Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Preview of Lionel Popkin's "Ruth Doesn't Live Here Anymore"

Lionel Popkin in "Ruth Doesn't Live Here Anymore," which will be presented by Abrons Arts Center. Photo by Steve Gunther. 

Legacies can be tricky things. The facts may stay the same, but as the gap widens between then and now, the interpretations of these facts often evolve.

Here’s a fact: Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968), along with her husband Ted Shawn, trained and inspired dance luminaries like Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and, perhaps most notably, Martha Graham. Here’s another: Enthralled with Eastern societies, St. Denis created dances evoking exotic locales such as India, Egypt, and Japan that riveted American audiences. These two facts should assure her a prime position in the modern dance canon.

It’s not that straightforward, though. Contemporary ethos winces when confronted by the reality of St. Denis’ work: In what seems a blatant act of cultural appropriation, St. Denis diminishes rich and varied cultures to a handful of gestures and a pretty costume. 

Her legacy is complicated to say the least. Stirred in part by St. Denis, choreographer Lionel Popkin investigates legacy and appropriation in the evening-length “Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” which receives its New York premiere at Abrons Art Center as part of Travelogues, curated by Laurie Uprichard.

Originally, the work wasn’t supposed... 

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Impressions of Jumatatu Poe and Jesse Zaritt’s “More Mutable Than You”

Jumatatu Poe and Jesse Zaritt in "More Mutable Than You" at Gibney's Agnes Varis Center for Performing Arts. Photo by Scott Shaw. 

“I want to escape the fixed-ness of my
self, somehow become more and
other than who I think.”
(For Jumatatu, from Jesse)

Here's one way to do this: Start making work with someone you've never met. Three and a half years ago, Jumatatu Poe and Jesse Zaritt did just that. Without meeting each other, they dove into an artistic collaboration. If “More Mutable Than You” at Gibney Dance’s Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center is any indication, they seem to be enjoying it.

The piece opens with an arresting image: In the voids between a trio of columns, Poe and Zaritt stand — forcefully, almost combatively — clasping curled yellow streamers that resemble clumps of Rapunzel's hair. They bounce and prance and whirl the ribbons like militant cheerleaders.

Performing alternating solos, the two begin a gradual, and then abrupt, abandonment of...

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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Impressions of Miguel Gutierrez’s “Age & Beauty” Trilogy

Part 3 of "Age & Beauty." Presented at New York Live Arts in conjunction with FIAF's Crossing the Line Festival. Photo by Ian Douglas. 

Getting older can, in a word, suck. It's not just the wrinkled brow, the creaky knees, the thinning hair and thickening waist. It's the feeling of irrelevancy, the creeping realization that the world has shifted its attention from you to the glossy young things who are pioneering new trends and fresh perspectives.

Gen-X choreographer Miguel Gutierrez seems to be taking it pretty hard. So much so, that he made not one piece but three about the topic. Presented in full at New York Live Arts in conjunction with FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, the “Age & Beauty” trilogy combines dance, text, song, and video to tease out the joys, the insecurities, and the vexations of a life that refuses to stop its forward progression. Life ends with death — which, for many of us, is the ultimate irrelevancy — but it’s how you get there that matters. “Age & Beauty” sashays rather than slogs, smirks rather than scowls, toward the final destination.

In Part 1, Gutierrez and...

To read the balance of my review, please visit THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST.