Renee Robinson of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre will have her last performance on 12/9 after 3 decades!
Renee Robinson and Glenn Allen Sims - Andrew Eccles photo
Renee Robinson's last performance with The Ailey Company happens on Sunday, December 9. Here's my article on this historical event written for The Amsterdam News - http://www.amsterdamnews.com/arts_and_entertainment/renee-s-last-dance/article_0b0d66b4-3414-11e2-b286-001a4bcf887a.html
To begin, Lar Lubovitch is, and has always been a consummate choreographer who understands movement and music in such a pleasing and specific way. Saturday's performance (season November 14-18) opened with The
Legend of Ten (2010) a lush work with cannons, movement that covered the stage and sinuous circles beginning in an elbow and following through to the head and the rest of their bodies, only to begin again. Most special was Clifton Brown and Elisa Clark's beautifully tangled duet against the corps who sometimes entered with what looked like one of the snappy boys section from "West Side Story" when they sing "Cool." Only Lubovitch could do that and make it look so good. The gem of the evening was the daring, demanding and all out dancing required in Crisis Variations (2011). In truth, there is no way that anyone of these dancers (Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Brian McGinnis, Anthony Bocconi, Nicole Corea, Attila Joey Csiki, Reed Lu-plau, and Laura Rutledge) could have survived this work without truly giving in. They ran, they flopped, and they got up. They climbed, they lifted, and they were tangled. Their shapes were jagged, and angular and yet so smooth. Kudos to Lubovitch for making the music (based on) Franz Liszt's "Transcendental Etudes," dance in front of our eyes. A decidedly enigmatic duet was danced by Skarpetowska and McGinnis. Not a favorite, possibly because the costumes were so unflattering and took away from the beauty in the work, was this year's premiere, Transparent Things which drew from Pablo Picasso's "Family of Saltimbanques" (Entertainers, Street Performers).
Trey McIntyre Project & Sungyop Hong's Korea National Contemporary Dance Company at BAM's Fisher Space
Ahhh, technology! I was lucky enough to be chosen to moderate the post show discussion after Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) and Korea National Contemporary Dance Company's (KNCDC) historical coming together as part of BAM's DanceMotion USA program (http://dancemotionusa.org/). Both choreographers shared the evening with presentations of their own works. Three excerpts of Hong's delightfully keen craftsmanship in Mosaic (From Suspicious Paradise), Can't It Really Be Helped? Flame (From Deja Vu) and (From Rashomon, Hoshitamtam). Though only excerpts, besides having a chance to see Hong's company of technicians, Hong's sense of space, movement, timing, texture and well-rounded dance theatre rang loudly. Let's hope KNCDC returns. From TMP was Bad Winter featuring Brooklyn's own Chanel DaSilva in a delightful solo and Travis Walker and Ashley Werhun in a duet filled with exchanging weight. Plus, in full regalia, donning a mix of fabulous costumes, matched with fun songs and terrific dancing, TMP closed the evening with Ladies and Gentle Men by McIntyre and inspired by the television series "Free to Be...You and Me." Both companies came together in the evening opener, McIntyre's witty The Unkindness of Ravens (http://www.bam.org/treymcintyre).
Here's where the technology came in and literally blows my mind. The entire evening was streamed live to Korea and when the performance ended, monitors were pulled on to the stage as we set up for the "Post-Show Artist Talk." Our panel was Sungyop Hong, Ben (the interpreter), John Michael Schert (Executive Director/Co-Founder/Dancer) and Chanel DaSilva (Dancer). Once we settled, questions came from Korea to Brooklyn and vice versa. What an experience! This is what I call sharing dance!
Disclaimer - The DanceMotionUSA YouTube link below gives the entire show, but there is no sound! I'll keep checking back to see if this changes. Really great to see the dancing though. Sorry about that!
Kyle Abraham simply keeps growing. "Pavement" premiered at Harlem Stage (November 1-3), and in making the work, Abraham drew his inspiration from John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood and W.E.B Du Bois’ classic essay, “The Souls of Black Folk.” Then, typical of Abram, he also layers this with an operatic score comprised mostly by Handel’s Carestini (The Story of a Castrato) and the gun-laden sounds of an urban landscape. All this to tell the story of two rival neighborhoods from his hometown in Pittsburg. In various groupings, Abraham offers up his signature blend of street and modern dance when one or two of these technicians slide a thumb across their own nose and begins a sequence of battling bodies, lifting, shoving, pausing, falling, spinning or repeatedly running in complete circles. Once, Abraham is the sole person face down on the floor after his arms are pulled behind his back as if in handcuffs, and he is still, while everyone dances around him. Shifting from soundtrack to voices from the film matches Abrahams many vignettes, but so strong is the Abraham's live voice when he asks for help. "Help me..." he says repeatedly, but the others simply walk by, over and over again. His cry is real; it's visceral. Yet another memorable moment is the last scene when the dancers pile on top of one another in the handcuffed position as Donny Hathaway croons, “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Yes, hurricane "Sandy" hampered some things (they couldn't open on Thursday, and the set could not be delivered from New Jersey), but Abraham and company delivered a evening of full theatre and satisfying dance. Abraham's cast of twelve dancers/collaborators that help tell the story are Abraham, Matthew Baker, Charlotte Brathwaite, Chalvar Monteiro, Jeremy Neal, Dan Scully, Maleek Washington, Alexandra Wells, Eric Williams, Sam Crawford and Maritza Mosquera and one woman, Rena Butler.
See this Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/55470300) and also YouTube links below: (1) Pavement @ Jacob's Pillow and (2) Kyle on the making of Pavement.
Benjamin Millepied premiered his new company L.A. Dance Project (October 25-28) in Montclair, New Jersey at The Kasser/Peak Performances. On the program was Millepied's new work, Moving Parts, which showed off his new company as splendid individual talents. Most impressive about this company debut is Millepied's homage to two iconic modern dance choreographers, Merce Cunningham and William Forsythe! Millepied, who in a Q & A with Editor in Chief of Dance Magazine Wendy Perron, admits that this was a feat brought back Cunningham's controversial Winterbranch (1964), and William Forsythe's Quintett (1993). Other company members are Amanda Wells, Charlie Hodges, Frances Chiaverini and Nathan B.Makolandra. What an evening of looking back and being thankful.
See this Vimeo with clips from these revivals: http://vimeo.com/51654217
See YouTube below and listen to Millepied on his new company.
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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."