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Saturday, October 20

Anne Midgett reviews the 17th century opera-ballet Zélindor for The New York Times.

The actual dancing, however, was left to the New York Baroque Dance Company, gracefully if soberly vivacious, and ornate in bright period costumes that included two magnificent Tenniel-esque lizard masks, flowered gowns for the nymphs and shepherdesses, and a pair of errant trousers that a Harlequin-like shepherd managed to lose several times, inadvertently becoming even more comic than he had intended.

Ellen Dunkel reviews Hubbard Street Ballet for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Audience members step into a magical place when they enter the Zellerbach Theatre. What look like large pieces of white paper flutter from the rafters onto the otherwise all-black stage, like an exaggerated Nutcracker snow scene.

What follows, when the house lights go down, is equally wondrous. Extremely Close, which the program notes say is still in preview, is full of tricks and witty movement. Hubbard Street dancer Alejandro Cerrudo choreographed the piece, to a melodic score by Philip Glass and Dustin O'Halloran. It features eight dancers who turn, jump and slide across the floor, fully in control, on top of what turns out to be a black tarp filled with the "snow." Large squares of white scenery are pushed across the stage, revealing little snippets of dance, or giving the dancers props to play with.

Gia Kourlas reviews Eiko and Koma for The New York Times. (Through Oct 27 at the Japan Society)

From the start, "Mourning" is endlessly fascinating. Lying naked from the waist up on a bed of dirt and dried leaves in front of a massive tree trunk, Eiko and Koma remain immobile as the audience files in. It’s as if their brand of stillness is a balm to prepare the viewer, as in the case of "Mourning," for entry into a natural world.

From The Times Michael Clark on I didn't get where I am today without...

Leaving home early to seek my fortune At 13 I was accepted into the Royal Ballet School, which meant separation from my family and living 500 miles south of them in London. Yes, I was desperate for what I saw as my real life to start, but looking back I'm still amazed I made the initial journey because I’d always been such a mother’s boy. Of course, I was hugely homesick initially. And having been a big fish in a small pond up until then, I suddenly saw what a lot of catching up there was to do. I must have seemed very provincial in this new environment: I remember people laughing at me because I wore Y-fronts under my tights. But what I discovered in myself as a result was a sense of competition. I found I didn’t just want to catch the others up. Having come all that way, I wanted to be better than everyone else. I became determined to be the best.

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Thursday, October 18 (+ or - a day)

John Wall reviews the opera-ballet Zelindor on his website dedicated to Baroque cultural items.

The dances in Zélindor were performed brilliantly by seven costumed dancers with the New York Baroque Dance Company. They wore distinctive masks, as was customary in the early 18th Century, together with the higher heels and larger hoops of the era. In Scene 3, the four women dancers appeared in shepardess dresses with garlands of flowers in their hair. In Scene 4, the three male dancers entered, dressed as a gnome and two "fire salamanders". The latter wore reptilian heads with protruding forked tongues and crests of flames, long formal coats and contrasting vests of red and gold. Caroline Copeland changed to an aristocratic dress as an Air Slyph, perhaps miming Zirphé. I missed the costume change of Catherine Turocy to Ondine, noted in the program. The finale joined all forces, as the dancers alternated with the chorus and soloists, with dances including a gigue, minuets, and a bourée.

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Lisa Traiger has two pieces up this week in her danceviewtimes column:

One, a preview of events in DC this weekend:

Choices, choices

and the other a report on arts funding woes:

Maryland Arts Funding Under Fire from Governor

If you live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, you very likely have frequented a dance studio or performance space in Maryland. From Black Rock in Gaithersburg to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, from the Music Center at Strathmore to the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, from American Dance Institute in Rockville to Joy of Motion in Bethesda, dance is alive and thriving in Maryland. That's why the following message from the Montgomery County (Maryland) Arts & Humanities Council is so worrisome. Please take the few minutes necessary to make your voice heard via a letter, a sample of which is below. -- L.T.

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October 27, 2007

Crytal Pite's Kidd Pivot company will perform in Montreal this week.

The appearance of Lost Action in Montreal completes a circle. Pite first began work on it here while resident choreographer at Ballets Jazz de Montréal (for whom she created the exuberant The Stolen Show). A further Montreal connection - the majority of the terrific cast are either Ballets Jazz de Montréal alumni like Francine Liboiron, Eric Beauchesne and Malcolm Low, or are based here, like Victor Quijada and Anne Plamondon.

Marc Shulgold previews David Taylor Dance Theatre 's "Medusa" and Frequent Flyer's "Theatre of the Vampires" for the Rocky Mountain News.

"I think the story lends itself to dance," Wallace said of the Medusa myth. "We wanted to create something that would appeal to our regulars, but also draw a young audience."

Not too young, he cautioned: Those under 10 might be too freaked out by this saga of a Gorgon transformed by Athena into a monstrous creature as punishment for her dalliance with Poseidon in Athena's temple.

Gia Kourlas writes about the Japan Society's Butoh Festival.

A Quest to Put Butoh on the U.S. Map

Alas, the nail was rusty. Certainly Akira Kasai's "Butoh America," a collaboration with five performers based in the United States, had its fair share of bizarre moments, but they were due mainly to the production’s jittery changes of scene and costumes than to its ability to redefine the form. In program notes Mr. Kasai writes, "Butoh in America is the most beautiful and fragile, the most complete form that contains both fulfillment and destruction, the life and death of the dance."€

Jennifer Dunning reviews "stolen."

Eating a Fish Head, and Other Rites

Essentially, "stolen" was a series of small, private rituals, performed by five women, that may have looked better on paper than on the stage. A strange creature in what looked like a translucent hazmat suit poured water into a plastic cylinder, very gradually, before the piece formally began. Then one dancer tucked flat, polished stones into her drab dress and whirled them out onto the floor.

Claudia La Rocca writes about the relationship between modern dance and modern art.

Back to the Days of Painting with Dancing Feet

Today’s New York scene, in which the various art worlds and their audiences have largely retreated to their own corners, makes Ms. Hay's experience — which was just as powerful for many visual artists' sound like an impossible utopia.

"There seems to be little time spent either studying or taking in things that might be just to the left or the right of your primary interest," said Debra Singer, the Kitchen’s executive director and chief curator. "In New York, we’re so blessed with so much that you can indulge your primary passion." She added, "At the artist and audience level, almost ironically, it can perpetuate a kind of parochialism."

Paula Citron previews Les 7 doigts de la main/The 7 Fingers who will perform in Toronto this Wednesday.

The show presents breathtaking circus tricks within a loose story line. Five young people are facing an apocalyptic future. They are living in a makeshift shelter and the routines they perform revolve mostly around found objects. The title Traces refers to their efforts to have some impact on the world before their time runs out.

The enchantment of Traces stems from its humanity, at once vibrant and melancholy. This is not the type of circus that aims to shock and awe from a distance.

Paul Taylor Dance Company " “De Sueños Que Se Repiten” (“Of Recurring Dreams”)" will be performed in Kansas City this Friday, on the Day of the Dead.

“Pure coincidence,” Taylor said with a laugh.

“Of Recurring Dreams” is the latest of 127 works spanning more than half a century by a man who has come to represent American choreography in our time. And since the piece is about dreams, ritual and superstition, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find it steeped in mysterious happenstance.

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November 3, 2007

Maureen Fleming performed butoh pieces inspired by the poetry of Yeats.

Japanese butoh was born of a repudiation, on the part of originators Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, of both Western modern dance and Japanese classical forms such as noh and kabuki, which they perceived as watered down after World War II. (Fleming, an American born in Japan, studied with Ohno.) It was also influenced by the German Expressionism of Mary Wigman and Harald Kreutzberg. Majestic and originally even lurid, it traditionally traces the cyclical themes of annihilation and rebirth - not surprising for an artform that rose from the ashes of postwar Hiroshima.

Fleming, who also studied ballet with Cecchetti master Margaret Craske (hence her oft-pointed toes), has developed her own elegant brand of the form.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Ashleigh Leite's "Crawl Space" for the New York Times. (Danspace Project, through tonight)

The atmosphere of that world doesn’t owe a great deal to the rows of video monitors that face the audience on the two long sides of the rectangular performance space of St. Mark’s Church. These are employed to best, but still rather underwhelming, effect at the outset, when the dancers, in darkness, inch their prone bodies alongside the monitors on each side of the stage space. As the dancers move past the cameras, located on the backs of the video screens, they begin to show isolated limbs, faces or a foreshortened crawling body.

A performance of three of her pieces will be presented on January 9-12 at the Sydney Opera House in tribute to the late Tanja Liedtke

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More from 3 November, thanks to the heads up from YouOverThere.

Ballet Nouveau Colorado performed "Nouveau Showcase."

...Ammon reveals himself to be a dance-maker of invention, musicality and daring. Fronted by the exquisite, lanky Meredith Strathmeyer (garbed in flowing peach-colored chiffon), the ensemble of seven responded to the driving rhythms and intimate passions of the music - without stooping to enacting every phrase and sentiment. Rhapsody, thank goodness, never dealt directly with this saga of a condemned killer's last crazed moments. But it did capture the raw emotions, the longing and the simple sadness of the story.

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November 10, 2007

Pina Bausch has been awarded the Inamori Foundation Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Philosophy.

Ms. Bausch's works explore the question of human identity and the difficulty of mutual understanding. The recurring motifs of solitude and alienation, male-female entanglements, and conflicts between the individual and society are universal human concerns. She expresses them with gestures and words that sometimes appear brutal and even violent. She is also known for her dynamic and artistic use of natural elements such as soil, water, and flowers in her stage presentations. Her creativity is manifested through the process of choreographing a piece with her dancers. "I'm not interested in how people move, but in what moves them," she once famously stated.

Dance New Amsterdam performs revivals of Douglas Dunn's work, reviewed by Gia Kourlas for The New York Times. (Through 11 November)

It's a treat when a small downtown theater shines a spotlight on an artist like Douglas Dunn, who once performed with Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer, was a member of the collective Grand Union and began presenting his own work in 1971.

As part of a two-week tribute to the dance scene of the 1970s, Dance New Amsterdam is playing host to a revival of Mr. Dunn’s "Coquina" (1979) and "Nothing Further" a collage of dances, including "One Thing Leads to Another"(1971) and "Time Out" (1973). The program, seen Thursday, shows two sides of Mr. Dunn's beguiling, densely timed and highly detailed work: "Nothing Further," inquisitive, quietly unobtrusive and humorous, and "Coquina," a speedy quintet, lacking a fixed focal point and packed with lissome movement.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Maria Hassabi's "Gloria" and Jennifer Dunning reviews Monica Bill Barnes in Dance in Review.

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December 1, 2007

Thea Singer reviews Paul Taylor Dance Company for Boston Globe.

Paul Taylor may be the most ambidextrous of all choreographers. After 50-plus years of dance making, he continues to craft pieces that can just as soon make your heart sing as make darkness visible - or, in turn, have you fairly bust a gut laughing.

more stories like thisLast night's concert, featuring two Boston premieres and two older Taylor masterpieces - the floor-skimming "Aureole," from 1962 (danced in white, it's been dubbed Taylor's "white ballet"), and the exuberant, windswept "Esplanade" (1975) - was no exception. Indeed, the new "Lines of Loss," with its 11 dancers clad in white till the end - may be the yin to "Aureole's" yang.

Sterling Hayden is a performer and teacher of Kathak dance in Cambridge (MA).

Even with such worthy goals, she has met some resistance from skeptics who were sure, at first, she could not teach Indian dance with authenticity or authority.

Anjali Mitter Duva, 34, said she was interested in taking Kathak classes in 2001 because she was looking for an activity that had a similar discipline to her martial-arts training.

"I remember having this conversation with my husband: 'The person teaching, her name is Gretchen Hayden. This is supposed to be an Indian thing,' " said Duva, who is half Indian, half Caucasian. "My husband, who teaches martial arts, was like, 'Excuse me? You studied a Korean form of martial arts with me. Am I Korean?' "

As it turned out, most of Duva's fellow students were South Asian. "I figured if they don't have a problem with it, why should I?" said Duva. "I immediately felt comfortable with the way she was teaching, the general warmth of her style. She was an excellent practitioner. That was six years ago, and I sort of got hooked." Duva is now executive director of Chhandika.

In The New York Times Jennifer Dunning reviews the opening program of Movement Research Fall Dance Festival.

Silence is one of the greatest pleasures of dance. No campaign sound bites, no Britney bulletins, just profound messages communicated by powerfully articulate bodies. But disappointment was in store for those who attended the first performance of the Movement Research Fall Festival, devoted to improvisational dance, on Thursday at the Danspace Project.

Hilary Osterle reviews Alvin Ailey Dance Theater for the Financial Times.

When the company toured Maurice Béjart's version of The Firebird this year, the choreographer was very much alive. It was poignant that less than a week after he died, his Firebird should head the opening of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater winter season, unavoidably turning it into a kind of requiem.

The ballet is in some ways a testament to how the company has developed from a small troupe founded 49 years ago to the great big dance machine it is today. Although Béjart choreographed for ballet dancers, mixing in modern dance and acrobatics, Ailey dancers today seem proficient in ballet technique to the point of dashing off pirouettes, parabolic jetés and extendedly held arabesques in addition to their familiar jazz and Ailey-Horton techniques. Béjart's theatricality also suits the company. The opening of Firebird with its tight group of wary fighters moving as one, led by the quicksilver Linda Celeste Sims, is particularly arresting.

Alastair Macaulay reviews Alvin Ailey Dance Theater for The New York Times.

The problem with Béjart is that the dances are seldom interesting and often proceed by ignoring most features of their musical accompaniment. I have forgotten what I wrote of this choreography when first I saw it in 1980, when "Firebird" began an all-Stravinsky triple bill with "Petrushka" and "The Rite of Spring" performed by Béjart's company, but I can never forget the critic Clement Crisp's opening line in The Financial Times: "Béjart and Stravinsky is one of those fabled partnerships, like Romeo and Goneril, or bacon and strawberries."

