Sunday, November 23, 2014

Impressions of Larissa Velez-Jackson's "Star-Crap Method"

Larissa Velez-Jackson's "Star-Crap Method" at The Chocolate Factory. Photo by Brian Rogers. 

What if you threw it all out? The pretense, the fourth wall, the virtuosity (technical and/or conceptual), the things that make a show a show. No, this isn’t a Judson Dance Theater redux; this is Larissa Velez-Jackson’s infectious “Star-Crap Method,” which received its premiere at The Chocolate Factory. Velez-Jackson abandons the artifice of traditional performance and, with co-creators and dancers Tyler Ashley and Talya Epstein, constructs a piece in the moment.

Before entering the performing space, an earnest young man hands you an object, which you may place anywhere. I, uninspired, tilt my pink triangle against a depression in the wall while others, more ambitious, position their doodads on the ceiling’s ductwork. Bedazzled in grins, the performers, between raucous greetings of friends, warble at karaoke, their choices ranging from doo-wop to a shrill rendition of The Cranberries’ “Zombie.” This pre-show revelry feels like showing up at a party and discovering the hosts have used all of the good drugs.

Once the environment resembles a festive preschool, we’re...

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Day in the Life of Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Doug Baum of Complexions Contemporary Ballet chats with The Dance Enthusiast about the company's upcoming season. Photo by Igor Chursin. 

Complexions Contemporary Ballet, acclaimed for their fusion of athleticism and expressiveness, celebrates its twentieth anniversary with a jam-packed season at the Joyce.  Stretching over the last two weeks of November, a trio of programs underlines artistic directors Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden’s commitment to uprooting the traditional boundaries that surround dance. This bold philosophy anticipated, and now parallels, all the ways the world has changed since 1994: It’s more multicultural, more fluid, and more connected. To get the scoop, the Dance Enthusiast chatted with company member Doug Baum.

Baum, who joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet this year, hails from Maryland where he received his training at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts and Baltimore School for the Arts. He holds a BFA from Fordham University in collaboration with The Ailey School. On his attraction to dance, Baum says, “I feel as though the universe was encouraging me to pursue a life in the arts.” He took the hint, and... 

To read the rest of my article, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dance Up Close to Hilary Easton

Hilary Easton's "I Am With You" will premiere at Danspace November 13-15. Photo by Joshua McHugh. 

Twenty-plus years of making choreography in New York deserves a fĂȘte, and Hilary Easton has planned just that. This native New Yorker, who founded her eponymous company in 1992, premiered her first piece at Danspace Project in 1994. She returns there two decades later with “I Am With You,” an evening-length work, which receives its premiere November 13-15.

Easton boasts an impressive resume with stints dancing with enterprises like Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and choreographers such as Monica Levy and Bertram Ross. She currently teaches dance composition at The Juilliard School, and her works have been presented at venues as varied as Baryshnikov Arts Center, American Dance Festival, and The Yard.

Her artistic interests aren’t just limited to choreographing. Easton understands the performing world inside and out; she’s employed as a professional developer and education consultant for The New York Philharmonic Education Department. In the past, she has worked with arts institutions like Lincoln Center Institute and The Educational Outreach Program at the 92Y.

“I Am With You,” showcases a cast of...

To read the balance of my article and view the accompanying videos, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.