Islands Meet Underwater

Bessie McDonough-Thayer carries Eleanor Smith, Addys Gonzalez looks on in Vanessa Anspaugh's We Were an Island. Photo: Ian Douglas

Vanessa Anspaugh presents a new work at Danspace St. Marks. “No man is an island,/ Entire of itself,/ Every man is a piece of the continent,/A part of the main.” John Donne knew that in 1623 when, in bed with an undetermined illness, he wrote “Meditation XVII” of his Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.  Choreographer Vanessa Anspaugh may have had something similar in mind when she titled her … [Read more...]

Rituals of Love and Regeneration

Jeffrey Kazin (L) and David Parker sing their hearts out in Head Over Heels. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Souleymane Badolo at St. Mark's Church and David Parker's The Bang Group at Joe's Pub brighten a blustery weekend. How often do Valentine’s Day and President’s Day share the same long weekend? And how often do you venture out to see dancing in a city so snowy that Central Park evokes Valley Forge, and then discover upon leaving the performance that rain is pouring down and the street you … [Read more...]

Flying with Broken Wings

Taisha Paggett (L) and Nguyên Nguyên of David Roussève/REALITY in Stardust. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

David Roussève/REALITY appears at Peak Performances, February 6-9. It’s a story you might read in the newspaper almost any day. An orphaned boy in an inner-city ghetto is sodomized by a foster father and bullied by the classmates he tries to emulate. The kid—fragile, good at heart, not too savvy, and gay—gets understanding from the school therapist, Miss Thelma, to whom he’s sent to for … [Read more...]

New Trails for Traditions

The cast of Pam Tanowitz's Heaven on On Her Head. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Pam Tanowitz makes her Joyce debut February 4-5 with two premieres. If Pam Tanowitz had been baptized into dance as an infant, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine would surely have been standing on either side of the font, ready to serve as godfathers. Tanowitz’s choreographic works, like those shown on her recent program at the Joyce Theater, tell no stories. Nor do they seethe with … [Read more...]

Documenting Dance, Part 2

Pina Bausch watching her company rehearse. Courtesy Icarus Films

The Dance on Camera Festival 2014 presents Chantal Akerman's film about Tanztheater Wuppertal and Fabrice Herrault's about Rudolf Nureyev. Chantal Akerman’s One Day Pina Asked. . . (1985, in French with subtitles), was advertised by the Dance on Camera Festival as a “rare retrospective showing.” It was shot during a five-week tour by Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal.  What the fine … [Read more...]

Documenting Dance, Part 1

Martha Hill (far left)  leading her technique class, New York University Camp   at Lake Sebago, Sloatsburg, N.Y., 1931. Photograph Courtesy of the Martha Hill Archives.

New York's Dance on Camera Festival 2014 premieres two documentaries: Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter and Paul Taylor: Creative Domain. We’re old hands at documentary films about major figures in the art world. That is, we pretty much know what to expect: we’ll glimpse the artist at work and hear him or her talk about it—alive or in grainy film clips. Various soul mates, friends, colleagues, … [Read more...]

Pushing Into the Upper Room

Rachel Berman jumps, James Tyson foreground, in Sarah Michelson's 4 at the Whitney. . Photograph © Paula Court

Sarah Michelson premieres 4 at the Whitney Museum, January 24-February 2, 2014. Watching three of the four related works that Sarah Michelson presented between 2011 and 2014 is like entering an immaculate world of passion abstracted. And by passion, I don’t mean that of one person for another; Michelson seems more deeply involved in the devotion, the single-minded burning zeal demonstrated … [Read more...]

How They Fly, How They Dive

Rennie Harris's all-male P-Funk. (L to R): Kyle Clark, Ryan Cliett Phil S. Cuttino, Raphael Xavier (hidden), Shafeek Westbrook, Brandyn S. Harris, Joshua Culbreath. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Rennie Harris Pure Movement re-visits the 1990s When Lorenzo (Rennie) Harris lists himself in the program for his company’s Joyce season as “Dr. Rennie Harris,” you can forgive him for flaunting his two honorary doctorates—the most recent one from Columbia College in May of last year. Through his teaching and his choreography, he has raised the public’s awareness of hip-hop as an art form … [Read more...]

Looking Back, Dancing Now

(L to R): Jin Ju Song-Begin, Paul Singh, and Christopher Williams. Visible at bcak: Steven Taylor (L) and Ha-Yang Kim. Photo: Marina Levitskaya

Montclair State University’s Peak Performances hosts Douglas Dunn’s Aubade, January 24-February 1. Between the last moments of Douglas Dunn’s new Aubade and the swell of applause, the woman sitting next to me in Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater turned and said, “It’s so sad!”  And yes it was, and no it wasn’t. As Dunn remarked in an interview, an aubade is a song to the … [Read more...]

Jewels in the City’s Crown

Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford in Emeralds. Photo: Paul Kolnik

The New York City Ballet performs Balanchine's Jewels. To see George Balanchine’s 1967 Jewels again at its first performance during the New York City Ballet’s winter season is to be delighted all over again. In choreographing its three separate but united ballets, Balanchine absorbed and brilliantly interpreted three diverse musical styles, the threads of narrative and atmosphere that clung … [Read more...]