DTH in DC
Posted 13 December 2001 - 10:15 AM
From Harlem: More Fun, Less Filling
"Dougla," a campy spectacle of Trinidadian nuptials, has for nearly 30 years served as the finale for many a Dance Theatre of Harlem program. It's a frothy, easily digested dessert. Now it has moved up to main course, its cartwheeling dancers and shivering red pompoms serving as the evening's center of gravity -- which is indicative of the direction this company is taking. Tuesday's program at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the opening of the company's week-long stay, was all soothing smiles and upbeat rhythms, a string of familiar hits guaranteed neither to offend nor overtax the attention span.
[ December 16, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 16 December 2001 - 11:46 AM
There seems to be very little response to this thread, and in fact there were many empty seats at the Saturday matinee. Whether this was a function of the holiday season and recent appearances by the Cuban National Ballet and ABT or the disarray of the company last year, I couldn't say. Maybe both. After last year, I doubt we'd have bought tickets had they not been included in our subscription.
Given the performance we saw last year, there was really nowhere for the company to go but up--not to the level of years back but up. And a program without either Dougla or Troy Games came as a relief. Nothing against either ballet, but after seeing one or the other (and occasionally both!) year after year, we welcomed a break.
Is there a consensus as to what has happened to the company in the last few years? Clearly a number of very talented dancers have retired or left for other reasons. Does that explain what we saw last year? Is Arthur Mitchell, still at the helm, responsible for the change in focus so carefully noted in the Washington Post?
Posted 16 December 2001 - 12:40 PM
I edited the post to fix the truncation -- I just said I wasn't planning on going to DTH. I don't know what happened. I've switched to Netscape as a browser and sometimes it seems to cut off lines.
Thank you very much for your report. Often Saturday matinees don't sell out, I'm told, but it may be the season -- and, as you noted, that it followed the Cubans and ABT so closely.
Mitchell is still director. I think many of the problems might be traced to money -- DTH has always had to scrabble to make ends meet and there just may not be enough for new productions.
The company does have a huge turnover; why, I don't really know. Alicia Graf, who should be the company's ballerina now, suffered a career-threatening injury about three years ago and has never made it back. Mitchell has a proud track record of developing dancers -- of having the knack, as he did with Graf, of seeing someone with star power, if an uneven technique, and using them well, putting them in exactly the right rolls. So it's sad to think that the company isn't being renewed.
Did anyone else go? Calling again for reports -- and from New Yorkers as well, since the company was there recently.
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