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November 11, 2006

In a Church, Not Exactly to Worship: John Rockwell on Luciana Achugar‘s “Exhausting Love at Danspace Project.”

Evident from the dancing was her desire to involve the audience and to evoke the religious implications of performing in a church.

Don’t Mistake Some Silliness for a Lack of Sincerity: Claudia La Rocco on Keigwin & Company.

It’s easy to dismiss Larry Keigwin’s short works as entertaining sketches. But that would be a mistake. Threaded through the delicious silliness, itself no small thing, is Mr. Keigwin’s thoughtful analysis of interpersonal relationships and internal workings. He’s a humanist with an enduring love of pop divas, naughty gestures and bursts of exhilarating movement. Got a problem with that?
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November 18, 2006

The Bruce Woods Dance Company is closing due to a $300K deficit.

The company "didn't conform to the conventional model that you have an artistic driver like Bruce to complement somebody who is proficient at doing the other things that hold the company together," said Paul Beard, managing director of Performing Arts Fort Worth, which runs Bass Hall.

David Mallette, former executive director of the Texas Ballet Theater and now a consultant for nonprofit organizations, says many arts organizations, even large ones, operate "close to the edge."

"In my anecdotal experience, and this is not a comment about Bruce, artists like him who are driven to create new work and have that need in their psyche aren't necessarily the best to build the infrastructure that needs to be there to support production needs," Mallette said.

Phildanceco performed a fifth anniversary program for the Kimmel.

To help celebrate the Kimmel's fifth anniversary, Philadanco founder and executive artistic director Joan Myers Brown assembled a typically varied selection - one world premiere, the restaging of a classic modern dance, and two recent pieces - by a quartet of choreographers.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Kota Yamazaki's company Fluid hug-hug at Dance Theatre Workshop.

The nearly ceaseless flow of motion and small shifts in dynamics are engrossing for much of the work’s 75 minutes, as are the subtle differences in the ways that the finely detailed dancing of Mr. Yamazaki and Mina Nishimura contrasts subtly with the bigger, more raw-looking style of Paul Matteson. But the numbing, unstructured-looking repetition of “Rise:Rose” suggests that Mr. Yamazaki, a 47-year-old choreographer and dancer now based in New York City, lacks two crucial gifts of his mentors.

Gia Kourlas reviews Lionel Popkin's new work at Danspace Project.

Ever written a 10-page paper with only 5 pages worth of material? So you simply think of new ways to say the same thing? Such were the circumstances surrounding “Miniature Fantasies,” Lionel Popkin’s new full-evening work, set to music by Andy Russ and now being performed at Danspace Project.
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November 24, 2006

A review of the Georgian dance company Sukhishvili:

Some people complain that the show is too sensational and too slick: it is too influenced by Hollywood and too far from the folk originals-it no longer expresses the soul of Georgia. To answer this complaint, I compare the Sukushvili with other, similar dance groups, from Turkey (The Festival of Light), and even Diaghilev's famous Russian Ballet. In all these cases, choreographers take folk dances and turn them into modern entertainment, to the delight of audiences everywhere. Many would answer the complaint by saying: 'Why not both? 'Why not both the traditional and the modern?'

Co-founder of Exit Dance Theatre , Fontaine Dubus, has created a modern version of The Nutcracker, The Nutbuster.

"I had thought off and on about doing a children's show. It just seemed to make sense to do this one, to do 'The Nutcracker' in a way that was different and iconoclastic. We still have that fondness for the music and the themes, but it has a twist to it," Dubus says. "We played with the characters a bit. We made Clara a little less demure, gave her a tougher edge.

John Rockwell looks at dance since September and asks

Is It Dance? Does It Matter?

All kinds of people, trivially and profoundly, have tried to pin down dance, to define what it is and is not, and some of them get quite feisty if you challenge their definitions. So let us relax a little and pay heed to what artists are actually doing. Manhattan (and the rest of the city and the country and the world) is awash in artistic performances that may derive from dance, may be billed as dance, but are just as easily described as a hybrid of dance and something else — or as something else entirely.

Roland Mouret designs dresses that double as costumes for the Rambert Dance Company.

There is a long tradition of fashion designers creating for dance. Those who have recently turned their hands to the task include Christian Lacroix (the Paris Opéra ballet), Rei Kawakubo (Merce Cunningham) and Marc Jacobs (the Opéra Garnier, whose premiere of Benjamin Millepied’s Amoveo opens this month). The difference with Mouret’s work for Rambert is that, after the production was over, at least three of the women around me started discussing which dress they’d like.
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December 9, 2006

Anita Cheng Dance opened last Thursday.

“Ten Before Now After,” the solo that opened her program on Thursday night at the Joyce SoHo, was a stunningly simple, imaginative blend of projected images and live dancing.

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Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Cho-Ying Tsai of Anita Cheng Dance in front of her image in “Ten Before Now After,” at Joyce SoHo.

