The Most Epic Cross-Cultural Collaboration is Coming to NYC This Weekend
Sahar Damoni, PC Tamar Lamm
Do you ever imagine collaborating with a dancer or musician from a faraway place? Composer Andy Teirstein, professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has made this wish come true for performing artists with his Translucent Borders project. Over the last three years he has brought dancers and musicians from Cuba, Israel, Greece and Ghana to experience other cultures. On June 29, this project culminates in a rich border-crossing event at the Jack Crystal Theater at Tisch.
Here are some of the dance artists involved in these cross-cultural collaborations:
• Sahar Damoni, a young Palestinian who has danced in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival and who makes work about the challenges she faces as a woman in an Arab Palestinian society. She is collaborating with Teirstein (who has composed for choreographers like Donald Byrd, Stephen Petronio, Liz Lerman and Sara Pearson) and Israeli singer Yair Dalal.
• Dege Feder, an Ethiopian-Israeli dancer who has her own restless style. She has danced and choreographed with Ruth Eshel's Eskista Ethiopian dance troupe and toured internationally. She is collaborating with Italian composer Angela Ambrosini.
• Donald Byrd, artistic director of Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle. He traveled to Ghana and was very moved by the history there. He visited Cape Coast Castle, which beginning in the 1600s had dungeons where Africans were kept before being forced to travel to the New World as slaves. Byrd has said that it changed him in ways he couldn't express. He will be working with Ghanaian musician/dancer/storyteller Merigah Abubakari—Yaya for short.
• Sulley Imoro, an internationally known Ghanaian dancer/musician. Although he is a traditional dancer and drummer, he can burst forth with delightful improvisations. He is working with two musicians from Israel's amazing System Ali (the members sing in Hebrew, Arabic and/or Russian): accordionist Neta Weiner and rapper Muhammad Mugrabi.
Full disclosure: As an adjunct at Tisch Dance, I participated in Translucent Borders last year. So some of these artists are like old friends to me.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: