Black Label Movement
Black Label Movement's Wreck
Southern Theater, Minneapolis, MN
January 13–20, 2008
Reviewed by Linda Shapiro
Carl Flink’s Wreck casts 13 dancers as crew members trapped in a watertight compartment of a sunken boat, struggling for survival as the oxygen runs out. But what sounds like a plot for a TV reality show becomes an epic ordeal of people going head-to-head with nature, mortality, and one another. For 80 charged minutes, Flink melds classic modern dance and rough-and-tumble maneuvers with elemental emotions. Everybody’s going to die, and everybody knows it. He contrasts choral movement where the group becomes a single pulsating organism with solos and duets that reflect more personal turmoil.
Flink danced with the Limón Dance Company and apprenticed with Paul Taylor, so it’s no surprise that his movement recalls Limón’s heroic archetypes, Doris Humprey’s communal dynamics, and Taylor’s muscular exuberance. The powerful dancers, risk-takers all, deliver the combination of buoyant athleticism and feral intensity that is a hallmark of Flink’s style. They often move in tight formation—either within shifting groupings of wooden benches that define the compartment in which they are trapped, or careening through space, colliding and rebounding off of one another. Sometimes it’s like watching a display of cascading fireworks: carefully sculpted forms filled with volatile explosions of light.
Flink often confines dancers to a small area defined by the benches, compressing them like heroic working-class figures in a Diego Rivera mural. The benches become part of a fluid architecture where dancers grapple in stylized gestures of mutual support and desperate aggression. They summon up images of deck hands at work, storms at sea, a community in chaos—sometimes simultaneously.
The choreography can assume the homogenized look of a movement vocabulary derived from many sources. And as in many operas, the death throes go on far too long. But the combination of juicy athleticism and eerie theatricality works. Jeff Bartlett’s starkly expressionistic lighting and the propulsive music of Mary Ellen Childs played live by onstage musicians considerably ups the ante. Childs’ score, which sounds like a soundtrack for some noir thriller infected by the driving ostinato of Steve Reich, carves out a menacing soundscape that drives Wreck to its very last gasp.
"I'm like, a notch down from Beyoncé," says Tayla Solomon, a member of the Lethal Ladies of Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (LLOB) step team. "Because I do still mess up."
That confident-yet-real attitude pretty much sums up why we're obsessed with the dancers of LLOB—and the new documentary about them, Step. The film follows the team as they navigate applying to college, practicing for the first place title that has eluded them throughout the years and dealing with their often-challenging family lives.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.