Ms. Cheng and her collaborator, the video artist Ronaldo Kiel, made rare and inspired use of the theater’s white walls, on which the soloist, Cho-Ying Tsai, interacted with her shadow and with filmed images of herself performing the same choreography. Ms. Cheng is clearly too sensible an artist to raise overt questions about time and reality, but they lurked intriguingly below the solo’s surface.

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January 6, 2007

Dance Kaleidescope performs a program featuring music by Duke Ellington and Cole Porter.

As with any company, DK evolves each season. At 35, it continues to benefit from a stylistic diversity beyond its roots in Martha Graham modernism. The addition of certain dancers this season and last has increased the company's facility with ballet sequences. At Thursday's preview, Justin Zuschlag's exacting series of jetes around the central ensemble gave "Cole" a riveting finish.

Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is previewed and reviewed in Charlotte, NC:

Bourne's dance-theater staging of the "Scissorhands" fable, making its East Coast premiere in Charlotte this weekend, defies category. It's a screen-to-stage adaptation that honors both disciplines. It's a ballet in which stillness thrills as much as movement. It's a musical in which the actors sing with their bodies. It's a play without words. It's a tragedy that inspires laughter, a romance full of awkwardness and embarrassment, a spectacle whose visuals serve the story rather than the other way around.

Six Women, All Headed in Different Directions

“Fresh Tracks,” an annual series of new choreography, has been presented by Dance Theater Workshop since the organization’s creation in 1965, giving more than 400 artists — Bill T. Jones, David Parsons, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker among them — their first opportunity to try their craft onstage.

The latest edition opened on Thursday night, featuring six choreographers chosen from the 120 applicants who turned up at the open audition. All are women, and all used electronic scores that provided sonic ambience rather than rhythmic impetus, but there were few other common denominators in a program of uneven work.

A Blending of Euripides, Martial Arts and Noh

Something must have happened to Company East’s well-reviewed “Medea” on its way from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to New York, where it opened on Thursday night for two weeks at La MaMa. Directed, choreographed and designed by Kenji Kawarasaki, this staging of “Medea” looked hastily put together and insubstantial, with a sudden last conceit suggesting some indecision about what it means to be.
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January 13, 2007

Gia Kourlas reviews Jean Isaac.

In American cities outside New York, modern dance thrives by the grit of individuals like Jean Isaacs, who has lived in San Diego since 1970 and has devoted much of her life to spreading its faith. So her choreographic output, judging from a performance by her San Diego Dance Theater at Danspace Project on Thursday, is fairly traditional, with few surprises in her highly structured, emotionally wrought dances.
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Saturday, 10 February

From Toronto,

Dancers seize the stage: Experimental artists stage their own events to showcase works

[Aimée Dawn]Robinson, Josh Thorpe and Colin Clark, all of them alternating on electric keyboard, acoustic and electric guitar, call themselves The Thorpe and their performance of what they call – quite rightly – "warped" songs, opened the series last Sunday. The meandering songs with their weird – possibly found – lyrics are built up by recording layered tracks of improvisations. Done live, to mostly tuneless strumming and keyboarding, they sounded like the vocal day-dreaming of a child left to play on its own.

Cuban dancers to ignite arts fest

Instead of just bringing the company with its mixed-program act, combining Spanish flamenco and Cuban influences, Luminato will offer the world premiere of Vida, linking dances and music with Cuba's social history, seen through the eyes of an old woman.

In New York,

Stony Miens and Sad Hearts

The women of White Road Dance Media seemed a lively bunch at first. They let the audience at the Joyce SoHo pick the last song to be danced to at their new show, titled “You’re Coming With Me Young Lady: A Night for the Wolves.” They got cute with their biographical notes in the program, which also included a fairy tale written by the director, Marisa Gruneberg. They draped the lobby table with pink panties.

But then they started performing Ms. Gruneberg’s fussily named, atmospheric dances, and all signs of individual personalities evaporated.

Walking on Eggshells in a World of Traumas

Jill Sigman has a prodigious imagination and intelligence. She is also a fearless performer who does not hesitate to expose the painful truths within us all. And her new piece, “Rupture,” bursts with unruly, tumultuous life for about its first two-thirds. But then it becomes very much like an exercise in mind control. Heavy gates close, locking in some audience members and leaving others unable to find their way into the work.
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Saturday, 2 March

Former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Joanna Berman performed in ODC/Dance Downtown.

Finally, it was Way’s highly acclaimed “Investigating Grace” with Freeman and former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Joanna Berman that reminded us again that ODC is all about dance. This work showed such clarity of vision and had delicate, quiet choreography, the dancers were no longer dancing, but flying. Set to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and with beautiful lighting by Alexander Nichols, “Investigating Grace” brought home what makes ODC/Dance such a delight — wit, lucidity and imagination.

Claudia La Rocco reviews Miguel Gutierrez's "Everyone."

Anxiety about his choices as an artist — whether making dances matters; whether any of it matters — runs through a lot of Miguel Gutierrez’s choreography. If he can’t see the answer from where he’s standing, he should hire a substitute one night and sit in the audience. From there it is clear that his work matters a very great deal.

