It has always been my belief that dancers do not dance because they want too…dancers dance because they have to. There is a deeper language of the soul, Martha Graham referred to as “blood memories”…it is something primal, raw, instinctual…This is what dancers tap into and use their bodies to speak that which cannot be spoken in words.
Nothing supports my theory more than Relativity production’s Desert Dancer. British director Richard Raymond’s directorial debut, with the script by Jon Croker and choreography by Akram Khan, is set in Iran. It is the true story of a dancer, Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Richie) who with a group of young artists, rebel against the strict confines of the Iranian government in order to follow for their dreams.
Mr. Ghaffarian always had shown an interest in dance. He was punished in elementary school when his teacher walks in the classroom and discovers him dancing before the class. His movements are an awkward blend of Michel Jackson and Elvis Presley.
His mother worries for him and reminds him that he must always be cautious of the “morality” police. She told him that if he was to dance they must find a safe place and she helped her son gain access to a world of free thinking, pure expression…an art school…The Saba Art and Cultural Institute…here he found himself immersed a new world that would lead him to new ways and means of artistic expression.
Mr. Ghaffarian is shown a film of Nureyev’s last performance with the Kirov Ballet. He learns that while dancing with the Kirov, Nureyev felt artistically constricted, and sought freedom of artistic expression. Even though closely watched he was able to get past his keepers and in 1961 sought asylum in Paris.
When Mr. Ghaffarian gets to the University of Tehran he meets new friends that introduce him to unground dance clubs. All this takes place during the turbulent times of the “Iranian Green Movement” when protesters flooded the streets demanding the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. Green was used by his opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi‘s campaign, after the election it became the symbol of unity and hope for those seeking change.
This is when Mr. Ghaffarian convinces his friends, all knowing if they get caught they could go to prison, to create an underground dance group They are all untrained with more exuberance than know-how. They rehearse in an abandoned printing press, the property of a friend.
Dance is not necessarily “illegal” in the country but is seriously looked down on by the “morality police” who are not afraid to punish what they call immorality with fist, kicks and clubs.
A beautiful young woman, Elahah (Freida Pinto), over hears them talking in the university’s cafeteria and follows them to the abandoned building. The group is startled by her arrival and even more so when she ask to audition for the company.
She brings with her something Mr. Ghaffarian and the others are in great need of…dance training. Elehjah’s mother was a dancer with the pre-revolution Iranian National Ballet and had trained her when she was younger. Previously there training was limited to watching videos on YouTube.
It is here that we witness the brilliance of Akram Khan’s choreography. Elahah performs a solo of such haunting beauty. In her dancing you experience the raw pain of her existence, of her struggles and the trails of a woman in such a restrictive culture. Her body arcs in expressive turns of freedom and grace. She falls to her knees and hiding her face behind her hair she rocks side to side, her body keening in grief and despair. It was a beautiful powerful moment in the film.
When she first meets Mr. Ghaffarian she knows they are kindred spirits. She found in him the same exuberance for life, the same love for movement that she saw in her mother. She and Afshin, when dancing together have chemistry, nothing forced for their energies flowed naturally, organically.
When the company decides to take the risk and put on their first performance they knew it would be a risky endeavor. First they needed to find somewhere they could perform for a few select friends. Everyone’s safety is first and they need to be away from the prying eyes of the morality police.
They choose the desert, a place ringed by rocky edges. It is here that we witness Akham Khan’s artistry. He uniquely uses Indian kathak dance and merges it with contemporary movement.
They begin the dance lying in the sand; their bodies are partially covered. As Afshin slowly rises the sand falls off his body, freeing himself and silently shouting his resistance. The choreography is a voice of resistance, of determination and Afshin again and again forcefully shoves his hand down…his expression is one of determination, of deviance.
His college roommate is an actor and is part of an acting group that is meant to perform in Paris. He gives Afshin his passport and with a little help and alterations he is able to board the plane to Paris.
“Piercing Cry” (The Shout) | A Show Conceived and performed by Afshin Ghaffarian / La Compagnie Des Réformances
It is during the acting groups performance that he suddenly breaks free, exclaiming to the audience that he is a dancer, that he is not allowed to dance in Iran…he thens breaks into an emotional moment of movement that reflects what he has had to endure to dance, the beating, the fear, everything.
His keepers are furious and drop the curtain, they grab Afshin kicking and beating him for his deviance. When one of the keepers violent stands him up the keeper hits Afshin with such force that it sends him though the curtains in full view of the audience. Where the audience stands and cheers embracing him and his struggles.
Make sure to see Desert Dancer…you will not regret it…
Desert Dancer Opens in Theaters in April…..
