Vital Signs

August 2, 2009

Down by the Bay

STEPOLOGY’s mission of promoting tap hits the mainstage this month with their annual Bay Area Tap Festival, Aug. 16–23. With workshops, panel discussions, tap jams and performances by Ted L. Levy, Channing Cook-Holmes, STEPOLOGY director John Kloss, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Sam Weber, and San Francisco’s own Barbary Coast Cloggers, the festival also invites anyone who takes the workshop to perform

in a community concert. See



Head to the mountains! Some of the country’s greatest dancers will perform at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado this summer. With former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel at the helm, this year’s lineup includes Miami City Ballet and Morphoses/

The Wheeldon Company. The festival’s two “International Evenings of Dance” showcase dancers like NYCB’s dynamo Daniel Ulbricht (see June 2008 cover story), San Francisco Ballet’s powerhouse Sofiane Sylve, and the radiant Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet. In addition, a series called “UpClose” will present talks with Savion Glover, Edward Villella, and Wendy Whelan, who will perform as well. July 27–Aug. 11. See


The Bad Prince

Possibly the only major politico in Washington, DC, who was once a serious dance student, Rahm Emanuel remembers his training (at Evanston School of Ballet and Sarah Lawrence College) fondly. He beamed during a photo op with Paul Taylor dancers last spring at the Kennedy Center. Quite a different mood than the one that prompted Barack Obama (not yet president), in a roast that was circulating on YouTube, to jokingly claim that Emanuel was “the first to adapt Machiavelli’s The Prince for dance.” Naturally, since Machiavelli believed that one should lead through fear rather than love, this jab referred only to Emanuel’s tougher side. But, say, do we know of a choreographer who would want to adapt The Prince for dance? Maybe some guy named Taylor?


Ballet on the Big Screen

Coming to a theater near you—six productions by Diana Byer’s chamber ballet company New York Theatre Ballet will be shown in nearly 500 movie theaters nationwide. Donald Mahler’s Cinderella is tentatively scheduled to air in mid-August. The full series will include performances of NYTB’s new Sleeping Beauty, The Alice in Wonderland Follies, and a live airing of their child-friendly Nutcracker in December. See


B-Boying in the Berkshires

Known for bridging the gap between the street and the concert stage, Rubberbandance Group returns to Jacob’s Pillow Aug. 12–16. Like a pack of chameleons, this Montreal-based troupe slithers between genres, softening the hard edge of B-boying with contemporary release and the litheness of ballet. Co-artistic director Victor Quijada, whose resumé runs the gamut from L.A. break-dancing to Twyla Tharp, presents his newest work, Punto Ciego, about the shifting relationships between six dancers. See



Spend a night under the stars enjoying a world-class production of flamenco music and dance.  As part of the Target Dance Series at the Ford Amphitheatre in L.A., Forever Flamenco: LA Olé! celebrates this passionate dance form on Aug. 1. Director and guitarist Antonio Triana brings together flamenco artists such as Antonio Granjero, Roberto Amaral, and Fanny Ara. See


Nijinsky’s Other Vision

Vaslav Nijinsky soared through the dance world in a short five years. His dancing with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes—from its opening in 1909 to 1913—excited audiences, and his choreography outraged them. His decline due to schizophrenia cut short his career. The obsessive drawings he made while institutionalized were assumed to be merely products of his derangement. But the current exhibit at the Hamburg Kunsthalle, “Dance of Colours—Nijinsky’s Eye and Abstraction,” shows that his drawings, loaned by Hamburg Ballet director John Neumeier, hold their own among the visual artists of the 20th century. Open until Aug. 16, this exhibit could provide clues to Nijinsky’s greatness as a dance artist as well as his descent into insanity. See


Catch Okach

The patient but mysterious way he stands still, the gentle way he sinks to his knees, the look on his face reflecting a nomad’s life—these things mark the performing of Opiyo Okach, possibly the only contemporary improviser to emerge from Kenya. He possesses a rangey articulateness that could remind one of Steve Paxton, the father of contact improvisation. Okach joins Filipino choreographer Jose Jay B Cruz, hybrid artist Jennifer Archibald, Kyle Abraham (a 2009 “25 to Watch”), and others in Bates Dance Festival’s “Different Voices” series, Aug. 6–7, in Maine. See

Grab Your Partner

West Hollywood shakes things up with the opening of Balliamos, a ballroom dance studio offering same-sex, as well as traditional, instruction. World Champion same-sex dancers Jacob Jason and Willem de Vries welcome dancers of every level, style, and orientation to attend classes at the groundbreaking new studio, complete with studded leather reception desk and black chandeliers. Students who donate money to the Trevor Project, a nationwide suicide prevention hotline for gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning youth, will receive discounts on selected classes and instructions. See