigmatic.

“City Breathing: 2012 Remix,” began and closed with a refreshingly dynamic solo performed in almost complete darkness by Taeko Koji. The bulk of this piece, however, was an ensemble of dancers in the dark. The only lights were their costumes: Full-body suits that flickered and could be turned on and off. Even though the light-heartedness was a relief after the pretentions of “4,” excluding Taeko Koji’s performance, in this piece, physicality was disappointedly sacrificed for special effects.

For the third and final piece, “When the Sky Breaks 3D,” the audience was asked to put on 3d glasses, which with the reflection of the lights on stage, quickly became an obstruction to enjoying the dancing. Gradually, not a single member of the audience was wearing them. Once again, there were moments of satisfying technicalities, interspersed with puzzling contemplation. Every few minutes, breakdancing came as a break from the choreography’s ambiguous musing.

Decadancetheatre’s risk should be applauded—Weber’s effort to introduce hip-hop to the contemporary dance scene is much appreciated. The company clearly has skill and potential, but it is definitely trying to find its voice.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock-Lewis

April 5, 2012
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s matinee performance in its new Lincoln Center digs was short on dance, choosing instead to focus on his more theatrical works.

The show opener “Oh, You Kid!” is a slice of Americana set to ragtime tunes that references popular period dances of the early 1900s. Surprisingly, the work was only choreographed in 1999; dressed in black and white swim costumes, the work relies heavily upon obviously dated humor. In one section a grown man comes crawling onto the stage dressed as a baby and manages to interfere with a woman’s attempt to marry the reluctant father.

The movements that link the patches of period dancing are quite basic; there is a repeated reference to a slowly rotating attitude—a position where one leg is held out at an angle either in front or behind demonstrating a bend at the knee. Much of the time, however, the dancers merely walk or run around the space.

Choreographed in 1970, “Big Bertha” is a shockingly bold look at incest and rape hidden behind the appearance of a simple carnival amusement. Dressed in a shiny gold suit with a red cape and jaunty hat, Amy Young portrayed the namesake doll that eerily comes to life, executing the mechanical movements with precision and a disconcerting intensity that foreshadows the role the doll will play in destroying the unsuspecting family.

Eran Bugge displays a youthful exuberance when she first gets to dance with the doll, which makes her disheveled and bloodied return all the more poignant. Long-time Taylor dancer Michael Trusnovec and the lovely Fleet were also well cast in this uncomfortable work that leaves you squirming in your seat.

After sitting through “Oh, You Kid!,” the world premiere of the truly questionable “House of Joy” and the bizarre “Big Bertha,” the opening strains of Bach’s “Violin Concerto in E Major” swept through the theater like a breath of fresh air as the curtain came up on Taylor’s signature 1975 work “Esplanade.”

The dancers looked joyous executing the familiar patterns of runs and walks that constitute the majority of the piece. Particularly thrilling was the final section where the dancers dart across the space at a quick run before launching themselves in the air, only to catch themselves in the last possible moment on an extended leg to slide and roll off the floor. Michelle Fleet shone as the playful ringleader, handling the section of impossibly fast, continuous little steps with ease and grace.

“Esplanade” received a roaring ovation, particularly noteworthy considering the sleepy matinee audience. The appreciation for this piece was certainly well placed.

EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Jessica Moore

April 3, 2012
The aggressive physicality and electrifying Brazilian sensuality of Dance Brazil consumed the Joyce Theatre. Founded in 1977 by Jelon Vieira, the company’s artistic director and choreographer, Dance Brazil strives to share Brazilian culture with the United States through dance performances featuring Capoeira, blended with Afro-Brazilian and contemporary dance. This mission is evident as the dancers, only four of whom are Capoeristas, display their endurance first in “Imfazwe,” a New York City premier, followed by the fun and traditional “Batuke,” both performed to live music.

“Imfazwe” opens with a calm, clean, strong ensemble of dancers. The program states that “Imfazwe” means war, so this classical introduction leaves the question hanging as to how the aggression will materialize. The answer comes suddenly, when spotlights clamp on a duet of Capoeira dancers, who display what this company does best: feature chiseled men who seem like they can stand on their hands for hours, jump from the stage to the back row of the audience and without a doubt, mutilate anything with one kick. This first Capoeira dance left the clean lines of the preceding ensemble in the dust. Even more unbelievably physical Capoeira sections follow, rendering everything else about this piece, from the choreographic development, to the music, amateur.

The second piece, “Batuke,” begin with the three women in the company showcasing the strength of their femininity and Brazilian roots. As they swing their hips, and throw their hair, they generate a comparable amount of energy and excitement as the Capoeristas. Unlike the preceding piece, in “Batuke,” the modern dancers get equal opportunity to show off their stamina and artistry, personifying the sensual rhythms of the non-traditional instruments played during impressively endless sections of choreography. The company’s energy, carried by one dancer in particular, the rehearsal director Camila Freitas, gains momentum as “Batuke” arrives at a climactic finish.

Dance Brazil’s performance was energizing and impressive. Although the company didn’t demonstrate versatility or a forging of artistic ground, their expression of Brazilian heritage was fresh and honest.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Elizabeth Sherlock-Lewis

April 3, 2012
At a press conference today, Nigel Redden, Director of the Lincoln Center Festival, announced the appearance of the Paris Opera Ballet from July 11 – 22. Five different works underscore a cross-section of repertory by choreographers who contributed to the Paris Opera Ballet ‘s footprints.

Audiences will be treated to performances of Serge Lifar’s “Suite En Blanc” (July 11, 12, 15); Roland Petit’s “L’Arlesienne,” (July 11, 12, 15); Maurice Bejart’s “Bolero” (July 11, 12 15); Pina Bausch’s “Orphee Et Eurydice” (July 20, 21, 22); and the romantic, full-length ballet, Giselle (July 13, 14, 17, 18, 19).

The gracious Brigitte Lefevre, Director of Dance at the Paris Opera, spoke through an interpreter of the company’s NYC repertory. According to Ms. Lefevre, the historically famous Giselle was selected because it expresses the condition of the poet, epitomizes the French style and, well, she “likes it.” She explained that the company is comprised of etoilles (ballerinas) who work their way up through the school’s ranks in the same way she did after entering the school at the tender age of eight. Imbued in this uniform pedagogy, the Paris Opera Dancers exhibit the same company style in their fervor and execution.

Enthusiastic about all the offerings, she was particularly sentimental about their staging of the late Pina Bausch’s dramatic modern dance piece ““Orphee Et Eurydice.” When it first appeared in NYC, Maurice Bejart’s sensuous “Bolero” performed either with a single woman or single man in the center of an enormous red table surrounded by a corps of writhing figures, created a sensation for its exhibitionist and highly erotic qualities! Two other dances, the sweeping “Suite en Blanc” demonstrates the academic underpinnings of the classical form and “L”Arlesienne” theatricalizes Alphonse Daudet’s story of a tragic love affair draped in sunny and shadowy passages. The programs take place at the David H. Koch Theater, and performancees will feature live music by the New York City Ballet Orchestra and the Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble & Chorus.

