Vital Signs

June 30, 2012

Location, Location, Location

ODC Theater brings adventure and irreverence to “regional touring” with the first-ever Walking Distance Dance Festival. A three-day, Fringe-esque event, the festival will utilize three performance spaces within ODC’s two buildings. Modeled on its 2010 InnerState Project in Willits, CA (in which three performance venues were within walking distance of each other), the festival will overlap with Dance/USA’s annual conference, this year held in San Francisco (see “Dance Matters”). There will be 16 performances from 12 artists, including LEVYdance, Shinichi Iova-Koga’s inkBoat, and ODC’s artist-in-residence, RAWdance. ODC/Dance will perform, too: Founder Brenda Way’s slyly humorous Waving Not Drowning (A Guide to Elegance) draws largely from a 1963 French manual on female decorum. No need for you to worry about decorum, though—all you’ll need is a good pair of walking shoes. June 29–July 1.

Scott Marlowe, Mélodie Casta, and Benjamin Levy of LEVYdance in
Romp. Photo by RAPT Productions/Kitfox Valentin, Courtesy WDDF.

Twenty Years of Hope

When Pennsylvania Ballet lost a member of its company to AIDS 20 years ago, its dancers banded together to do what they did best—dance. They channeled their grief into a performance benefiting MANNA, an organization that delivers meals to those with HIV/AIDS, and raised $1,200. Two decades later, PAB’s annual Shut Up and Dance was able to raise nearly $150,000 for MANNA. Last March, PAB soloist Ian Hussey directed the moving evening. More than 20 dancers contributed their talents, from dancer-choreographed works to the signature piece of the night, the Dying Swan solo performed by principal dancer Arantxa Ochoa.

PAB dancers Arantxa Ochoa and Ian Hussey. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy PAB.

The Feeling Is Mutual

A synergy has developed between San Francisco Ballet and Hamburg Ballet, since SFB’s U.S. premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid in 2010. On June 22, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, and Davit Karapetyan guest star in Mermaid alongside the Hamburg company dancers in Germany. (They are reprising their roles in the PBS documentary on Mermaid—see “Plugged In,” Dec.—now available on DVD.) After two mixed-bill performances by the full company, several SFB members will dance in the Nijinsky Gala XXXVIII on July 1, part of the annual Hamburger Ballett-Tage festival. Next year, Hamburg comes to the City by the Bay, with Neumeier’s opus Nijinsky.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Yuri Possokhov’s
RAkU, to be performed in Hamburg. Photo by © Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Thrilling at Thirty

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the 2012 Bates Dance Festival highlights the work of four choreographers whose creative development has been nurtured by BDF. Rennie Harris’ Puremovement, a Bates artist-in-residence first in 1996, will offer a “greatest hits” program, including the hip-hop “opera” Rome & Jewels, which was first developed at the festival. Kyle Abraham, a 2009 Emerging Choreographers participant at BDF (and a Dance Magazine “25 to Watch” the same year), explores the give-and-take between identity and personal history in Live! The Realest MC. Three years after its Bates debut, Kate Weare Company returns with Garden, a striking work for two couples. And Larry Keigwin—who has gone from student to performer to faculty member to choreographer—rounds things out with a Keigwin + Company smorgasboard of dance. July 13–Aug. 4.

Leslie Kraus (front) and Bergen Wheeler in Kate Weare’s
Garden. Photo by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang, Courtesy Bates.

Shuffle Off to San Antonio

The Third Coast Rhythm Project Summer Festival, now in its 15th year of putting tap front and center in San Antonio, TX, offers four packed days of classes and jam sessions with some of the best in the biz. The faculty, who include Lane Alexander, Dianne Walker, Max Pollack, and Acia Gray, will then lead their students in a performance on July 21. “Jazzed on Tap” will be accompanied live by the Mark Rubinstein Jazz Trio and percussionist (and TCRP drumming teacher) Jai Roots.

2011 TCRP faculty member Derick K. Grant. Photo by Joanne Chan, Courtesy Grant.

Young Guns

More and more dancers are stepping into leadership positions at companies around the world, and Italy’s Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds is right on trend. In its 55th year, Spoleto spotlights the companies of three relatively new directors who were major dancers in their own right. Curated by Alessandra Ferri, the dance portion of the festival includes Vienna State Opera Ballet—run by Manuel Legris, the former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile who became director in 2010—in Patrick de Bana’s Marie Antoinette. Aaron S. Watkin, in his sixth year of directing Dresden Semperoper Ballett, will bring Faun by Dresden dancer Jirí Bubenícek and a suite of pas de deux by Forsythe (whom Watkin danced for at Frankfurt Ballet and later assisted). Finally, Peter Boal presents the all-Tharp program of Pacific Northwest Ballet (where he’s been director since retiring from NYCB in 2005). June 29–July 15.

Jirí Bubenícek in Forsythe’s
Enemy in the Figure. Photo by © Costin Radu, Courtesy Dresden Semperoper.

Barton Breaks for Banff

Aszure Barton puts the young talent of the Banff Professional Dance program to work this month. The choreographer, who creates dark, edgy work that is both lusciously full-bodied and rich in small-scale, oddball detail, has been commissioned to create a new piece as the recipient of the 2012 Koerner Award. The dancers, who were selected by invitation from Canadian companies including the National Ballet and Royal Winnipeg, as well as from Aszure Barton & Artists and Boston Ballet, will perform the piece July 18–21, during the Banff Summer Arts festival. Also on the program are Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco and Wheeldon’s Souvenirs.

Racheal Prince of Ballet BC in
Face to Face, by 2010 Koerner Award recipient Kevin O’Day. Photo by Don Lee, Courtesy The Banff Centre.

Contributing writers: Kina Poon, Rachel Rizzuto