Gia Kourlas reviews Sally Gross's recent program.

An Ordered World Defined With Soothing Spareness

The soberly detailed work of Sally Gross, who began making dances in the 1960s, has a calming effect on the nervous system. Her dancers, connected like invisible links in a chain, forge units by the intensity of their silent, concentrated breath. But while Ms. Gross’s dances convey peaceful states, they exist in a realm as severe as it is serene. Her choreography, demonstrated on Thursday at the Joyce SoHo in a selection of solos and group works, remains blessedly hard-core. There are no cute antics or silly props — only vigorous attention to rigor.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Amy Pivar and ann and alexx.

A trip off the beaten dance path can be refreshing, especially when the work is as enjoyably unassuming as the program presented by Amy Pivar and a duo called ann and alexx make dances on Thursday night at Dance New Amsterdam.
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Saturday, March 10

Choreographer Joe Goode's works will be performed today at the University of Maryland, where he's just completed a week-long residency.

"Ultimately the experience of watching my work is not your typical avant-garde performance," Goode says. "It's not cerebral. It's not austere. It's not cruel to the touch. It's very approachable. But then again, it's not putting on Vivaldi and moving to the beat, illustrating the music. In that sense it's very avant-garde."

Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre's founder Michael Medcalf is retiring at the end of this season.

They are twirling and mirroring one another in "Miss," a new work by colleague Kathleen Turner, who occasionally turns to Medcalf for advice. The ensemble's leader utters something without averting his eyes from the action before him.

Soon, however, Medcalf really will be on the move. The admired artistic director, choreographer, dancer and teacher has decided to step down as head of the company he founded in 1998 to pursue further education and -- to put it succinctly -- get a life. He'll leave at the end of the company's fiscal year, June 30.

Le Vu Long's "The Stillness of Us" plays at Seattle's "On the Boards" this weekend, on its way to Dance Theater Workshop.

Perhaps it is fitting that the lingering impression left by Le Vu Long's "Stories of Us" is of stillness and quiet. Not that there isn't plenty of noise: amplified sound effects, stamping feet, musical score and taped voices. But above all, the movement of the hearing-impaired dancers through shifting relationships suggested the silent flow of life underlying the loud chaos of a contemporary city.

Nacho Duato's Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 performed in Philadelphia.

There is nothing "junior" about this junior company. Established in 1999 by artistic director Nacho Duato, the Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 is supposed to train young dancers for admission into the main segment of the Madrid-based troupe. But, based on their extraordinary performance Thursday, at the start of CND2's three-day run at the Annenberg Center, these performers have little more to learn.

Clive Barnes reviews Paul Taylor Company's fund raising gala performance.

THERE are two Paul Taylors - Paul Taylor the Dark, and Paul Taylor the Light, or at least lighthearted. Both, in Janus-faced procession, were on view at his company's fund-raising gala Tuesday at City Center.

Robert LaFosse performed in one of two of Keely Garfield's new works at Danspace Project.

“Decked” is a companion piece and a powerful opening to Ms. Garfield’s “Line & Sink Her,” the program’s main work, which features six dancers, including Lawrence Goldhuber and Robert La Fosse. But the larger “Line & Sink Her” is confusing, teetering precariously on the edge of autobiographical dance. Even though the specifics of Ms. Garfield’s personal trauma are obscured, it just isn’t subtle enough to convey her current shipwrecked state.

Claudia La Rocco reviews Marcia Milhazes's "Tempo de Verão."

And it’s utterly wasted, along with several other effective design elements, on her sister Marcia Milhazes’s disaster of a choreographic endurance test (which, terrifyingly, was named best work of 2005 by Bravo magazine in Ms. Milhazes’s native Brazil). There’s nothing, save the memory of that prelight shimmer, to hold on to in this senseless hourlong trio — performed by Al Crisppin, Ana Amélia Vianna and Fernanda Reis — which, regrettably, marks the New York debut of Marcia Milhazes Dance Company.

Victor Quijada and Santee Smith brought Rubberbandance Group and Kaha:wi Dance to Toronto.

Montreal's Rubberbandance is the new breakout Canadian sweetheart on the international scene. The repertoire is audience friendly because choreographer Victor Quijada cleverly uses urban dance forms like hip hop as the major ingredient in a postmodern/ballet stew pot. Eye-catching is almost too lame a word to describe Quijada's output.

Santee Smith of Kaha:wi is also winning recognition on both sides of the border. A Mohawk by birth, her dance works are firmly anchored in aboriginal sensibility. That being said, her highly charged, traditional/contemporary/ballet fusion eats up the stage.

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Saturday, March 17

Claudia La Rocco reviews Ann Liv Young's Snow White.

