Spoiler alert – in BalletBoyz’s Young Men at The Joyce Theater, everyone dies at the end. Founders of the all-male U.K. Company, Michael Nun and William Trevitt are bent on making collaborative works. The collaboration here is the feature-length film of the same name paired with dance, which for the most part is seamless, but unbalanced. Choreographer Iván Pérez’s Young Men is replete with lush partnering, trusting lifts, canons that leave no dancer behind, and sequences that repeat, and repeat. His danced story is a retelling of many from World War I—women are left behind, they commiserate longingly because their men go off to war, but they dream of their return. In period costumes, Young Men opens with the men of BalletBoyz as soldiers on screen, then on stage gruffly pressed to run drills over and over again. Individually, or in different pairings, they run laps, slide into the floor from exhaustion and push right back to standing, leading with their elbows. This is their pace. Or they fold in, toes, torso and fingers curled with anguish. PTSD sets in when the sole soldier returns home only to die in the arms of the only women (Elizabeth McGorian and Jennifer White)—those left behind. Sadly the film took center-stage (very long dance scenes), and so much more time than the live dance. The longer the evening ran, the more the urge to see live dance grew. The dancers are Benjamin Knapper, McGorian, Harry Price, Matthew Rees, Liam Riddick, Matthew Sandiford, Bradley Waller and White. Young Men is presented in two acts at The Joyce Theater and runs until Sunday, February 3.
There are just a two days left to enjoy the month-long performances by The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center so go see Rennie Harris’ Lazarus Act I and Lazarus Act II, Ronald K. Brown’s The Call and Wayne McGregor’s Kairos. Although Harris’ Lazarus comes in two parts, it’s presented in one evening with a break between acts, a side A and side B, if you will. Lazarus is epic with stories about cotton-picking, raising the spirit in church, and straight-up House & Hip-Hop, but most importantly, Lazarus honors Mr. Ailey’s legacy as the Company celebrates their 60th anniversary. Throughout, in perfectly positioned recorded narrative, Harris dialogs with Mr. Ailey, in one instance he says, “I wanted to get your thoughts on something I was writing…” and in Act I his thoughts come to life through a landscape of African American history—the dancers are barefooted, and they tell his movement story using modern dance inspired steps, urged by the music to “clap your hands and stomp your feet.” Then in Act II, scuffing the floor in sneakers, Harris’ signature House and Hip Hop movement (really fast footwork, air defying leaps and sleek unison floor work), boost the energy and takes the work to another place, juxtaposing movement, music and the thinking about their world today. Lead beautifully by Daniel Harder, the cast of dancers are: Jeroboam Bozeman, Jamar Roberts, Hope Boykin, Sarah-Daley Perdomo, Jacqueline Green, Jacquelin Harris, Vernard J. Gilmore, Michael Francis McBride, Yannick Lebrun, Belen Pereyra-Alem, Michael Jackson, Jr. Ghrai DeVore, Akua Noni Parker and Megan Jakel.
Brown’s The Call, another tribute to Mr. Ailey, is too short, but so sweet, and while honoring Mr. Ailey’s love of movement, Brown injects his signature blend of West African, House and modern dance. This time however, Brown includes classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach alongside jazz from Mary Lou Williams, plus African drums and kora playing from the Brooklyn-based Asase Yaa Entertainment Group. The dancers, Jacqueline Green, Jamar Roberts, Fana Tesfagiorgis, Danica Paulos and Solomon Dumas are flawless in the way they capture this tryptic of senses. Brown refers to this work as a “Love Letter” to Mr. Ailey.
In McGregor’s Kairos, the Ailey dancers again show their range which is surely a testament to artistic director, Robert Battle’s eye for bringing in choreographers that show them off. And with personified ease, in all-female or male groups they are gazelles and darting tigers all at the same time. The season ends on Sunday, December 30th. Find out more here
For the annual Dance Magazine Awards, this was the 61st, held at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, the four "exceptional" awardees represented yet another good mix of genres, style and dance lovers at heart. The recipients are: Ronald K. Brown, (presented by Arcell Cabuag); Lourdes Lopez (presented by Darren Walker); Crystal Pite (presented by Seán Curran), and Michael Trusnovec (presented by Patrick Corbin). A new and special Leadership Award was given to Nigel Redden, and presented by Frederic Seegal (CEO Dance Media) who was introduced by Jennifer Stahl, Editor in Chief, Dance Magazine. Also new for the evening was the “Promise Award” presented to Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, who “promised” to make good on receiving the award. Joan Finkelstein, Executive Director of the Harkness Foundation for Dance presented this inaugural award.
