@ Peak Performances 2018
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
The Tricia Brown Dance Company’s (TBDC) recent season at The Joyce Theater (December 12 – 17) was built around three works created between 2000 and 2009, Brown’s last years of dance making. A good deal was riding on the anticipation of what from the past would be present in this newer version of the company Brown founded in 1970. Past members of TBDC, Carolyn Lucas and Diane Madden were named associate artistic directors in 2013, and are now charged with carrying out the Company’s mandate to “…present her dances in a variety of spaces, indoors and out, proscenium and alternative; develop, deepen and expand the Company’s educational initiatives; and treat the Company’s archive as a living organism to be used to better understand her work, in particular, and dance in general.” The Joyce season was the Company’s first in New York in six years, and another first since Brown passed in March of this year. Lucas and Madden scored big. The lineup, L'Amour au théâtre (2009), Geometry of Quiet (2002) and Groove and Countermove (2000), was a fitting reminder of Brown’s genius. And the Company, five are new, is lovely in the way they danced each work with Brown-esq cool. In small or large groups, each work showed Brown’s lush and sumptuous movement style. The silky circles and weavings in L'Amour au théâtre were satisfying, while the quiet tangling and untangling of body as puzzle pieces in Geometry of Quiet made us wonder what body part was where. The lively flutist Sato Moughalian shared the stage in Geometry. The evening closed with the colorful, linear and mostly unison Groove and Countermove. In the opening duet, Leah Morrison, past performer with TBDC (2005 - 2013) and a guest for the season, was as cool as they come with her dagger-like timing and attack.
When Trisha Brown died, The New York Times paid tribute to her by remarking that “few dance inventors have so combined the cerebral and sensuous sides of dance as Ms. Brown did, and few have been as influential.” Hands down, this re-entry for the Company, the new directors, the dancers (old and new) is a success, the question now is will there be more TBDC on the proscenium stage?
The Dancers are: Oluwadamilare Ayorinde, Cecily Campbell, Marc Crousillat, Kimberly Fulmer, Leah Ives, Amanda Kmett’Pendry, Kyle Marshall, Patrick McGrath and Jacob Storer.
Kudos and plaudits to Jennifer Tipton for lighting each piece so wonderfully and to Elizabeth Cannon for designing or re-imagining those fabulous costumes.
For Hofesh Shechter Company’s recent trip to BAM/Opera House (November 9 – 11), if you are familiar, you’d know it would be really loud, really dark and there’d be really good dancing in Shechter’s newest work, Grand Finale. He brought Political Mother in 2012 and Sun in 2013, both were part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Like Political Mother and Sun, in two sections, Grand Finale, came at us like an ocean of illimitable and commingling emotions. Grand Finale is propulsive and not one-minute passes without a nod to tradition or to today’s unrelenting and disturbing political climate. At first the stage is dark with just the musicians on strings, and after a while the dancers entered, bodies hunkered, weighted and reeking with depression and disdain. “I was trying to make poetry with atrocities around me,” Shechter noted in an interview for Dance Magazine. In oversized shirts and pants, moving mostly in large groups as one, rife with Shechter’s raw and military-infused moves, they work up a well-deserved sweat pounding out repeating sequences while moving large walls that direct our focus. Repetition is indeed Shechter’s friend, and these bodies awaken all the senses. In one scene, tightly packed between very close walls, they jump, arms flail or pound chests as they ride percussive and repeating rhythms. In another, they stand perfectly still on one leg, the other foot resting on the inner thigh of the standing leg for what seems an eternity. And in yet another, they dance a duet of dead—one dancer manipulates a “lifeless” partner. To close the first half, in front of the curtain, a dancer is flopped over a chair with the word “INTERVAL” on a placard. The second half begins with another placard—“KARMA.” When they are back, they are happy, they clap and sing with the musicians, they kiss, they resuscitate those who have fallen—life seems good—there is merriment, it is time to forget the bad stuff, but we wonder where the onus of “karma” lies.
The dancers are: Chien-Ming Chang, Frédéric Despierre, Rachel Fallon, Mickael Frappat, Yeji Kim, Kim Kohlmann, Erion Kruja, Merel Lammers, Attila Ronai, and Diogo Sousa. The musicians are: James Adams, Chris Allan, Rebekah Allan, Mehdi Ganjvar, Sabio Janiak and Desmond Neysmith. The original score is by Shechter, with percussion on soundtrack also by Shechter with Yaron Engler.
