Archive for the ‘The Torn Tutu’ Category

Dance as a Luxury Product: the Post 9/11 Environment

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

The Slovak National Dance Congress 2014 recently asked me to speak about the state of New York City dance. Since I’ve been living in New York City on and off since 1979, I felt up to the task. In the following slides (which have been converted into a movie), I tease out the changes that have occurred for New York City concert dancers following 9/11. What I found most striking (and dismaying) in my research was that the U.S. capital of Terpsichore is increasingly recognizing dancers and dance organizations not as the obvious—as artists and art groups—but as brands for luxury consumption.

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Earplugs and Undergarments: Lyon Opera Ballet at BAM

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

When BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House ushers hand out earplugs to audience members before the start of a show, it’s a warning that what’s to come will not be a soothing experience. Such was the case with ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang (neither flowers, nor Ford Mustang), choreographed by fashion designer and conceptual artist Christian Rizzo and performed by seven members of the Lyon Opera Ballet (May 7-9). The hour-long work began with a recording of Gerome Nox’s industrial sound scape, which felt like being inside of a very old and very large washing machine on spin cycle. Ear plugs are wonderful things.

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LeeSaar’s Dancing Tongues

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Toward the end of LeeSaar’s Princess Crocodile, seven bare legged female dancers line up, open their red-painted mouths, and— like it’s the most mundane thing in the world—wildly wag their tongues at the audience. This culminating act lasts a good minute. It felt oddly fitting, and it became the theatrical highlight of the newest work by the husband-wife team Saar Harari and Lee Sher, seen April 10 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Howard Gilman Performance Space.

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Women as Forces of Nature in Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

George Balanchine is famously credited with saying that “ballet is woman.” This idea is boldly apparent in his Kammermusik No. 2, which premiered on New York City Ballet in January 1978, and more recently was performed by the company as part of their 2014 winter season.

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A Modern Man: Israel Galvan in “La Curva”

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

In “La Curva” (The Curve, 2011), seen March 16 at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, Galván transforms flamenco dancing’s noble male image. The experience is like watching a painter create a cubist portrait. Except in this case what Galván presents is not a fractured face, but a full-blooded person, with his androgynous, grotesque, buffoonish, and madman characteristics, as well as his regal, virile side.

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Dark Days: Jeanette Stoner and Dancers

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Like many choreographers who have persevered, Stoner has bore witness to many dance movements: the high drama of Martha Graham, the abstract formalism of Alwin Nikolais, the anti-virtuosity of Yvonne Rainer, the minimalism of Lucinda Childs, the fusion dancing of Twyla Tharp, and the formalism of Balanchine and Cunningham. Stoner’s work incorporates aspects of each of these 20th century U.S. dance movements, but she isn’t a direct descendent of any them. Perhaps it’s because her work never entered the mainstream dance world. There is something to be said for being on the outside of the concert dance machine, which grinds many a choreographer up. In “Distant Past, Ancient Memories,” Stoner seems to be dancing through part of her history, with the wisdom of one who has made many dances, and with a need to choreograph with a broader brush.

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Formalism in U.S. Dance

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

We are living in the age of the male choreographer, again. Seventeenth and 18th century ballet masters were traditionally male and the acknowledged great names in ballet—Petipa, Fokine, Massine, Balanchine, Ashton, Tudor, MacMillan, Cranko, and now Ratmansky—are all men. Modern dance, on the hand, was until recently the domain of the female choreographer. (Think Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham.) Yet modern dance, which is now called contemporary dance, no longer boasts as many strong female choreographers as it did in its heyday (1910 to 1960). What happened to the predominance of powerful, highly visible female choreographers?

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Small Town Dance

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

I’ve been living in a small town in north central Spain since June. For someone who writes dance criticism and loves taking dance classes, this sounds like a near death situation. But I’ve embraced provincial life, at least European provincial life. Salamanca may be two hours from Madrid and it does not have a professional dance company, but it has Espacio de Danza, a studio just outside the city center—which is the site of the third oldest university in Europe (founded 1218).

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Dancing in the Dark with Bárbara Fritsche

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Developing a proficiency in a dance form has its perks, especially if you travel. Then a dance studio, in any foreign city or town, can become your temporary home. Inside the studio’s four walls, you’re no longer a tourist. It doesn’t matter if you understand the language spoken by the teacher. Dance is overwhelmingly taught by copying what is demonstrated. A good set of eyes and a willing smile are crucial.

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Salon Style Dance: Miro Magliore’s Chamber Ballet

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Small is beautiful. That has been Miro Magliore’s approach to dance making since he created the New Chamber Ballet in 2004. On September 6 and 7, at New York City Center’s Studio Five, Magliore presented five short ballets. His selection of a salon-size cast—five female dancers and two musicians—and his decision to annually present his two-night seasons in a bare bones studio are not just practical responses to the dire state of U.S. arts funding. They express his aesthetic vision. Magliore’s ballets cleave to modesty.

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