No doubt Ms. Young’s work has created a buzz. Her “Michael,” staged in 2005, opened with four topless women dancing to an Eminem song while a man in a white suit watched through a window and masturbated. Now just 26, she has developed an intriguingly ambiguous persona, at once tauntingly tedious and irritatingly captivating. This persona hits you full force in “Snow White,” which opened on Wednesday night to a packed crowd at the Kitchen.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Paul Taylor Company

“Promethean Fire” could well be the response to 9/11 that many see in this magisterial work, created in 2002. But beneath its inexorable sweep there are perceptive human complexities, including one of Mr. Taylor’s most compelling duets, danced here by Ms. Viola and Mr. Trusnovec. Another certainty is that “Promethean Fire” is an audience favorite. “Yeah!” a man yelled as he jumped to his feet at the end, applauding. “Oh, man, how beautiful. Yo!”

Gia Kourlas reviews Le Vu Long's "Stories of Us."

The most intriguing element of “Stories of Us” involves its performers’ backgrounds. Of the production’s six dancers, five are deaf or hearing-impaired, yet each displays an astounding sense of precision and sensitivity to movement. Still, Mr. Long’s ambiguous exploration of gender stereotypes and life-threatening illnesses, inspired by his visits to H.I.V./AIDS clinics in Vietnam, lands on the regrettable side of derivative dance.
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Saturday, March 24

A profile of Jennifer Calienes, the director of the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) at Florida State University.

“Every dance company wants and needs applause from an appreciative audience,” she said, “but at MANCC our goal is to explore what makes dance emotionally moving to an audience.”

As a result, choreographers' work at the center is not just applauded; those in the audience are asked for specific feedback.

There really is no other place in America where choreographers can go to work through the creative process,” she said. “Current grant programs require that choreographers not only define what audiences they attempt to reach but exactly how they will do that. But at MANCC we offer the opportunity to develop the dance.”

A review of Odyssey Dance Theatre

Odyssey Dance Theatre dancers work too hard. All of them are onstage, dancing all the time. Somebody should go on strike and take a break. It would provide a change in dynamics, give the eye a rest and allow time to explore the concept - all basics of successful choreography.

ODT has fabulous dancers and some equally fabulous choreography. But by the fourth piece, I'm on sensory overload. Also, this company has to decide whether it's a mom-and-pop outfit or a professional company. It's infuriating to see such wonderful dancers look like a studio dance competition team.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Charlotte Vincent's "Broken Chords"

Charlotte Vincent's "Broken Chords" is about her bitter divorce and breakups in general. It has been described by critics as "brave and beautiful."” Nothing unfamiliar about the material or its reception.

But Ms. Vincent's 90-minute dance, performed on Thursday night as part of the Montclair State University's adventurous Peak Performances series, is astonishingly original in the way it takes the familiar and turns it on its head. In the process "Broken Chords" shows the subtlety with which expressive movement, choreographed by an experienced and inspired artist, can cut to the heart of everyday reality.

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Saturday, March 31

Aszure Barton's Les Chambres des Jacques, performed by Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal is reviewed in The Boston Globe:

The 40-minute piece, set to music by composers ranging from Antonio Vivaldi to the Cracow Klezmer Band, is that rare accomplishment in the world of contemporary dance: It posits an entire world -- a dense, rapidly shifting environment -- onstage in which each player is an individual and yet all are united by a common language that's at once foreign to your ears and utterly understandable.

Claudia La Rocco reviews choreographer Levi Gonzales in The New York Times.

Aided by Hristoula Harakas, Isabel Lewis and Kayvon Pourazar, the choreographer Levi Gonzalez did a number on Dance Theater Workshop on Wednesday night.

True to its unprintable title, the hourlong show dealt in artistic disarray. The performers seemed torn between subverting the overwhelming thickets of sensory overload that swallow contemporary existence and admitting defeat. They made a mess, in other words, and waded right in.

Gia Kourlas reviews Second Avenue Dance Company's spring concert.

Student showcases are often a frightening obligation for family and friends. On Thursday night it was the usual crowd as the Second Avenue Dance Company, the resident group of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, offered its spring concert.

Along with works by Ulysses Dove and two student choreographers — one dance, “Farewell” by Do Do Lau, was actually quite promising — there were also premieres by Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Tere O’Connor and Larry Keigwin.

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April 7

Gia Kourlas review RumbaTap

Inspired by spirits in African folklore and by the Finnish epic poem the Kalevala, Mr. Pollak’s new production features five musicians, one main singer, four dancers and some very muddy storytelling. Taking its title from a Finnish word for the number five, the number of beats in the poetic meter of the Kalevala, “ViiS” tries to evoke a landscape in which a battle is fought over the Sampo, a magic mill. In program notes, Mr. Pollak refers to the prize as a machine “capable of producing wealth for the owner in the form of flour, salt and coins.”

Jennifer Dunning reviews Odyssey Dance Theater

Odyssey Dance Theater called its New York debut program “Shut Up and Dance!” but failed to heed that advice. A jazz-ballet company based in Salt Lake City, Odyssey performs in a fusion style that is now familiar, blending traditional jazz with classical ballet and modern dance and in the process losing much of the distinctively sharp, thrusting edge of traditional jazz dance.

The Globe and Mail previews Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands.

What is so evident in this production is that Bourne has a remarkable facility for creating character in movement. In fact, he probably has no peer who can match the living, breathing real people he creates on stage who utter not one word, yet we know exactly who they are.
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Saturday, April 28

Jean Battey Lewis reviews Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in The Washington Times.

Over the 30 years since its founding, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has grown from a small, struggling modern dance group to a company capable of putting on a show as theatrically ambitious and vibrant as "Ferocious Beauty: Genome," playing through this weekend at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northeast.

Pittsburgh's Marissa Balzer has started a new company, "rEvolve Dance Theatre," whose first program opens tonight.

Her first program will include that award-winning Kennedy Center piece, "Beautiful ... Still." It's a work that Balzer says that the dancers enjoy, noting that "they can actually breathe while they're doing it."

Balzer seems eager to talk about her newest work, "Tabula Rasa," set to composer Arvo Part's contemporary score. "I don't go on a story line," she says. "It's always about the music that takes me there."

La Danse Companie Kaleidoscope will dance seven works by seven company dancers in "The World of Kaleidoscope, Vol. 2" in Tokyo at the end of May.

"When I gave the first dance showcase on an experimental basis last year, I found out how the dancers became stimulated in the process of fixing the concepts and the casts for their works all by themselves. So I decided to continue the project as an annual event," [artistic director Kazuyuki Futami] explained to The Daily Yomiuri.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Nothing Festival performances.

Tere O’Connor’s provocative Nothing Festival was intended to get dance back to basics, without the worries of marketing, fund-raising or suitable production values. In addition, the eight choreographers Mr. O’Connor chose were to begin their new dances from scratch, without prompts like music or theme.

The first idea seems like coals to Newcastle, given the bare-bones creative existence most New York dance artists live today. And surely all artists start from the “nothing” that is left after the influences of their lives are weighed. But we are in Mr. O’Connor’s debt for Susan Rethorst’s “208 East Broadway,” one of four pieces on Thursday’s program at Dance Theater Workshop.

Roslyn Sulcas on "La Mama Moves!"

Passion for Seeing What the Body Can Do

In Patrick Corbin’s “Reach,” set to Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 5, eight dancers from his CorbinDances company continually swirl around and away from a ninth, Orlando Martinez, a stocky, powerfully built man in loose acid-green pants. Mr. Corbin was ballet trained, then a star in Paul Taylor’s company. But his blend of aerial jumps and sudden falls, and the loose, arm-flinging calligraphy of his upper body seem all his own in this well-made piece, which moves dancers seamlessly on- and offstage while slowly building to a striking close.
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Saturday, May 5

Alvin Erasga Tolentino will perform a solo in Montreal next weekend, and the Montreal Gazette profiles the dancer/choreographer.

The solo that Vancouver-based dancer and choreographer Alvin Erasga Tolentino will dance here next week approaches the currently popular environment issue in a way that you won't see debated in the House of Commons. The work, called Field: Land Is the Belly of Man, sees the global landscape not in economic or health terms, but in terms of its impact on human emotions. And what is lost, the work implies, cannot be easily replaced.

Tolentino knows about the loss of habitat. At 12, he and his family left the Philippines and immigrated to Vancouver. Immediately, the environment offered a most dramatic sign of change: the family arrived in the dead of winter, a shock to someone who'd grown up in tropical Manila.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews André Gingras's CYP17.

At the beginning of the oddly titled “CYP17,” a solo by the Canadian choreographer André Gingras, a man (the superb Kenneth Flak) sits on a chair in the middle of a brilliant, all-white space. Wearing only shiny white briefs, he watches, puzzled and frustrated, as his limbs lash and jerk away from him, independent of his volition and knowledge, in a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome.
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Saturday, May 19

Claudia LaRocco reviews Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporâneo.

Vasco Wellenkamp, the co-artistic director of Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporâneo, uses a lot of aggressive movement. Sometimes he uses really aggressive movement. If he’s feeling especially wild, he throws in a languid pause or two.

O.K., that’s reductive. Sorry. It’s just that, at a certain point during an evening of his work, the eyes begin to glaze under the inexorable onslaught of shapely thighs and chiseled torsos. Yes, the dancers are impressive. They’re seductive. They can do it all. But where are all the ideas, especially those that can be expressed through means other than stop-drop-and-roll choreography?

and Chase Granoff and Jon Moniaci

New Yorkers do impatience like pros. Boredom, not so much; the city’s denizens are far too overstimulated and attention-fractured to approach anything like the drifty languor of this underestimated state.

But it’s the rare artist who can create worthwhile work without healthy doses of it. In their illuminating new duet, “Boredom!!! (as an amplifier),” the choreographer Chase Granoff and the composer Jon Moniaci cultivate a little square of boredom, and invite audiences in for the nonride.

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Saturday, May 26

Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company performed at the Annenberg; Ellen Dunkel reviews the performance for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

With fabulous dancers - I especially admired Velez and Fang-Ju Chou Gant - and three new pieces, the evening should have taken on a more celebratory mode. A different mix of dances would have given Koresh's company more opportunities to shine.

Alistair Macaulay writes about Eiko and Koma and their upcoming performances, including Asia Society-sponspored free performances tonight and tomorrow of “Cambodian Stories Revisited” in the graveyard of St. Mark's Church for Danspace Project.

For perhaps 30 years — I had heard of them long before I first saw them in the late 1980s — this Japanese-American duo have been among the great performers of New York, indeed the world. And they are supremely dramatic. They take us way beyond the excitement of what will happen next and into uncharted areas of intense emotion.

Since there are two of them, the adjective unique doesn’t quite work, but they are extraordinarily unlike anybody else. Their movement is often more animal than human, and as effortfully, painfully, they inch their way along the floor in various lying positions, they remind me of nothing so much as beached seals. It is exceptionally hard to imagine anybody else’s replacing them in their own repertory, and yet this year that’s what will happen: they are passing on one of their most renowned vehicles, “Grain,” to two Cambodians — Charian (female, 17) and Peace (male, 18) — to perform at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., from June 25 to 27.

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Saturday, June 2

deeAnn Nelson, a dancer with Streb Extreme Action, was severely injured in a performance with the Company.

Ms. Nelson, as it happened, did not hurt herself with a particularly daring move. She was running up a 4-by-8-foot plywood board held at an angle by a fellow dancer and was to jump off about six feet above the ground. But she slipped, caught her ankle on the top and pitched forward in a half-tuck. The dancer left the stage under her own steam as the performance, held at the company's studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was halted, and she was taken by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital.

"It was a freak accident," said the company's founder Elizabeth Streb. "It was one of our more benign pieces, if there is such a thing. She just was in a sense too close to the ground to save the manner she was falling."

Gia Koulas reviews Koosil-ja's performance of "mech[a] OUTPUT" at the Japan Society for the New York Times.

The work is inspired by the Noh play"Dojoji" and features Koosil-ja as the rancorous spirit of a woman who inhabits a bell. A computer-animated landscape (its 3-D design is credited to Claudia Hart and John Klima) depicts an inviting backdrop of cherry blossoms and rolling hills, but bumpy scene changes wreak havoc on the production's momentum.

Geoff Matters, who contributes an appealing rock and electronic score, joins Koosil-ja in singing parts of the story's narrative. But while "Dojoji" ends on a tragic female-revenge note, "mech[a] OUTPUT" concludes with a hokey duet.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Hilary Easton's "It's All True" for the New York Times.

Watching the piece unfold, you realize two things about Ms. Easton's work over the last 15 years or so and why it is so intelligent and engaging. She choreographs like a poet, weaving together piercing, elliptical observations. And she knows her dancers lovingly and well. One blended element in "It's All True" is Dorothy Barnhouse's plain, poetic text. Another is the way the seven performers' personalities seem to have inspired everything they do onstage.

Steven Rattazzi is the indispensable heart of the piece, an actor who moves and speaks the text with charmingly nebbishy certainty. He remembers a lost love, most touchingly in mundane details. And Ms. Easton lets us see what that love meant in a sweetly hesitant, breath-stopping duet for the arms of two standing lovers (Mr. Rattazzi and Marie Zvosec), who are themselves breathless with the discovery of each other.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Ben Musiteri Dance Company for the New York Times.

Ballet and Headstands, and Other Quirky Contrasts

The three pieces on the program presented by Ben Munisteri Dance Projects on Thursday night at Dance New Amsterdam use ballet extensively. So extensively that you start to think that the work might look even better coming from a ballet company. But the extended lines, small beats of the feet and tight, whirling turns are democratically apportioned -- some of the dancers look balletic, some don't -- and interspersed with other things: jumping jacks, handstands, ordinary walks and crouches.
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Saturday, June 9

Pina Bausch has been awarded a Kyoto Prize.

German choreographer Pina Bausch was awarded the arts and philosophy prize for her pioneering work in developing a new genre of ballet dubbed "Tanztheater," or dance theater.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Noche Flamenca for the New York Times.

Flamenco is a soloist’s art, an expression of emotion and individuality that is ideally performed in the casual surroundings of cafes and noisy bars. But it’s also an ever more popular theatrical form, and flamenco artists have to battle with the conundrum of choreographing spontaneity and reliably evoking the heat and passion that audiences love.

Noche Flamenca, which returned to Theater 80 in the East Village last week for its summer season, does a pretty good job of all this even if its new program, “Aldaba,” is heavily weighted toward the rawly emotional side of flamenco, with mixed results. Choreographed by the artistic director, Martín Santangelo, and the company, it’s a smoothly constructed and pleasurable evening of impassioned, keening song; welling guitars; and the intricate tattoos of footwork and sinuous lines fashioned by the dancers.

