An eclectic annual showcase, the 2014 festival will feature works by forty choreographers over four evenings from September 3 to 6, with an encore performance on September 13. The exciting lineup of artists features many fan favorites, including festival veterans and returning artists, alongside rising stars and festival newcomers. 2014 marks the 19th annual season of the DANCENOW Festival.
Wednesday, September 3
The Bang Group
Tze Chun Dance Company
Jane Comfort & Company
Mark Dendy Projects
Jamal Jackson Dance Company
Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Millan
Skybetter & Associates
Thursday, September 4
Nicole Bindler & Gabrielle Revlock
Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company
Jennifer Edwards/Jen Ed Productions
Harlem Dance Club
Verlezza Dance/Sabatino Verlezza
Friday, September 5
Adam Barruch Dance
RG Dance Projects: Ruben Graciani
Saturday, September 6
Banana Peel Dance/Aaron Draper
Gerald Casel Dance
Katherine Helen Fisher Dance
Heidi Latsky Dance
Deborah Lohse/Cori Marquis/Donnell Oakley
Pengelly Projects/Fritha Pengelly
Claire Porter’s PORTABLES
Jessy Smith & Alberto Denis
All shows start at 7pm. Tickets are $15 in advance/$20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-967-7555, online at www.joespub.com, and in person at The Public Theater box office from 1pm to 6pm.
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
(btw East 4th Street & Astor Place)
NYC, NY 10003
Donald Byrd’s latest work Septet, constructed around and through Charles Wuorinen’s modernist string quartet, is a work for a quartet and trio. Homage to past masters of dance such as George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham are woven into Mr. Byrd’s tapestry of movement. Nothing overt or obvious but as if Mr. Byrd’s intention is to acknowledge their mastery, to give the viewer a visual nudge or gentle reminder of their undeniable genius.
Mr. Byrd has been labeled the next George Balanchine and known for how he integrates black vernacular dancing with ballet. He applies construction and deconstruction, order and disorder like colors on a canvas. They are masterful applied like layers, establishing structure that is supported by the score’s complex melody and rhythm. The choreographer is not opposed to going against the grain of the music; he may use stillness to highlight a complex phrase or create phrases of movement that are rapid and repetitive to juxtapose moments of quiet reflection
In Septet the choreography shifts from simple to complex instantly and then back again. Mr. Byrd’s work has been labeled post-classical for his use of the body in space, its application to musical phrasing and for the ways he un-expectantly bleeds/blends/merges abstraction into his movement.
The seven dancers shine on stage, each remarkable and exquisitely trained, each committed and expressive. Enough can be said for Jade Solomon Curtis, she dances with a silky lyricism and an internal calm that is marvelous to watch. When she is on stage you cannot take your eyes off her. Alex Crozier is a master technician but he is so much more than that. Emotion flows through his dancing, each movement, each gesture seems laced with meaning.
As stated, Septet is a work for a quartet and trio. The two groups are like satellites caught in the gravity of the same star. The trio maintains a protagonist role and create moments that seem a dialogue that combines movement and emotion with seamless application
The quartet of dancers, all in black, follows the trio on stage. They are reminiscent of a Greek chorus, observing and commenting of the trio. Their movement is expressive and angular.
In both groups the body in space is fully explored, you see the hyper extended limbs, swiveling hips and rolling shoulder, the dancers occasionally slapping their bodies. In the duets who is control, whether it is the man or the woman becomes a blurry line.
Donald Byrd and his work were brilliant in the 90’s, I remember being blown away by such works as Life Situations: Daydreams on ‘Giselle’, The Beast: The Domestic Violence Project, Harlem Nutcracker and of course the Minstrel Show. Now with Donald Byrd’s Septet, there exists the undeniable evidence that Mr. Byrd has entered into the realm of genius…
Donald Byrd became Artistic Director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater in December 2002. From 1978 – 2002, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York. He has created over 80 modern dance works for his own groups as well as the Alvin Ailey Company, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) as well as for classical companies, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet and Aterballetto.
His most recent works for Spectrum include a cycle of three evening-length works called Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding (PAMU), which featured World Premieres of A Chekhovian Resolution, created with Israeli choreographers Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror; Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China; and most recently, The Mother of Us All, a complex meditation on contemporary Africa.
