Archive for September, 2013

So You Think You Can Dance?

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Older dancers? Rock the world. See Huffington Post-syndicated column:

http://www.4dancers.org/2013/05/older-dancers/

At a MBYS concert (2012) in Bellingham

At a MBYS concert (2012) in Bellingham

But so do the younger dancers. For example…

I am a huge fan of SYTYCD, I admit it. I am a fan of dancers who, outside their training and comfort zone, can conform to whatever dance style is demanded of them — with both grace and conviction. And – the top ten dancers in this reality show (Season 10) certainly did that. Marketing aside (and that’s a big, big aside), I thoroughly enjoyed the new choreography each week – some of which was fresh, moving, inventive. I actually voted once (at the end of the season) – for the two dancers that “America” voted for as well. Fortunately in this case, America’s #1 favorite dancers happened to be the most versatile and talented, skill-wise as well (in my opinion). Practically teenagers, but with a maturity, intensity, and commitment that should push professional dance to be and have much the same.

Reality Dance, Theatrical Dance

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

I freely admit I have very wide-ranging tastes in dance. To me, spring and summer dance has been beguiling.

So You Think You Can Dance? I was hooked – from the auditions in Vegas to the theatrical finales. I’m still outraged about the elimination of Malice early on – not an America’s favorite, but arguably one of the most technical. In this competition, there were classically trained ballerinas and guys, performing anything that was thrown at them. I would love to see the same on my own turf – Seattle. And, by and large, I did this past season.

I’m starting with PNB. Memorable moments: Lindsi Dec’s gorgeous line and mighty control of it, Jerome Tisserand’s soft, soft landings in fifth, a frisky, high-jumping Elizabeth Murphy,  the humble, dynamic corps dancer Leta Biasucci, and fragile-looking but resilient principals – a bold Rachel Foster was spectacular. I have “fabulous” written in my notes for:  Brittany Reid (quick), Jonathan Porretta (demonic), Maria Chapman (strong), Bold (relaxed but deliberate), Carla Korbes (enchanting).

PNB dancers in rehearsal, available at http://www.pnb.org/AboutPNB/dancers.jpg

PNB dancers in rehearsal, available at http://www.pnb.org/AboutPNB/dancers.jpg

And, of course, there were great, great choreographers, too – Christopher Wheeldon for one. His Carousel was gorgeous. Jean Christophe Maillot ‘s Romeo And Juliet, for two.  Lucien Postlewaite and Noelani Pantastico – PNB alums that are now in Monaco – were crazy good. Much has changed since they danced the choreography for the first time in Seattle. Now, caught in Maillot’s coaching web, their accented moves, the feeling in their stretches, make them crazy good.

Olivier Wevers and Whim W’him

Sunday, September 15th, 2013
Olivier Wevers at https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQp3By-Q0ZSR5FdTtEauqQuIsxJ_26qgLcsNpu7SeQML7cotOle

Olivier Wevers at https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQp3By-Q0ZSR5FdTtEauqQuIsxJ_26qgLcsNpu7SeQML7cotOle

In May, Whim W’him presented new works by artistic director Olivier Wevers and PNB’s Andrew Bartee, the Seattle premiere of L’Effleure by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and a showing of Wevers’ Fragments, originally created for Spectrum Dance.

Bartee’s flair for choreography is easily seen in his This is Real. Set in a recording studio, the dance features frenzied movement, then snakelike phrases, then resolution among the three dancers: Mia Monteabaro, Tory Peil, and Sergey Kheylik. Likewise, Wever’s award-winning Fragments was a huge success – melodrama, parody, social critique, energetic, rhythmic (with the same highs and lows of the background arias themselves). It’s funny, it’s demanding — Lara Seefeldt and Jesse Sani  were striking.

Choreographer-dancer Bartee performed a luscious solo, Lopez Ochoa’s, L’Effleuré. Just standing in da Vinci’s anatomical pose, hands bloodied with red roses, was as powerful as his compact dancing – head bowed, body erect.

However, it’s in Wevers’ premiere of I Don’t Remember A Spark, that the dancers show their skill and credibility as an ensemble. Dancing to voice-overs on the choreographic process provided by Wevers himself, the group almost breathes the movement. Says Wevers: Choreography is a “discipline, a point of view, a language” and  “you want to embrace what [the dancers’] limitations are” to spark something in both creator and those dancing. Clear and smooth and articulate –the dancers bear witness to Wever’s prose – “creating is like breathing, it just happens.”

Li Chiao Ping in Vancouver

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Last month, Dance Critics Association/World Dance Alliance-America combined to offer conference meetings and performances at the beautiful Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver. I participated as a panel moderator, with PNB’s Doug Fullington, looking at what gets produced and presented, and why. What goes into decisions about company programming? Considerations that are perhaps not so obvious to us critics and viewers?

One of the highlights of the meetings was Li Chiao-Ping’s “Riot of Spring.” The piece embodied the WDA theme “Evolve + Involve,” while also celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Stravinsky’s idiosyncratic score.

In rehearsal in Vancouver

In rehearsal in Vancouver

I caught the group in rehearsal August 2. The movement was strong and focused, as the music demands. The narrative, striking. Predictably, Li’s work is a complicated study in rhythm, power, and grace. “Riot of Spring” is but one of many memorable pieces choreographed since she emerged as a Dance Magazine “25 to Watch” barely a decade ago.