Philadanco

Philadanco
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.

Show Comments ()
Career Advice
What was your 2017 income? Photo by Fabian Blank/Unsplash

Dance Magazine asked readers the question you're never supposed to ask: How much money do you make?

More than two hundred readers filled out our online survey about how much they earned through their work in the dance field in 2017. Here is a selection of the user-submitted entries, which have been edited for clarity, consistency and to help ensure anonymity.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Krista DeNio (top) says that women should take an integrated, full-body approach to lifting. Photo by Jun Akiyama, courtesy DeNio

Many contemporary choreographers today expect women to be game to do some lifting. However, the partnering training that most female dancers grow up with—if they have partnering classes at all—usually only teaches them to be supported by a man. It's no surprise that being a good lifter requires physical strength, but it may also require a change in mind-set.

Keep reading... Show less
News
The Paris Opéra Ballet has remained mostly silent in response to the dancers' calls for reform. Photo courtesy Zipporah Films

You'd think the Paris Opéra Ballet would be in damage-control mode after a leaked dancers' survey, in April, brought up worrying reports of harassment and mismanagement. But instead of addressing these issues internally, the French company is suing one of its own dancers in order to strip him of his union representative status and subsequently be free to fire him.

Dalloz Actualité, a French online magazine specializing in legal matters, elaborated on the lawsuit in an article published last week. The corps de ballet dancer taken to court, whom we'll call "S." to protect his identity, wasn't actually a member of the Commission for Artistic Expression, the elected group of dancers who put together the survey. He is described as a "geek" who provided technical support to ensure the validity of the results.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance History
President Obama awarding Bill T. Jones the National Medal of Arts. Photo by Pete Souza via Obama White House Archives

Every year since 1985, the President of the United States has recognized our country's greatest artists with the National Medal of Arts. Many dancers and choreographers—from Martha Graham to Tommy Tune to Edward Villella—have received the award.

But President Trump has yet to award any artists (the deadline for the 2016 medals was last February, and historically the ceremony has been held later the same year). Though the White House says it will "likely" issue awards later in 2018, this is the longest gap between ceremonies since the founding of the award—and it speaks to the current administration's general disinterest in the arts.

Since taking office a year and a half ago, President Trump has held no dance performances at the White House, and aside from the military band, no performances whatsoever. He has frequently disparaged artists, from Meryl Streep to the cast of Hamilton. The fate of the National Endowment for the Arts has also come into question. If the President does indeed continue with the award, we wonder how his attitude toward artists will affect who is chosen—and whether artists will even accept the honor. (Carmen de Lavallade and several other Kennedy Center honorees skipped the White House reception last year to boycott the President.)

None of this will stop us from continuing to celebrate worthy dance artists—or from remembering the many dancers and choreographers who've been honored by past Presidents:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Giphy

Turnout can be a tricky thing. Perfect 180 degrees can make your lines look gorgeous, but gripping, forcing and twisting to get it there can lead to injuries down the road.

"It's a struggle because the demands of ballet positioning, to really do it properly you need to be turned out," says former American Ballet Theatre principal and master ballet teacher Ashley Tuttle. "If your body's not quite as turned out as the steps require then you have to find a way to make it look turned out but not hurt yourself."

While gripping may seem harmless, this bad habit can manifest in a host of different lower-extremity injuries, says Sarah Edery-Altas, PT, DPT, OCS at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Last year, participants in Dancewave's college audition were offered $3.4 million in scholarships. Photo by Linneah Anders, Courtesy Dancewave

Dancing in college is undoubtedly expensive, but these two events allow you to audition for scholarships from multiple programs at once.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Dancers will take over the Tower of London for East Wall. Photo by Victor Frankowski, Courtesy The Corner Shop PR

For all of its historic sites, the pulse of London can be found in its diversity, and the constant collision of the new with the old. Hofesh Shechter Company and East London Dance are pulling this dichotomy into the spotlight with East Wall, the culmination of a three-year collaboration celebrating the communities of East London. Directed by Hofesh Shechter, four young, London-based choreographers—Becky Namgauds, Duwane Taylor, James Finnemore and Joseph Toonga—weave together their wildly disparate styles for an outdoor spectacle featuring more than 150 dancers and musicians performing at one of the city's most iconic structures: the Tower of London. July 18–22. eastwall.org.

