BodyVox Dance Center
May 2–18, 2013
In the beginning—in this case, the late 1970s—there was Pilobolus, the Connecticut- based company where Jamey Hampton got his start. Then there was MOMIX, where he met fellow dancer Ashley Roland. The pair went on to cofound ISO Dance and later, BodyVox, a Portland, Oregon–based contemporary company which just celebrated its 15th anniversary this spring.
“In 15 years, you make a lot of work,” Hampton said before the opening of the company’s anniversary show, “Fifteen.” “And,” he added, “you make a lot of friends.” “Fifteen” did feel like a reunion of sorts, with a greatest-hits repertoire that encouraged reminiscing, a few home movies from years past, and a warm response from the crowd.
“Fifteen’s” two programs underscored the DNA that BodyVox shares with its predecessors, particularly the trompe l’oeil style that won Pilobolus and MOMIX acclaim. If you’re looking for edge, angst, or politics, well, keep looking: With BodyVox you get wit, whimsy, and well-mannered emotion in pieces performed by a dozen dancers with solid technical chops.
Program A featured BodyVox’s early work. Among the highlights were 2001’s X-Axis, a sinuous aerial duet between Eric Skinner and Daniel Kirk, and 2005’s Hopper’s Dinner—a moveable feast of tipsy tabletop antics set to Tom Waits. Filmmaker Mitchell Rose has collaborated with the company on several movie shorts, most of them comedic, and two of the best were included here: 2000’s Deere John (which captures Hampton's loving pas de deux with a backhoe) and 2002’s Case Studies From the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders, which investigates, in a clinical setting, such medical anomalies as Disappointing Offspring Ballet Affectation Syndrome.
Program B opened with an excerpt from 2005’s Leave the Light On, in which a Keystone Kops–style chase interrupts a Bollywood number; it’s one example of the company’s occasional tendency toward the cartoonish. Better were the 2010 numbers Write My Book (Skinner’s lyrical piece for one man and four car tires), followed by The Man I Keep Hid, in which the ensemble makes a surprise entrance by sliding down a chute. Both programs featured one new piece: Café Blanco, which begins with a short film of the dancers, dressed in tennis whites, exiting a coffee shop on Razor scooters. The dance begins as they enter the stage on those same scooters before breaking into jazzy pairings.
If there’s one piece that sums up the company’s last decade and a half, it might be Rose’s film Advance, which follows Hampton and Roland dancing the same choreographic phrases in different locales and seasons, from bridges to beaches, in sun and snow. It’s a reminder that in 15 years, BodyVox has toured the world, grown roots, and built repertoire. It has even produced offspring: the junior company BodyVox 2, and Skinner/Kirk, a contemporary collective led by two of the company’s earliest members. “Fifteen” offered a welcome moment to pause and reflect as the company enters the next phase of its life.
At top: BodyVox dancers (L to R) Daniel Kirk, Zachary Carroll, Eric Skinner, Jamey Hampton, Ashley Roland, Jonathan Krebs in Café Blanco.
Photo by David Krebbs; Courtesy BodyVox
It's not often that a dance video provokes bona fide cackling in our office, but this new episode of BroadwayWorld TV's improv-based series "Turning the Tables" is just too real. For this episode, seven Broadway pros were invited to a mock dance call. With series regulars Ellyn Marie Marsh, Andrew Briedis, Andrew Chappelle and Julia Mattison running the "audition," disaster and hilarity (mostly hilarity) ensue.
First of all, it's amazing to see Broadway dancers like Neil Haskell, Eloise Kropp and Samantha Sturm try to keep straight faces with the amount of deadpan shenanigans happening at the front of the room. And if you've ever been to a Broadway dance call, you're going to be struck by just how on point the jokes are. Plus, it's just really, really funny.
Watch now. Thank us later.
"I don't cook for just one or two people," says James Whiteside, stirring a pot on his stove. "My mom taught me to cook and she had five kids. So when I do cook, I go in!"
Aside from breakfast (usually bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin), the American Ballet Theatre principal rarely cooks for himself during ABT's seasons. He prefers to "forage" for his lunch and go out or order in for dinner, saving the real cooking for when he has friends or colleagues to feed. "I like to have a lot of people tell me my food is delicious," he quips.
We're not sure what we did to deserve the livestream generosity the dance world is giving us these days, but this weekend, it's getting even better.
PC Joe Toreno
L.A. Dance Project, Benjamin Milliepied's trendsetting contemporary troupe, has been in residence at The Chinati Foundation for the past few days. This weekend, they're showing us what they've come up with—for three days straight.
To create great work, choreographers need the freedom to tackle difficult subjects and push physical limits. But when your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where they draw the line.
Restaurants have always been a great source of survival gigs for dancers. But today's top chefs aren't just looking for waiters to carry dishes to the table. They're hiring choreographers to give the staff dance-like skills and compose a sort of choreography for the dining room.
Leslie Scott, artistic director of dance theater company BODYART, is one of those choreographers. After working in more typical food industry jobs for 10 years, she's been tapped by top restaurants in both New York City and Los Angeles to lead workshops that finesse servers' non-verbal communication and navigation of tight spaces.
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.