Vital Signs

March 21, 2012

Moving Across America

Dancers put blood, sweat, and tears into their work every day. Why not join together to show the greater public your passion? The 2012 National Dance Week, which aims to raise the profile of dance all over the country, kicks off April 20. This year, NDW is coordinating a national flash mob, slated for April 21. Visit to learn the routine from choreographer Geo Hubela of Icon Dance Complex in New Jersey. And check with your local chapter for free classes and events through April 29—like aerial dance lessons with Project Bandaloop at their Oakland studios for Bay Area Dance Week and the annual kickline in St. Louis.


Come fly with Project Bandaloop at Bay Area National Dance Week. Photo by Todd Laby, Courtesy Bandaloop.



Fame by Gaga

Since 2004, LeeSaar The Company, directed by Israeli-born Lee Sher and Saar Harari, has created daring, evocative choreography in NYC. Fame, a new piece premiering at Peak Performances at Montclair State University March 29–April 1, delves into the concept of celebrity. Dancing to pop music, six performers use masks and props to explore the vulnerability of the “superstar.” Trained in Ohad Naharin’s Gaga technique, the performers articulate each motion—a deep plié or the batting of an eyelash—with stunning commitment. They are unpredictable, melodramatic, and at times verging on the grotesque. Fame then travels to Austin’s Fusebox Festival, which runs April 25–May 6.


Candice Schnurr in
Fame. Photo by Mark Garvin, Courtesy LeeSaar.



A Big Bluegrass State Birthday

Louisville Ballet celebrates six decades of bringing dance to Kentucky this year. Bruce Simpson, whose tenure at the helm of the company reaches 10 years, has planned an eclectic gala program that shows off the company’s strengths. The dancers perform Balanchine’s glorious Theme and Variations and Val Caniparoli’s joyful Lambarena. Simpson has commissioned Adam Hougland, the company’s principal choreographer, to debut a new work. The dancers will also perform Sansei (2009), choreographed by ballet mistress Mikelle Bruzina. April 13–14.


Christy Corbitt Miller and Robert Dunbar in Val Caniparoli’s
Lambarena. Photo by Dave Howard, Courtesy LB.



Fresh Festival

Every year, international dance companies flood into Houston for the global mix that is the Dance Salad Festival. The menu includes contemporary ballet fare from Dresden Semperoper Ballett, the Stuttgart Ballet, and Royal Swedish Ballet. Gabrielle Lamb performs a solo from Warriors by Pontus Lidberg (see “Choreography for the Camera,”), while the rhythmns of Brazil’s Quasar Companhia de Dança add a kick. But all eyes will be on English National Ballet’s Yonah Acosta (2012 “25 to Watch”), performing Petit’s fatalistic Le Jeune Homme et la Mort with Jia Zhang.

April 5–7.


Quasar Companhia de Dança in Henrique Rodovalho’s
So Close. Photo by Lu Barcelos, Courtesy Dance Salad.



One with Nature

Rain or shine, come to experience the minimalist beauty of Merián Soto’s Branch Dances. With a performance given in the same site each season of the year, the cycles are designed for audiences to drink in their surroundings—and see how the elements shape the meditative improvisation of the performers. Soto, who has used branch work in her site-specific and stage performances since 2005, has two ongoing series at Wave Hill in Bronx, NY, and at Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley Park (where this year’s winter performance, on Jan. 15, clocked in at 23 degrees). See for spring dates.


The performers braved a snowstorm at Wave Hill last October. Photo by Maria Sassetti, Courtesy Soto.



Competitive Spirit

The Youth America Grand Prix finals and gala evenings are moving over to the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center this year. Out of the 60 dancers who will advance to the final round on April 26 (from 5,000 who compete internationally and 300 invited to NYC), a lucky few will be chosen as “Stars of Tomorrow.” They will share the program at the following night’s gala with international superstars like Herman Cornejo, Yuan Yuan Tan, Tamara Rojo, and Sergei Polunin (who won the Grand Prix in 2006). Those luminaries will return with other principals from companies like the Kirov (Maryinsky), the Stuttgart, and New York City Ballet for the “Legends in Dance” evening on April 28, honoring Natalia Makarova. In addition to performances of the roles she made legendary, which she will introduce, audiences will be treated to archival footage of Natalia herself.


Makarova in
La Sylphide with ABT (1971). Photo by Dina Makaroff.



Passport to Dance

What better way than through the universal language of dance to provide cultural exchange? The second season of DanceMotion USA has expanded to four companies who will travel to 15 countries as goodwill ambassadors. The Brooklyn Academy of Music, in partnership with the State Department, produces the monthlong tours, which send Rennie Harris Puremovement’s hip hop to the countries surrounding the Gaza Strip, Seán Curran’s blend of modern and Irish dance to Central Asia, Los Angeles’ Jazz Tap Ensemble’s musical theater bent to southeast and central Africa, and Trey McIntyre Project’s spirited contemporary style to China and southeast Asia. The tours, which are staggered, kick off March 9 to May 5.


Hannibal of Rennie Harris Puremovement. Photo by Brian Mengini, Courtesy Dancemotion USA.



Contributing writers: Stacey Menchel Kussell, Kina Poon