Choreography: Alonzo King
Music: Zakir Hussain with performance by Kala Ramnath
Dancer: Laurel Keen and Brett Conway
Costumes: Robert Rosenwasser
This duet is from Rasa, a deeply evocative and shimmering piece, set to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, which was called “an intriguing wonder” by the New York Times. Zakir Hussain’s mastery of classical Indian percussion and unique vision of world music have brought him worldwide renown, including a Grammy nomination, and his collaborations with Alonzo King renew classical forms in an entirely innovative way. Tabla music began as dancing music, in Northern Indian courts in the early 1700s, and its hypnotic intensity and complex rhythms convey the strong feeling that they are meant to move the body. Rasa is thus both a continuation of a deep tradition–the interdependence of dance and tabla music as art forms–and an expression of the contemporary global vision of both artists.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN
10 Hairy Legs
M-F 9:30 – 10 am
M-F 10 – 11 am
Technique & Repertory
Monday – Tiffany Mills
Tuesday – Bryan Strimpel
Wednesday – Christian von Howard
Thursday – Manuel Vignoulle
Friday – 10 Hairy Legs
Women and Men Welcome
June 27 –July 1
305 West 38th Street
9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Space is limited
$400.00 + $15.00 non-refundable Registration Fee You must be 16 years of age or older to participate
Spitfire – An advertisement divertissement (1988) was Matthew Bourne’s first hit, and something of a signature piece. It places Perrot’s famous Pas De Quatre form 1846, made as a kind of diva-off for the four leading ballerinas of the 19th Century, (in order of appearances was based on age from youngest to oldest, to squelch further confrontations between them , Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito, and Marie Taglioni. (The fifth great Romantic ballerina of the time, Fanny Elssler, was invited to take part in the gala event but declined to do so; the young Lucile Grahn accepted without hesitation). Spitfire takes place im the world of men’s underwear advertising and mail order catalogue photography. Both a celebration of male vanity and an affectionate comment on the preening grandeur of the danseur noble, “Spitfire” was last seen at the Dance Umbrella 25th Birthday Gala in 2006 in a 6 man version. Here it will be seen in its original 4 man version with all of the original solos restored.
Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures is a trio of works he made between 1988 and 1991, to celebrate his 25 years in dance making. In this remastered format for the digital age each piece easily withstands the test of time, most notably in that their strong sense of humor is retained. That it remains very funny derives from keen satirical observation merged with some good-old seaside postcard humor. Gentle fun is poked at nineteenth century classical ballet in Spitfire, a parody of a grand pas de deux in the form of a pas de quatre for four men, sporting stiff brylcreemed hair while advertising brilliant white underwear (a whole catalogue range of string vests, Y-fronts, boxers and long johns). With a patchwork of familiar pas de deux tunes from Glazunov and Minkus, the four performers satirized the aloof, elitist occupational “look at me” requirement that is common to both ballet principals and fashion models.a qui
Great Stars, Bitter Rivals: Pas de Quatre
(A Quick History of the Four Ballerinas and the Making of Pas de Quatre)
During the summer of 1845, the great ballerinas Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerito, Carlotta Grisi, and the young Danish dancer Lucile Grahn were all simultaneously engaged at her Majesty’s Theatre, London. The enterprising impresario Benjamin Lumley conceived the daring idea of having them perform together in a single brief ballet, a Pas de Quatre of such brilliance that nothing remotely approaching it had ever been attempted before. Since the four stars were, of course, bitter rivals, it required diplomacy of the highest order to persuade them to agree to such an unprecedented proposition.
Agree they did, and French choreographer Jules Perrot set to work to create a series of dances that would display the most scintillating talents of each ballerina, without giving predominance to any one of the four. Perrot’s choreography must have been masterful, for it achieved a harmonious unity while permitting each ballerina to enjoy a personal triumph in steps exactly suited to her individual style. At the first performance, on July 12, 1845, the entrance of each dancer elicited a veritable hailstorm of bouquets, and at the final curtain the stage was all but buried under an avalanche of flowers.
The Joyce Theater Foundation Annual Gala on Wednesday, April 13, 2016.
This magnificent evening will feature Miami City Ballet in its first-ever appearance at Lincoln Center performing George Balanchine’s romantic and emotional Serenade and Alexei Ratmansky’s beautiful Symphonic Dances.
The performance will be followed by dinner, dancing, and a live auction.
“Miami City Ballet, a jubilant and endearing company, refreshes the eyes and spirit” (The New York Times). One of the largest ballet companies in the United States, the company boasts an impressive repertoire of nearly 50 Balanchine ballets and numerous world premieres by an esteemed roster of 21st century choreographers.
This year, The Joyce will honor Sarah Arison for her unwavering commitment to dance and emerging artists.
Ticket and table purchases can be made online here
or by contacting Scott Young at email@example.com or 646-278-0442.
Cello Concerto No.3 in A Major, Wq. 172, 3rd Movement . C.P.E. Bach
Surfin’ Bird, The Cramps
Performance with Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet , 2009
There are still great seats left to see this international star in two stunning Graham roles.
April 18 – Special 90th Anniversary Program
Martha Graham Dance Company!
April 18, 2016, 7:00pm
- with Aurélie Dupont, Étoile and new Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet
- and the NY Premiere of Woodland by Pontus Lidberg
- Graham Highlights include Tanagra, Heretic, Celebration,Lamentation, “Lament” from Acts of Light, the Appalachian Spring duet, and the 1936 Graham masterwork Chronicle.
- Dinner and dancing follow at The University Club of New York
Score: George Bizet
Carmen is a ballet created by Roland Petit and his company ‘Les Ballets de Paris’ at the Prince’s Theatre in London on 21 February 1949, which has entered the repertory of ballet companies in France and around the world. This version is in five scenes and represents a striking admixture of classical ballet, Spanish-style movement, mime, and freshly invented dramatic dance action.