Hell's Kitchen Dance
Center for the Arts, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
June 8-11, 2006
Reviewed by Steve Sucato

 

When Mikhail Baryshnikov's latest project, Hell's Kitchen Dance, premiered in Buffalo, it was clear from the outset that it had attracted some of the finest young talent around. Named after the site of Baryshnikov's new arts center in New York City, Hell's Kitchen Dance is every bit as fresh-faced as his state-of the-art facility. A dozen young dancers, along with dancer/choreographer Aszure Barton and Baryshnikov, brought to the production's three world premieres a sense of vitality, whimsy, and emotional depth.

In Barton's Over/Come, the shrill sound of a woman's scream set 13 dancers (including Barton) strolling across the stage with the look of a Gap commercial. The dancers shot blank stares at one another and the audience, and every so often one of them was overcome by a fit of twitchy movement. Set to a variety of crooner-like music, Barton's sleek, modern choreography, sprinkled with juxtaposition and subtle humor, had a flop-n-drop style to it. A highlight was a lustful, spitfire solo by dancer Ariel Freedman.

The second work, Benjamin Millepied's Years Later, was slow to develop due to a somewhat dry opening video sequence of Baryshnikov dancing on a beach (a poor substitution for the real thing). The piece eventually won the audience over with Baryshnikov's live dancing of Millepied's flowing, gesture-infused choreography. The work balanced poignancy with a tongue-in-cheek approach to losing one's youth, as Baryshnikov danced side-by-side with and toyed with life-size video projections of himself as a young dancer.

The climax of the performance was Barton's Come In, set to composer Vladimir Martynov's moving chamber music of the same name. Like its title, the group work was inviting. A tender and stylized version of Barton's movement in Over/Come, the piece unfolded with subtle beauty and left one caught in a mesmerizing wake. Come In showed Barton as a choreographer to be reckoned with, one evoking the breadth and musicality of Mark Morris and the longing of Paul Taylor. The company performed with mature skill, including an elegant solo danced by William Briscoe, and an inspired Baryshnikov reclaimed some of his performance glory of old, further perpetuating his uncanny allure and greatness. See www.baryshnikovdancefoundation.org.

Latest Posts


Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS

Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest