Vital Signs

December 15, 2011

Rosas in the Flesh

A battle of contemporary dance vs. mainstream music erupted in October when Beyoncé released her Countdown video, a masterful mashup of high-art and pop-cultural references ranging from Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face to Andy Warhol portraits. It didn’t take long for postmodern dance enthusiasts to realize that among those nuggets of “inspiration” was the legendary dance-for-camera Rosas danst Rosas, choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and directed by Thierry De Mey. Nor did the illustrious Belgian choreographer delay in (calmly) accusing Beyoncé of plagiarism and taking legal action. Somehow, though, even this juicy debate pales in comparison to the thought of seeing Rosas danst Rosas, with its thrilling precision and bristling tension, live in the theater. This month, De Keersmaeker’s Brussels-based company, Rosas, tours the stage version to Scènes Vosges in France, Jan. 12; De Werf in Belgium, Jan. 19; and deSingel in Belgium, Jan. 22.


Rosas danst Rosas (1983). Photo by ©Jean-Luc Tanghe, Courtesy Rosas.



Stamp of Approval

Looking for an excuse to send some snail mail? Four iconic figures dance their way onto our postage this year, when the United States Postal Service honors American dance heritage with an Innovative Choreographers series. Illustrated by James McMullan in a vintage poster style, each stamp evokes the essence of the artist it portrays: Isadora Duncan skips barefoot in her billowing tunic; José Limón poses powerfully, a pioneer male figure in modern dance; Katherine Dunham blends Caribbean dance and ballet in an image from her work L’Ag’Ya; and Bob Fosse tucks his cane under his arm and tips his hat nonchalantly, on the set of Sweet


Image by James McMullan, Courtesy USPS.



Fokine’s Fire & Fairies

The Kirov (Maryinsky) returns to the Kennedy Center with its exotic all-Fokine triple bill. The Firebird, Schéhérazade, and Chopiniana (Les Sylphides), all choreographed before Fokine left Russia, have been dubbed “Les Saisons Russes,” echoing Diaghilev’s name for the Ballets Russes performances in early 20th-century Paris. While Schéhérazade and The Firebird are ideal vehicles for the Kirov’s stars, the poetic, moonlit Les Sylphides illuminates the entire corps de ballet as forest sylphs who seem to float in unison. Jan. 17–22.


Ekaterina Kondaurova in
The Firebird. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy Kennedy Center.



A Through Line

When a line—drawn, painted, or just envisioned—leaps off the page, what can it become? The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, in celebration of its 75th birthday, poses this question in its exhibit “Dance/Draw.” The collection of about 100 works explores the intersection of dance and visual art in a range of mediums, from sketches to photography to live performance. Through Jan. 16, see Trisha Brown’s drawings (done with her feet), and ongoing performances of her all-tied-up Floor of the Forest, photos of William Forsythe’s depiction of his body’s movements as a series of lines, and videos of Jérôme Bel’s dancer portraits.


“Bill T. Jones Body Painting with Keith Haring” photograph (1983). Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi, ©Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., ©Estate of Keith Haring, Courtesy Estate of Tseng Kwong Chi and Paul Kasmin Gallery.



First Mermaids, Now Haughty Aristocrats

San Francisco Ballet has one of the best reps around—a mix of classical full-lengths, shorter contemporary works, and everything in between. After the success of Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid in 2010 and 2011, the company is adding to its treasure chest with another high-profile story ballet. It debuts Cranko’s Onegin this month at the War Memorial Opera House. Its famous sweeping pas de deux, which renowned Stuttgart répétiteur Jane Bourne set on the company, will be performed by four principal casts. Jan. 27–Feb. 3.


Yuan Yuan Tan and Ruben Martin rehearse Cranko’s
Onegin. Photo by ©Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.



Wheeldon’s World

Christopher Wheeldon’s 18th piece for New York City Ballet—where he was a dancer, then resident choreographer—has the special designation of being presented on an all-Wheeldon program. (Maybe the idea for an all-Wheeldon evening is catching: Pacific Northwest Ballet did it last fall.) On Jan. 28, NYCB debuts the new work with his beautifully spare Polyphonia and the company premiere of his magnificent, large-scale DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, made for The Royal Ballet. He will join Damian Woetzel in conversation at City Center’s Studio 5 series on Jan. 9. and


Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle in
Polyphonia. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.


A Brit in Miami

“In Liam Scarlett, the Royal [Ballet] may have found the real deal,” wrote Judith Mackrell in The Guardian last May. She called the 25-year-old choreographer’s Asphodel Meadows “a significant piece from someone twice his age” and praised the budding dancemaker’s musicality and thematic sense. From the Royal first artist, Miami City Ballet has commissioned Scarlett’s first piece for an American company. His high-energy Viscera is paired with works that set the bar high—Robbins’ romantic In the Night and Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial. Jan. 6–Feb. 5 in Miami, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale.


Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg in
In the Night. Photo by ©Lois Greenfield, Courtesy MCB.