Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company Photo: Lois Greenfield
My monthly AmNews dance calendar:
Photo: Julie Lemberger
The “Stripped/Dressed” format was designed by Doug Varone for the 92nd Street Y Harness Dance Center in 2012: there are two sections in the evening, “Stripped,” where choreographers “demystify their creative process…” (dancers are in rehearsal clothes and in a talk and process format, choreographers guide
audiences through the making of the work). In the “Dressed” section which falls after intermission, the evenings’ work is presented with costumes, lights etc. This format is an excellent one for students learning choreography, young choreographers and probably curious audience members. However, as truly informative as getting the insider’s view about the process, there was not enough room for my imagination to run amok during the “Dressed” section. Something to think about.
The evening opened with Varone’s fast-paced and full-bodied work, Rise (1993) to acquaint the audience with his work, says Varone. The very informative “Stripped” section followed where Varone and the dancers introduced the making of the world premiere, Mouth Above Water. In the comfortable and informal setting of the historic dance space at the 92ndStreet Y, Mouth Above Water began using the small stage space and a good deal of the floor space, shared by the audience. A trio of bodies (Xan Burley, Colin Stilwell and Hsiao-Ju Tang) mingling, falling, catching, locking arms, all the while manipulating gestures, began on the stage and ended as they backed up to the wall. On the floor, five bodies (Julia Burrer, Hollis Bartlett, Erin Owen, Alex Springer and Eddie Taketa) would soon cascade onto the space, one here, another there, then in varied groups, taking chances with each other’s weight. An arm would reach from nowhere and another would grab just before a fall into yet another body. Although I learned a bit too much from the “Stripped”section about the next duet with Erin Owen and Alex Springer, it was truly exquisite. Owen and Springer, as action figures turned real people, were true to the intricacies of the toy’s movement, but their dance-script took it to another level. As human-toys, they moved adroitly with ease; their awkward yet intimate non-hug (squared elbows, eyes not meeting) is one example. Sure the sharp edges and the halted movements were there, but they were so capably committed that one hoped their duet would not end. As an aside, it’s always good to see Taketa whose movement resonates in his surefire interpretation of Varone’s work. Taketa joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 1994. Lovely dancing throughout the evening.
Pictured above: Erin Owen, Hollis Bartlett, Julie Burrer, Eddie Taketa, Alex Springer
See more “Stripped/Dressed” – www.92Y.org/harknessfestival
March 1 – 3 – Faye Driscoll: Work-In-Progress
March 8 – 10 – Liz Gerring Company: She Dreams In Code
March 15 – 17 – Ronald K. Brown/Evidence: A Dance Company: Gatekeepers
March 22 – 24 – Kate Weare Company: Garden
"Escapades" by Alvin Ailey Photo by: Sharen Bradford
Featuring Dianne McIntyre's "Nina Simone Project"
DALLAS BLACK DANCE THEATRE
New York Season
FEBRUARY 28 & MAR. 1–2
TICKETS: 214-880-0202 OR
The Ailey Citigroup Theater - 405 West 55th Street -
All Seats $25
Ann Williams ~ Founder/Artistic Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre
March 9 & 10 + March 16 & 17 - See works by Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director Igal Perry, Italian Enzo Celli, Dwight Rhoden and Sidra Bell. Here's YouTube sample below:
See how Jersey dances @ NJPAC - Saturday, February 23 & Saturday, April 27.
"The pieces on these programs may be flashy and grand, or quietly intimate. Some offer a dramatic narrative, while others are purely formal compositions. They may embody faith or sensuality, but all demonstrate the body's unique ability to reflect the human experience..." Robert Johnson, curator/Star-Ledger dance critic
Dianne McIntyre "dancing" a story with Ntozake Shange
Performing Shange – Thursday, February 14. The Worlds of Ntozake Shange was celebrated in a performance by students and a conference at her alumni Barnard College for the 20th anniversary of the Africana Studies Program and the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies. Fittingly, “Zake,” as she is affectionately called, was joined by longtime collaborator and friend Dianne McIntyre. The stories of their time together were many, but we were reminded by Zake that dance was the impetus for many of her works. “We sometimes call it magic, but Dianne McIntyre calls it dance,” she said. As many stories as there were, there were some bone-chilling quotes from“Zake” about her connection to dance, here are some:
Zake studied with and danced for Dianne McIntyre’s company, Sounds In Motion. “After dance class lots of endorphins were going and I could write. If I didn’t dance I wouldn’t be able to write.”
“I wanted something that flowed, reached out…”
“My writing is propelled by the breath.”