Deeply affected by having just arrived from the full house of friends, family and dance dignitaries in tribute and celebration for the life and times of the late Arthur Mitchell held at Riverside Church, Misty Copeland opened. The always spirited, Wendy Perron, Editor at Large, Dance Magazine was the host for the evening. As always, and thank goodness, the evening was also filled with dance. Trusnovec danced beautifully in an excerpt from Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire (202), before breathlessly receiving his award. “I never feel more alive than when I’m dancing,” he said. In an excerpt from Crystal Pite’s The Other You (2010), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Andrew Murdock and Michael Gross brought another of Pite’s dance-drama to life. Pite, while “…in the house of Ailey,” recalled how her mother introduced her to choreography after witnessing and being moved when she saw Judith Jamison (Artistic Director Emerita –Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) dance Mr. Ailey’s Cry. In accepting her award, Lopez thanked dance because of the “magic it imparts…it changes life,” she said. In her honor, members of Miami City Ballet, Tricia Albertson and Renan Cerdeiro, danced and excerpt from George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1962). Members of Gallim Dance offered and excerpt of Andrea Miller’s Stone Skipping (2017), and the incomparable Annique Roberts danced Brown’s She Is Here (2016). Brown also told an Ailey story. “I was a young choreographer,” he began, studying under Mary Anthony, when Mr. Ailey sat next to him at a showing of his work and asked, “…are you one of mine”? Well, this week, Brown is set to premiere his sixth work (The Call) for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“The Dance Magazine Awards recognize outstanding men and women whose contributions have left a lasting impact on the dance world. The tradition dates back to 1954,” according to the release.
For the dance history buff, Twyla Tharp Dance at The Joyce Theater (November 14 – December 9) was like getting that very special treat that you’ve wanted for a while. Titled Minimalism and Me, this Tharp gem for 2018 was simply satisfying. Notably “…One of this century’s most acclaimed, renowned, and celebrated artists,” in Minimalism and Me, Tharp put together a program that focused on her early dances recollecting the influence and relationship to minimalist visual art. What follows is a sophisticated beginner’s guide to the time when Tharp and colleagues made dances in this time of protest, naming and reckoning.
The works presented spanned the years 1966 to 1971 and was presented during one of The Joyce’s Family Matinee series, packed with children. Tharp encouraged them the children to laugh, “It’s good for us,” she said, then explained what the afternoon would entail. First up was the three and a half minute dance to Petulia Clark’s 1965 “Downtown” whereby Tharp originally stood on relevé for as long as the music lasted. Films of Tharp and dancers in the early years was the backdrop for other excerpted revivals including Tank Dive (1965), Medley (1969), The History of Up and Down (1971) and more that filled the first half. The evening ended with the fully re-staged tour de force Eight Jelly Rolls (1971) which showed each dancer in their own light. And as Tharp promised before intermission, all the parts introduced in the early works, humor, musicality, playfulness, complex pattering and more, were all there. Sara Rudner, a Tharp dancer from 1965 – 85, helped to reconstruct Eight Jelly Rolls. The beautiful dancers were: Kara Chan, Matthew Dibble, Kellie Drobnick, Mary Beth Hansohn, Reed Tankersley, and Ron Todorowski.
Some thoughts on Kyle Abraham's The Runaway for AmNews
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Some thoughts on David Thomson @ Performance Space New York for AmNews.
TRISHA Brown (not Tricia)
THOMSON (not Thompson…)
“Parallels: The End” (2012), (not “The End”)
For the fourth season of “Bloodlines” (March 20–25), Stephen Petronio Company again honored the legacy of modern dance icons by presenting some of their works. This year, Merce Cunningham’s Signals (1970) took center stage. And though at the four year marker Petronio admits, “Bloodlines has been a gift and an unusually emotional experience…” he adds, “With Signals we deepen our commitment to Merce Cunningham as the essential game changer in the evolution of modern dance and the Judson movement that followed.” The “Bloodlines” series concludes next year. Up to now, chronologically, the Company has presented Cunningham’s Rain Forest (1968), Trisha Brown’s Glacial Decoy (1979) and last year, Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A with Flags (1966/1970), Chair-Pillow (1969) and Diagonal (1963), an excerpt from Steve Paxton’s Goldberg Variations (1986), plus Anna Halprin’s The Courtesan and the Crone (1999).
In Cunningham’s spectral Signals, their homage is awash with signature balances and complex lines that ran alongside a live and changing score by John Driscoll and Phil Edelstein (composers/musicians from Composers Inside Electronics, a contemporary ensemble). Then, contrary to Signals, the dancers surrender in true Petronio style, and arms and leg fly sculpting the air in Wild Wild World, an excerpt from his Underland (2003). Jaqlin Medlock finished Wild Wild World with a driving solo filled with angles and punches that stop and go, claiming her space. The evening closed with Petronio’s world premiere, Hardness 10, and the psychedelic unitards that spell out words or short sentences (“Story,” “Read,” “Ouch!,” “She’s The Boss,” etc.) in large letters, grabs the eye. But equally eye-catching is how the words/sentences are beautifully manipulated with each movement. The dancers mark the space with squared walking and repeating patterns, bringing to life Petronio’s deep look into the mutation of diamonds and how they too are manipulated.
The dancers are: Bria Bacon, Ernesto Breton, Elijah Laurant, Jaqlin Medlock, Tess Montoya, Nicholas Sciscione, Megan Wright, and apprentices Ryan Pliss and Mac Twining. Hardness 10, the third collaboration between Petronio and composer Nico Muhly. Set to a previously unreleased score by Muhly titled Long Phrases for the Wilton Diptych, the new work features costumes by Patricia Field ARTFASHION, curated by one of fashion's greatest visionaries, in her first collaboration with the Company. Lighting design for Signals is by Richard Nelson, and for Petronio’s works are by Ken Tabachnick
Some thoughts on Camille A. Brown & Dancers for AmNews
@ Peak Performances 2018
Some thoughts on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for AmNews @ City Center 2017
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a faculty member at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), 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, Kean University 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."