This program is certain to whet the appetite of dancegoers in New York City.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 30, 2012
Eye on Dance, celebrating 30 years of fascinating interviews chronicling the world of dance in America, was part of the Dance on Camera series at Lincoln Center. Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush were heralded by Deirdre Towers, festival curator, for bringing awareness of the process of dance to a wide audience.

Eye on Dance, first aired in 1981 on PBS, was an opportunity for scholars, historians, dancers, choreographers and many other artists to discuss their work and philosophies. With the innovation of portable video equipment, a whole new generation of videographers was inspired to open up worlds usually closed to the public.

EYE ON DANCE dared to explore dance, from ballet to hip-hop, passing through an era identified by the "dance boom," "culture wars of the 80's," "gender politics," "multi-culturalism," ballet and modern mash-ups and so much more. These interviews were captured on film and are an incredible window to the kind of creativity that was so prevalent. Informative conversations were interspersed with performance footage and it was the only program of its kind at the time -- and to this day. Ms. Ipiotis and Mr. Bush are raising funds to preserve and process the complete EYE ON DANCE archive. This archive will be invaluable to anyone studying the history of dance or simply interested in the subject of these videos.

An interview from 1986 with Moses Pendleton and Jonathan Wolken had the audience of the Walter Reade Theater laughing at the hilarious interaction of these two founders of Pilobolus. Having not spoken since their public break-up in 1983, it was clear that they were conflicted over being reunited and definitely in "high spirits" as Ms. Ipiotis called it! The interaction of Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Wolken, with Ms. Ipiotis trying to stay in command, is a perfect example of the kind of innovative, thought provoking interviews that make up the Eye On Dance library.

Before this gem from Eye on Dance was a film by Philippe Baylaucq, called "ORA". Choreographed by Jose Navas and using high definition thermographic infrared cameras, the dancers were filmed so that one can view their heat producing bodies as they move trough the dance. It was like watching biological light. The form began like a cell and appeared to divide, then looked like pickles curving toward and away from one another.

Eventually the dancers forms became more visible, at times looking like they were moving against a rock wall or a reflective floor. Neither the choreography nor the music was very compelling, so the innovation in film making was the most interesting element.

Supposedly the cameras were only used previously for US military assignments, so this was definitely a much better application.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --Deborah Wingert