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Saturday, July 14

James Fenton writes about Mark Morris for The Guardian.

It is the character of the first-night audience that irritates Jennings: "In the field of the performing arts, it is hard to think of a more absolute embodiment of the liberal project than Morris. To attend his performances today in New York, London or Paris is to identify yourself as a certain sort of person - prosperous, literate, well-connected, left-leaning ... The Morris faithful reward each sight-gag with gales of laughter, but is it really so side-splitting to see dancers marching about like Edwardian keep-fit enthusiasts?"

This illustrates perhaps the disadvantage that regular professional critics labour under: the obligation to attend first nights, and the bias towards the prestige venues. One wouldn't have the same problem on a diet of Morris at, say, Milton Keynes, where I have seen the company perform to good effect. Nor was there on Saturday nearly as much of the kind of laughter Jennings objected to on the Wednesday first night.

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Saturday, July 21

Jennifer Dunning reviews Pam Tanowitz's Forevermore for The New York Times.

Ms. Tanowitz plays with the classical ballet vocabulary, using elements of it to create a look of precise, stabbing upward push. I don’t remember any big jumps in “Forevermore,” but the women’s feet continually rose in ballet relevés. Odd gestures — a head bowing into hands, a reach for another body — veined this dark jewel of a piece with fleeting warmer nuances.
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Saturday, August 11.

The Torontonian is throwing a contest to award a pair of tickets to the live show version of So You Think You Can Dance to a registered member on its site.

To win, post a comment and tell us your favourite style of dance, individual dance, or dance step, and why you think it's so great. Really, just name some kind of dance that you like. This means that the routine from "Thriller" is eligible, as is the Robot, as is the entire genre of ballet. Just give us a sweet reason why.

The star of the movie Billy Eliot, Jamie Bell, will open the Edinburgh Festival film program in Hallam Foe.

AS for playing a troubled teen rebelling against his family, Jamie admits he can see a lot of himself in Hallam.

"Firstly I rebelled against my town, my home, because I did something that was very unusual," he said.

"I went against the norm in that way. Doing dancing and stuff like that was never really considered normal."

Jamie came from a family of dancers, including his grandmother, mother, aunt and sister.

He never knew his dad who left the family home before he was born.

Then, after he had been telling his mum on a bus that he could have done better than a girl he saw dancing in a competition, she said, "Okay, I'll buy you a pair of tap shoes."

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August 18, 2007

Tanja Liedtke, director of Sydney Dance Company, was killed in an accident.

The Sydney Dance Company is currently on tour in the central western NSW city of Bathurst and many of its members had not yet heard of Ms Liedtke's death.

"She was a woman on the cusp of her career. She'd been handed the Lotto of the dance world. She had the biggest job in (Australian) dance,'' company spokeswoman Carli Ratcliff said.

Clive Barnes weighs in on Mark Morris's Mozart Dances.

Morris' otherwise fluent talent is occasionally hobbled by too great a regard for metronomic rhythms.

In the first concerto - made primarily for a female ensemble led by the dramatic yet sprightly Lauren Grant - the steps echo every note of music, with little sense of rubato.

The Sonata for Two Pianos, given to the male ensemble led by that elegant powerhouse Joe Bowie, fares better.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Lula Washington Dance Theater for The New York Times.

The charismatic Ms. Washington, who has done some remarkable grass-roots work in her native Los Angeles, offers her company as a physical embodiment of African-American experience and history. It’s an ethos and an aesthetic most famously represented by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Ms. Washington offers a similar belief in dance as terrific entertainment, and similar weaknesses in choreography that can look formulaic and too specifically designed to thrill.

Jennifer Dunning reviews the US debut of Henri Oguike Dance Company at Jacob's Pillow.

Judging by the excitement that greeted the Henri Oguike Dance Company when the group made its United States debut on Wednesday night at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival here, Mr. Oguike and his deft dancers may soon also conquer America. The Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theater reverberated with cheers and even odd, barking cries of enthusiasm.

Mr. Oguike’s “Second Signal” nearly makes such passion understandable. The choreography and the taiko drumming to which the piece is set combine symbiotically to form an expansive whole of inextricable parts. And “Signal” is inventively plotted, a cool, unswerving ritual for dance athletes that would look at home in an Olympics ceremony. Bodies are stretched and alert as they circle, bounce and file about a stage that looks surprisingly spacious, filled as it is with dancers and the Taiko Meantime ensemble and its big drums.

A correction appears to identify the photograph that accompanied Alastair Macaulay's review of Mark Morris's Mozart Dances.

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Saturday, October 6

From The New York Times:

Alastair Macaulay reviews Noche Flamenco.

New York is blessed in that one first-rate flamenco troupe, Noche Flamenca, keeps returning each year. Since starting as chief dance critic here in April, I have encountered many dance companies, and many more individual dancers, for the first time. Of these there has been none I have been so glad to discover as Noche Flamenca and, above all, its lead dancer, Soledad Barrio.

