Penelope Freeh and Jocelyn Hagen
"Slippery Fish and Other Offerings of New Music and Dance"
September 28–30, 2012
Performance reviewed: Sept. 29
An amiable collaboration between choreographer Penelope Freeh and composer Jocelyn Hagen, this meld of live music and dance was modest in the best sense—small, but rich. Its evocative duets, choreographed by Freeh and performed by her and guest artist Patrick Corbin, included musicians who were often integrated into the dancing. An additional solo for Nic Lincoln to recorded sound made for an intimate and intriguing evening.
In Miniatures, Corbin and Freeh scurry around the periphery of the stage, surrounding the musicians, who perform Hagen’s score center stage. A call-and-response structure finds the dancers reacting in silence to each segment of music: the rolling good humor of the piano; the quirky percussion; a lovely a capella rendition of a religious text, a prayer to the Virgin Mary. Their movement reflects the architecture and ambiance of the sound—a succulent little folk dance with flat-footed triplets, or a supported adagio with supple allusions to the music’s plangent yearning.
Perhaps nothing speaks to the talents of a choreographer more emphatically than a solo created for another dancer that both captures his uniqueness and gives it depth and context. In Paper Nautilus Nic Lincoln, in an old-fashioned sailor suit, parlays a series of iconic dance gestures from 1930s musical numbers and movie stills, into a meditation on repression and fragmented identity. His body is simultaneously fluid and hypertonic; he seems to tie himself into knots, even while gliding and loping around with the insouciance of Donald O’Connor. Easing in and out of painful reveries, he maintains the façade of a carefree sailor on a lark. Classic popular songs like “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and jarring fragments of Morse code underscore the sense of a body encoded, and of a man attempting to reconcile the numerous personas he simultaneously constructs and deconstructs before our eyes.
Both photos: Penelope Freeh and Patrick Corbin in Slippery Fish.
By Sean Smuda, courtesy Freeh.
In Slippery Fish Freeh and Corbin interact with violinist Sam Bergman and vocalist Carrie Henneman Shaw. Corbin rocks back and forth as Bergman, seated on a knocked-over chair, bows plaintive chords. Dressed in stylish black shorts, white pleated tops, and beaded cloche hats by Tulle and Dye that suggest 1920s bathing costumes and stylish flapper wear, Freeh and Corbin sashay around, echoing the music’s witty fragmentation. They mirror and trace one another, each one entering into the spaces created by the other.
The relationship is formal and abstract rather than intimate, the shapes they make a kind of fluid plastique that references Art Deco, Delsarte, and Dadaism. At one point Corbin’s tap dancing and body-slapping connect with Shaw’s fractured scales as Freeh swans around in odd coordinations—a cubist rendering of vamping? Finally the two dancers morph through a series of poses, a lovely collusion of Delsartian gestures. Their isolated emotions and stop-frame action make for a fetching collage of it-girls, strong men, and bathing beauties. The period references are more than pleasantly nostalgic—they’re charged with a freshness of discovery and play.
Over the past 15 years, Gesel Mason has asked 11 choreographers—including legends like Donald McKayle, David Roussève, Bebe Miller, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rennie Harris and Kyle Abraham—to teach her a solo. She's performed up to seven of them in one evening for her project No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers.
Now, Mason is repackaging the essence of this work into a digital archive. This online offering shares the knowledge of a few with many, and considers how dance can live on as those who create it get older.
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.