Hot Tips for What to See in the Cold Weather
Does the frigid weather make you want to curl up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa? Resist! Go out and see some dance. This list is for those of you in northern climes, may it warm up your winter—artistically if not meteorologically.
Driscoll's Thank You For Coming: Play. PC Julieta Cervantes
• Faye Driscoll's Thank You for Coming: Play
A pack of wild-animal dancers act out multi-layered scenes that can puzzle or move you. Equal parts maniacal and moving. The audience is part of the plot. See her “Choreography in Focus” —our latest.
• Michelle Dorrance
Michelle Dorrance is as popular in Boston as she is in New York and at Jacob's Pillow. You can catch a glimpse of why in her "Choreography in Focus."
• Richard Move’s XXYY
The gloriously androgynous Richard Move shows a work-in-progress with theater artist Alba Clemente that explores the chromosomal combinations that produce gender identity. The program also celebrates 20 years of Move’s spot-on impersonation of Martha Graham. Co-presented by Jacob’s Pillow.
Albany and other cities
Ronald K. Brown bring his rich, spiritual blend of modern dance and West Africa on tour.
• Kyle Abraham
Abraham’s mercurial movement quality is beguiling whether or not the often-political content comes across. He talks so easily about his work, including race and gender, in this "Choreography in Focus."
Spectrum Dance Theater in The Minstrel Show. PC Nate Watters.
• Spectrum Dance Theater
Now is the time for political work, and Spectrum director Donald Byrd does not hold back. In his new work Shot, he confronts the growing incidents of police brutality against people of color. To see how tough Byrd is on his dancers, check out his "Choreography in Focus."
• Ragamala Dance Company
This contemporary company, trained in classical Indian dance, focuses on issues of environmental and social justice. The new work, Written in Water, has live music by Amir ElSaffar that utilizes Iraqi, jazz and Carnatic instruments.
• Boston Ballet in William Forsythe's Artifact
The only American company to produce the complete, convention-shattering Artifact (1984) with its go-for-broke dancing.
• Batsheva Dance Company
Batsheva Dance Company’s winter tour brings Ohad Naharin’s Last Work (no, its not his last work) to 11 cities in North America. (I will moderate a post-showing Q & A about the film Mr. Gaga at BAMcinématek on Jan. 30.)
Last Work by Ohad Naharin, photo by Gadi Dagon, courtesy BAM
• Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The dancers continue to be smashing, and director Robert Battle has expanded the repertoire with bracing additions. John Inger's crazily inventive Walking Mad is something to behold. Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain blankets the theater with a tender quietness. Kyle Abraham's Untitled America brings to the stage the painful issue of mass incarceration. And there is always the glorious Revelations.
• Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks
In a new work titled Some of a Thousand Words, the brilliant ballet-to-modern Whelan and choreographer Brooks further explore their experiments in weight and weightlessness. The string quartet Brooklyn Rider plays live.
Brooks and Whelan, photo by Nir Arieli
• Martha Graham Dance Company
With world premieres by Annie-B Parson and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui plus chestnuts like Primitive Mysteries and Maple Leaf Rag. In this “Choreography in Focus,” Parson talks about working with the Graham dancers.
• Malpaso Dance Company
This Cuban company has heated up the Joyce and Jacob’s Pillow, and now they come to Chicago with a new work by Aszure Barton.
• Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
This wonderfully funny yet rueful mix of radio smarts and dancer smarts is brought to you by radio host Ira Glass and his savvy dance pals Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass.
• Dirty Dancing Tour
This hit movie translates surprisingly well to the stage. And hey, what could be hotter than Johnny and Baby?
• KT Niehoff
Always questioning, Niehoff asks an astronaut, an athlete, a survivor of a near-death experience and a differently-abled person this question: “What is it like to be in your body?” Be ready to participate because this piece, which is titled Before We Flew Like Birds, We Flew Like Clouds, is an "audience activated installation." In her "Choreography in Focus" Niehoff talks about her aversion to proscenium performance.
"So why did you quit?"
It's a question I've been asked hundreds of times since I stopped dancing over a decade ago. My answer has changed over the years as my own understanding of what lead me to walk away from greatest love of my life has become clearer.
"I had some injures," I would mutter nervously for the first few years. This seemed like the answer people understood most. Then it became, "I was just not very happy." Finally, as I passed into my 30s, I began telling the uncomfortable truth: "I quit dancing because of untreated depression."
Improvisation, in its many forms, can be a door to the body's imagination. One of the few festivals to delve into it is the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, July 30 to Aug. 6. This year the intensives are led by risk-taking teacher/performers including Hilary Clark, Anya Cloud, Joe Goode, Angie Hauser, Andrew Marcus and Taisha Paggett. Some of them (it's an improv festival, so last-minute decisions are the name of the game) will participate in the full-day "Dance Innovators in Performance" event on Aug. 4. velocitydancecenter.org.
The best day of the year is finally upon us—National Dance Day is tomorrow!
In case you've been living under a rock and haven't celebrated NDD before, it's an annual event established by Nigel Lythgoe and the Dizzy Feet Foundation where dancers and non-dancers across the country are encouraged to get movin'.
To be honest, we never tire of watching non-dancers tackle a day in the life of the pros. From athletes to average Joes, these videos always give us a good laugh, and they remind the rest of the world that a whole lot of work goes into every dance performance you see. But often times, these dancer-for-a-day videos don't fully understand the importance of training (i.e., you can't just throw on a pair of pointe shoes and give it a go).
That's why we're especially loving this video by Refinery29 that actually gets it. Lucie Fink, host of the R29 YouTube series Lucie For Hire , got a private lesson from American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, and it was endlessly entertaining.
We'd love to know what it is that has Pina Bausch, Rudolf Nureyev and Gerard Violette so amused, or what Toer van Schayk (far right) is thinking here, but one thing's for certain: We're terribly envious of the journalist (second from right) who got to be there when this shot was taken in 1986.
It's the end of a long rehearsal day for the dancers of Abraham.In.Motion. They're reviewing phrases of a new work, Dearest Home. It's a pretty typical rehearsal scene. Some dancers cluster around a laptop trying to piece together steps learned long ago. Others review choreography together, working to figure out who remembered which arms correctly.
What isn't typical: The company's director and choreographer, Kyle Abraham, is nowhere to be seen.
That's because while the company is based in New York City full-time, Abraham spends most of his year teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty last September. It's an unconventional model for a single-choreographer–led troupe, almost functioning like a repertory company in which choreographers drop in for a week to set a piece, leaving it up to the rehearsal directors and dancers to keep the momentum going.