Click here to Reserve your Free Tickets
In the last act of Swan Lake, the Black Swan must perform 32 fouettes — in other words, spin 32 times on one toe and do it gracefully.
Zhao Ruheng, China’s star dancer in the 1960s, surpassed that count and made it to 35. It is one of the most difficult and famous finales in ballet, and the last Western ballet Zhao would ever perform before China’s Cultural Revolution drew the curtain on her career as a dancer.
“My teacher stood below the stage because she was afraid I would fall. I kept turning and they were shocked,” Zhao says of her final act in 1963.
Zhao, now retired at 66, was one of China’s first prima ballerinas. At the age of 11, she began her career when the Beijing Dance Academy scouted her hometown in the northern port city of Tianjin in search of young talent. She soon graduated with the first class at the National Ballet of China, the country’s premier ballet company, founded in 1959.
“The history of ballet in China is not long, but it has gone through a lot because China is not like other countries. Its history has made us who we are. We did not replicate the West. Chinese ballet tells its own stories,” Zhao tells CBS News.
Along with performing traditional Western ballets — Swan Lake and Sylvia, for instance — the company also references the country’s tumultuous history through performances of distinctly Chinese shows like the “Red Detachment of Women” and “Raise the Red Lantern.”
“The first time we performed outside of China was in Burma in 1961. It was an amazing outdoor stage under the big golden spires,” Zhao recalls.
Although she devoted her entire life to the company, Zhao’s career peaked when she was just 19, when she was named the principal dancer for Swan Lake in 1963.
“The happiest moment for a ballerina is when she is chosen to be the principle dancer. That was my greatest wish.” But Zhao’s luck was soon eclipsed by Mao’s fervor to uproot longstanding cultural, economic and social norms in China. Ten days after Zhao’s first performance of Swan Lake, the Cultural Revolution began. “You could say that my happiest moment quickly became my saddest moment.”
During the Cultural Revolution, everything reminiscent of the West was reviled. People deemed intellectuals or bourgeois were sent to “reeducation” camps to do hard labor. The country spiraled into complete chaos for more than a decade until Mao’s death in 1976.
“It was a very stressful time. It’s not like now, where young people have all these choices. We had absolutely no choice back then. We had no computer, no television and we just listened to propaganda,” Zhao said, “We were not allowed to perform Swan Lake.”
Many in her ballet troop became easy targets for criticism by the government, according to Zhao. Mao mobilized the Red Guards to police those who did not follow his mandate of creating a classless society.
“During the Cultural Revolution everything was regimented. We could not wear tight fitting clothes to practice. Every day before practice we would read Mao’s works. After practice we would have to sing songs praising Mao.” While the ballerinas practiced their form, the Red Guards stood watch.
With the frenzy of the Cultural Revolution overtaking the country, the troop was ordered to perform only the Red Detachment of Women, a ballet towing the Communist Party line.
The group of dancers, musicians and actors were forced to walk from township to township, hauling their instruments and costumes on their backs. After performing in one town the ballerinas would set out on dirt roads to get to the next town by nightfall and the routine would start all over again.
“At that time we would wear our ballet shoes performing on the snow covered ground. Today you would never think of doing such a thing, but back then we had no choice-we had to do it.”
For many in the countryside, this was their first encounter to the traditionally western art form. The ballerina’s wore cotton peasant clothes and danced in their hand-crafted ballet slippers that their Russian teachers taught them how to make.
“In every town 20,000 to 30,000 people sat below the stage and watched us perform in the freezing cold weather,” Zhao said, “It was all outdoors in the light of day.”
These poor working conditions along with the long treks from one township to the next eventually led to the demise of Zhao’s dancing career. By 1971, Zhao had permanently injured her right leg.
“My injury ultimately was the embodiment of that time. I had become a sacrifice of the Cultural Revolution,” said Zhao, who underwent two operations to save her leg-both attempts were unsuccessful.
Despite the dark past of the National Ballet of China, Zhao speaks with pride about the troop’s contribution to the world of ballet and the respect it has gained from performing original works expressing China’s history.
“The other lasting memory in my career was in 2008 to2009. This feeling of (…the National Ballet of China…) being respected and compared to the English National Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet was a very proud moment for me,” Zhao said, “Looking back it now, you could say it was fate.”
This story was written by CBS News’ Connie Young in Beijing.