Leave it to David Dorfman to make all things seem just fine. In his latest work, Aroundtown at BAM (November 8 – 11), there was live and upbeat music, cheerful artwork, bright costumes and the dancers matched this prescribed spirit with sad and funny tales with a promise of good in the end. From clapping out rhythms that solidified their one-ness before the band begins, to the daring and seasoned partnering, they set the tone evening would hold. They were there to dance “…for that’s what you’re here to see,” they reminded us. The audience was welcomed to share in the joy and the witnessing too. With a big smile, biting her bottom lip, “I see you,” Jasmine Hearn stopped everything to say, or “Today I get to be here with all of this love,” said Simon Thomas-Train. The performers, Dorfman, Hearn, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd, Nik Owens, Kendra Portier, Thomas-Train, Aya Wilson with guest Lisa Race, were full with their sharing; they were real people doing everyday things.
The musicians were: Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Dorfman, Zeb Gould and Jeff Hudgins. The projected artwork was by Saleh Belgaumi, Kelley Fairman, Rachael Lieblein-Jurala and Ruy Zambrano, and costumes were Ásta Hostetter. The dramaturg was Anne Davison.
Some thoughts on Luca Veggetti's Left-Right-Left for AmNews
The pairing was just right for Pam Tanowitz (choreographer) and Simone Dinnerstein’s (pianist) New Work for Goldberg Variations at Peak Performances in Montclair (October 19 – 22). And though shouldering up to the renowned score used many times by well-regarded choreographers was intimidating, from the start, New Work for Goldberg Variations scored. Dinnerstein, barefooted, playing in the dark before curtain, eyes sometimes closed except when she shares a smile, shoulders raising and settling with each cord, set the tone for this satisfying collusion of music and dance. A good deal of ingredients from the Cunningham world is also there, but this one is more rounded, less square version, and there is so much that wafts from the dancer’s bodies and Dinnerstein’s chords. Between the sleek unison sequences, quick-fire feet, smart pairings and perfectly-timed pauses, there were a few kick-ball-changes, and a couple of flaps and slaps thrown in. The dancers: Maggie Cloud, Jason Collins, Christine Flores, Lindsey Jones, Maile Okamura, Melissa Toogood and Netta Yerushalmy, with Dinnerstein and the piano was surely enough in Tanowitz’s brave dive into the world of Goldberg Variations, but bringing Reid and Harriet’s beautiful and transforming costumes was a great finish.
There is always so much to choose from at the annual “Fall For Dance Festival” at New York City Center. In just one of the five programs offered, the lineup included Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgard in Streams (US premiere) by Andonis Foniadakis, Abraham.In.Motion in Kyle Abraham’s Drive (Fall For Dance commission/world premiere), Sara Mearns and Company Wang Ramirez’s No. 1 (Fall For Dance co-commission/world premiere) by Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang, plus Ballet BC in Bill (2016) by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. The hit of the evening was Abraham’s Dive, but a close second was Eyal and Behar’s Bill. In Dive, through the smoke-filled stage, each dancer’s undisturbed calm came through in sequence after sequence of funk and skill, Abraham-style. They are people on the streets, hanging, dancing to really good music and checking in with each other to see what’s up. Abraham really knows how to tell a story, and with Dan Scully’s lights, it’s a perfect match. Eyal and Behar’s outer-worldly, wild and wacky Bill aptly closed the evening with equal parts of metered cool and quirky scenes—strobe lights, intermittent screeching from the dancers, and here too, a lot of choice tunes. In both, first-rate technique meets casual cool. More please!
In the short run at BAC (October 12 – 13), Roy Assaf Dance managed to show many faces of intimacy in just two works. The mood-shifting duet Six Years Later, matched the many musical moods from Beethoven, Handel, to the ‘60s pop group Marmalade, danced by Assaf and Madison Hoke. Holding Assaf by hand, guiding him on stage (and later, leading him off), they set the stage for their story of entangled partnerships, with an equal mix of mood and movement. Almost never letting go of each other, they lock or free their heads, chests, shoulders and take time to inject a conversation of smiles. The nicely themed lights by Dani Fishof and Omer Sheizaf was soon interrupted with blaring whites for The Hill, the fast-paced male trio inspired by experiences of war veterans that followed. Boom, the lights come up, the mood shifts and though the pace was markedly double or triple that of Six Years Later, the intimacy here was palpable. Their countless calculated lifts, familial sequences hints of Israeli folk dance and comradery are proof enough. The men in The Hill, Igal Furman, Avshalom Latucha and Assaf are funny, daring, defying, and they dance well together. With a hug and a kiss on the forehead, Assaf celebrated Furman because it was his last time with the company. What will the trio be without him?
Some thoughts on Faustin Linyekula's for AmNews.
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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."