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The Lumberyard Wraps Up a Great Season

Kyle Abraham's Dearest Home, photo by Carrie Schneider

While waiting for its massive facility in Catskill, New York to be completed, the Lumberyard (formerly American Dance Institute) brings its distinctive taste to The Kitchen in New York City. This week Lumberyard in the City continues its series of premieres by iconoclastic dance and performance artists with Raja Feather Kelly and concludes next week with Kyle Abraham.

David Gordon's Live Archiveography, photo by Paula Court

The series kicked off with David Gordon in a live version of Archiveography, in which his reminiscences—played out in dance, film and talking—are scintillating, witty and moving. Live Archiveography gave riddle-like hints of Gordon's ingenious overlapping of image, story and dancing in his prolific career as choreographer and playwright.

Vicky Shick's Let It Linger invited us into a quietly mesmerizing world of four women in an almost empty space. Their relationships ranged from a curious indifference to a tender nurturing to a sharp rebuff. With a haiku-like spareness, the vivid qualities of Marilyn Maywald-Yahel, Anna Azrieli, Lily Gold and Mina Nishimura unfolded in dreamlike vignettes. (Full disclosure: I've danced with Vicky at American Dance Institute.)

Mina Nishimura and Marilyn Maywald-Yahel in Let It Linger, photo by Paula Court

For a change of pace, Raja Feather Kelly's Another Fucking Warhol Production or Who's Afraid of Andy Warhol will mess with your mind. Recently Kelly's been excelling at gender-bending, race-flipping chanteuse acts. Back in the day we would have called it camp, but he is calling it "docufiction." (Sounds like a variation on "fake news" to me.)

Kyle Abraham's Dearest Home is based on the concept of empathy. This will come as no surprise for those who saw his last work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Untitled America. For that piece, the sound score was a set of interviews that revealed the destructive effects of incarceration on families. Abraham has always brought his social consciousness to his mercurial choreography. In this "Choreography in Focus," he talks about his signature work, the powerful Pavement, which focuses on the neighborhood where he grew up in Pittsburgh. Images of police brutality thread through the piece. I think we'll all be ready for a little empathy, as envisioned by Kyle Abraham, June 28—July 2.

Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.

"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "

She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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Rauf "RubberlLegz" Yasit and Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo by Mohamed Sadek, courtesy The Shed

William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).

As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.

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