Monday, March 27, 2017

Impressions of The Bang Group

The Bang Group at Danspace Project. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Dance often uses the body as an instrument to express music. But how about to make music?

Since founding The Bang Group in 1995, choreographer David Parker and his co-artistic director Jeffrey Kazin have been investigating the possibilities of rhythm. To them, bodies aren’t just for moving; they’re also for making the music that inspires those movements. In A Mouthful of Shoes at Danspace Project, eight pieces using six scores reveal how sound forges meaning.

There's plenty of what you'd expect from a tap ensemble. In small groups, charismatic dancers stomp, smack, stroke, scrape, and scuff their feet, sometimes in tap shoes and sometimes not. They also dab, drum, and strum their hands, sometimes against their bodies and sometimes against other bodies. While there's live music — an oboe, the fantastic Pauline Kim Harris on violin — often, the only sound is flesh against flesh or flesh against floor. Once, Caleb Teicher takes center stage for the witty, hammy Song and Dance as he hums Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turka.

Then, there’s what you don’t expect . . .

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Impressions of Richard Move and MoveOpolis!

Richard Move as Martha Graham at NYLA's Live Ideas Festival. Photo by JulenPhoto. 

If imitation is the best form of flattery, then Martha Graham (1894-1991) would preen with delight at Richard Move.

Move has been conjuring the spirit of Graham since 1996. Martha@20, the first of Move’s two-work program at New York Live Arts, which opens the Justin Vivian Bond-curated Live Ideas Festival, fetes her enduring genius and pokes fun at her indefatigable ego.

Calling Move a Graham impersonator, though, isn’t quite apt. They is (Move prefers the pronoun “they” coupled with verbs conjugated in the third-person singular) more an alchemist. Move unearths archival information such as quotes and videos and uses their own communion with Graham’s spirit to present a version of modern dance’s grand dame that’s steeped in historical accuracy yet tonally appropriate to 2017 — Lady Gaga is mentioned with a derisive twist.

Move, a majestic bun tacked to their head, is attended by former Martha Graham Dance Company performers Katherine Crockett and Catherine Cabeen. Unfolding like a lec-dem but with the zingers of stand-up comedy, Martha@20 . . . 

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

Impressions of Cuba's Malpaso Dance Company

Malpaso Dance Company in Dreaming of Lions at BAM' Harvey Theater. Photo by Ian Douglas.

If your idea of dance in Cuba is a scene from Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights — smoky club, steamy moves — think again. Contemporary concert dance is not only alive there; it is thriving.

From ballerinas to baseball players, Cuba excels at cultivating physical talent. The eleven members of Malpaso Dance Company, formed in 2012, are no exception.  Coolly agile, casually charming, they boast technique so solid that their dancing looks like child’s play.

The company, co-presented by BAM and The Joyce Theater, makes its BAM debut with the one-hour Dreaming of Lions. Dedicated to Ron Feiner, a Havana aficionado and supporter of Malpaso Dance Company, the work unfolds over a dozen-plus episodes. It follows choreographer and performer Osnel Delgado (he’s also the company’s artistic director) in a journey of self-reflection inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

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