Getting Down With Ailey

(L to R): Renaldo Gardner, Kirven James Boyd, Samuel Lee  Roberts,  Aisha Mitchell, Jamar Roberts, Belen Pereyra, Yannick Lebrun, Hope Boykin, Antonio Douthit. Phot: Paul Kolnik

Imagine a night at City Center watching the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater when the spectators cheer at the curtain calls and applaud certain stunning dancers or sections of a dance, but don’t whoop and holler in the middle of a serious (even reverent) passage. Imagine an evening in which electric high jumps, long balances, and legs kicking the sky are worked into the choreographic fabric and … [Read more...]

About That Nutcracker

A dream wedding: Clara and her Prince (Hee Seo and Cory Sterns). Photo: Gene Schiavone

The Nutcracker in its many manifestations is like an attic toy box into which generations of children have tossed the playthings they’ve grown too old for. Amid the dolls and stuffed animals and fairy tales and toy soldiers are folded longings, nightmares, pre-pubescent thoughts of sex, and fear of growing up. The ballet by Lev Ivanov that premiered in St. Petersburg in December of 1892 has … [Read more...]

What Do You See? Look Again

Paul Dunbar shows his stuff in Untrained. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fisher Space in its compact new building is proving to be dazzlingly adaptable. The seating has been configured differently for all four works that I’ve seen there as part of BAM’s 30th Next Wave Festival, and that design, in turn, influences scenic possibilities and alters the audience’s angle of vision and relationship with the performers. Lucy Guerin’s Untrained … [Read more...]

Lie There My Art

Prospero (Eric Beauchesne) regarded by some of the "replicas"  at the end of Kidd Pivot's The Tempest Replica by Crystal Pite. Photo: Geörg Baumann

I don’t think of myself as purist about Shakespeare. I’m fine with Laurence Olivier inserting a line from Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine into his Henry V film and loved David Gordon’s Dancing Henry V.  I’m okay with the 1995 film of Richard III that equates its murderous dynasties with the Third Reich.  I relished a years-ago Shakespeare and Company production of Much Ado About Nothing that was … [Read more...]

Now You Know It, Now You Don’t

(L to R) Silas Riener, Michael Ingle, and Oisín Monaghan in Tere O'Connor's Poem. Photo: Ian Douglas

Tere O’Connor has been making wonderful, inscrutable dances for 20 years, and every one of them that I can remember stirred my mind around. As I watch his new double bill at New York Live Arts, Secret Mary and Poem, my life passes before me. Delete “my;” I’m experiencing life as dancing—with its beauties, its collisions, its planned meetings, and its daily load of non sequiturs that somehow add … [Read more...]

Wilding through Euripides

The tragic end of Rude Mech's reconstruction of the Performance Group's Dionysus in 69 (after Euripedes). The principal dead body: Pentheus (Josh Meyer)  ruler of Thebes. Photo: Ian Douglas

“Why a dance critic?”  Richard Schechner doesn’t use those words, but he implies them as he greets me at New York Live Arts, where I’ve arrived for a reconstruction by the Austin, Texas, ensemble Rude Mechs of his Dionysus in 69. Why not? For one thing, I missed this epochal and controversial piece of “environmental theater” (Schechner’s term), when he and his actors presented it in the Performing … [Read more...]

Portaging the ’60s into 2012

Simone Forti finding the words and the moves. Photo: Ian Douglas

Here’s how Simone Forti laid out her 1961 From Instructions: “One man is told that he must lie on the floor during the entire piece. Another is told that he must tie the first man to the wall.” (I like picturing the possibilities inherent in this structured improvisation.) In her wonderful 1974 book, Handbook in Motion, Forti mentions that the room in which From Instructions was first performed … [Read more...]

Is My Wife Having an Affair?

Wendy Whelan in the film Labyrinth Within. Photo: Martin Nisser

When Christopher Wheeldon founded a dance company in 2007 and called it Morphoses/the Wheeldon Company, he couldn’t have known how prophetic that name would become. From the beginning, the repertory balanced works by Wheeldon, one of the most gifted choreographers of his generation, with those by other youngish artists. Three years later, Wheeldon left Morphoses after a serious dispute over the … [Read more...]

Re Winterbranch: The Comment That Grew

Winterbranch in 1971 performance. Carolyn Brown leaping. Photo: James Klosty

If you happened to read “East to West to East,” my Arts Journal response to Benjamin Millepied’s new company, L.A. Dance Project, soon after I posted it on October 29 (which was shortly before I lost power and connectivity), you will find some small but crucial changes in the early November updates. They occur in my passage about the lighting for the group’s staging of Merce Cunningham’s 1964 … [Read more...]

Then Plus Now

Setterfield amid the winding procession of photos come to life. Photo: Paula Court

David Gordon is the King of Repetition, and I don’t want to hear any back talk. He manages dance material like someone holding an object up to direct sun, then to a candle flame, setting it against different backgrounds, turning it sideways. “Look at it now. Now look again.” He’s also a master re-arranger—juxtaposing past to present, rehearsal to performance, new to old, life to art. Gordon was … [Read more...]