Carlo Blasis 1797-1878
Widely regarded as one of the fathers of modern ballet, Former ballet mistress for the Royal Ballet, Ursula Hageli explains how Carlo Blasis’s writings have inspired the ballet techniques of today. With demonstration from Royal Ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé. Piano – Tim Qualtrough.
Blasis is well known for his very rigorous dance classes, sometimes lasting four hours long. Blasis insisted that his students learn theories and definitions of dance steps. He trained all of Enrico Cecchetti’s teachers and it is thought that Blasis’s influence in his training is what led Cecchetti to create the Cecchetti method of ballet.
Auguste Vestris 1760-1842
Join Ursula Hageli as she introduces “le dieu de la danse” – Auguste Vestris. With performance from Royal Ballet dancer Valentino Zucchetti. Trained solely and with the greatest care by his father, Gaétan Vestris, Auguste Vestris made a single unofficial appearance at the Opéra (and was dubbed Vestr’Allard by a newspaper critic) in 1772, at age 12. Although he revealed extraordinary promise, his father withdrew him for further training before permitting his formal debut in 1776. Being admitted into the company, bearing the name Vestris alone, he rose rapidly to the forefront. As a dancer possessing unprecedented virtuosity, Auguste Vestris’s dazzlingly athletic style was very different from his father’s.
August Bournonville 1805-1879
Former Principal with The Royal Ballet, Johan Kobborg introduces the style of August Bournonville in rehearsal with Artist Marcelino Sambé, with former ballet mistress Ursula Hageli and pianist Tim Qualtrough.
August Bournonville, the man known as the father of the Danish ballet style of ballet. He studied under the Italian choreographer Vincenzo Galeotti at the Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen, and in Paris, France, under French dancer Auguste Vestris. He initiated a unique style in ballet known as the Bournonville School.
The Bournonville method appears fluid and effortless, even though it is technically challenging. One of the key features of the Bournonville technique is its emphasis on quick footwork, beaten jumps and batterie. Graceful epaulement , or placement of the shoulders, is also important. In addition, the technique requires graceful, basic arm movements as well as a lifted torso.
Many of the movements begin and end in fifth position, and pirouettes are executed by placing the foot into a low develope position. A Bournonville dancer’s eyes often follow the moving leg, striving for an expression of kindness.
Marius Petipa 1818-1910
One of the greatest ballet choreographers, Marius Petipa, created over fifty ballets. His exotic La Bayadère was given its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg in 1877. It was regularly performed within the former Soviet Union throughout the 20th century but was almost unknown in the West until 1961, when the touring Kirov Ballet performed the famous Kingdom of the Shades scene. Natalia Makarova saw the ballet as a child in Leningrad and created this version for American Ballet Theatre in 1980.
Enrico Cecchetti 1850 – 1928
Enrico Cecchetti was one of the most influential ballet teachers of all time, coaching greats such as Pavlova and Nijinsky. He trained under Lepri, a pupil of the great Carlo Blasis who codified the technique of Classical Ballet in 1820. Blasis ideas were developed further by Cecchetti who grouped the Classical vocabulary into six sets of exercises, one for each day of the week. This work was recorded and published in 1922 by Cyril Beaumont, assisted by Stanislas Idzikowski and Enrico Cecchetti himself. Further volumes were compiled by Margaret Craske and Derra de Moroda. In 1918, Cecchetti settled in London, laying the groundwork for the formation of The Royal Ballet. Join Ballet Mistress Ursula Hageli and dancer Nicol Edmonds as they demonstrate one of Cecchetti’s fiendishly hard adage exercises. Piano – Tim Qualtrough
The first thing noticeable in Sidra Bell’s new work, Unidentifiable; Bodies, is that the dancers are wearing more clothing, lacking is the use of nudity with its austerity and impact it creates visually. Gone also is the gender ambiguity, men and women are just that, men and women, no distinction, no confusion. There is more lighting on the stage, absent is the fog and moody ambience with the dancers exiting and retreating back into shadows. Ms. Bell’s sound mix is repetitive with sounds like the firing of an industrial size machine gun, bap, bap, bap…..
There is a nod to Merce Cunningham in the movement construction, the way phrases would divide or stop only to began again somewhere else on the stage. Though each dancer moves in their own unique movement phrases there is still continuity found in the style and statement. Visually it is akin to what audible would be five people all talking at the same time in a small room, all speaking on the same subject but with each wishing to express their individual views.
The work is filled with movement that at times ranges just on the edge of abandonment, of total loss of control, but each time it is pulled back, reigned in. Minimalism is not a word I would associate with Ms. Bell’s work but here there are quiet moments of stillness, brief, but still present.
Arms swinging, legs flying through the air, Jonathan Campbell, with his arms to the side and folding towards his shoulders executes a series of chaînés turns that are first very fast, then, he slows them down, only to speed up again. It was fascinating to watch, a bit of a whirling dervish.
Unidentifiable; Bodies is different in style and statement from some of Ms. Bell’s past works such as Stella/A Series of Miniature Manifestos, Nudity or ReVue. So much is said at times in the dance when the dancers are doing so little. In this work Ms. Bell has stripped away everything extraneous, there is more honesty, a willingness to be seen as vulnerable.
Alexandra Johnson (Associate Artistic Director) has never danced better, when on stage she demands attention, she is in immediate ownership of the space around her. She is the sun with the other dancers but satellites caught in her gravity.\
Ms. Johnson is able to tell a story with her body in her own unique movement language and style. Other dancers may repeat the same phrases of movement as just completed by Ms. Johnson but none will have her authority. She is the rare dancer that can swing from strong and formidable to sensitive and emotionally exposed in a mid-phrase of movement. Bravo Ms. Johnson, bravo indeed….
If Sidra Bell were a decade or two or three older I would lean toward identifying Unidentifiable; Bodies as evidence that Ms. Bell is entering a post-classical stage in her choreographic career. But as Ms. Bell is not a decade or two or three older I would have to say that Ms. Bell is pushing her creative vision, she is discovering a new way of speaking and exhibiting great courage in stepping away from the identities of her past work to show us a side of Ms. Bell we have not seen before. Sensitive, emotionally raw and primal…..
About City Parks Foundation
City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. We work in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs, and empowering citizens to support their parks on a local level. Our programs and community building initiatives reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City.
Choreography: Noa Zuk
Tel Aviv, Israel (2006)
Batsheva Dancers Create / Batsheva Dance Company
Costumes: Dalia Lieder
Dramaturgy: Ohad Fishof
Music: Ohad Fishof
Noa Zuk began dancing with the Batsheva Ensemble in 1997. In 2000, she joined the Batsheva Dance Company (BDC) where she performed until 2009. During her time with BDC, she also began choreographing her own work. Visit Noa Zuk’s website for more info: http://noazuk.wordpress.com/
Batsheva Dancers Create
“Batsheva Dancers Create”‘ is an autonomous artistic framework which allows Batsheva dancers to create their own works while dealing independently with all aspects of the creative process, from the artistic aspect to marketing and advertising. The project, now in its eighth year, is supported by the Michael Selah Foundation for Cultivation of Young Artists at Batsheva. The project provides an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the dancers vibrant creative talent and each year it stirs great interest amongst the public. To date more than one hundred works by dozens of young artists were supported by the Selah Foundation.
This seasons ensemble workshops will be held on July 24th- 26th . Company workshops will be held on September 26th-28th, 2014
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro Dance Center. At the age of fifteen she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She then began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. She has danced Kitri in Don Quixote and the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker.
Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000 and then joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 and was appointed a Soloist in August 2007.
I had never seen Pilobolus; I had seen the Hyundai Santa Fe Commercial in 2007 and a promo here and there, but to actually have seen the company on stage in their full glory…well, that I had just never got around to until now. Tthe company’s annual month-long run at the Joyce began July 15 with two programs each 2 hours long. Program A consisted of five works, between each work was some short films. Danielle, courtesy of Anthony Cerniello portrayed the process of a child aging with into a mature woman in 5 minutes and Explosions by courtesy of the Danish TV show “Dumt & Farligt” which was just that, things exploding and captured at 2500 frames per second.
Pilobolus is Theater Company that uses movement to tell stories; it is more physical theater than dance. They use improvisation as the base or rather a tool in which to create the fundamental structure of a work. Sometimes they come into the studio with an idea or a concept, sometimes they in come with nothing, no ideas or concepts but begin “playing”. They begin improvising alone or in groups or pairs until they stumble across something of interest and worth keeping. Then, the Artistic Directors, Robby Barnett and Micheal Tracy will take that “interesting” segment and build onto and/or around it till they have a “statement”, then they expand upon the that “statement” and in that process create works of great intelligence as well as originality.
