Performing Arts: Dance
May 23, 2023
By age ten, Clive Barnes knew he would be a life-long lover of theater and dance. After consuming mountains of performances, Barnes became dance and theater critic royalty. A fan of upcoming artists, the Clive Barnes Awards were established to honor and provide a bit of financial support ($500) to artists scaling new heights. This year's 13th anniversary celebration took place at Florence Gould Hall guided by the charming theater writer Patrick Pacheco.

Dance finalists featured: Victor Abreau/NYC Ballet; Chrisian Burse/Complexions Contemporary Ballet; Devon Louis/Paul Taylor Dance Company; Andrew Robare/American Ballet Theatre. Theater finalists included: Orna Courtney/ & Juliet; Kennedy Kanagawa/Into The Woods; Solea Pfeiffer/Almost Famous.

Choreographer Pam Tanowitz presented the award to a delighted Victor Abreau who thanked Diana Byer for her tireless belief in him. Tanowitz closed her remarks by sharing advice delivered by her mentor Viola Farber who prodded Tanowitz to follow her own path rather than try to please other people.

Actor Alex Sharp, renowned for his starring role in the Broadway show "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" offered the award to Lorna Courtney for her performance as the wildly talented "Juliet" in the Broadway musical "& Juliet." Overjoyed, she enthused "I get to do what I love every night of the week."
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 30, 2023
The Martha Graham Dance Company, celebrated its 97th year at the Joyce Theater with classic and newly commissioned works, showing off its devotion to Graham’s technique as well as its adaptability to new choreographers.

In Embattled Garden, (1958), the original Garden of Eden is portrayed by Noguchi’s colorful sculptured tree and spiked forest, as four characters: the Stranger, Lilith, Adam, and Eve, flirt, seduce, flail, tempt, and thrust in solos, duets and quartets, executing Graham’s distinctive technique with clarity and strength.

Xin Ying (Eve) cantilevers backwards, suspended from Lloyd Knight’s (Adam) grounded position. Dramatic music by Carlos Surinach and lighting by Jean Rosenthal, adapted by Beverly Emmons, showcase the extremes of passion as Leslie Andrea Williams (Lilith) jumps and leaps onto Lorenzo Pagano’s (Stranger) shoulders in one count.

Graham ends the piece quietly, as it began, with the characters back in their original places, seeming to say that all that we have witnessed: passions, betrayal, loss of innocence, and gradual self awareness and resolution, are all a part of the normal human psyche and experience.

Baye and Asa, two contemporary choreographers with a hip-hop and African dance base created a new work inspired by Graham’s Cortege of Eagles, which was about the carnage of the Trojan War. This new work opens onto a dark stage with six dancers on their knees in single file covered by a dark sheet, signifying the grave. They are dead. In the original story, Charon, the ferryman of Hades, escorts souls across the river from life to death. This modernized Charon, removes the cloth, dancers rise from the dead, to remember the grief, loss, separation, aggression, and agony of war.

In white pants and tops by costumer Caleb Krieg, these “souls,” joined in their humanity, travel in and out of the darkness to light, (lighting by Yi-Chung Chen), racing through time (expressed at one point by a ticking clock in the dramatic score by Ai)den Elias).

The dance culminates with the modern Charon covering them up again in the grave, completing their exorcism, laying them to rest.

Canticle for Innocent Comedians, consists of eight vignettes, all created by different choreographers, led by Sonya Tayeh who crafted the beginning and ending. Graham’s original joyful work, was exemplified in these nine dances depicting nature in the abstract: Sun, Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Moon, Stars, Death/Rebirth. Costumed in flowing one piece skirts (Karen Young, costumer), and showcased with stunning lighting by Yi-Chung Chen, the company seamlessly transitions from one dance to another making the entire work a profound song of praise.

Canticle shows the beauty of collaboration at its best: the dancers and the designers all working together to create parts that add up to a greater whole. Graham would be proud!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Mary Seidman

April 18, 2023
Jacques d'Amboise was most definitely a "force of nature." A popular Principal Dancer with  NYC Ballet, in 1976 he turned his radar to the young people of the city who lacked access to the one thing he loved over and beyond anything else--dance. 

