Vital Signs

August 23, 2009

Ode to Lincoln

Following Serenade/The Proposition, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company premieres Fondly Do We Hope… Fervently Do We Pray, the second of three pieces that explore the legacy of Abraham Lincoln in his bicentennial year (“Dance Matters,” Feb.). Set to text from Lincoln’s speeches and writings and a re-imagining of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul Oratorio, the three-act piece was formerly titled A Good Man!/A Good Man?, hinting at the complexity of the president. In an interview, Jones remarked that, growing up, “He was the only white man I was allowed to love unconditionally.” With the same stately set design as Serenade/The Proposition, the new piece depicts an America that could have been if Lincoln had lived to complete the Reconstruction. See footage from a May run-through at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL, on Sept 17, 19–20. See


FEstively Philly

Artists from Poland, Austria, and Australia add an international edge to the 13th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. But more than half of the performers in the festival, which is produced in conjunction with the Philly Fringe, are local. Dancers in Merian Soto/Performance Practice’s Postcards from the Woods carry large branches against a backdrop of projected images of nature. And Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre presents the world premiere of Kill Me Now, a new cultural satire inspired by dance reality TV shows. Sept. 4–19. See


Falling for Diaghilev

Fall for Dance carts out some treasures of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes this year—still for only $10 a pop. Running from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3 at New York City Center, it includes Ballet West’s Les Biches (1924), Nijinska’s spoof of high society; Balanchine’s rarely seen La Chatte (1927) from Rome Opera Ballet; and Fokine’s gender-reversed fantasy Le Spectre de la Rose (1911), performed by The Australian Ballet. A masterpiece in its own time is Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s Noces (2002), Stijn Celis’ intense remake of Nijinska’s landmark work. Other gems include Diana Vishneva’s Dying Swan and Mark Dendy’s odd ode to Nijinsky, Afternoon of the Faunes (see “A Surge of Serge,” Aug.). And for pure Americana, the festival ends with Ailey’s Revelations. See



Dance Theater Workshop is using Twitter to make dances! In May, DTW asked its Twitter followers to “Tweet 1 physical movement (or lack of).” Then staff member/choreographer Jillian Sweeney mashed up the responses into a sequence filmed on the roof of DTW. It was the first of many Community Choreography Challenges, viewable on DTW’s blog. If you like non-sequiturs, you’ll love watching Jillian negotiate commands like “Cartwheel!” and “Twist your left ankle as if in excruciating pain.” Watch and join in the challenge at


a Night Out in Indianapolis

Indiana goes international with Indianapolis City Ballet’s An Evening with the Stars at the Murat Theatre. The gala marks the return of a resident ballet company to Indianapolis since the Circle City lost Ballet Internationale in 2005. Catch the terrific Matvienkos of the Mikhailovsky Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet principals Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly, who perform Christian Spuck’s hilarious Grand Pas de Deux and Itzik Galili’s Mono Lisa. Closer to home, David Hochoy, artistic director of Indianapolis-based modern company Dance Kaleidoscope, has tailored his Fascinatin’ Rhythm to the talents of New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. Sept. 12. See


Happy Anniversary SFDC!

For two decades, Alonzo King’s San Francisco Dance Center has been the go-to spot for students, teachers, choreographers, and performers in the Bay Area. Starting off in only one studio, the center eventually moved to a gorgeous six-studio space in 2002. Besides offering a plethora of classes from ballet to flamenco, SFDC is also home to Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the LINES Ballet School, the LINES Ballet/Dominican University of California BFA Program, and the dance division of San Francisco Unified District’s School of the Arts. To celebrate, the center is throwing a huge party on Sept. 12 with a DJ, plenty of food, and, of course, a whole lot of dancing. The proceeds will go toward studio upgrades to ensure many more anniversaries for years to come. See


Benois Goes to Italy

Last May, the Benois de la Danse shifted from Moscow to Vicenza, Italy. Past Benois heavyweights from companies like Paris Opéra Ballet, the Kirov, and The Royal Ballet gathered for a spectacular gala. Founder Yuri Grigorovich and 2000 Benois de la Danse winner Alessandra Ferri presented Carlos Acosta, 2008 Benois winner, with his award, which he was unable to receive the previous year. The 2009 best dancers are NYCB’s Joaquin De Luz and the Bolshoi’s Ivan Vasiliev, while The Australian Ballet’s Kirsty Martin and the Bolshoi’s Natalia Osipova were named best ballerinas. The top choreographic prizes went to Wayne McGregor and José Martinez.


Last Call for Ballets Russes-omania

The exhibit “Diaghilev’s Theater of Marvels: The Ballets Russes and Its Aftermath” is full of artifacts for the sensational collaborations Diaghilev pulled off 100 years ago. Curated by the global expert on the period, Lynn Garafola, it displays rare documents like Nijinsky’s actual diary and Diaghilev’s “black book” of ideas for repertory. Also included are those racy costume sketches by Bakst, early versions of some of Stravinsky’s scores, and many other clues to the “Astonish me” opulence of the Ballets Russes and the post-Diaghilev companies. At the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center until Sept. 12. See


Photo by Wei Dong Yang, Courtesy SFDC