December 7, 2011
EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Abbott, Loretta (11) Adams, Carolyn and Olive (74) Ahearn, Charlie (128) Ahye, Molly (191) Aikens, Vanoye (239) Ailey, Alvin (290) Aldersberg, Dr. Jay (156) Aldrich, Elizabeth (157) Alexopoulos, Helen (Uncut 41) (Uncut 42) Allen, Leopold (100) Allen, Ralph (172) Allen, Rebecca (80) Allen, Sarita (245) Alonso, Alicia (229) Alper, Jud (46) Alum, Manuel (296) Anderson, Cynthia (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Anderson, David (6) Anderson, Jack (264) Anthony, Mary (78) Appels, Jonathon (297) Archer, Kenneth (234) (268) Arcomano, Nicholas (31) Armitage, Karole (219) Armour, Toby (164) Ashley, Merrill (13) (84) Astier, Regine (149) Atlas, Charles (45) (198) Atlas, Helen (230) (243) Avila, Nelson (306) Babb, Roger (248) Bachrach, Dr. Richard (16) Badolato, Dean (42) Bahiri, Madhi (212) (266) Baker-Scott, Shawneequa (30) Baker, Penny (313) Baldwin, Donna (62) Bambaataa, Afrika (128) Banes, Sally (128) Banker, Wendy (82) Barnett, Mary (97) Barr, Burt (279) Barsness, Eric (167) Battle, Hinton (114) Baudendistel, Daniel (246) Bauzo, Louis (191) Beals, Margaret (156) Bearden, Nanette (278) Beatty, Talley (126) Bechtold, Linda (124) Becker, Frances (183) (265) Beglarian, Eve (284) Belle, Anne (56) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Bello, Sant’gria (227) (228) Benford, Tigger (179) Benitez, Maria (189) Benjamin, Fred (254) Berge, Colette (286) Berky, Bob (169) Bernard, Karen (131) Bernd, John (70) Bernson, Kathryn (10) Besserer, Robert (248) Bettis, Valerie (43) Bianchi, Ed (203) Bird, Dorothy (141) Black, Phil (40) Black, Robin (40) Blackwood, Christian (280) Blankensop, Susan (305) Blunden, Jeraldyne (Uncut 1) Boal, Peter (Uncut 4) Bogart, Anne (116) Bolender, Todd (222) Bonneau, Megan (Uncut 18) Boothe, Power (218) Bornstein, Rachelle (299) Bossard, Andres (200) Boudon, Michel (286) Bower, Martha (118) Bowyer, Bob (55) Boyce, Johanna (70) Bracero, Efrain (227) (228) Bracken, Eddie (172) Bradley, Bill (102) Brayley-Bliss, Sally (35) Brazil, Tom (235) Brenner, Janis (186) Bressie, Annette (123) Brockway, Merrill (107) Brookes, Marie (286) Brooks, Virginia (280) Brophy, Sharon (306) Brown, Carolyn (226) Brown, Ethan (Uncut 5) Brown, Isabel (76) Brown, Joan Myers (308) Brown, Leslie (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Brown, Tom (61) Bruggeman, Joann (55) Bryant, Barbara (24) Brysac, Shareen Blair (23) Bufalino, Brenda (207) Bujones, Fernando (266) Bull, Richard (272) Burge, Gregg (204) Burnham, Rika (95) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Burns, Louise (111) Butler, John (195) Byer, Diana (142) Byrd, Donald (Uncut 36) (Uncut 37) Byrne, James (197) Calvo de Mora, Fermin (Uncut 25) (Uncut 26) Cameron, Sandra (152) Campbell, Joseph (174) (175) Cannon, Pat (151) Caplan, Elliot (282) Caranicas, Peter (25) Caras, Steven (235) Carlos, Laurie (315) Carlson, Ann (261) (265) Carmines, Rev. Al (88) Carothers, Leslie (245) Carr, Deborah (168) Cervetti, Sergio (179) Cesar, Kamala (202) Chadman, Christopher (125) Chalfant, Henry (128) Chang, Du-Yee (86) Chapman, Wes (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Charlip, Remy (130) Chaya, Masazumi (Uncut 3) Chenzira, Ayoka (30) Childs, Lucinda (Uncut 28) (Uncut 29) Ching, Chiang (86) Chong, Ping (66) (224) Chuma, Yoshiko (129) Cilento, Wayne (46) Clark, Larry (302) Clark, Leigh (267) Clarke, Martha (53) Clinton, Jim (232) Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi (39) Cohen, Selma Jeanne (165) Cohen, Ze’eva (154) Colahan, Nancy (Uncut 19) (Uncut 20) Coles, Charles “Honi” (206) Collin, Jeremey (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Colton, Richard (287) Comfort, Jane (153) Como, William (181) Conrad, Gail (205) Cook, Bart (213) Cook, Charles “Cookie” (171) Corkle, Francesca (232) Cornell, Heather (272) Corvino, Alfredo (194) Costas (235) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Cousins, Robin (136) Cratty, Bill (168) “Crazy Legs” Colon, Richie (128) Creach, Terry (188) Crease, Robert (251) Cummings, Blondell (71) Cunningham, James (52) Cunningham, Merce (44) (45) Curran, Sean (188) Currier, Ruth (257) D’Amboise, Family (Jacques, Christopher, Carolyn, Charlotte, and Kate) (75) D’Amico, Dr. Joseph (84) D’Antuono, Eleanor (113) “D-Incredible” Osakalumi, Adesola (319) D’Lugoszewski, Lucia (94) D’Orleans Juste, Roxane (298) Dakin, Christine (304) Daniele, Graciela (101) (311) Danilova, Alexandra (161) Darling, Ron (208) Daugherty, George (142) Daulton, Robert (267) Davis, Anthony (178) Davis, Chuck (260) De Angelo, Ann Marie (121) De Baets, Timothy (34) De la Pena, George (72) De Sola, Carla (88) Dean, Laura (77) Dehn, Mura (58) DeJong, Bettie (78) DeLavallade, Carmen (73) Deloatch, Gary (239) DeMann, Dr. Larry (83) DeMille, Agnes (256) Dendy, Mark (240) Dennis, Ronald (103) DeRibere, Lisa (244) Devi, Ritha (21) Dexter, John (158) Diamond, Dennis (282) Diamond, Matthew (196) Dinizulu, Nana Yao Opare (20) Dorfman, David (261) Douglas, Scott (Uncut 45) (Uncut 46) Dove, Ulysses (240) Dowd, Irene (16) (232) (263) (313) Driver, Senta (53) (264) Dube, Brian (100) Dudley, Jane (257) Duell, Daniel (231) Duell, Joseph (173) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Duffy, Kevin (267) Dulaine, Pierre (152) Dunleavy, Rosemary (97) Dunn, Douglas (66) Dunn, Robert (67) Duvall, Robert (306) Easter, Leonard (31) (182) Eiko and Koma (12) Eilber, Janet (47) Ellington, Mercedes (42) Elovich, Richard (301) Emmons, Beverly (98) Erdman, Jean (174) (175) Erickson, Peter (122) Ewing, William (236) “Fabel” Pabon, Jorge (319) Fagan, Garth (247) (316) Fairbank, Holly (295) Fairly, Gene (26) Faison, George (253) Falco, Louis (110) (203) Farber, Viola (302) Farrah, Ibrahim (28) Faust, Frey (225) Feldman, Anita (205) Feldman, Rachel (109) Fenley, Molissa (65) Field, Ron (253) Fischer, Lindsay (Uncut 30) (Uncut 31) Fitzgerald, Kit (198) Fleming, Donald (305) Fokine, Isabelle (62) Forster, Lutz (165) Forsythe, William (255) Forti, Simone (270) Fraad, Julie (70) Frame, Peter (213) Frankfurt, Wilhelmina (153) Franklin, Frederic (161) Frassetto, Floriana (200) French, Loretta (155) Friedman, Risa (49) Frohlich, Jean Pierre (122) Fugate, Judith (212) Gallman, Alfred (276) Gamson, Annabelle (60) Garafola, Lynn (157) (293) Garcia-Marquez, Vincente (285) Garrard, Mimi (131) Garretson, Sara (182) Gasteazoro, Eva (190) Gates, Jodie (Uncut 19) (Uncut 20) Gay, Philip (47) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Geboe, Ben (Uncut 32) (Uncut 33) Geva, Tamara (199) Gibson, Darren (227) (228) Gielgud, Maina (303) Gillespie, Ginger (225) Gillis, Christopher (135) (312) Gillis, Margie (312) Gladstein, Deborah (145) Goldberg, Jane (29) Gordh, Bill (88) Gordon, Beate (22) Gordon, Mel (162) Gordon, Peter (180) Goslar, Lotte (112) Goss, Wade (40) Gottfried, Richard / Assemblyman (90) Gottlieb, Elizabeth (6) Gottlieb, Gordon (297) Gottschild, Hellmut (309) Goya, Carola (Uncut 26) (Uncut 27) Graffin, Guillaume (Uncut 30) (Uncut 31) Grant, Kathy (125) Grauer, Rhoda (79) Gray, Robin (277) Greco, Jose (Uncut 25) (Uncut 26) (Uncut 27) Green, Ray (34) Greenberg, Mara (36) Greenberg, Neil (304) Greenfield, Amy (148) Greenfield, Louis (236) Gregory, Cynthia (266) Gribler, Jeffrey (308) Gross, Sally (296) Grzyb, Jo Ellen (36) Gutierrez-Solana, Carlos (317) Gutierrez, Juan (192) Hadad, Astrid (324) Hadley, Susan (246) Hall-Smith, Pat (318) Hamilton, Dr. William (14) Hammond, William (89) Harms, Rachel (31) Harper, Meg (71) Harris, Barry (321) Harris, Dale (93) Hart, Derek (109) Harvey, Cynthia (159) Harvey, Dyane (115) Hauptman, Barbara (32) Hawkins, Erick (94) Hayman-Chaffey, Susana (139) Heineman, Helen (35) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Henry, Sarah (158) Hering, Doris (222) Hess, Sally (186) Hill, Martha (223) Hills, Henry (281) Hilton, Wendy (149) Hindberg, Linda (262) Hines, Gregory (206) Hines, Maurice (42) Hinkson, Mary (92) (Uncut 6) Hodes, Linda (83) Hodes, Stuart (38) Hodson, Millicent (60) (234) (268) Holder, Christian (73) Holder, Geoffrey (73) Holm, Hanya (160) Horn, Nat (41) Horvath, Ernie (208) Horvath, Ian (263) Hounsell, Ginny (144) Houston-Jones, Ishmael (64) Howard, David (122) Howell, Damani (300) Hubbe, Nikolaj (262) Hughes, Holly (301) Hurt, Mary (96) Hutchins, Jeannie (248) Ide, Letitia (165) Indrani (76) Irving, Robert (173) Irwin, Bill (54) (265) Ito, Sachiyo (21) Jackson, Denise (200) Jacobowitz, Diane (137) Jacobs, Ellen (33) (36) Jacoby, Ann (59) (187) Jamrog, Sandra (51) Jeff, Kevin (277) Jhung, Finis (233) Job, John (79) Johnson, Bernice (127) Johnson, Howard (150) Johnson, Kate (111) (265) Johnson, Louis (320) Johnson, Virginia (278) Jones, Betty (233) Jones, Bill T. (54) (265) Jowitt, Deborah (35) (264) Judson, Tom (267) Justice, Peter (49) Kahan, Martin (110) Kanter, Sam (145) Kaye, Pooh (64) Kelly, John (217) (265) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Kerr, Catherine (245) Killian, Katrina (Uncut 41) (Uncut 42) Kinberg, Judy (107) King, Kenneth (67) Kirby, Michael (220) Kitzinger, Rachel (284) Kloth, Mark (95) Knighton, Bit (316) Kogan, Ellen (186) Kolpin, Alexander (262) Komer, Chris (45) Koner, Pauline (43) Koplowitz, Stephan (300) Kopperud, Jean (176) Kotoske, Tamar (261) Kozlova, Valentina (288) Kraus, Dr. Hans (51) Kraus, Lisa (147) Kresley, Ed (47) Krieckhaus, Steve (Uncut 16) (Uncut 17) Kriepe de Montano, Martie (Uncut 34) (Uncut 35) Kupersmith, Dr. Judith (69) LaFosse, Robert (244) Lamhut, Phyllis (9) (273) Landes, Francine (203) Lang, Pearl (257) Lapides, Beth (170) La Plante, Skip (Uncut 23) (Uncut 24) Lavery, Sean (13) Law, Alma (98) Le Tang, Henry (204) Lee, Phil (98) Lee, Ralph (94) (241) Lee, Sun Ock (21) Lemon, Ralph (166) Leroy, A. (179) Levey, Karen (302) Lewis, Allan (97) Lewis, Daniel (63) (223) Lewis, Julinda (18) Liebler, Dr. William (15) Liebowitz, Leonard (68) Liederbach, Marijeanne (123) Liepa, Andris (288) Lindgren, Robert (275) (Uncut 18) Lindqvist, Marie (Uncut 2) Linke, Susanne (184) Lockwood, Lisa (214) Lopez, Lourdes (255) Louis, Murray (106) (273) Lubovitch, Lar (216) Lucchese, John (151) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Lucier, Mary (279) Lumbly, Carl (247) Lynes, Alan (87) Lyon, Robert (227) (228) Mahdaviani, Miriam (242) Mahler, Donald (142) Maier, Eva (147) Malnig, Julie (283) Mancini, Linda (298) Manning, Frankie (251) Manning, Susan (184) Marceau, Yvonne (152) Mariano, Bobby (25) Marks, Morton (192) Marks, Victoria (295) Marshall, Peter (123) Marshall, Susan (215) Martel, Diane (167) Martin, Barry (276) Martin, Ethel (105) Martin, George (68) Martin, Judie and Stan (283) Martin, Nina (270) Maslow, Sophie (117) Mason, Francis (91) (291) Masters, Gary (210) Matthews, Fred (210) Maxwell, Carla (63) (310) May, Jim (164) Maynard, Parrish (Uncut 5) McBride, Patricia (291) McCall, Debra (162) McCauley, Robbie (271) McDonagh, Don (294) McDuffie, Alvin (40) McIntyre, Dianne (80) McKenzie, Kevin (258) McKenzie, Marlin (124) McLaughlin, John (115) McMahon, Jeff (281) McNaughton, David (121) Meier, Yvonne (269) Mercado, Hector (120) Metzger, Rebecca (227) (228) Meyers, Milton (63 Migdoll, Herbert (237) Migel-Ekstrom, Parmenia (93) Miller, Bebe (137) Miller, Buzz (39) Miller, Gayle (48) Miller, Joan (278) Miller, Norma (126) Miller, Tim (64) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Minns, Al (29) Mitchell, Arthur (229) Mittenthal, Richard (33) Mofsie, Louis (151) Molnar, Merike (14) Moncion, Francisco (163) Monk, Meredith (77) (224) Monson, Jennifer (269) Monte, Elisa (133) Montero, Luis (193) Montevecchi, Liliane (104) Montgomery, George (259) Moore, Carol Lynne (50) Moore, Charles (85) Moore, Kathleen (226) Moore, Paul (99) Morales, Hilda (138) Morris, Mark (216) Moschen, Michael (169) Moss, Dean (267) Msomi, Welcome (183) Mujica, Damelia (190) Muller, Jennifer (8) Mullis, Stormy (10) Musard, Yves (129) Mussman, Majorie (8) Nagrin, Lee (217) Naharin, Ohad (215) Nash, Joe (19) Nash, Matthew (52) Neal, Philip (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Nelson, Madeleine Yayodele (276) Neuwirth , Bebe (200) Neville, Phoebe (61) Newson, Lloyd (274) Nicholas, Harold (252) Nichols, Sally (76) Niesen, Jim (271) Nijinska, Irina (187) Nikolais, Alwin (108) (273) Nixon, Rob (183) Nolan, Sylvia (99) Novella, Tom (84) Nugent, Rodney (110) O’Connor, Tere (138) O’Donnell, May (34) Oleszko, Pat (170) Ordman, Jeannette (326) Orta, Carlos (310) Osato, Sono (199) Osorio, Pepon (Uncut 10) (Uncut 11) (Uncut 12) Osterman, George (267) Otte, Gerald (273) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Overlie, Mary (299) Panova, Galina (104) Parks, John (231) Parsons, David (292) (325) Partridge, Martha (155) Pearson, Jerry (12) (273) Pearson, Sara (12) Pendelton, Moses (211) Pennebaker, D.A. (146) Pennewell, Norwood (316) Pennison, Marleen (166) Perle, George (173) Perron, Wendy (145) Perryman, Alfred (11) Pessemier, Leslie-Jane (95) Peters, Delia (69) Peters, Michael (238) Peterson, Kirk (208) Petronio, Stephen (137) Pettiford, Valarie (42) Pfaff, Judy (218) Pforsich, Janis (176) Phifer, Cassandra (214) Pickett, Lenny (177) Pierpont, Margaret (18) Pinder, Islene (28) Pinnock, Thomas (277) Pivar, Amy (265) Plisetskaya, Maya (230) (243) Pomare, Eleo (119) Pontius, Geraldine (96) Proano, Luciana (324) Proia, Alexander (323) Raffa, Nancy (144) Rahman, Obara Wali (85) Rainer, Yvonne (307) Ramirez, Tina (311) Raven, Jackie (205) Redlich, Don (160) Reed, Peter (148) Reinhart, Charles (221) Reitman, Laura (37) Reitz, Dana (65) Renaud, Myrna (118) Ren-Lay, Judith (Uncut 37) (Uncut 38) Renzi, Marta (65) Rethorst, Susan (139) Reuling, Karl (181) Revene, Nadine (48) Reynolds, Nancy (37) (93) (288) Richardson, Desmond (Uncut 4) Rinker, Kenneth (34) Rizo, Marco (192) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Robbins, Ellen (300) Roberts, Linda (17) Roberts, Louise (201) Robins, Kenneth (146) Robinson, LaVaughn (309) Robinson, Mabel (41) Rockwell, John (178) Rodrigues, Beatriz (194) Rodriguez, Dr. Andre (83) Rose, Mitchell (55) Rose, Peter (166) Rosen, Amy Sue (267) Rosenthal, Gloria (102) Ross, Bertram (112) Rousseve, David (318) Rudko, Doris (141) Rudner, Sara (307) Ryom, Heidi (262) Salaam, Abdel (274) Salinger, Susan (131) Salle, David (219) Salz, Barbara (135) Sanborn, John (197) Sanchez, George Emilio (Uncut 32) (Uncut 33) Sandler, Kathe (30) Santana, Carlota (193) Sappington (101) Saslow, James (162) Schaefer, Hal (105) Schaufuss, Peter (289) Schnur, Jerome (195) Scholl, Tim (293) Schonberg, Bessie (201) (265) Schorer, Suki (233) (Uncut 18) Schorin, Marilyn (82) Schumacher, Gretchen (62) Schwartz, Michael (196) Selby, Margaret (Uncut 6) Seldes, Marian (141) Self, Jim (279) Serrano, Raymond (100) Setterfield, Valda (265) Sewell, James (323) Shah, Smita (202) Shang, Ruby (132) Sheingarten, Sheva (26) Sheppard, Harry (298) Sherman, Lee (168) Shick, Vicky (304) Shook, Karel (19) Shurr, Gertrude (57) Sibley, Antoinette (Uncut 7) (Uncut 8) (Uncut 9) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Siegel, Dr. Howard (50) (124) Siegel, Marcia (181) Silverman, Stephanie (267) Silvers, Sally (270) Simon, Joshua (154) Simonne, Julia (96) Simonson, Lynn (254) Skaggs, Sarah (242) Skipitares, Theodora (241) Skura, Stephanie (147) (265) Slyde, Jimmy (321) Small, Robert (139) Smith, Frank (68) Smith, Hank (171) Smith, Henry (85) Smith, Lowell (144) Smuin, Michael (Uncut 21) (Uncut 22) Snyder, Huck (217) Sokolow, Anna (117) Solomon, Dr. Joel (208) Solomons, Gus (20) Solomons, Gus Jr. (260) Solov, Zachary (92) Sommer, Sally (22) (58) (220) Sorell, Walter (184) Soto, Merian (Uncut 10) (Uncut 11) (Uncut 12) Sparling, Peter (7) Spizzo, Christine (68) (215) Spohr, Arnold (229) Stackhouse, Sarah (115) Stark-Smith, Nancy (135) Starrett, William (121) Steadman, Peter (284) Steinberg, Risa (125) (164) Stewart, Ellen (250) Streb, Elizabeth (71) (265) Strickler, Fred (207) Strom, Mary Ellen (281) Stroman, C. Scoby (150) Stuart, Michael (103) Stuart, Muriel (57) Suarni, Desak Ketut (86) Sullivan, Sugar (29) Summers, Elaine (130) Supree, Burt (91) Swados, Elizabeth (238) Sygoda, Ivan (32) Tablante, Priscilla (51) Taras, John (163) Tarr, Patsy (294) Taub-Darvash, Gabriela (81) Taylor-Corbett, Lynne (214) Taylor, Billy (325) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Taylor, Mark (314) Taylor, Paul (221) Taymor, Julie (Uncut 12) Tcherkassky, Marianna (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Tetley, Glen (322) Theodore, Lee (39) Thompson, Clive (185) Thompson, Liz (38) Tillmanns, Carl (109) Tippet, Clark (258) Tipton, Jennifer (259) Tolle, Roger (59) Tomasson, Helgi (143) Tomich, Branislav (188) Tomlinson, Mel (69) Topaz, Muriel (61) Towson, Toby (136) Turocy, Catherine (59) (134) Tyler, Edwina Lee (177) (265) Uthoff, Michael (194) Valenzuela, Luisa (306) Van Grona, Eugene (27) Van Hamel, Martine (120) Van Tieghem, David (180) Vanaver, Livia (272) Vance, Carol (317) Varone, Doug (317) Vartoogian, Jack (237) Vaughan, David (294) Vazquez, Viveca (190) Verdon, Gwen (114) Verdy, Violette (140) Vieira, Jelom (191) Villella, Edward (249) Vincent, Dr. Larry (15) Vislocky, Dorothy (81) Wachunas, Tom (179) Wagoner, Dan (9) (259) Wakashe, Philemon (183) Walker, Norman (275) Walsh, Thomme (103) Walton, Tony (Uncut 21) (Uncut 22) Wanner, Debra (167) Warshaw, Randy (240) Washington, Shelley (287) Waters, Jack (129) Watt, Nina (310) Way, Jennifer (111) Weiner, Nina (7) Weisberger, Barbara (Uncut 13) (Uncut 14) (Uncut 15) Weis, Cathy (145) Weiss, Ted / Congressman (90) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Wendkos, Gina (116) Wengerd, Tim (138) West, Jean Claude (313) Westergard, Lance (226) White, David (32) (265) Whitener, William (246) “Wiggles” Clemente, Steve (319) Williams, Dudley (185) Williams, Lavinia (27) Williams, Richie (70) Williams, Sammy (102) Wilson, Billy (320) Wilson, Lester (127) Wilson, Sallie (159) Wilson, Sule Greg (58) Winer, Linda (91) Winter, Ethel (213) Wise, Howard (24) Wishy, Joseph (56) Wolf, Jessica (17) Wolken, Jonathan (211) Wong, Mel (132) Wood, Dawn (Uncut 1) Wood, Donna (143) Woodard, Leslie and Laurie (74) Woodard, Stephanie (209) Woods, Donald (267) Wright, Rebecca (72) Wright, Rose Marie (231) Wry, Brann (38) Wuorinen, Charles (255) Yarden, Guy (269) Yearby, Marlies (315) Yesselman, Robert (89) Young, Bill (314) Young, Gayle (Uncut 45) (Uncut 46) Young, Henry (33) Youskevitch, Igor (113) (285) Yuriko (189) Zaloom, Paul (292) Zane, Arnie (133) Zaraspe, Hector (193) Zieziulewicz, Angela (227) (228) Ziff, Charlie (263) Zinn-Krieger, Barbara (182) Zollar, Jawole Willa Jo (242) Zummo, Peter (209)