One of the most exciting works I have seen in 2014 was the New York premiere of On the Nature of Things, created in collaboration with Pilobolus’ Artistic Directors and the company members. The work was performed that night by Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Eriko Jimbo and Mike Tyus and set to vocal music inspired by the classical baroque, by Michelle DiBucci and Ed Bilous.
Mr. Tyus carries Mr. Ahern onto the stage and carefully lays him on a two foot column rising above the stage. Ms. Jimbo and Mr. Tyus soon join Mr. Ahern on the platform; they are moving, lifting and transferring each other with slow continuous movements. I am reminded of the sculptures of Rodin come to life. The positions of pain, suffering, ecstasy and desire found in ancient Greek sculptures flow visually one into the other, never truly stopping. On the Nature of Things is a work of such startling beauty that we the audience sat silent, staring in awe till the last movement ended then we burst to our feet screaming bravos at the top of our lungs…Wow, what a performance, wow, what a work…
The 2013 collaboration [esc] between Pilobolus and magicians Penn & Teller was a bit of a surprise. The stage became a vaudeville-slash-circus with mad attics everywhere. Houdini was mentioned more than once while Jordan Kriston had her wrists and ankles duct taped to a chair. Mr. Ahern and Matt Del Rosario, wearing very provocative black thongs are chained hand and wrist and then the chains are wrapped around their bodies while they are standing against a stripper’s pole. Ben Coalter is tied into a bag, thrown into a box that is then padlocked. Then they all proceed to attempt to get out of their duct taped bindings, locked boxes and stripper pole chains…which they do…It was all rather chaotic and as brilliant as everything Penn & Teller are associated with.
Program B did not pick the same punch as Program A. Program B was still very enjoyable but Program A was/is spectacle. Interesting and very odd was the New York Premiere of The Inconsistent Pedaler. It is a surrealist fable about a girl who rides a bicycle that has the power to speed up and slow down time, The Inconsistent Pedaler is an ingenious collaboration between Pilobolus, fiction writer Etgar Keret, and his wife filmmaker Shira Geffen (both Israeli).
The 20 minute work centers on a bumbling and a somewhat lucid old man (Mr. Ahern) and the trials and tribulations that occur during his 99th birthday party. Many generations of his family are in attendance, all wearing party hats, patient adults that are used to dealing with over-anxious and easily excited children plus a rather large infant (Nile Russell) who rides a tricycle wearing nothing but his diaper.
Jordan Kriston is a tween/teen on a bicycle that when pedaled can either slow down or speed up time. It is her inconsistency with her pedaling that speeds up or slows down the action; particularly it seems with regards to the old man. It is a fun work but something, somewhere seemed lacking….Program notes would have help…
But anything The Inconsistent Pedaler lacked, All Is Not Lost made up for it. The 2011 work, a partnership with the band OK Go, divides the stage into two sections or areas. On the stage right is a large projection screen and on stage left is a raised platform with a transparent floor with cameras placed underneath. The dancers’ actions and movements are projected through the transparent floor and on to the large screen.
In essence we are getting two views of the dancers in performance, one that is the normal straight ahead and the other with the help of the cameras, from below thru the transparent floor. The only thing I can think of to describe the imagery created is that is kaleidoscope. Bodies moving in sync into odd shapes standing, lying, squatting…It was truly spectacular and a must see for anyone interested in dance and film.
Korokoro (2011), a collaboration with Japanese choreographer Takuya Muramatsu, was startling is its honesty and beauty. The dancers are stripped of everything extraneous and perform in only nude colored dance belts. There is an undeniable candidness of emotion. You see the exquisite shapes and transitions made by the human body…
Mr. Muramatsu’s background is in Butoh. Butoh was a movement that began in Japan in the late fifties. It was rebellion against Western dance and Japanese Traditional dance. It also has its roots in German Expressionism. The Butoh dancer is not concerned with technic but by searching inward for the truth of the movement.
I was like a kid let loss in a candy store when I took my seat for the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Swan Lake at the David H. Koch Theater, part of the Lincoln Center Festival 2014. (Bolshoi is pronounced “bolshoy” and literally translates as “great ballet.”) As a person obsessed with dance history the sheer magnitude of what I was witnessing was not lost on me.
No matter how many times it is performed, who may or may not have alter/added/modified Petipa-Ivanov’s original choreography…the simple fact is that, like or not, Swan Lake is as Russian as Kvass and Beef Stroganoff. No matter who staged it, no matter who is dancing Odette/Odile or where it is being performed, whether the Paris Opera, the Royal or American Ballet Theater…Swan Lake is as Russian as it gets. Now was Yuri Grigorovich’s libretto and his added choreography a help or a hindrance….well, we’ll get to that later.
When the curtain rises you cannot but be impressed with the Bolshoi’s scenography. A backdrop highlighted with in shades of brown and gold allows the blues and reds capes of the attendees of a ball to stand out. The creative vision behind the set and costumes is Simon Virsaladze (1908-1989).
The dancing was spectacular, impeccable trained dancers whose crisp, clear technique shined. Most of the Principal Dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, commonly known as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, the affiliate school of the Bolshoi Ballet. Founded as an orphanage by order of Catherine II in 1763, it wasn’t until 1773 that the first dance classes were taught at the home.
With its 235 year history, the academy has produced some of the most accomplished dancers of the 20th century, including Maya Plisetskaya, Vladimir Vasiliev, Galina Ulanov, to the stars of the current generation, including Nina Ananiashvili, Vladimir Malakhov, Natalia Osipova, Alexei Ratmansky, Polina Semionova, and Nikolay Tsiskaridze, the Academy and its graduates continue to earn the highest honors and acclaims in the international dance world.
Anna Nikulina interpretation as Odette/Odile was nothing short of brilliant. Ms. Nikulina’s Odette gave a figure that was both hopeful yet possessed a sense of impending tragedy. You felt her want/need to trust Artem Ovcharenko’s Prince Siegfried. During the Grand Pas de deux in Act II, you can feel her hesitance, her fear, her emotional response to the Prince when he takes her arms to assist her from the floor. You see the beauty of her training and her exquisite line as she extends her leg in preparation for a whip turn, the prince holding her waist while turning, assisting her as the turn ends in an elongated penché.
Ms. Nikulina is Odette, the Swan Queen who informs the young prince that she and the other girls were turned into swans and that the lake was formed by the tears of their parents’ weeping. She tells him that the only way the spell could be broken is if a man, pure in heart, pledges his love to her. Hence her need to trust…
The Prince, about to confess his love for her, is quickly interrupted by the Evil Genius, portrayed by Denis Rodkin. (In the original Swan Lake, the sorcerer von Rothbart was responsible for the spell that turned Odette and the other girls into swans. The sorcerer in the Bolshoi’s version is instead an Evil Genius who, like an evil shadow, lurks behind the Prince at every opportunity.)Mr. Rodkin pulls Odette from Prince Siegfried’s embrace and commands all of the swan maidens into the lake so that he prince cannot chase them. Prince Siegfried is left all alone on the lake’s shore….
The Fool, Denis Medvedev portrayed with an impish, boyish charm and was unafraid to antagonize and ridicule the Mr. Rodkin as the Evil Genius . He exited and entered with a silly grin on his face, his leaps gave impressive height and his turns were always on point. He was one of my favorite dancers during the whole production.
The Cygnets’ Dance, the pas de quatre also from the Second Act is, besides the Grand Pas from Act II, one of the most recognized pieces in ballet today. Its music automatically brings to mind four women as the bourrée across the stage with hands locked across each other waist. It is here, also in the Grand Pas from the Second Act, that are both fairly true to Petipa- Ivanov’s choreography. This is where you see the differences in Swan Lake’s choreography by Petipa-Ivanov and that by Yuri Grigorovich, the company’s artistic director from 1964 to 1995 now as the Bolshoi’s ballet master.
Where Petipa has a natural musicality, a free-flowing use of limbs that accentuate the melody, Mr. Grigorovich’s choreography was choppy and seemed forced while also lacking any natural musicality. Did it allow for impressive tricks and athletic feats of dance, yes, but at what cost….
Another point of contention was the ending. Once Odette discovers that she has been betrayed and the Prince who has been tricked by the Evil Genius and she finds that he has confessed undying love to Odile (the Black Swan who has been made to look like Odette via magic) she flees back to the lake. The Prince follows after he uncovers the plot to trick him runs to the lake only as Odette is dying. The Prince is left alone by the lake. It was so anticlimactic and lacked any of the drama the ballet deserved.
One of the great treats of the evening was the Bolshoi Orchestra, led by Conductor Pavel Sorokin. The musicians filled the theater with rich sounds and subtle harmonies. It was indeed was real treat.