Vital Signs

October 31, 2012

Hofesh Shechter’s
Political Mother. Photo by Gabriele Zucca, Courtesy Hofesh Shechter Company.

Politically Hofesh

When it had its London premiere two years ago, our reviewer was astounded by Hofesh Shechter’s unpredictable, near-chaotic piece for 10 dancers, Political Mother. Describing the work by this Israeli-born choreographer, Barbara Newman cited the shadowy figures, animal instincts, and “frenzy of desperation” as intriguing, possibly upsetting elements. In the end, she wrote, “You can hardly imagine the stunning power…so imagine the imagination that created it and the extraordinary pleasure of watching it develop before your astonished eyes.” After appearing at Brooklyn Academy of Music earlier in October, Political Mother travels to Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Minneapolis.



Looking Outside Chi-Town

While River North Dance Chicago has been a presence in the Windy City for over 20 years, its fall season looks to choreographers outside the local scene. The 13-member company performs new works by Adam Barruch (Brooklyn) and Nejla Yatkin (NYC/DC), both of whom run their own companies, and the tour-de-force Three, by Ailey’s leader Robert Battle (NYC). Nov. 16–17 at the Harris Theater.


Michael Gross in Robert Battle’s
Three. Photo by Erika Dufour, Courtesy RNDC.



Classics with a Kick

Inspired by the viral YouTube video of 2012 “25 to Watch” Lil Buck jookin’ to Yo-Yo Ma, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents a mini-festival dubbed Clas/sick Hip-Hop. Breakout duo Les Twins, hip-hop pioneer Rennie Harris, b-girl Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, and newcomers Ladia Yates and Levi “I Dummy” Allen join forces. The group teams up with Daniel Bernard Roumain, the violin virtuoso known for his collaborations with Bill T. Jones and Lady Gaga, for a mash-up of music and movement. Nov. 30–Dec. 1.


Rennie Harris. Photo by Steve Vaccariello.




Gus Solomons (third from left), Carolyn Brown, Duchamp, Cunningham, composer David Behrman, and Sandra Neels at the premiere of
Walkaround Time. Photo © Oscar Bailey, Courtesy Merce Cunningham Trust.


Cunningham Collective

It was a historic moment when the radical modernist artist Marcel Duchamp worked with Merce Cunningham in 1968 to create Walkaround Time. Duchamp’s shattered-glass painting, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), was adapted as a set by Jasper Johns. Duchamp has said that he was never so nervous as when taking a bow with Cunningham and the dancers. (In this photo, he is taking that bow between Cunningham and Carolyn Brown.) Now you can see elements of their collaboration, as well as other Cunningham pieces with his regular collaborators John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s exhibit “Dancing around the Bride.” Oct. 30–Jan. 21.



Different Strokes

“My first painting sold for $3,500,” tweeted Maria Kochetkova, aka @balletrusse, on July 28. “Should I quit my day job?” With Ballet San Jose’s Alexsandra Meijer and Ricardo Zayas and Courtney Henry of LINES Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet star “painted” by performing barre exercises with paint on her ballet slippers. (Don’t even think about quitting your day job, Masha!) The resulting artwork, signed, was auctioned off to benefit SF’s Museum of Performance & Design. Former SFB principal Muriel Maffre curated the event, “Body In-Sight: Action Drawings from the Dance Studio.”


Kochetkova, mid-masterpiece. Photo by Sandy Lee.



Kiyon Gaines, with Leah O’Connor, rehearsing
Sum Stravinsky. Photo © Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.


Premieres at PNB

To help celebrate its 40th-anniversary season, PNB brings a four-pack of premieres to Seattle’s McCaw Hall. Corps dancers Margaret Mullin and Andrew Bartee make their first steps for the mainstage and Mark Morris debuts his first commissioned work for PNB. Company soloist Kiyon Gaines describes sharing a program with Morris’ premiere as “amazing, scary, and humbling.” His own Sum Stravinsky includes the following ingredients: “the dancer’s mastery of the classical vernacular and a dash of spice, to make something fulfilling for the dancers to dance and exhilarating for the audience to watch.” Nov. 2–11.



Elena Lobsanova, 2009 Erik Bruhn Prize winner. Photo by Sian Richards, Courtesy NBC.


Bruhn Prize, a Beacon

Because the International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize entrants are selected by their artistic directors from companies like the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, and National Ballet of Canada, the evening always promises to be a peek at the next generation of ballet stars—with the much coveted stamp of approval from their own artistic staff. The winners of the 2012 competition on Nov. 28, which happens to be the 10th in the award’s history, will join the ranks of The Royal’s Johan Kobborg, NBC’s Elena Lobsanova, and ABT’s Joseph Gorak.



Contributing writers: Wendy Perron, Kina Poon, Cory Stieg