Rant & Rave
Social media validates extremes over clean, solid technique. Photo by David Hofmann/Unsplash

The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."

My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.

This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Bullies sometimes excuse their own behavior by saying they're just strict. But there's a difference. Photo by Thinkstock

A few months ago, your teacher snapped at you for smiling too much. Today, you're keeping your expression neutral when your teacher abruptly cuts the music and walks over to you, pretending to knock on your forehead. "Hello? Is anyone in there? Your face is always blank." Your classmates look just as frozen as you feel, their eyes darting back and forth between you and your teacher until the music resumes and class goes on.

Being bullied by a dance teacher can be painful—and confusing. You may have more questions than answers. What's happening? Am I just too sensitive? Is this really bullying?

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Miami City Ballet's Nathalia Arja, PC Alexander Iziliaev

We love learning new things about our favorite dancers through our "Spotlight" Q&A series (like Sterling Baca's obsession with spiders!). One of the questions we always ask is: What's the biggest misconception about dancers?

After a while, we began to sense a pattern in the responses. Here's how five dancers answered the question (warning: this may make you hungry!):

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story
James Whiteside is known for being something of a fashionista. Here, he wears pants and boots by Prada, belt by Jean Paul Gaultier and a vintage jacket styled by Brandon Veloria. Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine.

James Whiteside isn't your typical American Ballet Theatre star. So when we asked writer Brian Schaefer to write a cover story on him for our August issue, we knew we were in for a treat. But the piece ended up making us fall in love with Whiteside even more.

Here are a few of our favorite excerpts from Schaefer's story:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Lindsi Dec with husband Karel Cruz in Alexei Ratmansky's "Don Quixote." Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet.

When people ask what I do for a living, I say I have the best job in the world. But it isn't just a job. It's my passion. Feeling the rise of the curtain, the cool air rushing towards me from the audience, the warmth of the stage lights and the music taking me into my own little world, becoming the piece, the character, the dancer, is such a gift.

Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

American Ballet Theatre's two months of performances at New York City's Metropolitan Opera House can be an exciting but demanding time for the dancers. With nine ballets in eight weeks including Whipped Cream and Harlequinade, a night off is hard to come by.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Eating healthy fats and a bounty of fruits and vegetables is smart. But what about cutting carbs? Photo by Brooke Lark/Unsplash

Although the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s as an epilepsy treatment for children, it's experiencing a new wave of popularity. Thanks in part to social media, where "healthy" keto-friendly recipe videos are going viral, the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is gaining ground. But is it safe for dancers?

We checked in with Rachel Fine, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition, to see what eating keto means for dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Editors’ List: The Goods

Planning to spend the majority of your summer sweating it out in the studio? Don't worry, you're not alone. And while you're definitely going to want to save the warmups for the winter, you can still accessorize your studio look without adding bulk, thanks to the always-in-style ballet skirt. From bright florals to washed out pastels and wild prints, we rounded up our favorite short (and a few long!) ballet skirts for summer.

AinslieWear Limoncello Wrap Skirt

via AinslieWear

If you can't spend your summer in the Mediterranean under actual lemon trees, this skirt is a solid backup. Plus, it gives us serious Beyonce "Lemonade" vibes, which will help you feel more fierce and less sweaty-mess in class (hopefully).
ainsliewear.com, $50

Career Advice
Learning how to invest and deal with tax implications can be a shock. Photo by Pepi Stojanov/Unsplash

Unrestricted grants—those not tied to a specific project or commission—are the holy grail of dance funding. But how do dance artists accustomed to living from project to project handle the sudden influx of capital?

We asked three choreographers who've won these grants multiple times about their experiences.

Keep reading... Show less
News
The 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story, shot on location in New York City, preserved Jerome Robbins' choreography. Photo courtesy DM Archives

We didn't see this one coming.

According to Playbill, a revival of West Side Story, the beloved 1957 musical that put a 20th century, New York City spin on Romeo and Juliet, is coming to Broadway in 2020. We'll still hear Leonard Bernstein's music and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics, but the new production, directed by Tony winner Ivo van Hove, will be deviating from the original in at least one crucial respect: the choreography won't be original director Jerome Robbins'.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Sponsored

Viral Videos

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways