Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum
San Francisco, CA
August 6–14, 2004
Reviewed by Ann Murphy
A couple, bound for the opera, wandered into the Forum by mistake, then dashed out minutes before inkBoat’s latest production, Ame to Ame (Candy and Rain) began. Had they stayed, they would have found the U.S. premiere of Shinichi Momo Koga and Yuko Kaseki’s work operatic in its own way. While the only libretto was a panoply of keen gestures, extreme facial expressions, and Harpo-style physical maneuvers, the dancers’ bodies sang out the physical equivalent of songs—broken, dissonant, and often hilarious. Although there was no translation of these nonverbal arias, the dancers formed a portrait of mysterious yearning and frustration that was by turns comic, lyrical, ghoulish, and haunting.
InkBoat’s performers and collaborators, who work in both San Francisco and Berlin, push butoh away from ankoku butoh (the post-World War II dance of darkness) toward the more intimate form of “one dancer, one school” and “cheerful apocalypse” that was developed by Akaji Maro of Dairakudakan. While death still lurks, Koga, Kaseki, and director/choreographer/lighting designer Marc Ates use it to wrestle the solitary angels and lonely demons of self and other rather than nuclear apocalypse.
And wrestle they did. In white light ethereally littered with a white chair, table, and stool, the dancers, also in white, careered through space like sleepwalkers whose separate dreams repeatedly collided. Kaseki teetered across the stage, Koga caught and turned her, and eventually the pair moved on with affectless drama. From beautifully crafted dreamy vignettes, accompanied by intriguing, edgy sound (by Sheila McCarthy, Dawn McCarthy, Carla Kihlstedt, and Nils Frykdahl), the couple exploded into grotesque play, bouncing belly to belly, high-stepping, flailing, and grimacing. From there they swung back into movement of refined sensitivity and timing, as when Kaseki sensuously laid her hands and head down on the tabletop and Koga pulled the table out from under her, leaving her poised exactly as she had been, now framing negative space. One of the most moving, tender moments of the evening arose when Koga used the three white props as stepping-stones for a somnolent Kaseki’s blind travel, the two like clowns in a wordless Beckett play.
“On a good day, candy falls like rain,” a voice said. “Ame” means “candy” as well as “rain,” and both are often sweet and welcome. So was this performance.
For more information: www.inkboat.com
Back in July, the Bolshoi Ballet grabbed international headlines after canceling the scheduled premiere of a new full-length ballet just three days before opening night. The ballet was Nureyev, and, as it was centered on the life of an openly gay male dancer who defected from the Soviet Union, it was widely speculated that the decision was an act of censorship.
Further theories of political motivations arose as Kirill Serebrennikov, the project's already-controversial director, was being questioned in connection with an embezzlement investigation. But according to the Bolshoi, the ballet was pulled due to it simply not being ready, and was not canceled but postponed; a tentative premiere was set for May 2018.
But it looks like Russian audiences will be getting to see the new ballet far sooner than they might have hoped.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
By itself, a competition trophy won't really prepare you for professional life. Sometimes it is not even a plus. "Some directors are afraid that a kid who wins a lot of medals will come to their company with too many expectations," says Youth America Grand Prix artistic director Larissa Saveliev. "Directors want to mold young dancers to fit their company."
More valuable than taking home a title from a competition is the exposure you can get and the connections you can make while you're there. But how can you take advantage of the opportunity?
New York Live Arts opens its 2017-18 season with A Love Supreme, a revised work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and collaborator Salva Sanchis. Known as a choreographer of pure form, pattern and musicality, De Keersmaeker can bring a visceral power to the stage without the use of narrative. She has taken this 2005 work to John Coltrane's famous jazz score of the same title and recast it for four young men of her company Rosas, giving it an infusion of new energy.
Photo by Anne Van Aerschot
Before too long, dancers and choreographers will get to create on the luxurious 170-acre property in rural Connecticut that is currently home to legendary visual artist Jasper Johns.
If you think that sounds far more glamorous than your average choreographic retreat, you're right. Though there are some seriously generous opportunities out there, this one seems particularly lavish.
Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.
Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.
Dancers trying their hand at designing is nothing new. But they do tend to stick with studio or performance-wear (think Miami City Ballet's Ella Titus and her line of knit warm-ups or former NYCB dancer Janie Taylor and her ballet costumes). But several dancers at American Ballet Theatre—corps members Jamie Kopit, Erica Lall, Katie Boren, Katie Williams, Lauren Post, Zhong-Jing Fang and soloist Cassandra Trenary—are about to launch a fashion line that's built around designs that can be worn outside of the studio. Titled Company Cooperative, the luxe line of women's wear is handmade in New York City's garment district and designed by the dancers themselves.
Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell recently got together for a different kind of performance: no decadent costumes, sets, stage makeup or lighting. Instead, the principal and first soloist danced choreography by principal character artist Kristen McNally in a stark studio.
The movement is crystal clear, and at the beginning, Naghdi and Stix-Brunell duck and weave around each other with near vacant stares. Do they even know they have a partner? And how should they interact? The situation raises a much larger question: How often do we see a female duet in ballet?