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Pilobolus is a Fungus | Pilobolus at the Joyce Theater, July 15 – Aug. 10, 2014….

Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Mike Tyus & Erica Jimbo in Pilobolus’ “On the Nature of Things” Photo: Robert Whitman

Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Mike Tyus & Erica Jimbo from Pilobolus in “On the Nature of Things” Photo: Robert Whitman

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.

Jordan Kriston & Derion Loman from Pilobolus in “The Inconsistent Pedaler” Photo: Robert Whitman

Jordan Kriston & Derion Loman from Pilobolus in “The Inconsistent Pedaler” Photo: Robert Whitman

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.

Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Mike Tyus & Erica Jimbo from Pilobolus in “On the Nature of Things”

Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Mike Tyus & Erica Jimbo from Pilobolus in “On the Nature of Things”

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.

 

Swans, Swans & More Swans | The Bolshoi Ballet, Swan Lake & the Lincoln Center Festival 2014….

Anna Nikulina & Artem Ovcharenko in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

Anna Nikulina & Artem Ovcharenko in the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake” presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

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.

Artem Ovcharenko as Prince Siegfried in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake. Photo: Stephanie Berger

Artem Ovcharenko as Prince Siegfried in the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake”, presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

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.

Lincoln Center Festival 2014

Anna Nikulina & Artem Ovcharenko in the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake”, presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

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.

Denis Rodkin & Artem Ovcharenko in the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake”, presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

Denis Rodkin & Artem Ovcharenko in the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Swan Lake”, presented by Lincoln Center Festival 2014. Photo: Stephanie Berger

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.

 

 

Fire Island Dance Festival | July 18-20, 2014 at Fire Island Pines, NY….

 FI FestProduced by and benefiting Dancers Responding to AIDS a program of Broadway Cares/equity Fights AIDS

July 18-20, 2014

Fire Island Pines, NY

Make your plans now to join us for the 20th anniversary of Fire Island’s most anticipated event of the season.

Fire Island Dance Festival has wowed audiences for 20 years with an eclectic mix of famed and fast-rising dancers from Broadway to Ballet performing on a stunning waterfront stage with the Great South Bay as a backdrop. This year’s festival will be hosted by Larry Keigwin and Jerry Mitchell

.

To date, Fire Island Dance Festival supporters have raised $3.3 million for the most vulnerable among us, helping to ensure that they receive lifesaving medications and health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance.

Schedule of Events


Friday, July 18

Leadership Event at Whyte Hall featuring Mark Stuart Dance Theatre
Performance 7:30 pm (cocktails starting at 6 pm)

     Included with all Leadership Supporter tickets

Saturday, July 19
Opening Performance 5 pm (cocktails starting at 4 pm)
Sunset Performance 7 pm (cocktails following)

Sunday, July 20
Closing Performance 5 pm (cocktails following)

Get your tickets online today, call 212.840.0770, ext. 268 or stop by the DRA table in the Fire Island Pines Harbor on weekends 10 am – 1 pm.

Performance by….

Desmond Richardson

Dwight Rhoden’s Moonlight Solo

Ailey II

“Wade in the Water” From Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

BalletCollective

Premiering a new work by New York City Ballet’s Troy Schumacher

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Premiering a new work choreographed by American Ballet Theatre’s Marcelo Gomes with an original score by Ian Ng

American Ballet Theatre’s Marcelo Gomes & Luciana Paris

Balcony Pas De Deux from Romeo And Juliet

New York City Ballet’s Sara Mearns

Starring with 8 male dancers in a new work created by Emmy award-winning choreographer Josh Bergasse

Dancers Responding to AIDS, founded in 1991 by former Paul Taylor Dance Company members Denise Roberts Hurlin and Hernando Cortez, relies on the extraordinary compassion and efforts of the performing arts community to fund a safety net of social services for those in need. As a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, DRA supports more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide as well as the essential programs of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative and The Dancers’ Resource. For more information, please visit Dancers Responding to AIDS at dradance.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/DRAdance, on Twitter at twitter.com/DRAdance, on YouTube at youtube.com/DRAdance and on Instagram at instagram.com/DRAdance.