By the time he retired from NYC Ballet, the National Dance Institute was on its way to becoming a major supplier of dance rituals and exhilaration. Originating in NYC, it soon spread throughout the nation and beyond to China and now Lebanon.

I remember sitting next to d'Amboise at Skirball --it was not unusual to spot Jacques at dance and theater performances-- and hearing about China's invitation to visit and discuss the establishment of an NDI program.

Those early roots have since flourished as evidenced at the Gala April 17 at the Ziegfield Theater.  OF course there was the usual dinner, chat, silent auction items and awards, but more unusual for city galas was the nonstop performances by NDI students.

Young people powered the stage in dances to live music, ranging from modern dance to musical theater dance, hip hop, belly dance, and freestyle.

One word described all the children --joy. Yes, sheer joy filled those hopeful bodies and the gala audience responded in-kind. Stars of Broadway, Charlotte d'Amboise and Terrence Mann introduced the show-stopping Ariana DeBose who gave a heartfelt speech about finding her way through dance with the help of her mentor Charlotte.

Carmen and Ray Debbane were honored as well. Generally disinclined towards galas, Carmen changed her mind after attending her first NDI Gala. Not only that, she, along with her husband, drew dancers from Lebanon into NDI programs. Clearly, Carmen saw dance as the language of empowerment.

That sense of reaching out to help one another dominated the evening, and when the live auction came around, auctioneer Harry Santa-Olalla, was another amazing performance. By running through the room, flirting and cajoling everyone in sight, he secured over $200,000. There were donations to "adopt" or "support" an NDI school or donations for a single class or just plain give to see more children dance.

Another seminal member of NDI, Kay Gayner, Artistic Director, spoke of the sense of accomplishment felt by the students and a state of satisfaction filling all the NDI teachers. In fact, the current Executive Director, Jermaine Jones was once an NDI student as was my seat mate Trudy Chan who proved a delightful, successful young woman who sits on the NDI board. 

Most importantly, the room was filled not just with funders, but with dance professionals, teachers and choreographers. That mix made for a dynamic evening and of course, a program worth supporting.
EYE ON ThE ARTS, NY --- Celia Ipiotis

April 2, 2023
Whenever the National Ballet of Canada visits, audiences can be assured of seeing beautifully trained dancers. And their return to City Center this season proved the company retains a vigorous company under the artistic direction of Hope Muir.

The congenial evening offered three eclectic works led by Anima Animus a clear lined, cool ballet by David Dawson that exposed the company's sharp technical capabilities. Moving in geometric formations, the dancers' curved arms and hands clasped overhead compounded the technical difficulty required by dancers executing multiple turns and "held" extensions.

Pointe slides in straight lines and circles suggestive of ice dancing added deep breaths to the insistent choreography. Frequently partnered by two men, the women become amazing airborne objects twisting and flipping as they're tossed from one man to another in pendulum-like swings.

Two outstanding tall blond haired dancers, Calley Skalnik and Genevieve Penn Nabit, pierce the groups with scissor-like legs soaring and snapping closed punctuated by multiple turns that change facings and shapes.

The title Anima Animus suggests the Jungian theory of the unconscious male in females and females in males however, outside of the costumes by Yumiko Takeshima that invert the tan plus black and white leotard and tights for men and bare legged women, the interpersonal relationships and partnering remained hetero-normative.

Impressively, the company brought The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and violinist Aaron Schwebel who effectively performed the score by Ezio Bosso.

Kenneth McMillans' delightful Concerto to a score by Shostakovich featuring the fine pianist Zhenya Vitort, revealed a sure choreographic hand drawing dancers into duets of melodic purity and effortless balletic invention. Levity and panache treated the ballet to clever partnering that always added a spin or double spinning women into the mens' arms. It was very satisfying to watch a group of dancers framing the central couple or solo, move in opposition or shadowing the central action. Most importantly, all the movements appeared organic to the central choreographic proposition.

Completing the program, Crystal Pite, an in-demand choreographer who frequently produces moody effects did so again with Angels' Atlas to a recorded score by Owen Belton with additional symphonic and choral music by Tchaikovsky and Morton Lauridsen.

