Vital Signs

September 30, 2012

Dancing with Death

In 1932, between the two world wars, German dancemaker Kurt Jooss created his powerful The Green Table. The central figure of Death looms over the work. To mark the 80th anniversary of this seminal antiwar ballet, the Joffrey—the first American company to acquire it—performs The Green Table Oct. 17–28. The program, which includes Kudelka’s Pretty BALLET and Kylián’s Forgotten Land, also marks a new beginning: the first program in which the Chicago Philharmonic, in a new partnership with the Joffrey, will play live.

Michael Levine as Death in
The Green Table. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, Courtesy Joffrey.



Trash Talk

San Francisco’s ODC Theater takes trash beyond the recycling bin in presenting Morgan Thorson’s Spaceholder Festival. In the West Coast premiere of her latest evening-length work, Minneapolis-based Thorson says she draws from the “layers of her life.” The six dancers gradually expose these layers—from personally autobiographical to the socially behavioral—like an archeological dig. They pass pieces of foam, bark into a microphone like auctioneers, and navigate the stage with pedestrian movement, like moving artifacts. Oct. 5–7.

Spaceholder Festival. Photo by Al Hill, Courtesy ODC Theater.

Dance Strong in Sarasota

Shantala Shivalingappa, the shimmering Kuchipudi dancer also known for her work with Pina Bausch, brings Shiva Ganga, a classical Southern Indian solo, to Sarasota’s Ringling International Arts Festival this month. The festival, produced under the artistic direction of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, also hosts Mark Morris Dance Group. With the MMDG Music Ensemble, the company performs a mixed program that includes Morris’ rousing Grand Duo and a new piece, A Wooden Tree. RIAF will also screen three dance films: Carmen and Geoffrey, Park Avenue Armory Event: A Merce Cunningham Dance Co. Film, and Pontus Lidberg’s Labyrinth Within (see “When the Camera Is Your Partner,” April). Oct. 10–13.

Mark Morris Dance Group, with June Omura downstage, in
Grand Duo. Photo © Marc Royce, Courtesy RIAF.

Moving Up

A band of eight dancers wrestles and stamps through Vertical Road, Akram Khan’s fascinating work that comes to Los Angeles, Irvine, Davis, and Santa Barbara in southern CA; Portland, OR; Pittsburgh, PA; and NYC this month. The piece centers on one guru-like man, Salah El Brogy, whose impulses are ambiguously vengeful or forgiving.

Salah El Brogy, with Konstandina Efthymiadou, in Khan’s
Vertical Road. Photo by © Richard Haughton, Courtesy Khan Company.



From the Top (of the Court)

A place of security, designated for fervid expression: While for many of us, this describes the stage, choreographer Anna Myer wanted to bring another such space to light. This summer, on basketball courts at public housing settlements around Boston, Myer premiered Hoop Suite. In partnership with the North American Family Institute’s Youth Link program, Myer cast local hip-hop dancers, krumpers, poets, and rappers to perform with her company, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. On Oct. 12–14, the production comes to Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, presented by World Music/CRASHArts.

Milly Flowers and McKersin Previlus in
Hoop Suite. Photo by Kat Tatlock, Courtesy CRASHArts.



Using the site on a woman’s body most targeted for gender and racial stereotypes, the brazen Amy O’Neal creates a solo show around the female derrière. Don’t expect her to be polite—or modest. The title is The Most Innovative, Daring, and Original Piece of Dance/Performance You Will See this Decade. A dance artist who developed an intriguing hybrid of movement, O’Neal (see “Why I Choreograph,” July) plans to “deconstruct” her influences: “hip-hop culture, classicism, Big Boi, Cyndi Lauper, Ciara, Janet Jackson, Dub Step, and the economics of the body.” Velocity Founders Theater, Seattle, Oct. 12–14, 19–21.

O’Neal. Photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Courtesy O’Neal


Two Tales by the Mariinsky

On the Mariinsky (Kirov)’s U.S. tour this month, California gets Swan Lake and D.C. gets Cinderella. When Konstantin Sergeyev’s Swan Lake comes to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa Oct. 2–7 and Cal Performances in Berkeley Oct. 10–14, the star power may be overwhelming: Ekaterina Kondaurova, Uliana Lopatkina, Alina Somova, and Victoria Tereshkina are all scheduled to appear. (It’ll be hard to choose just one swan queen.) The company then travels to the Kennedy Center with Ratmansky’s Cinderella Oct. 16–21. In this version, Ratmansky reserves all the best dancing for Cinderella and her Prince, making the enchanting pas de deux even lovelier in contrast to the pedestrian, often deliberately awkward choreography for the rest of the cast.

Evgeny Ivanchenko and Ekaterina Kondaurova. Photo courtesy Mariinsky.



Contributing writers: Wendy Perron, Kina Poon, Cory Stieg