When I saw Lighting Designer Clifton Taylor’s name associated with the Little Orchestra Society’s production of Stravinsky’s Firebird, I knew I had to see it. I know from experience that anything Clifton Taylor is associated with is going to be well worth the cost of the seat.
So, entering into a lobby filled with parents with children in hand, I embarked on an amazingly fun afternoon. With a program lasting only 55 minutes, The Little Orchestra Society’s® performances of Stravinsky’s Firebird was their first Happy Concerts for Young People program of the 2013-2014 season, recommended for ages 6-12. Anchored by music from Igor Stravinsky’s dramatic ballet, Firebird, the program also included works by composers who inspired young Stravinsky as he set out to compose the piece that would bring him worldwide acclaim.
The evening was led by guest conductor David Alan Miller, who is currently the Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. He would begin with an educational antidote about each of the works being played. We were given a little background of what each work was about and who the composer was. Also how the work may have related or perhaps have influenced Stravinsky and his eventually creation of the Firebird Suite.
The LOS played wonderfully Tchaikovsky’s March and Trepak from The Nutcracker Suite, Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor by Aleksandr Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Dance of the Comedians from The Snow Maiden, and one of my favorites, Mussorgsky’s The Hut on Chicken Legs from Pictures at an Exhibition.
Stravinsky’s Firebird, was last on the program, it was a visual delight for both children and adults. Director/Designer Chris M. Green, along with Choreographer David Neumann, and Lighting Designer Clifton Taylor created a magic world filled with lights and puppetry.
Clifton Taylor uses lighting in the same manner a painter uses color to soften, enhance or announce the foregoing storyline. Mr. Clifton’s lighting is never overt but rather woven into the core of the production so it becomes a vital part of the whole experience.
Everyone sat enraptured as the young Prince, accompanied by his small tiger cub, discovers the tree that grows the Golden Apples. We watched while the young Prince coaxed the Firebird into trusting him by feeding her bits of the Golden Apple.
The Firebird slightly resembled Sesame Street’s Big Bird, with its billowing yellow chiffon and large beak, but I thought this may have been intentional. The kids were able to immediately identify with the Firebird, which I though very clever.
Chris Green had designed such excellent puppets, especially the small tiger cub and later when the tiger had reached adulthood. My only complaint, that while the puppeteers were wearing all black, I wished their head and faces, as well as their hands had been covered in black as well. There was a mystery, a little of the magic robbed from the production. I kept getting distracted watching the puppeteers’ faces and the placement of their hands on the puppets. As the adult Prince traveled across the stage, I was disconcerted to see the hands on his black boots that allowed for the manipulation of his legs. Had the hands been wearing black gloves, this would have blended in with the boots and lending a bit more believability, allowed the audience to more easily transcend to that mystical place of legend, evil wizards and handsome princes that come to the rescue.
Another thing that I think would have been helpful would have been a sheer black scrim. Something that still allowed the orchestra to be seen but would have created a sense of intimacy lost within the depth of the stage at the New York City Center.
Several of the afternoon’s musical selections were from ballets performed by Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes at the turn of the 20th Century, a time when music and art were going into new and unchartered territories. The early 20th Century brought the beginning of Expressionism, the idea that the artist needed to move away from depicting objective reality and instead explore subjective emotions and the response to those emotions.
Stravinsky’s Firebird, with choreography by Michel Fokine, was one of those works that became a famous ballet for the Ballet Russes. The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner. When the ballet was first performed on 25 June 1910, it was an instant success with both audience and critics.
Stravinsky was a quite young and virtual unknown when he was recruited by Diaghilev to create for the Ballet Russes. The Firebird was his first project. (…Another of the afternoon’s works, The Polovtsian Dances, a ballet excerpt from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, was also one of the highlights of the first Ballets Russes Season in 1909…)
It was a little odd for me to hear music from famous ballets without seeing the ballet being performed alongside. Though it was quite fun as I mentally envisioned the choreography in my head.
The kids were encouraged to repeat a loud the names of the famous composers, where Stravinsky and Mussorgsky had several innovated variations on the proper pronouncement of their name. The way the conductor, David Alan Miller, emphasized why each work was written and what visualizations were associated with the work allowed the children to color the music in their imaginations with their own imagery.
As someone who has a background in Education, I found the afternoon fascinating. The Little Orchestra Society website offered both Pre-Concert and Post-Concert Discovery Guides. Both had great suggestions and activities for parent and child to more fully utilize the experience. The Post-Concert Discovery Guide has a superb Supplemental Materials guide for further reading, listening and viewing in order to expand on the learning aspects of the afternoon.
This is an EXCELLENT program for anyone with young children. The Little Orchestra Society’s® Happy Concerts for Young People program with its Pre-Concert and Post-Concert Discovery Guides is a great opportunity to expand the curriculum and add to the learning experience of any child. Parents who home school their children should heed this opportunity.
The Little Orchestra Society (LOS) was founded in 1947 by Thomas Scherman with a mission to put music in engaging as well as educational contexts. Basically, if you can grab the attention of an individual when just a child, you have a very good chance to maintain that interest in music and the arts into adulthood.
Happy Concerts For Young People is a Peabody Award-winning concert series consisting of three programs that incorporate multiple art forms and narration to enhance audiences’ understanding and enjoyment of the music.
HAPPY CONCERTS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
3-CONCERT SUBSCRIPTIONS AND SINGLE TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE.
New York City Center
David Allan Miller, Guest Conductor
Sat. Nov. 23 @ 11am & 1PM
Sun. Nov. 24 @ 1pm
Hansel & Gretel
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
James Judd, Conductor
Sat., April 5, 2014
11am & 1pm
The Composer is Dead*
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
James Judd, Conductor
Sat., May 17, 2014
11am & 1pm
*Includes the New York premiere of Embrace by Brooklyn composer Kenji Bunch, featuring Tracy Silverman on electric violin
For Further Info…
212.971.9500 or click here
(Song of Nature)
Performed during the
Havana International Ballet Competition 2012
Choreography: Azari Plisetsky
Music: Gustav Mahler
Rondo finale from 5th Symphony in C
Naturaleza :Arián Molina in Red
Fiera: José Losada in Yellow
Ave: Osiel Gounod in Blue
Pez: Yanier Gómez in Green
The program notes described the work as an “exploration of expressive possibilities within male dancing.”
Choreographer Azari Plisetsky, brother of the great Bolshoi ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, is from a family of Russian actors and dancers. Mr. Plisetsky danced with the Bolshoi Ballet and joined the Ballet Nacional de Cuba after the Alonsos toured the Soviet Union. The Alonsos had requested that a dancer from there join the Bolshoi Ballet join the company as well as teach at the school. Mr. Plisetsky assumed the responsibility of teaching the men’s classes and helped develop the program at Cubacán (the First National School of Arts in Cuba), while at the same time partnering Alicia and setting choreography on the company.
By Ivette Leyva Martinez (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Members of Cuba’s National Ballet Company (BNC) – currently on tour in Spain – have approached director Alicia Alonso with an urgent petition calling for improvements in work conditions and denouncing favoritism and irregularities in the handling of the company’s budget.
An email sent by BNC members to numerous officials at Cuba’s Ministry of Culture describes the poor living conditions dancers endure during performances abroad, demands raises in salary and denounces the privileges enjoyed by the company manager Oscar Perez.
The letter, dated November 18, was prompted by Perez’ decision to withhold a bonus for the dancers on tour and was also addressed to the company’s Human Resources Department.
This week, the text of the letter, forwarded via email, began to circulate around Cuba’s cultural sphere.
No Cut of the Profits
“In a threatening and far from humble tone, [Perez] told us that ‘no one will get any gifts, so stop asking’, as though the money belonged to him and we were not entitled to a cut of the profits made by the company, like the 26,000 euros paid for the Cadiz performance, for instance,” the message reads.
The “gifts” the dancers refer to consists in around 50 euros for each performer, to be paid at the end of the tour, in dependence of the earnings.
“What huge damage could it cause the company to destine 4 or 5 thousand euros to give us a tiny gift, after a three-month tour, where we made our country and, most importantly, our company proud, and without the most ideal working conditions?” the authors add.
A source who worked with the dancers in Spain confirmed the authenticity of the message and said the young performers simply got fed up of waiting for work conditions to improve.
“They used a group strategy. Since no one wants to be the one who rocks the boat, fearing they will be expelled from the company, they did it together. The management has neglected the main performers in the company for many years,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
A Long Tour
The letter also reports that Perez’ wife traveled as a member of the company. According to information obtained by CafeFuerte, Mrs. Perez was in Spain from September 7 to October 28, when she returned to Havana.
