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Lingo: A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light
ACT Theatre’s Dorothy S. Bullitt Cabaret
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.
Is it any surprise a world premiere by choreographer Uri Sands and musician Justin Vernon, both renowned for the profound beauty and gorgeous musicality of their work, immediately sold out? We're hungry for creative collaborations that take reflective deep dives into what constitutes our humanity—and then there's the undeniable cool factor. Nine members of TU Dance will perform alongside Bon Iver (Vernon's band) during the evening-length piece. Presented as part of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series. April 19–21. The work will also appear at the Hollywood Bowl Aug. 5. tudance.org.
Ah, the quest for the perfect, foot-flattering, technique-enhancing pointe shoe: It can feel like a never-ending saga. Still on the hunt for that ideal pair? Then you won't want to miss The School at Steps' annual Pointe Shoe Workshop and Fair, happening this Sunday, April 22nd, at 6:30 pm in NYC.
As always, the event—which is sponsored by our friends at Pointe—will feature an impressive panel of experts. This year's lineup includes orthopedist Dr. Andrew Price, professional fitter Mary Carpenter, master teacher Linda Gelinas, Pointe style editor Marissa DeSantis, and New York City Ballet star Sara Mearns (eee!).
Jennifer Nichols was rehearsing barefoot this winter when she got a split in the bottom of her foot. An independent choreographer, she was preparing a self-made solo to be performed as part of a new music show in Toronto, and the studio's Marley floor was usually used by winter boot–wearing musicians.
A split may not seem like a big deal. But this one led to a serious infection that would land Nichols in hospital and almost end her performing career.
You might feel like the second choice when you look at the casting sheet, but understudies are necessary, valued team members who are regularly called off the bench to perform—even with very little prep time. "It is like the ultimate trust exercise with your director," says Mia J. Chong, who understudied many roles in ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit as an apprentice before becoming a company dancer this year. "Often, you do a lot of the homework on your own to make sure you can produce a quality performance, even if you don't have the chance to demonstrate it right away."
Here's what to expect when you're learning from the back of the room and—when you're needed—how to step into the part with confidence.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
I found a great boyfriend in my ballet company. I love how he understands my life as a professional dancer. The problem is we've started fighting whenever one of us gives the other a correction during partnering. Is dating him a bad idea?
—Lovesick, Toronto, Ontario
The #MeToo movement has made its way to France's biggest ballet company.
An anonymous survey recently leaked to the French press revealed major turbulence at the Paris Opéra Ballet. The Straits Times reports that the survey was conducted by an internal group representing POB's dancers. In it, there are numerous claims of bullying, sexual harassment and management issues.
Nearly all of the dancers (132 out of 154) answered the questionnaire, but they didn't know it would be made public. (Around 100 of them later signed a statement saying they didn't consent to its release.)
Merce Cunningham would have been 99 years old today, and, as a present to the dance world, the Merce Cunningham Trust has announced a dizzying array of celebrations to unfold over the next year in honor of the groundbreaking choreographer's 2019 centennial.
"Merce liked saying he didn't want to celebrate his birthday, and yet he always enjoyed when we threw parties for him," Trevor Carlson, producer of the Merce Cunningham Centennial, said in a press release. Though the Merce Cunningham Dance Company shuttered in 2011 (two years after the choreographer's death, per his wishes), plans to celebrate his legacy range from performances to film screenings to workshops to education programs to dinner parties.