Out of Africa

Nora Chipaumire in her Miriam. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

In the not-so-distant past, white explorers, colonizers, missionaries, and historians referred to Africa as “the dark continent” or dramatized it as “darkest Africa.”  They may have been alluding to the skin color of most of its native inhabitants, but certainly to their own inability (and unwillingness) to understand its customs and lore. Over two September weeks, at two different New York … [Read more...]

Pounding the Earth, Aspiring to the Air

Nitsan Margaliot flying onto Eyal Vizner. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Cultural identity, terrain, traditions, body types, beliefs. How many other markers reveal how we like to move, how we define dance? Two very dissimilar styles appeared last week some miles north of New York City in pastoral surroundings. Israel’s Vertigo Dance Company performed in Jacob’s Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theater July 4 through 8, and on July 6, France’s Compagnie Fêtes galantes opened Bard’s … [Read more...]

A Single Dance in Four Chapters

Shantala Shivalingappa in Ushio Amagatsu's Ibuki. Photo: Laurent Philippe

Shantala Shivalingappa has always been an artistic voyager. Trained in India’s classical Kuchipudi style (first by her mother, Savitry Nair, then by Vempati Chinna Satyam), she danced with an unbridled white horse in Bartabas’s equine spectacle Chimère. She played Ophelia in Peter Brooks’s production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Miranda in his The Tempest. She has performed with Pina Bausch’s … [Read more...]

My Hand, Your Head, Por Favor

Nayane Diniz and Murilo Borges in Mimulus's Por Um Fio. At back, Fabiana Dias and Rodrigo de Castro. Photo: Christopher Duggan

The man leads. Right? In the social and ballroom dances of Europe and the Americas, the man always leads. Still, when you watch couples who are adept at, say, the Argentinian tango or the Viennese waltz, the man and his partner seem so bonded that you can envision them as complicit equals. Never mind that his right hand pressing on her back and his left arm pulling at her right arm are guiding … [Read more...]

Cherish The Dancers

Simply Marvel, Jubal Battisti engulfed. Photo: Juiieta Cervantes

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is the most stable mid-sized company in New York.  Its top-notch funding guarantees that its dancers are very well taken care of, which means that they don’t come and go. Every time artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer puts together a new program for a season at the company’s own black-box theater on West 26th street or at the Joyce Theater (this spring, May 15 … [Read more...]

Living in a Green World

Ia'ara Moses and Chen-Wei Lee (at back Rachel Osborne, Matan David) in Ohad Naharin's Hora. Photo: Stephanie Berger

When Ohad Naharin left New York for Israel, his homeland, in 1990 and took over Batsheva Dance Company, he developed a distinctive movement style. In all his dances, the performers are muscular in unconventional ways. Watching them, I imagine elements of the inner apparatus that moves the human body trying to find new conduits into motion. Sometimes a dancer’s hip or a shoulder is impelled to … [Read more...]

Traveling The Upward Path

The cast of Akram Khan's Vertical Road. Photo: Laurent Ziegler

The sound of distant dripping fills the darkness. Lights gradually, dimly, reveal a barely discernible standing figure. Suddenly the person plunges forward against what turns out to be a translucent curtain that stretches from one side of the stage to the other. Whenever his hands or his scribbling finger or his head presses against the flexible membrane separating him from us, that part comes … [Read more...]

Surviving the Flood

Camacho and His Garden Swan

Somewhere out there, there must be people who, happening on—or dragged to— a contemporary performance, will venture, “but is it dance?”  Others more confident will re-frame the question as an assertion, possibly an outraged one. But anyone regularly attending productions in New York’s forward-looking theaters and the equivalent in Europe will have become accustomed to the wide-armed, eclectic … [Read more...]

Korean Dancing: Ancient and Very New

Jinyuk Ryu (L.) and Insoo Lee in Lee’s Modern Feelings Photo: Christopher Duggan

Fifteen years ago, I decided that the Korean salpuri was one of the world’s great dances. For some time, smitten by a performance in an early black and white film, I had corralled graduate students from Korea to perform a salpurifor the dance history class I taught. They managed it with varying degrees of skill and spirituality. Then, in 1996, in Seoul, I saw a version of this solo (which derives … [Read more...]

Dark Matters in Summer Spaces

Peter Chu and frenemy in Cristal Pite's "Dark Matters." Photo: Christopher Duggan

  I like New York City in summer. Outdoor performances, picnics in the park, sidewalk cafes, late sunset strolls beside the Hudson or on the High Line. On the other hand, if you can swing it, not much beats lying on the lawn at Tanglewood and listening to music; it seems to be coming from the galaxy above. Another venerable Berkshire institution, Jacob’s Pillow, draws dance aficionados and … [Read more...]