Vital Signs

April 26, 2010

Modern Meets Ballet in SLC

In a rare example of genres crossing, Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute has invited his local counterpart in modern dance, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company artistic director Charlotte Boye Christensen, to make a piece on his company. The commission shares the Innovations program with premieres by 2007 “25 to Watch” choreographer Helen Pickett and by Sklute himself. Original works by Ballet West dancers Michael Bearden, Aidan DeYoung, and Megan Furse round out the program. May 21–22 and 26–29 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City. See 


Cedar Lake by the Sea

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s blend of technical virtuosity, athleticism, and emotional honesty makes each stage it graces pulse with energy. Led by Benoit-Swan Pouffer, Cedar Lake gives opportunity to some of the most intriguing choreographers on the international scene to make work on the company’s exquisite dancers. After performances in Jackson, WY, on May 1 and in Portland, OR, on May 5, Cedar Lake travels to L.A. for the first time. One night at UCLA’s Royce Hall features Orbo Novo by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (see “Dance Matters,” July 2009). The other night includes new works by Crystal Pite, Jo Strømgren, and Didy Veldman. May 7–8. See


Tears of Joy

Never have laughing and crying been so wonderfully confused or confusing. The dancers of Taiwanese choreographer Shu-Yi Chou delighted the audience at Sadler’s Wells in January with their zany hysterics in [1875] Ravel and Bolero. The piece won the theater’s Global Dance Contest and was presented as part of the Sampled dance showcase. Like a junior version of Pina Bausch’s brazen elegance, the dancers kicked up bright green flakes at every scamper. They went way beyond cute or charming to somehow attain pure freedom of spirit.


Two Truths and a Lie

Provocative for two decades, John Jasperse Company sweeps into Minneapolis with an evening-length piece that promises to address big issues. The NYC-based troupe brings three performances of Jasperse’s most recent work, Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat-Out Lies, to the Walker Art Center this month (Walker co-commissioned the piece with four other presenters and The Forsythe Company co-produced it). In Truth six performers, including Jasperse, confront reality and illusion, as well as where, how, and why the two intersect. With a string quartet performing Hahn Rowe’s score live, the work layers different sounds and styles of movement amidst a visual backdrop designed by Jasperse. May 20–22. See


Spring Forward

This year in St. Louis, Memorial Day weekend explodes with dance. Presenting “The Best of the Midwest and Beyond,” Dance St. Louis’ third annual Spring to Dance Festival brings 30 companies to the Touhill Performing Arts Center for three nights of wide-ranging performances. In a single evening, audiences may be able to experience the surreal power of Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre; the Kate Weare Company’s sensual, raw exploration of the human body; and the classical elegance of Houston Ballet. Best of all, the $10 ticket price means that you can catch every show without breaking the bank. May 27–29. See


All Abloom

MOMIX’s dancer-illusionists set out to stretch more audiences’ minds (along with their own bodies) as they travel to Boston and Philadelphia this month. Botanica, artistic director Moses Pendleton’s newest creation, explores the odd, eerie, and surprising realities of our ever-changing physical world. The dancers’ bodies undulate to mimic the ocean’s rolling waves and intertwine to weave an intricate fabric of human flower petals. Designer Michael Curry’s larger-than-life props and puppets complete Pendleton’s unearthly vision. Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, May 7–9. Presented by Dance Affiliates at Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, May 20–22. See


Mind, Body, Spirit

Ragamala Dance infuses bharata natyam, one of India’s oldest forms of classical dance, with a spark of ingenuity thanks to artistic directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy (one of this year’s “25 to Watch”). In Ihrah (Water), Ragamala charges the traditional shapes of bharata natyam with contemporary flair. This evening-length work is accompanied by a live southern Indian orchestra, performing a commissioned score by Marc Anderson. May 20–23 at Southern Theater in Minneapolis. See


Tap It Out

From Derick K. Grant and Aaron Tolson (the creators of Imagine Tap!) comes the Tap2You competition, which makes its debut this month in Lowell, MA. With a focus on rhythm and musicality over speed and flashy steps, the May 8–9 weekend includes classes for both students and teachers, plus a showcase from the talented faculty including Grant, Tolson, Jason Janas, and Michelle Dorrance. Schools can also request a faculty member for their own Tap2You weekend of workshops. See



Contributing Writers: Rebecca Ain, Wendy Perron, Kina Poon, Abbey Stone, Courtney Thompson


Photo of Cedar Lake in
Orbo Novo by Julieta Cervantes