November 14, 2011
When the curtain goes up and audiences witness Desmond Richardson on stage--an audible gasp of pleasure barrels through theaters followed by rock-star squeals and rapturous applause for one of this generation’s most thrilling performers.

American born and grown, Richardson celebrates twenty-five years as a professional dancer. This milestone is marked by his final performances at the Joyce Theater (Nov. 16 - 30) as a touring member of Complexions, the company he co-directs with choreographer, Dwight Rhoden.

A rarity in the dance community, Richardson is a technical and stylistic chameleon. Endowed with extreme flexibility and joint articulation, Richardson's superbly muscled body rivals the power and speed of a Cheetah.

In a “4,5,6…” nutshell: Hip hop turned him on, the High School of the Performing Arts prepared him, Alvin Ailey shaped him, Billy Forsythe elevated him, American Ballet Theater refined him, Broadway enthralled him and Complexions drove the rest of Desmond Richardson’s dance career.

On the cusp of this major career shift, I spoke with Desmond Richardson about his dance legacy.

My most vivid memory as a dancer is when I was invited as a student to appear in "Memoria," Alvin Ailey’s tribute to Joyce Trisler. I just couldn’t wait to get on stage, and from that moment on, I decided to dance on as many world stages as possible!

Actually, when I was growing up, I thought of pursuing a singing career like my father who was part of a professional “Doo-Wop” group. But I was crazy about street dance until I turned on the TV and saw Rudolf Nureyev dance. My mother was shocked to see me sit still and watch a ballet for two hours, but he was stunning! His sculpted face and body, the rawness of his movement and technical prowess, was like nothing I’d ever seen or felt before. Suddenly I realized -- that’s what I wanted to do. Fortunately, I was accepted into the High School of Performing Arts. That’s where I learned all forms of dance and gained valuable information from teachers like Penny Frank who would tell me not to try and look like anyone but myself.

After I joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1987, I wanted to dance everything, but that was not how the company worked then. You had to come up the ranks; learn all the parts in all the dances you might one day solo in. I couldn’t wait to dance the “Wade in the Water” section of “Revelations,” but before that ever happened Ailey spent hours coaching me on how to ripple my hands or initiate movement in the spine to resemble flowing water. Each and every part of the body was important to Alvin who insisted I learn how to just stand and “be”—draw the audience in. It’s as much about the silent intensity as the technical prowess. And yea, by watching mesmerizing dancers like Judy Jamison, I saw how she could make a simple, very small movement resonate volumes.

At that time, the Ailey Company was based at 1515 Broadway, and Alvin was always walking the halls, and talking to dancers. He was so large, yet so quiet, and said things like—'young man, I want you to nurture your gift. Your time is coming, but you will have to work hard.' It took me years to understand what he was talking about—but finally, I got it.

Five years after Alvin died and Judy (Jamison) took over, I knew it was time to go. I gravitated to Europe to perform with Billy Forsythe and the Frankfurt Ballet. That was a magical time for me. You know, Billy was very dear friends with Pina Baush. Whenever she was in town, the company rehearsed in our studios plus she would watch our rehearsals and he would watch hers.

Like Ailey, Billy was a very nurturing artist. He based his technique on a combination of modalities based on Laban movement, kinesiology and Contact Improvisation—as well as Balanchine’s neo-classical technique (Balanchine was his idol). He wanted us to understand how to shift weight quickly, and listen carefully to other people on stage so you could catch their weight and find your own. Nothing was arbitrary to Billy--he was extremely specific about the body’s exact shape, effort, weight, and design in space.

Then one day in 1997 I got a call from American Ballet Theater inviting me to join the company as a Principal Dancer because Lar Lubovitch wanted me to star in his new ballet “Othello.” I thought it was a terrific challenge, so I packed up and went back to NYC. I loved dancing with ABT but I felt like there was a ballet ceiling I could never crack. Sure, I danced Othello and Tharp among other things, but I never got a chance to dance major classical ballet male roles that I learned like Romeo & Juliet, Giselle or Swan Lake.

Much of my time at ABT was spent twiddling my thumbs until I stumbled on a rehearsal for a Broadway show in ABT’s building at 890 Broadway. Gwen Verdon saw me in the hall and said, “Honey, what are dong here? Saw you at the Met, you were wonderful—but why don’t you come in and learn a few steps.” That’s how I was cast in the Broadway show Fosse.

The one place I really wanted to dance though was New York City Ballet. I even told Peter (Martins) how much I admired the Balanchine repertory and loved the company, but Peter didn’t think it was the right place for me. Maybe if I wanted to dance there today, it would be a different story, although it’s still shocking to see how few African American dancers are represented in either New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theater.

Overall, I was pretty lucky. I met Michael Jackson and danced in his music video "Bad" and even spoke with Nureyev after an Alvin Ailey Company performance at the Paris Opera Ballet. Already weakened from AIDS in 1992, Nureyev sat very pulled up, scarf wrapped around his neck, and chapeau tipped to the side. When I came over he said 'Mon dieu, formidable!'

Right now, Broadway has a special appeal for me because you apply singing, acting and dancing skills. That’s the direction I’m headed in now along with my duties as Co-Artistic Director of Complexions plus my coaching and teaching. I mean, Dwight Rhoden (Co-founder and choreographer of Complexions) and I felt an immediate kinship as dancers with Ailey. In 1994 when we pulled together dancers for a sold out program at Symphony Space, we knew then we had something. And indeed, we do.

CI The winner of this year’s Capezio Award, and many other honors, people in the dance community draw comparisons between Richardson and Baryhsnikov calling him “ the Black Baryshnikov.” No matter what you think about dance, you will be amazed by Desmond Richardson’s extraordinary on-stage generosity and artistry. Alvin would be proud to see how his master student learned to “pull the audience in.”

On November 17 at the Joyce Theater, “The CELEBRATE...DESMOND RICHARDSON” evening will honor Desmond's performing years with Complexions. It opens with a video celebrating his rich career followed by the work WHAT COME, TEHREAFTER and PLACES PLEASE. An after party will be held at MILLESIME.

Desmond Richardson will also dance every night of the season November 15 – 20, and November 22 – 27.
Season Information
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 18, 2011
Gibney Dance Center held a special afternoon "Sorry I Missed Your Show!" program honoring Celia Ipiotis and the EYE ON DANCE educational television series as EYE ON DANCE (EOD) celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Welcomed by Gina Gibney and Dance/NYC’s Executive Director, Lane Harwell, EOD founder and director, Celia Ipiotis, takes us back to her thought process in 1981 when she and co-founder Jeff Bush began to produce the weekly TV interview series “to excite interest in dance."

The screening of the 1990 EOD TV interview highlights Judson Dance Theater’s contributions to modern dance, through the discussion and opinions of some of its most significant figures – Yvonne Rainer and Sara Rudner. Throughout, we see clips of both performing segments from Rainer’s renowned “Trio A,” part of a larger work entitled The Mind is a Muscle. The movement appears to be task-oriented and is stripped of the dance conventions at that time – including a conscious lack of eye contact with the audience.

In the twenty-nine minute episode, Rainer describes her relationship to dance - how she was responding to exhibitionism in performance and challenging the posture, aesthetic and even uniform of ballet. She and Rudner both placed much value on their freedom to experiment with movement.

Rainer notes others who were involved in this re-thinking of dance such as the Grand Union dance group, nonchalantly stating, “They wanted to perform together, but didn’t want to rehearse together. So, they came together and improvised.” This matter-of- fact approach to dance carried over in their choreography, use of nudity, merging with other art forms, and the feeling that audience approval was unnecessary.

Rudner comments, “The body took over and the dance happened, and the references of your training were there to be your support, not what you were showing.” Their views were revolutionary at the time and would have an undeniable impact on what “dance” meant.

Following the screening, Ipiotis and Rainer joined together to engage in a discussion on where dance has since gone and how Rainer has evolved, bringing the program full circle. Rainer, who stopped dancing for years to pursue a career in film, is faced with the question, “Why?” She responds, “Aging, illness, feminism…film offered an area in which to explore the possibilities of text, editing, sound, movement and image – including dance – so it seemed like a much wider field.”

Along with anecdotes about her time working with Mikhail Baryshnikov for the White Oak Dance Project (1999), it is most refreshing to hear Rainer speak of her work with such practicality and honesty, even in retrospect. Unlike “Trio A,” not all her works were documented on film or otherwise. She says, “Some were simple, like in Three Seascapes: the first part you run around. The second part you do something not choreographed. The third part, well, you have a screaming fit.”

Opened to questions and comments, Mindy Aloff (dance writer and faculty of Barnard College’s Dance Department) reflects on a master class taught by Rainer that she once brought her students to. She recalls, “You made us wear sneakers. And for an hour and a half we ran…It was unusual and completely different from any other class. And it was exciting. You completely changed my views and I’ve waited all these years to tell you that.”

Currently, Ipiotis’ nonprofit arts organization, Arts Resources in Collaboration (ARC) is working on the EYE ON DANCE ARCHIVE LEGACY PROJECT. The three-year fundraising campaign strives to process all the archived collections (everything from videotapes, rare interviews and performance footage, photos, promotional and print materials, books, dance periodicals, etc.), making them accessible to the greater public. Through donations, more materials can be identified, catalogued and restored, helping to create one of largest archives on dance. To get involved, please visit: EYE ON DANCEor contact EOD via 70 East 10th Street Suite 19D, NY NY 10003.

For future Sorry I Missed Your Show! programming, visit
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer T. Thompson

October 4, 2011

EYE ON DANCE makes a return appearance as a presentation of Gibney Dance and Dance/NYC “Sorry I Missed Your Show” series
Saturday, October 15 at 4:30PM. FREE.

"No to spectacle, yes to truth in movement" -- these revolutionary ideas figure prominently in our screening of the award-winning EYE ON DANCE TV program on the contributions of the Judson Dance Theater.

Excerpts of "Trio A" pepper the invigorating conversation uniting Yvonne Rainer, Sara Rudner and host, Celia Ipiotis.

Join our post-screening dialogue featuring chreographer/filmmaker Yvonne Rainer and EYE ON DANCE creator/producer Celia Ipiotis. "EYE ON DANCE is one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs onthe arts..." Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times

RSVP at or 212-677-8560 Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway at 19th Street, 5th Floor

September 20, 2011
In celebration of EYE ON DANCE's 30th anniversary, there will be a series of public screenings. The first presentation appears as part of the Gina Gibney Studio "Sorry I Missed Your Show" series.

"No to spectacle, yes to truth in movement" -- these revolutionaryideas figure prominently in our screening of the award-winning EYE ON DANCE TV program on the contributions of the Judson Dance Theater.

Excerpts of "Trio A" pepper the invigorating conversation unitingYvonne Rainer, Sara Rudner and host, Celia Ipiotis. Join the post-screening dialogue featuring chreographer/filmmakerYvonne Rainer and EYE ON DANCE creator/producer Celia Ipiotis.

"EYE ON DANCE is one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs onthe arts..." Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times
EYE ON DANCE makes a return appearance as a presentation of Gibney Dance and Dance/NYC “Sorry I Missed Your Show” series Saturday, October 15 at 4:30PM. FREE. Click here for information or call 212-677-8560. FREE

BRIGHT STREAM by Alexei Ratmansky
June 16, 2011
Revelry and mayem swirl into a headwind of glorious goofiness in “Bright Stream” choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky and staged by Tatiana Ratmansky. For many, “Bright Stream” performed by the Bolshoi Ballet at the Met in 2005 offered the first major introduction to Mr. Ratmansky’s vociferous talents.

Stemming from a 1935 Soviet Era production by the politically maligned Fyodor Lopukhov, “Bright Stream” celebrates peasants cheerfully engaged in daily chores on the collective farm while vigorously falling in and out of love. Zina, a local entertainment producer, awaits a troupe of performers hired to kick off the harvest festivities. Upon arrival, Zina (Julie Kent) recognizes a pal, the young and lovely Ballerina (Isabella Boylston).

But Zina’s not the only one excited to see the Ballerina, Pytor (Jose Manuel Carreno)--Zina’s husband -- busts out in fancy leaps and the equivalent of dance push-ups eager to snare the Ballerina’s eye. Friendly fancies build up to a subplot where the Old male Dacha Dweller (Clinton Luckett) fawns over the Ballerina while his Dacha wife—a jammingly funny Susan Jones—flirts lasciviously with the Ballerina’s partner, the Ballet Dancer (Danil Simkin).

As a ploy to toy mischievously with the old folk’s fantasies, Bolyston and Simkin switch identities. Smikin transforms himself into a beguiling Slyph wearing a long, white tutu and pointe shoes and in contrast, Boylston flips her dress for a boy’s garb.

Plenty of dance spreads across this landscape of identity confusion. Blocks of peasants hold up their arms, flipping toes together and apart, slapping heels and snaking around in rhythmic stomps. When it comes to designing inventive group dynamics, Ratmansky possess the eye of a Busby Berkley. Not that he has time, but Broadway would be an easy fit for this story-ballet-assured choreographer.

A laugh-out-loud ballet, two performers are comic standouts: Susan Jones and Danil Simkin. Their parts demand a high level of slapstick humor and shtick they give. I mean, who knew that Simkin could dance en pointe on par with women? And then there’s Jones as the roly-poly dacha—honestly, they should let her out of the rehearsal room more often (Day job—ABT Rehearsal Mistress). Jones understands comic timing, spreading her legs wide, heavily tottering from one limb to the other and nearly crushing Luckett when propping her body on his back.