I can think of no current ballet dancer in the world as marvelous as she. Outside ballet, my first comparison would be with the very different Madhavi Mudgal, a celebrated exponent of the Odissi style of India, though virtually unknown in New York. These dancers are never farther than a few yards from their musicians and yet turn stage space into something sublime

Claudio La Rocco reviews Mika Kurosawa's performances at The Kitchen.

The veteran Japanese choreographer Mika Kurosawa must inspire eye-rolling envy among other performers. She captivates when she does very little. She captivates when she does nothing. She captivates when she scurries offstage, leaving her audience staring at the detritus of a solo while one of the most syrupy pop songs ever written runs its maudlin course.

Gia Kourlas reviews Terry Dean Bartlett's and Katie Workum's "France-off, performed at the French Institute Alliance Francaise's Crossing the Line festival.

The showcase at Performance Space 122 on Wednesday featured nine choreographers contributing works no longer than seven minutes; the unofficial mission — to provide an easy, humorous entry into the world of downtown dance — was persistent throughout the evening’s compilation of underdeveloped or unchallenging dances. (Seven minutes isn’t long, but surely there’s some opportunity for rigor.)

Alastair Macaulay reviews Creative Outlet Dance Theater of Brooklyn’s “Remembering ...”

Entering the stage alone as the words “They took away our drums” are spoken, the young dancer Ryan Rankine has only to walk, stretch an arm forward, then twist his torso one way and another, to fill the space with rich, pliant, physical texture. As his solo builds, the impulse behind the gestures grows into jumps and bends, and that texture, both sculptural and juicy, keeps growing. Sensuously, it works densely against the supporting rhythm like the act of protest implicit in the words.

Claudia La Rocca reviews Willi Ninja's company at Dance Theatre Workshop.

Dear Willi:

Is it possible for a poor Sicilian-American dance critic, with an inadequate understanding of the difference between popping and locking, to join your Legendary House of Ninja? She desires to master the intricacies of the runway, the proud history of vogueing and, er, the general fabulousness of your rule.

Alas, perhaps it’s too late for me. But judging by the diverse lot that flooded Dance Theater Workshop’s third-floor studios on Thursday, there is room for just about everybody else in this sweetly inclusive troupe. Built on the twin pillars of fashion and urban dance, it looks to be equal parts machismo, camp and chutzpah.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Tango Connection.

The vocabulary of tango is a limited, if infinitely variable, one that in ordinary practice depends a great deal on improvisation and the rapport between partners. In choreographed performance that element is lost, and slickness and stylization intrude. Perhaps it’s possible to create a tango program that transcends the gloss. But “Tango Connection” was not that show.
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Saturday, October 13[

In The New York Times,

Gia Kourlas reviews Danish Dance Theater at the Joyce SoHo.

Curiously enough, Danish Dance Theater — or Dansk Danseteater, as it’s known in Copenhagen, where the company is based — doesn’t have a Danish dancer on its roster. Its artistic director, Tim Rushton, who ended his own dancing career at the Danish Royal Ballet, was born in Birmingham, England. Performing at the Joyce SoHo on Thursday night as part of a monthlong residency financed by the Danish Arts Council to foster artistic exchange, the group showed a sampling of its repertory, all choreographed by Mr. Rushton.

Claudia La Rocco reviews Kazuo Ohno 101: 3-Week Butoh Parade at Japan Society (through October 27).

“Kazuo Ohno 101: 3-Week Butoh Parade,” a birthday party for one of the founders of the Japanese dance form Butoh is something for even jaded New York audiences to cheer. Japan Society’s artistic director, Yoko Shioya, has prepared a performance feast and is asking those who partake to spend some time thinking about what, exactly, Butoh means in 2007.

Almost 50 years after its revolutionary birth, Butoh has become a fuzzy umbrella label that contemporary Japanese choreographers are distancing themselves from, even as many non-Japanese artists are puzzling through it. As soon as you point to markers (white paint, grotesque camp, glacially paced movement), someone else, often a Butoh master, tears them down.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Jeanette Stoner and Dancers at 83 Leonard Street (through Sunday).

Jeanette Stoner is known for combining dance, drama and text; at least, her promotional material says so. But in a performance on Thursday night by Jeanette Stoner and Dancers at the choreographer’s loft in TriBeCa, there was no text, little drama and not much dance of substance.

The evening nonetheless had an odd integrity. The unadorned loft is a reminder of that long-lost era when TriBeCa was a fringe neighborhood where artists could afford to live and work in enormous spaces. Going up in a service elevator, then sitting amid some 40 audience members added to the sense of attending an informal, experimental event.

Jennifer Dunning reviews Miyuki Tokui’s “Bring Me a PPPeach” at Danspace Project (through tonight).

One dancer clambered onstage as if she were shimmying along on a stretched rope. Such nuggets of tangy, oddball movement made up for tedious elements like jumping in place, and an unexpected detour into pure, technique-driven dance late in “PPPeach.”
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