Vital Signs

November 23, 2009



These Women’s Works

More than 40 performing artists from the Middle East perform at five cities in the Netherlands this month at Dancing on the Edge. The festival, which showcases the burgeoning contemporary dance scene in countries from Egypt to Iran, is marked by another distinction—over half of the performers are female, a remarkable feat considering the restrictions placed on women in some of these countries. Master classes and presentations round out the perfor­mances, whose subjects range from the personal to the political. Nov. 29–Dec. 13. See



Made in Monaco

Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet opens the Monaco Dance Forum Festival on Dec. 9 with a complete reinterpretation of Fokine’s Schéhérazade. The late Princess Grace of Monaco and now her daughter Princess Caroline had been instrumental in keeping the repertory and spirit of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes alive, well before this centennial year. Rimsky-Korsakov’s thrilling score was the composer’s loving tribute to the East, so it’s only fitting that Zakir Hussain, tabla master and frequent LINES collaborator, was handed the task of reinterpreting the music—including ancient Persian instruments, naturally. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and the Hamburg Ballet will also perform during the festival, which runs through July 2010. See



Bringing Helsinki Home

The Cambridge-based Caitlin Corbett Dance Company celebrates its 25th anniversary with an array of intriguing works. Highlights include the premiere of Duets Project, a series of 15 one-minute duets for (mostly) nondancers who responded to Corbett’s open invitation to perform in her work. Corbett made Little Known Facts with Finnish students during her Fulbright fellowship to Helsinki earlier this year. The postmodern choreographer brings her company to the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University Dec. 11–12. See



Getting Warmer

An image of the earth dissolving in an hourglass captured the attention of Central Park visitors last September—but this moving image was composed of a thousand bodies. Human Countdown, sponsored by Oxfam and other public interest groups, was timed to a United Nations General Assembly meeting at which climate change was discussed. Christopher Caines choreographed the so-called TckTckTck dancers, a crowd of over 1,000 volunteers that became 19 continents, oceans, and regions, each team outfitted with a dance captain. The performance will be repeated this month to coincide with the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. See



It’s About Time

Turning back time may be impossible, but BodyVox gets close with its program Chronos/Kairos, meaning “chronology/timeliness” in Greek. To represent the Portland-based company’s 12-year history, co-directors Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton have reviewed BodyVox’s 158 original dances and chosen pieces from every year. The program also includes a premiere by Roland and Hampton and a new short film, Advance, by the highly imaginative Mitchell Rose. The intimate performance space at the new BodyVox Dance Center provides the location for this trip down memory lane. Nov. 12–Dec. 5. See



Around the World in 80 Years

British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, known for his intensely emotional ballets, would have celebrated his 80th birthday this month. On Dec. 11, his birthday, the official Kenneth MacMillan website launches, but celebratory events have been happening since September. Earlier this year, Houston Ballet (where MacMillan was an artistic associate) revived Manon; Different Drummer, a new book by Jann Parry about MacMillan’s life, was published; and his widow, Deborah MacMillan, dedicated MacMillan Ballets Backstage, a showing of her oils and watercolors, to her late husband in London. American Ballet Theatre, where MacMillan was also an artistic associate, will bring his Romeo and Juliet to the Kennedy Center in January. The Royal Ballet, which opened its season with Mayerling, will honor its former artistic director and principal choreographer again in March and April by reviving three of his one-act ballets: the romantic Concerto, the playful Elite Syncopations, and his brutal final work, The Judas Tree.



To the Left, to the Left

Members of the West Coast dance scene join with spoken word visionary Marc Bamuthi Joseph in Left Coast Leaning, a three-day festival presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Joseph’s Youth Speaks. Amy Seiwert, a 2005 “25 to Watch,” premieres Static, which addresses the human reluctance to see past differences to commonalities. Seiwart’s pickup company Im’ij-re includes powerhouse Charlie Neshyba-Hodges (who starred in Tharp’s latest work Come Fly With Me). Other choreographers include Amara Tabor-Smith, formerly with Urban Bush Women, and Zoe Scofield, whose the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t explores peer pressure and group dynamics. See



Hand It to Hamburg

John Neumeier celebrates 40 years at the helm of two major companies: Frankfurt Ballet (1969–1973) and Hamburg Ballet, his present company. On Dec. 6–10, Hamburg Ballet premieres his , with La Scala and ABT heartthrob Roberto Bolle in the title role. Among his many achievements (including more than 30 works created for companies around the world), the Hamburg Ballet school, which he founded, turns 20. Neumeier’s collection of memorabilia from Ballets Russes star Vaslav Nijinsky is unparalleled, so it’s fitting that his anniversary coincides with that of the groundbreaking company. See



Contributing Writers: Kina Poon, Rachel Zar


Pictured: Karima Mansour in
Nomadness. Photo by Severine Charrier, Courtesy Dancing on the Edge.