Boston Ballet’s 50th Anniversary at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater…

Boston Ballet’s John Lam in Forsythe's The Second Detail. Photo: Gene Schiavone

Boston Ballet’s John Lam in Forsythe’s The Second Detail. Photo: Gene Schiavone

The Boston Ballet, led by its Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen pulled out all the stops for the 50th Anniversary Season at the David H. Koch in New York City’s Lincoln Center. Mr Nissinen presented a company rich with tradition, talent and vision. The company’s 50th Anniversary Season offered two exciting programs and as an added treat, live music was provided by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  

Altan Dugurra gave an honest and intriguing performance as the faun in Vaslav Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun. As the curtain rose you witnessed the beauty of Russian painter Leon Bakst’s original costumes and sets. That moment when the oboe is heard at the beginning of Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, the Boston Symphony Orchestra captivated us all.

Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun by Rosalie O'Connor (2)

Seeing Vaslav Nijinsky’s original choreography you recognize just how revolutionary was the work. With the body always in profile, feet turned in, Nijinsky’s staging was intentionally to the imagery found on ancient Greek vase paintings. All though the company also has Jerome Robbins’ version in its repertory I am glad that this was the one selected to be shown.

During Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo’s Plan to B you eyed followed Whitney Jensen whenever she was on stage. She dances with such crisp technique combined with an inner fire that watching her you knew you were in the presence of an artist at the height of her powers.

Boston Ballet's in Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet’s in Vaslav Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor

Mr. Elo has been Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer since 2005 and his choreography tends to be fast paced and highly athletic. Plan to B, set to the Baroque music of Heinrich von Biber is an extreme abstract work in regards to the use of the body in space. The choreography is ripe with classical movement interspersed with contemporary elements, limbs fold at sharp angles and unique movement phrases highlight the work. It is intensely musical, the body and the score seem to meld into a singular vision.

In William Forsythe’s The Second Detail stillness is a vital as motion, abstract, dramatic and challenging, it is work of great daring and intelligence. The saccadic rhythm of Thorn Willems score drives the dancers through every move, every step.

Jeffrey Cirio and Isaac Akiba ©LizaVollPhotography

Mr. Forsythe’s 1991 work begins with 13 dancers wearing light blue leotards and tights. Hips jut to the side followed by a running slide and then a leg kicked incredible high, on the floor downstage center is a sign with the word “THE.”

The movement vocabulary is without a doubt classical, tendu’s and port du bras are everywhere, but it is studded with repetitive off-kilter moves, the body tilting and/or the torso used in a sometimes awkward rubbery manner.

Whitney Jensen, Jeffrey Cirio and Bo Busby in Jorma Elo's Plan to B by Gene Schiavone

The dancers settle on benches that line the back of the stage, two will sit and stare straight head while four others move in unison slightly off to their left. Again stillness is as important as movement in the piece where a dancer or dancers will momentarily stop, breath, and then begins to move once more.

The work is composed of group pieces, duets, trios and sudden solos.  On one side of the stage three may be moving in unison while on the other side an intricate solo is being performed. This solo may stop, the dancer choosing to move to the back to sit down or it may evolve into a duet or trio with other dancers joining the first.

Kathleen Breen Combes in Forsythe's The Second Detail

Walking on, off and about the stage gives a pedestrian feel, a feel that makes it seem current and of the moment. A dancer may dazzle us with an intricate solo of leaps and turns only to suddenly stop and simple walk nonchalantly away.

The work ends when one dancer kicks over the sign labeled “THE”. The fact that you must be a skilled technician to even attempt Forsythe’s choreography is an understatement. The fact that the dancers of the Boston Ballet can tackle it and other choreographers whose work is just as complex and intricate is a statement to their talent and training.

Wall by EDx2 Contemporary Dance Company….

Choreographer Lee Insoo established EDx2 in 2010.  EDx2, located in Seoul, aims to discover outstanding original repertoire alive with artistic sensitivity and descripted movements: and to meet its aim, it is open to other artistic genres such as Hip-Hop, Contemporary dance, Drama, Mime and Acrobatics, etc. EDx2 enthusiastically communicates with the sensitivity of the contemporary audience and introduce a diverse spectrum of modern dance with both artistry and popular appeal.

EDx2 Contemporary Dance Company

Direction & Choreography: Lee Insoo

Camera Work/Editing: Smooz

Dancers:

Lee Insoo

Ryu Jinwook

Cheon Jongwon

Lee Dongha

Edx2dancecompany@gmail.com

The Blind Men & the Elephant | 10 Hairy Legs’ 2014 New York Season at New York Live Arts….