“Does anyone ever hear that Oscar [Perez] has bought something at the “souvenir shop”? No, no. But you will certainly see him or his wife shopping at luxury malls, going to boutiques like Fossil, Zara, Massimo Dutti and others, stores where 98% of the company has never even set foot in,” the message adds.
The BNC’s Spain tour began on September 7 and will come to an end on December 2, when the company is scheduled to return to Cuba. The performances include Swan Lake, Coppelia and Giselle (the Alicia Alonso versions), as well as Shakespeare and His Masks.
The dancers have performed in Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, Granada, Murcia, Seville, San Cugat, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Albacete, Valladolid. They are scheduled to perform at the Niemeyer Center in Aviles this coming Friday.
The main dancers on tour are Anette Delgado, Viengsay Valdés, Yanela Piñera, Dani Hernandez, Jose Lozada, Arian Molina, Camilo Ramos, Victor Estevez, Grettel Morejon and Jessie Dominguez.
Eating, Shopping and Saving
“Alicia, we have had to dance under conditions you can’t even imagine. We’ve had 14-hour trips in horribly uncomfortable buses and God knows we eat terribly, because the 30 euros we get a day do not remotely give us enough to eat, shop and save up a bit, things we have to do because, as you know, life in Cuba is not free,” the letter reads.
The 92-year-old Alonso was on an international tour, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of her debut in Giselle with the American Ballet Theater Company in New York on November 2, 1943. She returned to Havana this past November 10.
Desertions by BNC dancers are ever more frequent. In May, seven company members crossed the Mexican border to request asylum in the United States. The dancers immediately joined ballet companies in Florida.
The promising young dancer Osiel Gouneo also (though more discretely) left the company while on tour and is today a member of Norway’s National Ballet company, as are his fellow dancers Yolanda Correa and Yoel Carreño. An additional five dancers left the company while on tour in Canada in 2011.
TEXT OF THE LETTER BY CUBAN BALLET DANCERS TO ALICIA ALONSO
Our respectable director, the authors of this letter are members of Cuba’s ballet company. We apologize for choosing to remain anonymous. Common sense and the need to maintain the benefits that the tours afford us have forced us to conceal our identities.
We won’t make this letter long or tedious. We will go straight to the point and try to be concise.
We write you this letter and take up your time this way because, since the beginning of our meetings in Havana, Mr. Oscar Perez has been telling us he will not give us the “gift” which dancers have been receiving in recent tours, which we both want and need.
Alicia, all of the members of the company on tour in Spain almost unanimously beg you to intervene and convince Oscar Perez to agree to give us the “gift.”
You should know that we have had to grin and bear how Mr. Oscar Perez, with all the nerve and arrogance in the world, boasts of how his wife (the prima donna, we call her) is taking part in tour. I hope he doesn’t think anyone buys the story that she was invited by so-and-so and all that business.
We would be interested in knowing how many times you’ve heard Mr. Perez talk about what he cooks in his hotel room to be able to save some money, as most of the dancers on tour do. We can assure you that he has NEVER done this, and that he does not return to Cuba penniless, no, no. We can also assure you that Solano [businessman] and Mayda [Bustamante, former BNC official who has been residing in Spain since 1992], are not exactly the most generous people in the world and that they do not pay for all his lunches and dinners.
Does anyone ever hear that Oscar [Perez] has bought something at the “souvenir shop”? No, no. But you will certainly see him or his wife shopping at luxury malls, going to boutiques like Fossil, Zara, Massimo Dutti and others, stores where 98 % of the company has never even set foot in
Nor are you aware that, in a threatening and far from humble tone, [Perez] told us that ‘no one will get any gifts, so stop asking’, as though the money belonged to him and we were not entitled to a cut of the profits made by the company, like the 26,000 euros paid for the Cadiz performance, for instance, or the huge earnings made from ticket sales in Sevilla and many other places.”
We won’t overwhelm you with more details.
Alicia, we have had to dance under conditions you can’t even imagine. We’ve had 14-hour trips in horribly uncomfortable buses and God knows we eat terribly, because the 30 euros we get a
day do not remotely give us enough to eat, shop and save up a bit, things we have to do because, as you know, life in Cuba is not free.
We do not know and do not care about the large sums of money that anyone with a bit of brains knows our “great” manager earns – let everyone fend for themselves as they can. But, Alicia, we ask you, what huge damage could it cause the company to destine 4 or 5 thousand euros to give us a tiny gift, after a three-month tour, where we made our country and, most importantly, our company proud, and without the most ideal working conditions?
