Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Impressions of Carmen de Lavallade

Carmen de Lavallade in "As I Remember It" at Baryshnikov Arts Center. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

Before it was common, Carmen de Lavallade was a hyphenate: dancer-actress-muse-professor-wife-mother. She, still sleek and gracious at 83, reminisces about her life in the premiere of “As I Remember It” at Baryshnikov Arts Center. As the multimedia show unfolds, it becomes clear another descriptor must be added to the already lengthy chain — legend.

The hour-long show features de Lavallade in a slinky maroon jumpsuit and fuchsia cardigan narrating the broad strokes of her life. A curtain constructed of fringe (like a lady’s flapper skirt) cuts across the stage. Film clips and pictures are projected on it, accenting the streaky, wavering quality of memory: certain details stand out while others recede into darkness.

de Lavallade was, and continues to be... 

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Impressions of Daniel Léveillé Danse's "Solitudes Solo"

Daniel Léveillé Danse's "Solitudes Solos" at Abrons Arts Center. Photo by Denis Farley.

Solitude, whether by accident or design, can seem a foreign concept in our fast-paced, hyper-mobile, super-charged, plugged-in world. Maybe when you’re alone, if you ever find yourself alone, you enjoy binge watching a buzzy television series while swilling wine. Or perhaps, you perfect some hidden fascination like playing the kazoo or making kimchi. To Daniel Léveillé, whose “Solitudes Solo” appeared as part of Abrons Arts Center’s Travelogue Series, he spurns self-indulgence for self-abnegation, and solitariness becomes an exploration of ferocity, intensity, and physicality.

Four men and one woman, attired in tiny, colorful trunks, execute a collection of solos reminiscent of a gymnastics floor routine While each solo features singular movement motifs (head and hip circles in one, flapping bird arms in another), much remains constant. The performers, their bodies buff and rippling, squat deeply before rocketing into jumps that rotate like seething cyclones. Each muscular caper is bookended by moments of stillness and neutrality: Bodies neatly inventoried, the dancers gaze intently ahead, their hands hanging by their sides, feet and legs arranged in a loose parallel.

In Levéillé’s world, the human body is a geometry proof, a set of lines and points to be organized through...
To read the balance of my review, please visit The Dance Enthusiast.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dance as Empowerment: “Capturing Grace”

David Leventhal and John Heginbotham lead a Parkinson's Dance Class at Mark Morris Dance Center. Photo by Eddie Marritz.

Our bodies are such a taken-for-granted part of us that we often forget about them in our day-to-day activities. If we want to run, we run; if we want to smile, we smile. But what if, little by little, running transformed into tiny, hobbling steps and a smile, no matter the effort put forth, remained a grimace? This is the reality of many people suffering from Parkinson’s disease in which daily physical activities become battles, and the thing that makes you the same as everybody else, your body, becomes the thing that separates you.

David Iverson, a filmmaker who has chronicled his family’s struggle with Parkinson’s, devotes his one-hour documentary, “Capturing Grace,” to a group of individuals stricken with Parkinson’s who learn how to dance. Through classes at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, this diverse array of students accrue confidence and skill in equal measure. David Leventhal and John Heginbotham, former members of the Mark Morris Dance Group, lead the classes with irrepressible enthusiasm and treat their students as capable of pretty much everything. As one of the participants, Reggie, puts it, “When the dance class is going on, there are no patients. There are dancers.”

To read more about David Iverson's powerful film, please visit The Dance Enthusiast

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Impressions of Super WE

Raja Feather Kelly and Tzeta Kassabova in Super WE at Danspace. Photo by Diego Britt. 

When the usher hands you a program, it’s a big hint as to what’s to come. Creased into a paper airplane, it represents both the whimsy and craftsmanship in Raja Feather Kelly and Tzveta Kassabova’s Super WE in which two solos and two duets flaunt meteoric exuberance tempered with extreme control. In Kelly and Kassabova’s hands, exhilaration and stillness are not opposites; instead, they are like breath, part of a process in which...

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