Today, after two strokes and a debilitating disease (she is now in a wheelchair), she says “In my dreams, I can dance...I dance in my dreams and every night I can fly.”
Okwui Okpokwasili as part of New York Live Arts’ (NYLA) Studio Series in BG: Girl, Girl, Saturday, February 16. This series truly gives artists the room to present works-in-process such as BG: Girl, Girl, and equally important, there is always a Talk to help audiences learn more. Here’s my purposefully unedited take on this evening of “movement” in the spirit of...
The studio space at NYLA. Okwui was inside a revolving square frame suspended by invisible cords. Slowly moving. A hum. Audience quietly enters the dark room. Okwui’s hand is against her face, feet are turned in, hands move to her body. There is a hush in the room. She begins soft breaths, puffs her chest, shifts her hips, her shoulders hunker, she lifts one foot and rubs the other ankle. Folks are still walking in, looking for a seat. Her fingers reach her waist. More soft breaths. Jamil Olawale Kosoko (Producing Associate in Humanities and Engagement at NYLA) welcomes everyone. Okwui deepens her journey. Music begins. “Hello Baby…don’t cry…” Okwui begins turning slowly, singing, stops singing, sings again in another octave, then shape-shifting; closing in on her body, undulating, touching, and framing her body. Descending to the floor, she travels out from inside the square, explores the floor, slowly rises and takes deliberately slow steps towards pieces of paper. Walks quickly picks up the paper and reads a note explaining an exchange between 11 year old girls. Selfishness? The papers fall and she too fall. Thumping, dragging, fighting the floor for space. Exhausted. Sings. Stands and tells another story about a boyfriend. Okwuk shakes, shivers and eventually convulses to her knees. Stands. Okwui finally says, “The End…for now.” Funny, time and again, she exclaims, “I’m not a dancer…” HA!
For this season at The Joyce, in two programs, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company delivered timeless works, stellar dancing and a really nice surprise– Matthew Rushing joined the company! Highly contrasted, but paired nonetheless on one program was Walking Out the Dark(2001) a somber, yet spiritually provoking journey where four dancers (2/16 –Arcell Cabaug, Otis Donovan Herring, Annique Roberts, Clarice Young, joined by Brown) dug very deep into their core to deliver Brown’s signature blend of traditional African and modern movement. Moving in and out from four corners, each held their own with the many polyphonous solos—darting, pausing, recoiling, falling into the floor, balancing, kneading their bodies —that framed the work. The always lively Upside Down (1998) followed. Ahh…even before the work begins, we are reminded of the days when Brown first introduced dance audiences to musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Kudos to Donovan for that famous diagonal cross from upstage right to downstage left! Upside Down never fails to deliver. Brown’s striking unison movement, juxtaposed with music by Bob Marley and Kronos Quartet in Order
My Steps (2005) was lovely. Another soul-searching work that never fails is Incidents (1998). A searing women’s piece, Incidents begins with Roberts far stage left, with Shayla Caldwell, Maresa D’Amore-Morrison, Coral Dolphin and Clarice Young clumped center stage comforting each other. Soon, these fabulous women traverse the stage running, walking (heel first or tip toe), wrapped close in their voluminous dresses; gather in circles as if confirming their inseparability. So loud are the moments when one would stand, chest high, head way back and arms fallen to the sides. A first for me was seeing and excerpt of Ife/My Heart (2005) by someone other than Brown. Rushing, an elegant being, captured Brown’s style with ease in Ife/My Heart. The new work, Torch showcased Roberts and Brown in a delightful play on generations as he danced alongside her. From the memorable clump in the beginning, Roberts was held high above the others, to the many entrance and exits, this was yet another show of stellar dancing.
CUNY COMPOSERS’ ALLIANCE – AMERICAN MODERN ENSEMBLE – MUSIC IN MOTION
Tuesday, February 19 -7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Location - Elebash Recital Hall
The concert features the collaboratrion of several artistic group and individual artists including:
Choreographers: DaVon Doane, Nikki Hefko and Francis Lawrence (Dance Theatre of Harlem) plus Erin Dillon and Artis Smith.
Also presenting works are The CUNY Composers’ Alliance and The American Modern Ensemble, The Brooklyn College Dance Department; music by CUNY Graduate Center composition students, and a film/video component created to accompany the work of Haralabos Stafylakis and Sarah Curzi. Conductors: Tania León and Robert Paterson.
For more information click here: http://gcmusic.commons.gc.cuny.edu/locations/elebash-recital-hall/
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a faculty member at Hunter College, Kean University, Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member of The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."