Joyce Theater, NYC
October 7, 2006
Reviewed by Nancy Wozny
Philadanco's Corey Baker and Elisabeth H. Bell
Photo by Lois Greenfield, courtesy Philadanco
Philadelphia is known as the city that loves you back. So it only follows that its beloved modern dance company, Philadanco, danced with a generous heart and robust athleticism during its recent showing of works. This handsome company has been a mainstay of the Philadelphia dance scene for the past 37 years. (Founder Joan Myers Brown will receive a Dance Magazine Award this year.) The family-friendly matinee featured works by notable choreographers who are especially adept at revealing the company’s strengths.
No brakes were allowed in Daniel Ezralow’s Pulse. Dancers spilled onstage as if running downhill and slid backwards, arching their arms as if to use the airspace to slow down. Snazzy footwear facilitated smooth sliding and gliding across the stage. The kinetic excitement built to a crescendo as the dancers slid into each other as if attracted by a center-stage magnet. Exhilarating momentum created a sense that the dance was traveling past our field of vision. Ezralow’s illusion conjured a tipping stage as the dancers pummeled through space. Tricky, and fun to watch.
Ronald K. Brown’s excerpts of For Truth, set to the mellow songs of MeSchell Ndegeocello and Femi Kuti, synthesize movements from African dance, street vernacular, hip hop, and modern dance into a steamy whole. Brown’s seamless fusion creates a recognizable yet inventive vocabulary. Although Philadanco’s style is more tightly wound than that of Brown’s company, the increased muscular edge revealed a different dimension of the richly textured choreography. For Truth contains both celebratory and contemplative qualities; one minute it exudes a party feel, the next, a moody internal dialogue. Odara Jabali-Nash embodied this paradox in her delicate solo in “Section One: The Chosen.” Her earthy performance mined the subtleties of Ndegeocello’s sultry songs. There’s so much to watch in Brown’s work. Each dancer seems to take hold of his idiosyncratic style in their own way, leaving ample room for their individuality to shine through.
In Cottonwool, Christopher L. Huggins created an effective vehicle to display the troupe’s technical chops and charisma. Huggins explores the play between balance and stability in his rousing romp for the whole company. Dancers teetered as if poised on a tightrope in an exploration of risk taking and the energy at the edge. Daredevil partnering spiced up this otherwise mainstream modern dance. In the end though, it seemed that the Philadanco crew was just too sure-footed to make the wobbles believable. Chalk it up to Philly pride. See www.philadanco.org.
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.
"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."
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.
La Scala Ballet has a knack for snagging exceptional guest artists, and the company's rare West Coast appearance this weekend at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is no exception. Principal dancer étoile Roberto Bolle will partner both Misty Copeland and Marianela Nuñez in Giselle. And in an extra international twist, they'll be accompanied by the Mikhailovsky Orchestra for the engagement. July 28–30. scfta.org.
Serious dancers interested in musical theater face a difficult choice when applying to college: Should you major in dance or musical theater? "You can make a career following either pathway," says Lynne Formato, associate professor of performing arts at Elon University. If you choose to go the musical theater route, find a program that will challenge your dance technique: