Vital Signs

February 28, 2012

A Homecoming (of Sorts) for Vilaro

Ballet Hispanico sets out on a nine-city tour, with an ambitious rep of old and new. After performances in Reading, PA; St. Louis, MO; Boston, MA; Harrisburg, PA; and Augusta, GA, the company touches down at Columbia College in Chicago. BH director Eduardo Vilaro definitely knows his way around the Windy City, having founded Luna Negra Dance Theater there in 1999 (Columbia College is also his alma mater). In Chicago, Ronald K. Brown’s Espiritu Vivo will make its world premiere. Brown has chosen the soulful songs of Peruvian singer Susana Baca for his exploration of African and Latino diasporas in the Caribbean and Latin America. Also on the program are Asuka, Vilaro’s first work for BH since he became director in 2009, and Andrea Miller’s gripping Naci. The company continues on to Birmingham, AL, and Amherst, MA, before its home season at the Joyce Theater next month.


Ballet Hispanico in Talley Beatty’s
Tres Cantos. Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy BH.



History Told in Tutus

In addition to performing great ballets, the National Ballet of Canada has mounted an ongoing celebration of its 60th anniversary in the form of The Tutu Project. To build a collection of 60 tutus, a gorgeous timeline of the company’s past, present, and future, NBC dug into its archives for some stunning designs—from the timeless Romantic tutu of Les Sylphides (NBC company premiere dates to 1951) to the sexy, modern tutu from Kudelka’s Firebird (2000), designed by Santo Loquasto. Joining the costumes are community-created designs, which NBC has timed to celebrations like Pride Toronto and Canada Day. The collection is on display throughout the season, and will move to the Design Exchange for the summer. NBC’s diamond-year season continues this month with Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty, and Neumeier’s The


Tutus made at Family Day Fest in Downsview Park and Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi, Courtesy NBC.



Tynek Travels Cross-Country

For its fourth installment, Hope Mohr Dance’s Bridge Project has chosen to bring Czech-born, NYC-based choreographer Dusan Tynek to the Bay Area for a shared program this month. Praised for his intelligent and inventive dancemaking, Tynek makes his West Coast debut. The formal rhythms of Base Pairs, set to a Cynthia Polutanovich text read by Lucinda Childs (both Tynek and Mohr danced for her), and cool restraint of Transparent Walls join a premiere by Mohr. and


Hope Mohr Dance’s Cameron Growden and Derek Harris. Photo by Margo Moritz, Courtesy HMD.



Preljocaj Takes a Bite

Blanche Neige
, Angelin Preljocaj’s probing of the more sinister elements of the Grimm fairytale Snow White, embarks on a two-month U.S. tour. His simple, unembellished movement for his Aix-en-Provence–based company Ballet Preljocaj stands in contrast to the ballet’s outrageous costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier (is Snow White wearing a Grecian tunic, a diaper, or both?) Preljocaj, whose theatrical works are in the reps of the Paris Opéra Ballet, La Scala, and the Bolshoi—as well as New York City Ballet and Cedar Lake—has dreamed up a maniacal, sadomasochistic stepmother and dwarves who perform aerial dance, as well as sensual pas de deux for Snow White and her Prince. Blanche Neige comes to Davis, CA, March 17–18; Los Angeles, CA, March 23–25; and Washington, DC, March 30–April 1; continuing on to Chapel Hill, NC, Minneapolis, MN, and Ann Arbor, MI.

Virginie Caussin and Emma Gustafsson in
Blanche Neige. Photo by Jean-Claude Carbonne, Courtesy Preljocaj.



Tulsa’s Ballets Russes Roots

Tulsa Ballet’s current director Marcello Angelini pays tribute to the company’s roots in “A Ballets Russes Evening.” Moscelyne Larkin and the late Roman Jasinski danced with several of the Ballets Russes companies before settling in Tulsa, OK, where they founded TB in 1956 (Dance Magazine honored them with a DM Award in 1988). The company dancers perform two works made for the Ballets Russes—Balanchine’s Apollo (a TB premiere) and Fokine’s Le Spectre de la Rose—in addition to 2011 “25 to Watch” Adam Hougland’s take on The Rite of Spring. March 30–April 1.


Roman Jasinski and Tania Stepanova in
Afternoon of a Faun (1944). Photo from DM Archives.



The Changing LAB

When Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen founded the Los Angeles Ballet in 2006, their Balanchine DNA was reflected in the rep. In 2010, LAB adapted to L.A.’s most active dance hub—the commercial scene—commissioning So You Think You Can Dance choreographers like Travis Wall and Sonya Tayeh (who is making another work for LAB in May). Last year, the company produced its first full-length ballet, Giselle, and continues this trajectory with Swan Lake, which premieres March 3. This version, by Neary and Christensen after Petipa and Ivanov, shows both confidence in the company’s dancers (a good sign, considering the bad local press highlighting high turnover at the start of the season) and a move to make the company a bigger player on the national scene. March 3–31.


LAB’s Allynne Noelle. Photo by Reed Hutchinson & Catherine Kanner, Courtesy LAB.



Streetcar in Steel City

As far as stories ripe for dramatic plucking go, it’s hard to beat Tennessee Williams’ seminal play A Streetcar Named Desire. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre gives John Neumeier’s version its U.S. premiere March 9–11. Made for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1983, with Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun in the leads, Neumeier’s Streetcar uses his love of flashback to full effect. He makes Blanche DuBois’ backstory more explicit and dramatizes the darker aspects of the story, including suicide, physical abuse, and rape.


Eva Trapp and Robert Moore. Photo by Duane Rieder, Courtesy PBT.