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Pat Graney Company
Pat Graney Company
December 4–21, 2008
Seattle City Light Building, Seattle
Reviewed by Gigi Berardi
Photo by Tim Summers, courtesy
Pat Graney Company. Trinidad Martinez in Graney's
"sometimes charming, sometimes haunting" House of Mind.
In House of Mind, Pat Graney once again uses memory and consciousness as her muse. The piece is really two works of art: a multi-media installation that's a mind-boggling array of art, and a dance performance. Graney has transformed a converted 5,000-square-foot warehouse to great effect, using bleached white sand and alternating hot air blasts in a maze of sometimes charming, sometimes haunting rooms.
For part one of the event, the audience is invited to wander through walls of books and stacks of packing envelopes before viewing the actual installation. The effect is surreal, as if Graney conjured up the scene on the spot, inviting longtime collaborator Amy Denio to join her in producing a riveting soundtrack. Denio added her own intriguing compositions such as Celtic tunes and vocals and a guitar solo, plus theme music from old game shows and poignant interviews with Graney's mother (who has Alzheimer's disease), as well as interviews with Graney herself.
Installation and set designer David Traylor guided the effort, together with designers of every sort, like Nanette Acosta with Stella Rose St. Clair, who engineered six giant taffeta-textured dresses suspended from the ceiling. A wall of over 100,000 mother of pearl buttons has streams of water running over these traditional trading objects. Graney has added reams of her father's typed police reports from the 1950s and an array of gold-painted high-heeled shoes, arranged so that each shoe is visible. The most eerie display, however, is a solid gray room, which represents her father's study. Here the walls, rugs, books, and empty picture frames are all cast in the same emotionless gray.
Graney allows the audience to tour the installation for a half hour before the performance and view artifacts in the performance space itself. This includes a 20- by 12-foot wall of 3500 miniatures and almost as many tiny cubicles carved into it, along with bits and pieces from a 1950s home, including a bubble-filled bathtub featuring installation bather Kristina Dillard.
The gutsy and versatile ensemble includes standout Graney dancer Michelle de la Vega; newcomer Trinidad Martinez, who, together with de la Vega, carries much of the piece; Sara Jinks; and Jody Kuehner and Jenny Peterson. They sleep in kitchen drawers and even dance around the room with them, perform headstands on chairs or balance precariously on their rims. The chairs, in a sense, are the anchors of the piece, where a lot of Graney's motifs are performed. The dancers stretch, cringe, take regimented stances, and try to hold onto a routine, with lots of pacing in tight skirts and high heels—maybe it's a way of remembering. There is also an inconsolable sadness about the ensemble, a life interrupted by some tragedy. Clearly, memory loss is a terrible impoverishment.
At the end of the piece, all coalesce around the dining room, and then move on. One dancer goes to sleep on the dining room table, another curls up on the catwalk, another paces back and forth. Time disappears into sameness. How can we even know what we know––for the image becomes the memory—and which came first? This unforgettable piece, not surprisingly, had a long run of almost three weeks in Seattle, with a number of second and third shows added. Audiences can see this audacious piece in either Houston, playing now through February 7, or in New York City, presented by DTW on Governors Island in June.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
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!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.