10 Hairy Legs’ Tony Bordonaro & William Tomsaskovic in Randy James' "Closing the Glass Door". Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Tony Bordonaro & William Tomsaskovic in Randy James’ “Closing the Glass Door”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Randy James, Artistic Director for 10 Hairy Legs has a strong vision for the repertory company he founded in 2012, a company composed entirely of men. It is a vision of challenge, of exploration and more than a little taking of chances. The company is not meant to reflect a specific point of view about the male experience, but rather to celebrate and explore the tremendous technical and emotional range of the male dancer.

Mr. James is building an impressive repertory by some very exciting choreographers, Julie Bour, Claire Porter, Tiffany Mills, David Parker and Doug Elkins. Mr. James himself just received the 2014 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Choreographic Fellowship Award Recipient.

10 Hairy Legs’ Scott Schneider in Julie Bour's "The Blind Men and the Elephant".  Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Scott Schneider in Julie Bour’s “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. Scenic Design: Benjamin Heller. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Julie Bour’s The Blind Men & the Elephant with a newly composed score by Kyle Olson, opened the evening for 10 Hairy Legs’ 2014 New York Season at New York Live Arts. The Blind Men & the Elephant is a well-known Indian tale from the Buddhist canon, but some assert it is of Jain origin. It illustrates the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.

Ms. Bour, who danced with Angelin Preljocal and Ballet Preljocal, created a vision for this parable that was fascinating to say the least. The stage is a place of darkness, from varying angles light creeps onto the stage like a thief afraid of being discovered.  Upstage left is Benjamin Heller’s scenic design/structure, part statue, part art object, dimly lit imagery that strongly, though not outright, suggests an elephant. A long ivory tusk, a leg, a large ear that would suggest a large head.

10 Hairy Legs’ in Alex Biegelson Julie Bour's "The Blind Men and the Elephant".  Scenic Design: Benjamin Heller.  Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Alex Biegelson in Julie Bour’s “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. Scenic Design: Benjamin Heller. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Alex Biegelson begins a solo but he is soon joined by Robert Mark Burke. Mr. Burke is smaller in stature and dressed in all black and against the black drapery in the background. He is more of an apparition than person, a shadow that follows, a thought, a fleeting memory. Mr. Burke is reflected guilt or perhaps a thought that services unwanted at random intervals.

The dancers’ kinetic energy is relaxed as it rides though the body, loosely limbs collapse at the height of a movement. Transitions are quick with synaptic response immediate. The choreography does not necessarily stop at any point in the work but there are moments of stillness, like a breath inhaled before the start to the next phrase of movement. The choreography is introverted, reflective, searching. Scott Schneider pauses and looks around, a perplexed expressions on his face as asking who or why.

10 Hairy Legs’ Tyner Dumortier in Julie Bour's "The Blind Men and the Elephant".  Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Tyner Dumortier in Julie Bour’s “The Blind Men and the Elephant”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Three dancers began a trio of movement, a conversation of individual thought, a conversation in their own language of movement. A language only they speak, a language of motion and emotion. They move around and with each other, sharing the burdens of one another, when two lift the shadow, Mr. Burke, there is a moment of shared intimacy, something felt but not spoken.

I am new to the work of Julie Bour, but if The Blind Men & the Elephant is any indicator what to expect from her then I am very excited to witness more of her work. Excellent endeavor by all involved….

10 Hairy Legs’ Kyle Marshall in Claire Porter's "Piano". Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Kyle Marshall in Claire Porter’s “Piano”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

The scenario for Claire Porter’s Piano, a text-driven piece, is simple, a world-renown pianist (Kyle Marshall), is ready to dazzle the gathered audience with his talent, he comes on stage with great fanfare, a true artist filled with his own self-importance…. Only to discover there is a slight problem…you see, the piano has not been delivered, the piano bench has arrived but alas, no piano. So, what does a world-renowned pianist full of his own self-importance do to stall for time till the piano arrives…he regales us with his peculiar idiosyncrasies and hilarious pre-performance rituals.

With a lot of bowing, kissing of his most cherished possession, his fingertips, Mr. Marshall takes on a rollercoaster of hilarity. His deadpan delivery of his all-consuming mental preparations and the sharing of information on what he planned to perform and how exactly he was going to perform it…complete with flourishes had everyone in stitches…

10 Hairy Legs’ Tony Bordonaro & William Tomsaskovic in Randy James' "Closing the Glass Door". Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Tony Bordonaro & William Tomsaskovic in Randy James’ “Closing the Glass Door”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Randy James’ Closing the Glass Door set to Haendel-Halvorsen Passcaglia for Violin/Cello and performed live by Sarah Biber on Cello and Jane Chung on Violin was a duet and performed by Scott Schneider and Nick Scissione.

Mr. Schneider and Mr. Scissione begin the piece by standing side by side, first one leans over and places his head tenderly on the other shoulders and then the other does the same to him. The dance builds in intensity; the dancers come together, then separate utilizing the stage fully. Curvature patterns of motion can be seen, the body never truly traveling in a straight line from point A to point B.

10 Hairy Legs’ Carlos Antonio Villanueva & Alex Biegelson in Doug Elkins’ “Trouble Will Find Me”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Carlos Antonio Villanueva & Alex Biegelson in Doug Elkins’ “Trouble Will Find Me”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

Mr. James approach to the use of the body in space is to maximize on the potential of the movement. An extended leg arcs away from the body forcing the spinal column to twist around the torso and thus the energy is fully utilized as the catalyst for the following phrase of movement.

Mr. Schneider and Mr. Scissione must be commended for their performance in Mr. James duet. It was with out a doubt my favorite performance of the night….Superb performance in a superb piece….Bravo indeed!

Doug Elkins’ Trouble Will Find Me and set to music by the acclaimed Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn is a work for five men. The choreography is a bit of hip-hop, part capoeira with a little salsa thrown in for good measure and then some deviations of Classical Indian Dance poured into the mix.

10 Hairy Legs’ Tyner Dumortier in Doug Elkins’ “Trouble Will Find Me”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

10 Hairy Legs’ Tyner Dumortier in Doug Elkins’ “Trouble Will Find Me”. Photo: Steven Trumon Gray

It’s a fun work and is what it is…dancing for dancing sake…no subliminal messages or deep examinations of one’s angst. The dancers show such joy dancing the work it is infectious. Runs, slides, backflips and tumbles abound is this very athletic work. The choreography has a natural feel, nothing is forced. Mr. Elkin’s B-boy background surfaces periodically that lends a freshness to the work.

Randy James, who is on the faculty at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University is among the foremost choreographers, educators and arts advocates, is the driving force of 10 Hairy Legs and serves as its Artistic Director. In addition to their work with 10 Hairy Legs, The dancers with the company  are also dance with such featured artists with The Bang Group, Stephen Petronio, Doug Elkins, Tiffany Mills Company and Zvi Dance, among others.

The mission of 10 Hairy Legs is to advance the understanding of the male role in dance through the creation, acquisition and performance of exceptional work.

 

 

 

 

 

The Prickly Point of Existentialism | The Boston Ballet & Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti”…

Boston Ballet's Whitney Jensen & Jeffrey Cirio Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo:  ©Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet’s Whitney Jensen & Jeffrey Cirio Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo: ©Rosalie O’Connor

When the curtain opens for the Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti”, part of Program 2 of the Boston Ballet’s 50th-Anniversary Season at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center…well, at first you may not be sure what to think…I know I didn’t! Two dancers, a man and a woman are moving very slowly with their backs to the audience. An audio collage (taped text by Spenser Theberge that seems to be deliberately pretentious) is playing, you hear a conversation that the dancers are not speaking but perhaps thinking…”Hi Anna’,  “hey Lenny”…”how are you”…”good”…they then began to discuss how to proceed with the duet….he says “Um, put your feet here” then she says “ no you come over here”…this flows into some unusual assortment of body arrangements while they continue to discuss the value and merits of these various moves and how to transition into and out of them…You find yourself being pulled in, you’re not sure why or even how….but just like that you are totally vested….

Somehow, I’m still unsure how but remember being delighted, the duet and its clever dialogue has transitioned to 16 dancers kneeling on large white Scrabble tiles while a string quartet is evenly spaced behind them. The dancers are kneeling in a quasi-samurai position, sitting back on their heels, bodies upright and knees spread apart. Using their hands the dancers start pounding out rhythms on the tiles that grow with complexity, you hear the occasionally voiced “HEY!”….The musicians that were playing behind them are now moving amongst them, all the while the kinetic energy and the saccadic rhythms continue to build in intensity.

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo: ©Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo: ©Rosalie O’Connor

This is Alexander Ekman, the young and much in demand Swedish choreography, he is known for his fast paced timing, witty humor, clever transitions and intentional sarcasm. His works are not so much dance pieces but rather dance-theater experiences; you will experience a visceral reaction, before you will be a visible merger of intellect and emotion, but, well, let’s just say with a little tongue-in-cheek thrown in. It is obvious the Mr. Ekman does not take himself too seriously, that is the brilliance of his work.

His deconstructed choreography is entirely his and reflects how he sees the use of the body in space. You will perhaps note the influences for Forsythe and Kylián or even a hint of Leon Lightfoot. But in today’s world of dance and art how can they not be reflected, it would be like denying the influence of Mozart or Haydn in classical music. He has danced with Royal Swedish Ballet, the Cullberg Ballet and the Leon Lightfoot I just mentioned can only be from his tenure as a dancer and choreographer with NDT II.

Rhythms are as important to his work as is the dancing itself, the breath that lends life, sound and syncopation are woven though his work like thread in a tapestry. Did I mention sarcasm, well there is that, a good dose…after the close of Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, when I was exiting the theatre I realized the this work, for all of its subtle, open-handed, sly and outright commentary was probably the most entertaining diatribe on existentialism ever…well, ok…perhaps not a diatribe…for the sake of getting along I’ll call it a primer on existentialism….

Alexander Ekman in his years as a choreographer has proved to be an artistic multitalented. He often makes film productions. Though usually integrated in his choreographies, these productions also create more and more interest on their own. In 2009 Ekman created the dance film 40 Meters Under for and with Cullberg Ballet, which was broadcasted on National Swedish television. That autumn he collaborated with the Swedish renowned choreographer Mats Ek on video projections for Ek’s play Håll Plats. Ekman also created an installation for the Modern Museum in Stockholm with dancers of Cullberg Ballet.

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo: ©Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman’s “Cacti” Photo: ©Rosalie O’Connor

Alexander Ekman was born in Stockholm in 1984. He trained at the Operans Balettelevskola 1994-2001. From 2001-2002 he danced at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. He then joined Netherlands Dans Theater II 2002-2005. During his dance career he worked with choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen, Nacho Duato, Johan Inger and Mats Ek.

Between 2005-2006 Alexander joined Cullberg Ballet where he had his first breakthrough receiving a prize at the international choreographic competition in Hannover for his piece The Swingle Sisters, for which he also claimed the critics’ prize. In the same year he was chosen as one of the dancers to create a work; Unknown art? for Cullberg Växtverk  project, which was performed in Stockholm and Malmö in April 2006. During autumn of the same year Alexander created choreography, set and music to Flock Work for NDT II, which premiered in November 2006 and became his international breakthrough as a choreographer.

 

 

La, La, La Human Steps | “La La La Human Sex Duo No. 1″….

Édouard Lock’s works have appeared on film. 1987’s La La La Human Sex duo no 1, directed by Bernhard Hébert and starring Louise Lecavalier and Marc Béland, is a short black-and-white film which won six international prizes including one from the Festival international du film sur l’art de Montréal. Also directed by Bernhard Hébert, Le petit musée de Velasquez (1994), is a free adaptation of eight choreographed pieces from Infante, c’est destroy. Actress Markita Boies appears alongside the La La La Human Steps dancers in this colour feature film which blends contemporary dance with the world of the great Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velázquez.

As recorded from a PBS broadcast of Alive From Off Center back in the late 1980’s, this is an adequate VHS capture of a La La La Human Steps’ performance of Human Sex. There are a couple other releases of this performance at You-tube right now, but I think this one is probably a higher-quality capture. I hope everyone will enjoy it. I find it impossible to keep my jaw closed while I watch this. Truly amazing…

…In 1986 Mr. Lock won a Bessie Award for his 1985 work Human Sex, after the piece was shown during the Awards show Mark Morris screamed out “Genocide” at the top of his voice….

 

Leart Duraku’s “La Table D’Ehpysis” | Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo….

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

Choreography: Leart Duraku

Dancers:

Beatriz Uhalte Cisneros, Anjara Ballesteros,George Oliveira, Christian Tworzyanski, Alexis Oliveira, Daniele Delvecchio & Ediz Erguc.

The piece was created for “Les Imprévu”,  The Young Choreographers’ showcase and are collaborations made with the Scenography students from the city of Monaco’s Pavilion Bosio Art School.

“Martha Graham: The Early Years” by Merle Armitage….

Endpapers of Martha Graham by Merle Armitage. Los Angeles M. Armitage, 1937. Crossett Library

Endpapers of “Martha Graham: the Early Years” by Merle Armitage. Los Angeles M. Armitage, 1937. Crossett Library