We hope you will not disapprove of this letter. We have tried to avoid taking this step, but, believe us, we very much need this more than deserved “gift.”
We apologize for bothering you with this and have full confidence you will help us in this matter.
The members of your company.
Pillar of Fire
American Ballet Theater
(From a Performance in 1973)
Hagar: Sallie Wilson
Older Sister: Bonnie Mathis
Younger Sister: Ellen Everett
Suitor: Gayle Young
Man Across the Way: Marcos Parades
The music for Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire, Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night). was inspired by a nineteenth century two-character German poem Weib und die Welt (Woman and the World). Set in a time when a child born out of wedlock was not condoned in polite society, the poem deals with a pregnant woman who is afraid that her fiancé will not marry her. He, being truly in love with her, accepts the fact and tells her that the child will be considered his.
Pillar of Fire is basically the same type of story set in balletic terms and with additional characters. Three sisters, the Eldest Sister, a prim, straight-laced spinster; Hagar, the middle sister, who desperately wants love, marriage and a family; and the Youngest Sister, a spoiled flirt, able to collect men as a bee collects honey, live in a small town at the turn of the century. A Friend, with whom Hagar is in love comes to visit. While he has come to see Hagar, he is a polite, conventional man of his time who is not yet aware of how much Hagar loves him. The other sisters, somewhat jealous of Hagar decide they must have what should be hers and the Youngest Sister flirts outrageously with the Friend. They go inside and Hagar, left outside, is ignored. Frustrated, angry, and seeing her last chance of a happy married life gone forever, Hagar observes the House Opposite, where, it is said, lovers go to spend time together, and, in her imagination, sees into the house and observes what is said to go on there. A man comes out of the house and sees her watching. Under other circumstances, etiquette would require that Hagar, without being rude, not acknowledge him, but since Hagar feels that she has lost her only chance for a traditional love life, she is attracted to him. Her sisters come out of their house and the Friend and her Youngest Sister go off together. Hagar is frantic, and when the Man From the House Opposite returns she welcomes him and they dance together, at the end of which they go into the House Opposite.
Having defied the conventions of the times, Hagar is ostracized by the neighbors and she and her sisters are now outcasts. The Friend comes to visit offering sympathy and help, but the embarrassed Hagar cannot accept it. She wishes help from the townspeople, and, finally, from her seducer, but he observes her as if she had never existed. The Friend returns, and, seeing Hagar’s despair, firmly, but tenderly tells her, in a final pas de deux, that he loves her and will stand by her and give her the happiness she so desperately wants.
Pillar of Fire received its world premiere by American Ballet Theatre on April 8, 1942 at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, danced byNora Kaye (Hagar), Lucia Chase (Eldest Sister), Annabelle Lyon (YoungestSister), Antony Tudor (The Friend), and Hugh Laing (The Young Man From the House Opposite)
Little Orchestra Society
David Alan Miller, GUEST CONDUCTOR
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013
11:00am & 1:00pm
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013
The Little Orchestra Society®, in association with New York City Center, presents this magical tale with puppets, illumination, and music. Director/Designer Chris M. Green, Choreographer David Neumann, and Lighting Designer Clifton Taylor will partner with the Orchestra to bring this beautiful production to life.
131 W 55th St (btwn 6th & 7th)
New York, NY 10019
On Nov. 14-16, as part of BAM’s 2013 Next Wave Festival, London-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter presented the U.S. Premiere of his newest work, Sun. Mr. Shechter is joined by longtime collaborators Lee Curran (lighting designer) and Merle Hensel (set designer) for this work. Christina Cunningham of Théatre de Complicité joins the artistic team as costume designer. The 70 minute work also features original music by Mr. Shechter.
This is not the dark angry world of Mr. Shechter’s 2010 work, Political Mother, or his Violet Kid, which premiered in 2011. Sun, given its world premiere at the Melbourne Festival this year, is a work much lighter and with its own, though at times a little macabre, sense of humor.
Sun begins with an announcement from Mr. Shechter, who, with his lovely accent informs the audience that the company will be showing a small bit of the ending “to prove everything is going to be just fine.” As Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” blasts we glimpse the dancers in a jumbled sort of 21st century commedia dell’arte costumes. When I say a glimpse, I mean a glimpse, brief seconds of dancers convoluting about the stage in a semi-state of rapture…then black out. We are then assured that “no animals were harmed during the making of this production….”
