Friday, October 21, 2016

Preview of Jessica Lang's Her Notes for American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre in rehearsal for Jessica Lang's Her Notes. Photo by Susie Morgan Taylor. 

“I was always creative,” says Jessica Lang, the Bessie-winning choreographer whose work is shown by companies around the world. She’s been making dances for close to two decades, using a signature calling card of textured emotion and strong visuals to create the effect of shape painting sound. New York audiences will have the opportunity to witness this ethos in a world premiere, Her Notes, commissioned by American Ballet Theatre.

Her Notes is set to and inspired by the music of Fanny Mendelssohn, the lesser-known but the equally gifted sister of Felix Mendelssohn. Discouraged against publishing her work due to the family’s high social standing, Mendelssohn produced over four hundred compositions, many of them for piano, the instrument in her home.

Lang says, “Fanny's most famous work, "Das Jahr" (The Year), is the focus of my ballet. The Year was written as she and her husband took a yearlong journey. At the end of each month, she wrote a musical reflection of their experience. The score, which is written on different colored pieces of paper, has a drawing and a poem by her husband inspired by the music.”

She immediately connected to . . .

To continue reading about Jessica Lang's Her Notes, please visit The Dance Enthusiast

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Impressions of Da-On Dance's "Root"

Da-On Dance’s Root. Photo by David Gonsier.

Does this election season have you down? Words, so many of them, most vicious, are being slung around like mud. It’s bad enough if you were born and bred here, but what if you began life on foreign soil and now live in America? The alienation and loneliness might seem more acute due to the hateful rhetoric.

Da-On Dance presents an alternative to animosity and xenophobia, one centered on the commonality of gesture. In Root, which premiered at the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance Capezio Center, four dancers from India, Israel, Mexico, and Serbia join choreographer Jin Ju Song-Begin (she is from Korea) to trace a path from isolation to belonging.

Divisions along both arbitrary and logical lines greet the audience upon entering the theater. Composer Jerome Begin organizes us, still laden with coats and bags, into two clumps based on answers to questions such as “Did you eat dinner at a restaurant before the show?” (yes), “Do you speak another language?” (no), “Are you carrying more than $10 US currency?” (no). Us versus them becomes increasingly random as no . . .

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

Caribbean Artist: Hiplet Creator Homer Hans Bryant

Homer Hans Bryant. Photo by Preston Thomas. 

It was a dance career that took him all around the world from New York to Moscow. But Homer Hans Bryant has never forgotten where he started — in the Caribbean, on the Isle of St. Thomas (also the home of The Dance Enthusiast Editor-in-Chief Christine Jowers). He says, “Growing up in St. Thomas was a major blessing.  Most of my Caribbean ways are still with me like my accent and my personality. I say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’ to older folks. I hold doors open for others, or let them go first.”

Like many dancers, Bryant spent his early years in a perpetual whirl of motion. “I was always dancing around the house in St. Thomas.” Unable to resist the lure of beautiful movement, he’d often watch through the windows at Studio Five, the local dance school. The teacher, Jane Miles, caught wind of his interest and convinced him to enroll. “I was on my way,” Bryant says.

His talent and charisma eventually captured the attention of . . . 

To read the balance of this article, please visit The Dance Enthusiast
Tickets are available for The Dance Enthusiast's Enthusiastic Event: Island to Island. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

NY Quadrille at The Joyce Theater: Lar Lubovitch Curates Pam Tanowitz, RoseAnne Spradlin, Tere O'Connor & Loni Landon

Loni Landon Dance Project's Fast Love at The Joyce Theater for NY Quadrille. Photo by Bill Herbert. 

You’ve never seen The Joyce Theater look like this.

Don’t worry, the laughably hideous white, black, and gray carpet is still entrenched downstairs, and it remains impossible to open the door to the ladies’ room without hitting someone.

What’s changed is the viewing experience. For two weeks, The Joyce has transformed its theater into something new, something interesting. Under curator Lar Lubovitch’s watchful eye, a white slab of a dance floor, a little like an ice floe, rests in the theater’s center, covering both stage and seating. The audience parks themselves in a loose square on risers at the rear of the stage or in rows toward the back of the house.  Where you sit will affect what you see, and that’s the point.

Titled NY Quadrille (after the square dance typically performed by four couples), Lubovitch invites a quartet of established choreographers to present work. While these dance-makers observe traditional theatrical spectacle with music, lighting design, costumes, and physical virtuosity, they offer sensibilities that extend far beyond the moniker of choreographer. Pam Tanowitz is the architect; RoseAnne Spradlin, the mythologist. Tere O’Connor is the philosopher; Loni Landon, the populist.

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

New York City Ballet: 21st-Century Choreographers

New York City Ballet's Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig-Waring in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Unframed. Photo by Paul Kolnik. 

The outcry was fast and furious. In 2015, New York City Ballet, a company with a big budget and even bigger reputation, commissioned four pieces from male choreographers. Everyone asked, not always nicely: Where are the women? This is the company, after all, whose co-founder, George Balanchine, famously proclaimed, “Ballet is woman.”

Artistic Director Peter Martins can take a note. 2016 features a quartet of new works, two of which are by women, one by principal dancer Lauren Lovette and another by Colombian-Belgian dance-maker Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Also on tap is the de rigueur piece from Resident Choreographer Justin Peck plus one from Peter Walker, a corps de ballet member.

So how do the women’s pieces stack up against the men’s?

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