Béjart's wrongness for Stravinsky is most evident in the second musical excerpt used here, which Stravinsky originally intended to accompany the quietly lyrical dance for the Beautiful Tsarevna and Ivan Tsarevitch as they fall in love. Quiet lyricism wasn't Béjart’s thing, and he just plows on regardless with his depiction of the Firebird’s inflaming the proletariat. At their most inflamed, at the climax of the Danse Infernale, they then do the kind of dance phrases (a hopping arabesque to this beat, a big upper-body gesture to that one, next a double pirouette, then a jump) that look, for all their energy, like mere rote work.

Yet the Ailey dancers don't make Béjart's choreography look as foolish as I'm making it sound: their kind of technical rigor excavates everything that’s appealing about it. Whereas Béjart's lead dancers used to perform their roles with more makeup on than Martha Graham and Robert Helpmann combined, the Ailey dancers deliver it unadorned.

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December 8, 2007

Limón Dance Company performed an all-Limón program in Philadelphia.

An homage to Humphrey, Limón's Suite From a Choreographic Offering paraphrases themes from her dances. Set to Bach's A Musical Offering, it begins and ends with dances for 13, with variations of solos, duets and quintets between. It couldn't be a more splendid monument to Humphrey and to American-inflected ballet - a product of mid-20th-century modernism. (Although Limón studied to be a painter in the manner of El Greco, his dance language has more of cubism.)

Dressed in shades of blackberry sherbet, the company personified Bach's notes on the stage.

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Chamber Dance Project for The New York Times.

Perhaps it’s because no real emotion is generated by Ms. Bruning’s choreography, despite the program’s corny title: “dare to feel.” In “Water,” set to Ravel’s “Sonata for Violin and Cello” (played live onstage, as is all the music), a man (Matthew Prescott) carries a woman (Laura Feig) tenderly over a small, transparent, water-filled basin. Eventually they get in, and there is much gentle scooping of water over each other’s bodies. If you are going to introduce the elements onto the stage, it generally works better on a Pina Bausch scale. This is ballet sex in a birdbath, and it’s just silly.

Rachel Howard reviews [/url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/08/DDK8TQ9HT.DTL]Margaret Jenkins[/url]' "Other Suns" for the San Francisco Chronicle.

It's just the kind of sculptural atmosphere that Jenkins typically uses to spur her formal investigations, and "Other Suns" is no exception. Lines of dancers coalesce and dissolve; formations spin and swirl like the cosmos. Jenkins' movement palette is dizzyingly diverse as always, from wavelike arms to whip-crack body rolls to explosive, air-clutching jumps. The company dances it all beautifully, Joseph Copley commanding in a jittery solo, Deborah Miller standing out for her glamorous assuredness, Melanie Elms for her inimitable combination of defiance and vulnerability.

Gia Kourlas reviews Nugent & Matteson Dance at Danspace Project for The New York Times.

In their only appearance onstage together, “Saints Smother Swans,” a duet by Terry Creach, the couple dance side by side, rarely touching except for brief lifts and a couple of occasions when Ms. Nugent brushes the back of her hand against Mr. Matteson’s thigh. Throughout, the dancers play with momentum, flinging their arms and legs as gravity pulls them in different directions, but the theme of two bodies coexisting in one world grows exhausting. How long can you watch someone almost fall?

Claudia La Rocco reviews dance duo roonninschilds' "C.L.U.E" in The New York Times.

Conceived, choreographed and performed by the dance duo robbinschilds (Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs), the work features an evocative, driving score performed live by the rock band Kinski, another ace lighting design by Joe Levasseur and A J Blandford’s set, which suggests a rocky outcropping and offers up several surprises.

But the star of the show is an imagistic film by robbinschilds and A. L. Steiner, projected on two walls and featuring Ms. Robbins and Ms. Childs inhabiting a variety of California landscapes, from a giant redwood forest to the Joshua tree-studded desert.

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December 29, 2007

A profile of Clifton Brown in The New York Times.

Dancer of the Moment: A Man for the Ailey Season

Clifton Brown was 4 when his grandmother decided that formal physical exercise would cheer him up after his playmates, all older cousins, deserted him for school. She gave this clumsy grandchild two options: karate classes or the Take 5 Dance Academy next door in his hometown, Goodyear, Ariz.

Luckily, he chose dance. This season Mr. Brown, now 27, has emerged as one of the most gifted members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, standing out for his quietly powerful virtuoso technique and the lyrical grace and translucent inwardness of his performances. In the concluding days of the Ailey season at City Center, he will be seen in many of his current roles.

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