Still in darkness we hear traditional bagpipe music, but somewhere within it is a trumpet, this builds to a full orchestra score and in a small pool of light we are shown a cutout of a sheep. Then blackout, there’s a lot of blackouts, the music we now hear, unless I’m wrong …(though I am seldom wrong, ask anybody)…is “God Save the Queen.”
Lights up and we see the company in a tableaux standing silently, then moving slowly they lift their hands to hide their faces, similar to that done with a toddler when you playing peek-a-boo. Then, everyone slowly moves their heads to the right to peek out at us with just one eye.
Erion Kruja is the mad conductor for this orchestra of flesh. He appears, disappears and reappears throughout the work, berating, chastising and attempting to guide the dancers into cohesive phrases of movement. But, poor man, it was rather like trying to herd cats. He also occasionally has a tambourine that he employs to make an emphasis. He is manic, seemly has had way too much coffee and is brilliant with every move, shout and inclination he gave. Bravo Mr. Kruja.
Dancers enter and leave the stage in the most pedestrian of manner, walking. Mr. Shechter’s choreography explores small, minute movements. With the body stationary, the dancers move up and down quickly by bending the knees. This is accompanied by small hand gestures that reach, pull back and then the body bends slightly at the waist as if studying the floor, the body still moving up and down. There is element of madness, like overly medicated inhibits of an insane asylum, but still keen intelligence that can be seen in dancers’ eyes. This builds to a sudden, but brief stop, and begins again, but it is altered and expanded with more varied movement vocabulary. Exact moments within the music are highlighted by either sudden stillness or abruptly changing the dynamics of the movement.
The stage is a place that holds few shadows, the work’s lighting design ranges from bright noon to dawn or dusk. The flooring is white; the costumes are all white or light earth tones, fog travels slightly across the stage adding an element of dreaminess to the work. But still there resides an undercurrent of anger. It is not overt as in Political Mother or Violet Kid, but it is still there.
Several cutout sheep appear, moving with little hops across the stage, suddenly a cutout wolf appears while an actress in the front row jumps up and screams loudly while pointing at the stage. This scenario is repeated, but with cutouts of African warriors and a European explorer/colonialist, then with a cutout businessman and a suspicious looking slouched youth wearing a hoodie, the actress each time jumping up screaming and pointing.
Sun is not a linear work, but rather pieces of a puzzle that we are shown piece by piece, one segment at a time. As mentioned earlier, multiply blackouts were used to change the mise-en-scene, it was akin to the eye blinking or a cut away as used in film.
Violence was sudden as Bruno Karim Guillore appeared on stage shirtless; he is immediately surrounded by dancers that start to beat him with small clubs. The audience as a group jerked each time the clubs contacted flesh, so loud were the blows. Suddenly they stop, Mr. Guillore stands, he and his assailants all gave a brief bow and exit the stage. Perhaps Mr. Shechter was commenting on the amount of violence seen in media today and our gratuitous acceptance of it?
As with Mr. Shechter’s past works that I have seen there exists elements of folk dancing, but bent, revamped and updated for the informational age. There is a sense of community and its shared experience that lies at the heart of his work. Mr. Schechter continues to surprise me and I am looking forward to my next opportunity to see his work.
After graduating from the Jerusalem Academy for Dance and Music, Hofesh Shechter moved to Tel Aviv to join the world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company. Here he began drum and percussion studies which continued in Paris at the Agostiny College of Rhythm. Subsequently he began experimenting and developing his own music whilst participating in various projects in Europe involving dance, theatre and body-percussion. Hofesh Shechter is renowned for creating the musical scores for each of his dance creations with his raw, atmospheric music complimenting his Company’s unique physicality.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet will be performing Hofesh Shechter’s Violet Kid, June 11-14, 2014 at Bam…
BAM’s 2014 Spring/Winter Season
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Holiday Engagement: Dec. 4, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014
New York City Center
Artistic Director: Robert Battle
Aszure Barton’s Lift
Ronald K. Brown’s Four Corners
Multi Award-Winning British Choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Highly Acclaimed Chroma
Bill T. Jones’ Bessie Award Winning DMan in the Waters (Part I)
The 25th Season Since Legendary Founder Alvin Ailey’s Passing Features New Productions of his iconic works The River and Pas de Duke Set to Duke Ellington’s Music
Tuesday, December 17th
A Celebration of Matthew Rushing’s Over Two Decades at Ailey
Plus, noteworthy ballets from Ailey’s recent seasons will be presented, including Ronald K. Brown’s landmark and spiritually-charged Grace, Jiří Kylián’s sensual and visually surprising Petite Mort, Garth Fagan’s seminal From Before, Kyle Abraham’s dynamic and multi-faceted Another Night, Ohad Naharin’s unique and innovative Minus16, modern dance master Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, and hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’ soul-lifting Home. Among the over two dozen works represented during the season are Ailey classics like Memoria, including performances by talented young students from The Ailey School
Alvin Ailey’s signature American masterpiece
Danced to live music on Dec. 4th, 6th, & 7th.
