Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Impressions of Jill Sigman/thinkdance

Jill Sigman's Weed Heart at Gibney Dance. Photo by Scott Shaw. 

New York looks to be a city constructed almost entirely from manmade stuff: steel, concrete, glass, towering ambition. Even the places and spaces for nature display the imprint of humans. Along the city’s grid, the pristinely manicured lawns of parks intermingle with tidy flowerbeds edged in wrought iron. In the battle between man versus nature, man seems to have won.

But look again.

Weeds sprout from cracks in the sidewalks, and trees push forth from the asphalt. This flora reaches toward the sky, where the sun doesn’t discriminate. Our control over nature is, perhaps, born of illusion rather than reality.

In Jill Sigman/thinkdance’s Weed Heart, she offers an impassioned meditation on observation and discernment. Part installation, part traditional dance piece, and part celebration, Sigman reframes the weed, unloved and unwanted, into something worthy of respect and consideration.

Under the skylight at 280 Gibney rests . . .

To read the balance of my review, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Impressions of Juliette Mapp

Juliette Mapp's Luxury Rentals at Danspace. Photo by Ian Douglas. 

If you’ve lived in New York for two decades, you’ve seen some changes. Big ones. As people have poured into the city, previously ignored neighborhoods have shape-shifted into hot commodities. Nowhere is this more apparent than Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Attracted by low rents and proximity to Manhattan, artists gravitated to the area and refashioned it into a hip enclave. Now, there’s a Starbucks and a City MD on Bedford Avenue, a hop, skip, and jump away from the soon-to-be-beleaguered L train.

Choreographer Juliette Mapp has lived in Williamsburg for a number of years and witnessed firsthand its drastic gentrification and commodification. In Luxury Rentals, which received its premiere at Danspace, she braids together two strands from her life: going to and from her son’s preschool in Bedford-Stuyvesant (another gentrifying neighborhood) and being a Movement Research Artist-in-Residence to reflect on community — the kind you create and the kind created for you.

Luxury Rentals creates community by . . . 

To read the balance of my review, please visit The Dance Enthusiast

Monday, May 16, 2016

Impressions of Sao Paulo Dance Company

Sao Paulo Dance Company in Nacho Duato's Gnawa. Photo by Paula Caldas. 

It was a dark and stormy night.

Not really, but it is May, and it's gray, chilly, and spitting rain. An antidote for these spring doldrums could lie at The Joyce Theater where south-of-the-border São Paulo Dance Company has tucked in for a one-week, multi-bill program

Spearheaded by the Government of the State of São Paulo in 2008, São Paulo Dance Company is an outfit reminiscent of the recently departed and dearly missed Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Prodigious technicians; hot choreographers; moody pieces; and a sexy, cool vibe: everything points to a homerun. Instead, it’s more like a bunt to first.  

The problem lies in the curation by Artistic Director Inês Bogéa. Three of the four pieces follow the same script and wallow in similar clichés, which leads to exasperation and then ennui.

The recipe for these works goes a little something like this . . .

To read the balance of my review, please visit the Dance Enthusiast. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Impressions of Ballez's "Sleeping Beauty & the Beast"

Chris De Vita as the Lilac Faerie in Ballez's "Sleeping Beauty & the Beast." Photo by Theo Cote.

What is it about fairy tales that captures our imagination? Is it the recognizable archetypes, the use of enchantments, the darkness lurking beneath the genteel surface? Perhaps, it’s the fact that they’re marvelously flexible, able to be stretched and snipped at until they emblematize current realities.

Katy Pyle, artistic director of Ballez, a company that showcases lesbian, queer, and transgender performers, does just that with her Sleeping Beauty & the Beast, which received its premiere at La Mama. Like a sorceress, she stirs together two beloved fairy tales — Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast — and adds a dash of ballet mythology in the form of Anna Pavlova's The Dying Swan to forge a dance that is timely and timeless.

Pyle contextualizes Aurora's journey into womanhood (in the original story, Aurora awakens after birthing twins) against a backdrop of ...

To read the balance of my review, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Impressions of Counterpointe

Janice Rosario's spring is almost here. Artistic collaborator: Jessica Weiss. Video artist: Zander Padgett. Photo by Jason Andrew courtesy of Norte Maar. 

A concoction of pink satin and thread, its only prosaic element a leather sole, the pointe shoe emblematizes ballet, and, in particular, Balanchine's famous dictum that “ballet is woman.” The pointe shoe acts as the intermediary between heaven and earth. Flesh-and-blood ballerinas — because it’s women who almost always wear pointe shoes — balance on its tiny tip to evoke the celestial, the divine. It appeared in the 19th century, popularized by Marie Taglioni, whose light-as-air dancing belied a grueling training regimen, and ballet never looked back.

This is where Counterpointe starts, but not at all where it will end. In the hands of seven female choreographers who've been paired with seven painters and sculptors (also women), the pointe shoe, and sometimes ballet itself, receives a fresh interpretation.

Counterpointe is...

To read the balance of my review, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.