Then there’s Simkin. Slim waisted, and possessed of a foot arched better than most; his longish blond hair floats over graceful shoulders and lyrical arms. I suspect people sitting in the back reaches of the Met mistook him for a real ballerina—as much for his fluent point work as his appearance. The ephemeral ballerina mode is intermittently mucked up when Simkin tosses off a hop from floor to bench--legs apart, feet flexed, and landing with a thud. These slight lapses into virility twitch his otherwise excellent balletic form.

Newly promoted to the position of Soloist, Ms. Boylston is an exciting newcomer. Technically fluent, she flies into split leaps, effortlessly releases multiple spins dotted by spot on balances and a graceful upper torso. Theatrically capable, she switched smoothly from young, boastful ballerina to tricky lad and dear friend. Also featured, Kent and Carenno are consummate artists who possess technical skill, theatrical assuredness and a genuine spirit that inhabits the stage.

“Bright Stream” features small gestures that add richness to the whole picture, like a flick of fingers before a leap, hands clasped behind the neck or a three tiered frieze of dancers mimicking a tractor digging up fields.

Despite the twisty Shakespearean plot, “Bright Stream” has pluck and the cast served it well.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 29, 2011

January 7, 2011
Dance companies are perpetually looking at ways to attract more audience members. In a morning-long session organized by Dance/USA, the dance community was invited to respond to a new report entitled: National Survey of Dance Audiences: Preview Presentation. The report, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation assessed the make-up of dance audiences and how they relate to dance activities.

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the audience members were “active” or “serious” dancers—as much as 1 in 5. I suspect that number is higher for modern dance than it is for ballet, but the report did not breakdown the findings by dance “specialty.”

Something ballet companies have known for a long time is the general interest in seeing what goes on “under the dashboard.” Ballet companies frequently open-up rehearsals to supporters and potential “friends” of the company. In addition, the notion of soliciting funds for commissioned works has been long established not to mention donors underwriting individual dancer’s salaries.

Interestingly, the relatively young dance audiences (compared to other arts disciplines) attend because they seek “inspiration,” experience “great works by masters” and to “discover new choreographers and companies.”

Program notes, pre-performance discussions and informal post-performance chat sessions figure into ways that audience members feel they get closer to the artistic experience. Some creative options were voiced including a presenter who turned a local radio show into a talkback session for audience members stuck in parking-lot traffic jams and eager to make their opinions public.

Naturally the new social networking technology figured into the new methods of connecting audiences to dancers. And that raises a question about the future experience of electronic dance. Will it overshadow the real-life event?

Although the presenter, Alan Brown of WolfBrown, summed up the report by suggesting everyone dedicate time to getting more people dancing (in reference to the large margin of dance practitioners a dance concerts), a colleague rightly pointed out that it might be more germane to find ways to convert the non-dance audience into followers.

For the full report go to
By Celia Ipiotis

November 18, 2009
EYE ON DANCE PUBLIC FUNDRAISING REQUEST Hard to believe over twenty five years have passed since EYE ON DANCE was launched --- against all odds—as an interview based program covering global dance issues on public television. A production of our nonprofit arts organization, Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc. (ARC), Jeff Bush and I conceived of EOD to help propel dance literacy in 1981.

Because many of you are already familiar with EOD's contributions to our remembrance of dance, I know you will appreciate our deepening concern about safeguarding all the EOD elements for public consumption. As the archive’s value increases exponentially, so too does our responsibility as the archive’s stewards.

Our goal is to systematically assess, inventory and prepare the complete EOD Archive for public access within three years.

Each half-hour EOD program is built around extensive research yielding unduplicated source material including written notes, personal communications, clippings, press kits, programs, an assortment of videotapes, notated oral conversations, photographs, books, publications and organizational materials.

So you get an idea of the scope of the archive, a preliminary review conducted over that past year revealed the contents include: Over 1800 videotapes (of various formats from 1/2" reel-to-reel to DVD) documenting conversations with dance professionals, demonstrations, performances plus theater and music presentations; 7,000 photographic images; 75,000 sheets of production, research, promotional and educational print materials; 2000+ cultural books and publications. These numbers are rough and will likely increase after our in-depth appraisal of content stretching back to 1978.

Produced during the “dance boom,” EOD captured an era of enormous change: Institutionalization of the arts, gender politics, multi-culturalism, regional dance and the NEA “culture wars.” Our content unites dance and related arts issues with educational, historical and social themes, which makes it a provocative guide for educators and the public.

More than 40% of the EOD Video Archive includes African-American and Latino artists and themes not documented elsewhere. The strong concentration of programs focused on minority artists, dancers with AIDS and under-documented contributors no longer living, underscores its historical and educational appeal. Praised by The NY Times as “one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs on the arts,” there has been no comparable effort to record the viewpoints; achievements and creative approaches of dance related artists on video. This has resulted in a wealth of unexposed primary source information yet to be scrutinized by the public.

An enormously popular, easily consumable educational resource, EOD succeeded both as a broadcast series and educational archive because it is a scholarly resource with a populist’s heart. We are in “shovel-ready” mode, but here’s the rub: our limited resources could delay our process and result in the loss of an invaluable stream of dance information on decomposing videotapes and three-decades old unmatchable print and photographic materials.

We ask you to dip into your pockets of generosity and help us rescue this archive. The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation awarded EYE ON DANCE a $40,000 grant to launch the EOD Legacy Project and your support is crucial to this venture.

Please direct your tax-deductible contributions to: EYE ON DANCE, 123 W. 18 Street 7th Floor, NY NY 10011. PLEASE MAKE A DONATION

March 2, 2004
I was so sad to read today’s paper because it included an obit on Josephine Schwarz—she was a major influence in my life. I started as her student at the age of five and at the age of eleven joined the Dayton Ballet Company. An extraordinary woman, Miss Jo and her sister Miss Hermene(they lived together) put Dayton, Ohio on the dance map with their ballet school and one of the first professional regional dance companies in America.

Not only did the Schwartz sisters raise generations of dancers articulate in ballet, modern dance, dance history, music and choreography, they raised the cultural literacy of Dayton’s citizens, publishers, politicians and educators.

Occasionally, I would get a note from Ms. Jo applauding my work on EYE ON DANCE announcing that she always expected me "to do something important" (she subscribed to a clipping service in order to keep track of her former company members). On her occasional visits to New York, she would call me to have tea with her and her friend who lived in Chelsea.

During those command meetings, I would sit erect, hold in my stomach, and hope she would not mention my less than balletish looking body. Invariably, she would mention my figure, chide me for not taking classes, and insist I keep choreographing while producing EYE ON DANCE. She wanted her students to be passionate about their work and tenacious in their pursuit of life goals.

A tall, slim, sharp faced no nonsense woman, with a bun perpetually screwed into the lower back of her head, Josephine Schwarz was a true American original, a woman with vision who knew that you had to educate your community if you were to going to raise potent arts professionals.

I will always remember and honor Josephine Schwarz.

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