December 4th Opening Night Gala Benefit
27-time Grammy award-winning Quincy Jones and actress Gabrielle Union will serve as Honorary Chairs for this performance and party. In addition to launching the 39-performance engagement, the gala fundraiser supports the creation of new works and Ailey’s extensive educational and training programs for young people. Following the exciting company premiere of Chroma, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations danced to live music will be the finale of the memorable opening performance.
New Year’s Eve Perfromance
The New Year’s Eve performance shall features Revelations danced by beloved Ailey stars of the past and present, including Linda Denise Fisher-Harrell, Renee Robinson, Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, Dudley Williams and Donna Wood Sanders.
January 5th Finale Performance
The January 5th finale performance will close the company’s 25th season since the passing of its legendary founder and will celebrate what would have been Alvin Ailey’s 83rd birthday with a season highlights program and Revelations in its entirety.
Family Matinee Series
Family Matinee Series performances each Saturday at 2pm & are followed by a question-and answer session with the Ailey’s dancers.
Tickets starting at $25
131 W 55th St
BTW 6th & 7th Aves.
New York, NY 10019
My admiration for the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is no secret. So I was thrilled when I received an invitation to the first Work In Progress for the 2013/2014 Passport Series, featuring the restaging of Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s Rain Dogs.
Performed to the richly textured music of Tom Waits, Rain Dogs is an homage to “the urban dispossessed.” Each song brings another scene, linked through movement, that captures both parody and sympathy for the myriad of characters who populate the work. Portraits of men and women and their relationships evolve through movement that explores both graceful suppleness and grotesque dislocation. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mr. Inger creates a quirky study of what it is to be human.
Rain Dogs is work that is complex in its simplicity. There is an element of the everyday, a study of the human condition that allows for parody and intense honesty that underlies that parody. That which is inherent and innate to being human gets dissected and then brought into microscopic view.
The stage had become a smoky world where shadows can conceal but never truly hide the realities of life. A line of dancers, all facing forward explore Tom Waits’ Step Right Up with arms and upper body only. A couple breaks loose to perform a duet of fast moves that utilizes the whole body. These two then run back through the line of dancers and in doing so gather a third to become a trio.
Gender roles are as interchangeable as costumes, while dancing in a group, one dancer runs off and returns in his underwear and this continues till all dancers are in their underwear. Then Jon Bond runs of and reappears in a red dress. Ebony Williams, as if refusing to be outdone by Bond runs and reappears in a man’s coat and trousers. Eventually everyone has changed to the opposite genders’ clothing.
Johan Inger’s Rain Dogs is surprising in its unexpectedness. The whimsy of the choreography is true to the remarkable stories that makeup Tom Wait’s songs. Mr. Waits’ deep raspy voice is matched by choreography that is as thought-provoking as his lyrics. The movement is intrinsic, an exploration of the inner landscape, the body’s portrayal of emotion, of thought, of irony.
Johan Inger made his breakthrough as a choreographer in 1995 after a very successful dancing career at the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Inger’s choreographies have won numerous prestigious awards. Between 2003 and 2008 he was the artistic director of the Cullberg Ballet. Since autumn 2009 he holds the position as Associate Choreographer with Nederlands Dans Theater.
Cedar Lake’s Passport series creates a window into the process of creation and the work of the dance company. The series includes events such as Work In Progress showings and Previews that take you behind the scenes and offer you unprecedented access to Cedar Lake’s internationally renowned guest choreographers.
Be sure to catch Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the BAM, June 11-14, 2014.