Restless Creature

Wendy Whelan in Joshua Beamish's Waltz Epoca. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Wendy Whelan’s “Restless Creature,” duets choreographed by Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. At Jacob’s Pillow, August 14-17. Ballet dancers tend to have short careers onstage. If they retire at around 36 (as they often do), they’ve spent as many years training to dance as they have performing. Some stay in the field as teachers, choreographers, and company … [Read more...]

Again and Again, Never the Same

Jo-anne Lee and Brian Brooks in Big City. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Brian Brooks Moving Company performs at Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, Massachusetts, July 10-14. A machine repeats its patterned moves over and over; nothing changes unless one of its parts breaks or something gets caught in the works. Human beings may repeat the same movement many times, but to use the word “same” is simply a verbal convenience. Without meaning to, they may emphasize aspects of … [Read more...]

Dancing for the Gods

Shantala Shivalingappa in her Kuchipudi solo Bhairava. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Shantala Shivalingappa's "Akasha," a program of new Kuchipudi solos, at Jacob's Pillow, July 4 through 7. It was at Jacob’s Pillow in the 1960s that I first saw examples of two dance styles that I’d never heard of: Odissi and Kuchipudi.  Indrani, that beneficent performer and promulgator of Indian dance, was giving a master class and had brought with her two male dancers, each of them … [Read more...]

A Lark Ascends

Dance Theatre of Harlem in Robert Garland's Return. Photo: Matthew Murphy

The revived Dance Theatre of Harlem performs at Jacob’s Pillow, June 19 through 23. If a repertory company starts its program with a performance of George Balanchine’s Agon, where can it possibly go from there?  Higher?  Don’t make me laugh. But whatever follows, you can get a jolt of almost electric pleasure when Dance Theatre of Harlem begins its performance in Jacob’s Pillow’s Ted Shawn … [Read more...]

Listen Well, Children

Ryan Redmond and Travis Walker upend Benjamin Behrends in McIntyre's Ladies and Gentlemen. Photo: Taylor Crichton, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

When Trey McIntyre Project unveiled its new Ladies and Gentlemen in Jacob’s Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theater (August 8-12), you could feel a sunny haze of nostalgia settle over the audience. I’m betting that a good percentage of the spectators could have raised their voices along with the recorded score—songs from the epochal 1972 album Free to Be. . .You and Me, instigated by Marlo Thomas. Maybe—as … [Read more...]

Stepping Into Dreams

Adele Nickel in Liz Gerring's she dreams in code. Photo: Taylor Crichton, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance

The six dancers in Liz Gerring’s she dreams in code move as if tracking along known paths—or maybe it’s the animals being tracked that they resemble in their supple physicality and intent focus. Premiering last fall at the Baryshnikov Center and shown in Jacob’s Pillow’s Doris Duke Studio Theater August 15 through 19, Gerring’s wonderfully poetic work creates an ambiance through stage design, … [Read more...]

Shadow Presences, Tangible Absences

Jonah Bokaer in his Curtain. Photo: Liza Voll, courtesy Jacob's Pillow Dance

The back story:  Jonah Bokaer and David Hallberg were working together on a duet—the postmodern dancer-choreographer and the adventurous ballet virtuoso, the dark-haired guy and the blond one. Hallberg broke his foot shortly before the piece was to premiere at the Avignon Festival. Steps were taken. The show went on. Now I’ll shut up and talk about Curtain as it was at Jacob’s Pillow, August 1 … [Read more...]

Making Ballet New

Julie Fiorenza and Kirk Henning in From Foreign Lands and People. Photo: Christopher Duggan

While works of talented choreographers whose heritage is in modern dance pop up in parks, churches, lofts, barns, and theater like mushrooms after a good storm, gifted new choreographers working in the ballet idiom are rarer and therefore get a lot more attention. Remember the fuss surrounding Eliot Feld when he began choreographing in 1967 while still performing in American Ballet Theatre?  … [Read more...]

Men Dancing: Then and Now

Robert Swinston (front) and Germaul Barnes in The Men Dancers: From the Horse's Mouth (dress rehearsal). Photo: Taylor Crichton

Eighty years ago, when Ted Shawn assembled the all-male company that toured the U.S. with him during the 1930s, he aimed to eradicate the notion that dancing was for sissies (the polite, if bullying term for boys whose masculinity was in doubt). Almost all of those who joined Shawn’s Men Dancers were graduates of Springfield College’s Physical Education Department, and he toughened them further in … [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...]