Dancers & Companies

Lingo: A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light

Lingo
ACT Theatre’s Dorothy S. Bullitt Cabaret

Seattle, WA
April 22–May 15, 2010

Reviewed by Gigi Berardi

 

Clockwise from top left: KT Niehoff, Bianca Cabrera, Kelly Sullivan, and Ricki Mason. Photo by Kevin Kauer, courtesy Lingo.


Lingo’s daring A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light, conceived and directed by artistic director KT Niehoff, is the culminating piece of a collaboration with Seattle’s ACT Theatre and the Seattle Art Museum. Three earlier components were performed throughout Seattle over the past few months, beginning in February. I saw Glimmer close to the end of its three-week run, in a sold-out house still intimate enough for the throngs of viewers to wander through the club-type venue.


Glimmer’s cabaret mood is created with the strident but stirring melodies of the live band (Ivory in Ice World), an original taped score by Scott Colburn, and the theater itself: a seatless cabaret with wide descending staircases, balconies, colonnades, and small tiled dance floors. Reportedly, Niehoff was looking for  a “potent environment,” and it would be hard to imagine one more so.


Niehoff and dancer Ricki Mason devised the overall costume design. The “coven” of main dancers —Mason, Bianca Cabrera, Michael Rioux, and Aaron Swartzman—and lead “showgirl” Kelly Sullivan wore white brocades decorated with feathers and tulle; Sullivan sported an audacious white headpiece with shimmering tentacles. Ben Delacreme created the garish, Carnivale-like makeup.


One of the first duets is a lusty romp between Mason and Cabrera, their bodies completely interlocked like a puzzle of convex and concave shapes. At one poignant moment, a dancer’s face rests in the arch of another’s foot. Cabrera’s extreme facial contortions are direct, vital, and scary.


Cabrera, Mason, and the self-absorbed Sullivan are like the wildest yogis, capable of great feats of strength but agile in their tangos and steamy danse apache. The men (Rioux and Swartzman) offer something different in their wrestling—an interplay of ego and alter ego, asking small questions, rather than the larger ones posed by the women.


The seven showgirls (Sruti Desai, Jill Leversee, Morgan Nutt, Erin Simons, Violette Tucker, Kate Wallich, and Hendri Walujo) accent the production both as chorus and gatekeepers, slithering through the audience and whispering erotically to keep everyone alert—and out of the dancers’ way. They counter the robotic movement of the coven with smoother, rhythmic phrases, as if to say, “Touch! Desire! Risk!”


With its iconic showgirls and needy lovers, Glimmer offers beams of hope, pushing the boundaries of relationships and personal desires with an almost unbearable tension—which resolves itself at the end through the full-frontal nude antics of several of the dancers. The garish pantomime is only occasionally too busy. Otherwise, it’s a raucous, daunting thing. Were that theater-vérité was as provocative—and unforgettable.
 

Pixabay

It took two years of intense nutrition counseling and psychotherapy to pull me out of being anorexic. My problem now is that I've gained too much weight from eating normally. Is there no middle ground? I can't fit into my clothes, but I don't want to go back to being sick.

—Former Anorexic, Weston, CT

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy ROH

Whatever your feelings about Wayne McGregor's heady, hyper-physical choreography, we can all probably agree on one thing: We'd really, really love to pick his brain. And tomorrow, Dance Umbrella, a UK-based dance festival, is giving everyone the chance to do exactly that.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers & Companies
Nisian Hughes

"Women are often presented as soft, fragile little creatures in ballet," says Léonore Baulac. "We're not." The Paris Opéra Ballet's newest female étoile is discussing her unease at some of the 19th-century narratives she portrays. "It was real acting," she says with a laugh of La Sylphide. "James kills her by taking away her wings, yet she tells him not to worry and goes to die elsewhere onstage!"

Sitting in the canteen of the Palais Garnier, Baulac embodies some of ballet's contradictions in the 21st century. With her fair curls and dainty features, she could easily pass for a little girl's fantasy princess. As Juliet, she exuded a girlish ardor that felt entirely natural; her reservations notwithstanding, her Sylphide was committed and carefully Romantic in style.

Yet the 27-year-old is no ingénue. At Garnier that day, her sweater reads "I can't believe I still have to protest this s**t," a feminist slogan; last winter, Baulac proudly wore it over a Kitri tutu on Instagram. And her repertoire is as thoroughly modern as she is offstage. A versatile performer even by Parisian standards, she is equally at home in Nutcracker as she is in the works of Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers & Companies
via Rebels on Pointe

You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.

A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
LINES dancer Courtney Henry. Photo by Quinn Wharton

We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.

But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.

A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.

Keep reading... Show less
Training
Laurel Jenkins, Photo by Vincent Beaume

Efficient movement is easy to recognize—we all know when we see a dancer whose every action seems essential and unmannered. Understanding how to create this effect, however, is far more elusive. From a practical perspective, dancing with efficiency helps you to conserve your energy and minimize wear and tear on the body; from an artistic point of view, it allows you to make big impressions out of little moments, and lasting memories for those watching.

So much struggle and determination goes into your training that it can be difficult for early-career dancers to recalibrate their priorities toward simplicity and ease, says Laurel Jenkins, freelance performer and Trisha Brown Dance Company staging artist. "Your aesthetic might shift, and you might have to find new things beautiful." Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective and a smart strategy—on- and offstage.

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
AXIS's Lani Dickinson and James Bowen. Photo by Matt Evearitt, courtesy AXIS

After 30 years of pioneering work in physically integrated dance, AXIS Dance Company co-founder Judith Smith has announced plans to retire from the Oakland, California, company. Throughout her tenure, she strived to get equal recognition for integrated dance and disabled dancers, commissioning work from high-profile choreographers like Bill T. Jones. Her efforts generated huge momentum for expanded training, choreography, education and advocacy for dancers with disabilities.

By phone from her home in Oakland, Smith reflected on how far the field has evolved since the early days of AXIS, and what's yet to be done.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Jim Lafferty for Pointe

You know that how you care for your body before curtain can impact your performance. But with so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to nail down an exact routine. How much rest is enough? How close to showtime should you eat? We asked the experts.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
screenshot via Jonathan Simkhai.

How do you make your athleisure collection stand out from the pack? Get the ultimate studio-to-street seal of approval by having dancers star in your campaign, of course.

For his second collaboration with activewear brand Carbon38, ready-to-wear designer Jonathan Simkhai traded in his usual top models like Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss for the original Hiplet dancers—and the resulting video is as cool as we'd expect from such a fierce collaboration.

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
Emily Schoen and Houcem Bouakroucha, Photo by TuniStudio

Again and again, dance teaches me that when the filters fall away between people—when the boundaries of geography, religion and politics soften—the beginning and end of our relationships is always human.

In March, I traveled with Keigwin + Company to Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tunisia, on a tour sponsored by the US State Department and facilitated by DanceMotion USA/Brooklyn Academy of Music. Our mission was cultural diplomacy: Simply, to share ourselves with diverse communities, to promote common understanding and friendships.

Our last stop was Tunisia. Until that point, we had mostly been learning varieties of traditional African dance, and sharing American modern dance. But Tunisia was different. The dancers already had a solid grasp of contemporary movement invention. Though we didn't speak the same language, we could make movement vocabulary with surprising ease. Everything about our backgrounds was different, but there was this special intersection through dance that seemed to present an open door to collaboration.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!