Vital Signs

June 27, 2010




Free Expression

That unpronounceable volcano couldn’t stop them: It took some logistical gymnastics to bring artists from India, Pakistan, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. to NYC for a week last April, but the Engendered Dance Festival went on. The festival’s Tongues Untied showcase aimed to break open stereotypes about gender and sexuality in the South Asian diaspora. Pakistani drag queen Bijli set the tone for a diverse lineup that both respected and subverted tradition. Highlights included the resplendent goddesses of Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and the all-female University of British Columbia Bhangra team, who have opened doors for women in the historically male-dominated world of Bhangra.


Acting Out

In response to the question, What is dance theater?, the American Dance Festival showcases companies that thrive on mixed media and cross-genre artistic collaboration. Pilobolus (below) joins forces with Art Spiegelman, creator of the Maus books, to present a film noir–inspired world, while Martha Clarke collaborates with playwright Alfred Uhry in a performance inspired by the life of Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker sect. Also, to celebrate 10 years since Shen Wei Dance Arts was founded at ADF, Shen Wei performs a new solo. See


All Hail Vail

Pacific Northwest Ballet kicks off its third year in residency at the Vail International Dance Festival this month. While Balanchine ballets dominate the first performance on July 31, the second evening, “Broadway, Ballet & Beyond,” includes Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs and Wheeldon’s After the Rain. Among the stellar lineup for the gala-style International Evenings of Dance, look for PNB’s lovely Carla Körbes (at left, with Batkhurel Bold in Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement). See


First Position

Company C Contemporary Ballet dancer Robert Dekkers presents the inaugural season of his new company, Post:Ballet, at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Dekkers, a beautiful lyrical dancer who has also performed with ODC/Dance and Ballet Arizona, uses music that ranges from indie darling Grizzly Bear to Bach. The program, titled “Concert One,” includes works made for Phoenix-based Novaballet, where Dekkers was resident choreographer. July 16–17. See


L’amour de Trisha

The Trisha Brown Dance Company continues its 40th anniversary year at Bard College’s SummerScape festival with a mix of old and new.  The program includes Foray Forêt (with a far-off marching band), Twelve Ton Rose (with kinky dresses that hike up whenever an arm lifts), and the recent L’Amour au théâtre. Altogether the evening represents 20 years of choreographic wit, subtlety, and ingenuity. July 8–11. See


Barak Star

With a driving beat, intense gestural language, and a dose of slapstick humor, Barak Marshall is at the forefront of the new generation of Israeli choreographers. His full-length Monger will make its U.S. debut at Jacob’s Pillow July 7–11. These dancers are sharp and sassy and not shy about jutting out various body parts. With costumes that suggest immigrants or servants, Monger plays out scenes based on the work of Polish writer Bruno Schulz, Jean Genet’s The Maids, and Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park. Marshall splits his time between L.A. and Tel Aviv, where his company is based at the Suzanne Dellal Center. See


Britain’s B-Boyz

London’s cheeky Balletboyz are coming stateside with their newly created second-generation company and show, The Talent. The eight-member troupe (all young male dancers who were handpicked by Balletboyz founders Michael Nunn and William Trevitt) will appear at the YardArts! Festival (which celebrates its fifth anniversary this summer) in Chilmark, MA. Combining short, documentary-style films with powerful choreography by Freddie Opoku-Addaie, Paul Roberts, and Russell Maliphant, the show continues the Balletboyz’ work in mixing technique, flash, and fun. July 30–Aug. 1. See


The A.W.A.R.D. goes to…

At the Joyce Theater Foundation’s A.W.A.R.D. Show (Artists With Audiences Responding to Dance) competition for up-and-coming choreographers, the $10,000 cash prize is an incentive to participate, but not the bottom line (see “Dance Matters,” Sept. 2009). Through a series of “talkbacks,” the choreographers gain valuable feedback from their audience. This year the Joyce has once again partnered with other presenting organizations and there will be six A.W.A.R.D. shows across the country. From July 28–31, catch 12 of the Chicago area’s most promising artists and their companies at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. See



Photo of Nrityagram Dance Ensemble by Nan Melville, Courtesy Engendered Dance Festival.


Contributing Writers: Siobhan Burke, Wendy Perron, Kina Poon, Abbey Stone, Courtney Thompson