In this dark, theatrical expose, Pite followed an identifying pattern of establishing an atmospheric dance-drama that marries mystery to animalistic moves absorbing gravity. Before the dance bloomed, the celestial backdrop by Jay Gower Taylor and Tom Visser manifests white, spidery cosmic forms that coalesce and disintegrate across the black abysses. This environment surrounded the dancers who started lying on the ground, contracting various body parts as if awakened to a grim future.

Costumed by Nancy Bryant, the bare chested men wore long culottes and and the women donned black pants slit above the knees. Tribal and mystical, the architecturally structured team of dancers sensed each other's breathing moving as one haunted organism.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 28, 2023
Following a tradition of offering illuminating peeks into dance, theater and music productions, Guggenheim Works and Process presented an overview of Ballet West's restaging of Les Noces by Bronislava Nijinska.

An epic ballet created in 1923 for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Les Noces (The Wedding) includes a complex score by Nijinsky, sets and costumes by Natalia Goncharova, a 40 member chorus, four soloists, four grand pianos, percussion and 30 dancers.

A mix of video, conversation and demonstrations by the 6 company members enlivened the evening's introduction to a ballet treasure and remarkable female choreographer.

Contextualizing the ballet, the esteemed panel included Lynn Garafola, historian and Nijinska scholar (author of La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern), Adam Sklute, Artistic Director of Ballet West, and Moderator Linda Murray, Curator Dance Division NYPL.

A richly knotted piece of choreography to the intricate Nijinsky score, Sklute discussed the challenges faced by the dancers. For one thing, it was difficult to count the music and the choreographic style demanded the legs be both turned in and turned out while on pointe. Garafola, who just completed a comprehensive biography of Bronislava Nijinska offered insights into the choreography's intent. The way the mother expressed pain and guidance from God; the braiding of steps mimicking the long hair braids connecting the women of the village to the bride.

Based on an arranged wedding between a young man and woman, the affair involves the whole village. Again, Garafola noted that many of the steps were pulled from Nijinska's wealthy backlog of folk dance steps. These influences are apparent throughout the ballet: When the men crouch down and kick out their legs duck-walk style or careen in bent leg air turns. It's truly nonstop action and demands extraordinary stamina.

While a member of the Joffrey Ballet, Sklute performed Les Noces because Robert Joffrey had a love of historic ballets. Clearly, Sklute absorbed this desire to honor the classics. And the audience at the Guggenheim was pleased to visit this historical landmark.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 19, 2023
What can one say about an elder artist-stateswoman who has influenced generations of Puerto Rican and international experimental artists, humbly reigning supreme over her own live solo performance in collaboration with live musicians, against the spectacular backdrop of a nocturnal Hudson River?

Awilda’s show Lacks Criticality drew us to casually enter the space while she improvised under the elevated seating area, barely detectable as we filed in. As she coolly emerged into the stage space from the other side, we realized the woman crouching under the seats with her back to us, as if looking for something, had been Awilda herself.

This sort of reframing of perception remained throughout the entire experience at the John Hess Family Gallery and Theater at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As a Puerto Rican raised on the island, Awilda had me spellbound: I finally had the opportunity to see this icon and founding member of the experimental group Pisoton, which I had only heard of while growing up.

Watching her move, dance, deliberate, explore the walls, and painstakingly move across the marley floor on her bottom, blindfolded, opened up space to think about the power and rarity of a singular performer/dancer in her seventies, guiding our attention through a stream of artistic and political ideas that are far from resolved.

Projections of personal (smartphone?) footage taken by people stuck inside the walloping fury of Hurricane Maria appeared on the walls, then her filmed re-enactment using a hose led us to think of the absurdity not of random events, but of our responses to them. As she moved and danced in her garbage bag garb, her dignity was palpable, while making us look at other people’s pain in an opulent setting. More than a nod to survival, Awilda’s work touched on what it means to have empathy, and to be seen, unencumbered by rage or regret.

Her appreciative interactions with the musicians, and her total comfort as she glided, stamped, explored, examined, peeked, and held attention, pointed to an unacceptable yet conciliatory state of affairs. What are YOU going to do?
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --Nicole Duffy

March 17, 2023
The Parsons Dance Company's two week season at the Joyce Theater opened to a full, buzzing house.
My guest had never seen Parsons Dance before and she was amazed by the company's "extraordinary facility and precision."That's because a Parsons Dance performance generally produces excellently equipped dancers in congenial choreography.

A former member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, David Parsons embraces his mentor's love of dance physicality. Taylor's male  dancers are known to spring into cartwheels, handstands, head tumbles and flips. And so too, Parsons does not shy away from demonstrating the dancers' athleticism, in fact, the distinction between athlete and artist is compressed in Parsons' Company.

A tightly produced show, opening night included two solos sandwiched between three group dances.

Excelling in hallmark solos--perhaps because Parsons models them on  his own body and gifts. Parsons' all- time favorite Caught --was executed with a flair and muscular sensationalism by Zoey Anderson. Caught's sibling the gymnastic solo Balance of Powercreated in 2020 offers incredible muscle rippling, chest popping isolations. Croix Dilenno had the audience screaming and laughing in delight at a solo that could easily be set on Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA.

The three ensemble works were engaging. Parsons' response to the great  Bill Withers soundtrack produced a community-bound group reflecting on the lyrics. Between songs, Wither's patter contextualizes each song, whether it's  "I Can't Write Left-Handed" about  the VietNam war vet or "Grandma's Hands" about his beloved grandmother.

Parsons personalizes each track, asking the dancers to effect the emotional center of the song  eliciting the dance equivalent of comfortable conversions-- except for "Grandma's Hands" that simply visualized hands spread over bodies.

Rena Butler's 2023 The Ride Through involved the company in a tribal pursuit. Lines of dancers rush from one side to the next, breaking into swirling lifts and  pouncing, simian-like through a guarded space.

More successful was Parsons' 2023 Swing Shift. Playful and brimming with inventive partnering where  women are turned head-over-heels 360 degrees like the hands of a clock. At times, there's the Taylor style run and dip splicing up the modern dance carriage buttressed next to sporty moves.  But mostly, it's a clever and musical response to Kenji Bunch's bouncy score. Parsons Dance Company enjoys full houses and a healthy touring schedule because it's all about dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 14, 2023
Battery Dance presented its 47th annual New York City Season BATTERY DANCE NOW. Three contemporary choreographers were commissioned to present works employing original music while exploring time and transitions along with a three minute music video entitled “GREY” offered diversion and variety.

It Goes By Quick (2021) by Ana Maria Lucaciu featured five company members dancing to music by T.M.Rives and Artie Shaw, including a spoken word narration simulating the emotional and analytical mental “chatter” a viewer might have. A potted plant tree set downstage represented the “speaker” urging us to “pay attention to little things,” "let it happen” without judgement, thus reminding us of acceptance of abstract dance as a form of nature.

Six dancers in Robin Cantrell’s The Liminal Year(2021) exemplified the original score by Alexis Gideon, in sections augmented by lighting designer Leonardo Hidalgo's changing background colors.

Dancers shuffled and walked in unison formations, circling, scurrying, ending in their own lit squares, and balancing precariously on one leg for endless periods of time. Then from meditative seated postures they transitioned to earlier movement, ending in a circular group hug. The work expressed the emotional journeys experienced during the “liminal” or COVID years…the time between then and now.

A Certain Mood (2022) by Tsai Hsi Hung, inspired by Hans Hoffmann’s 1959 canvas, opens with a dramatic large black rectangle on the floor of the stage. Six dancers surround its periphery, dressed in black suit jackets, pants, and short skirts. Lighting by Leonardo Hidalgo changes to a white rectangle on the floor, while these virtuosos shift in quick vignettes of connection/disconnection until a final quintet of women -- long hair flying at the end of spiraling torsos and relentless jumps -- are enhanced by Iggy Hung’s throbbing drums and jack hammer sounds. A “lights out” false ending startled the viewer before the final ending; again in a horizontal rectangle, dancers circling.

The brief three minute music video “Grey,” filmed throughout Lower Manhattan, in black and white and then color, offered a welcome relief to the evening which suffered from a consistent, methodical format: almost all the commissioned pieces ran about the same time length, providing little programming variety. And the over-use of a smoke machine to add “mystery,” became a 'cliche’.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

March 12, 2023
Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal When Pina Bausch died unexpectedly in 2009, questions swirled about the company's future. Over the years, various individuals have held the reins while recycling repertory and aiming to reproduce the Bausch magic.

For their BAM season, the company, now headed by Boris Charmatz performed Bausch's colorful 2001 Agua -- a work imbued in the fragrances of Brazil.

Designed by Peter Pbast, a film of the lush Brazilian beaches and foliage panned across the enormous, white, curved backdrop. It generated the same sensation felt when sitting in a car looking out the window at the flashing landscape.

Agua's arrangement features individuals in ritualistic vignettes. There's the kooky monologue about a leg cramp--=in this case Naomi Brito--who whips her long hair around the pendulum swings of her arms and legs. A cascading effect was produced by appendages windmilling throughout Agua and compounding the sight of a sunny wind lapping through the palm leaves.

Men lift women in peculiar ways, nudging into torsos or lifting from under the armpits simulating a doll-like version of women. Mind you, Pina was not a docile woman, so it is always intriguing to see how women are represented in relation to men. Generally, women wittily ace the men who more readily rely on attitude.

Less inclined towards indulging in the country's rich social dance and music, Bausch employs her theatrical vocabulary to suggest people merely passing through a bright playland. A distinct openness prevails with  lifted chests and faces welcoming the visions and scents of the tropical lands.

Bands of friends and casual strangers traipse through a sunny seaside. And although it lacks the usual depth and dark underside of a Bausch creation, it rushes by as a relaxing indulgence in the ever- quirky imagination of one of our most intensely inventive creators.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 1, 2023
Emerge125’s New York City premiere is a joint effort between Chelsea Factory and the company’s artistic director and choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher. The program is a thoughtful dive into Rea-Fisher’s fluid contemporary style consisting of six dances from the last ten years of her career.

The first dance, scored by a lilting saxophone, is a tender tribute to the late Barbadian dancer Richild Springer. Seven dancers bound across the stage, dynamic, graceful, and overflowing with jubilant energy as their undulating leaps and twists carry them in and out of the wings. Alisa Gregory is featured as a soloist and ends the piece with a gentle exhalation that ushers an air of intimacy into the spacious theater.

Following this, Identity centers on the balletic and muscular Dennzyl Green, whose lithe movements are complemented by cannoning waves of motion across the ensemble as they snake about the stage. Similarly, Behavioral Synchrony finds deep contractions and expansions echoing through the company punctured by acrobatic jumps. Lit with saturated magenta the dancers' contorted bodies cast long and dramatic shadows.

In the second half of the program, Rea-Fisher’s frenetic style crystallizes. 2022’s Poly String Theory takes the music of Kaiser Quartet as inspiration for its gyroscopic momentum, propelling the dancers through unfurling sequences of attitude-bent legs and pointed toes.

Their audible panting continues through the cerebral Newton’s Cradle, in which the dancers—clad in geometric leotards by Rachel Dozier-Ezell—drift with lifted eyes between stillness and delicately swishing feet.

The final performance of the evening: Rights of Renaissance is scored by the voices of Emerge 125’s company members as they discuss Ibram X. Kendi’s essay on the presence of a contemporary Black renaissance.

A series of introspective solos flow in abstract spirals before the unified company breaks into a boisterous sequence that brings the program to a heartful close.

Throughout the evening Rea-Fisher appears on stage to provide context for the dances, notably outlining the evolution of her relationship to light throughout her career from an intense interest in the innumerable variations of white against deeply saturated colors.

Three of the dances are lit by Christopher Brusberg, who also recreated the designs of former designers Nick Hung (Identity), Clifton Taylor (Newton’s Cradle), and Michael Cole (Renaissance) to great effect. Such attention to the multidisciplinary nature of dance along with Rea-Fisher’s warmth and creative transparency is a welcome balm to an eager audience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

February 28, 2023
A joyous congregation met to celebrate the Martha Hill Dance Fund Gala at the Manhattan Penthouse. After two years of celebrations on zoom, the dance community embraced to honor this year's leaders, Dianne McIntyre, Diana Byer and Deborah Damast.

Many dance luminaries appeared to support the Martha Hill Fund and their colleagues. The ebullient Danni Gee, a dancer, singer, producer and curator and Joyce Theater Programming Director led the presentations. Expertly produced videos by Daniel Madoff introduced the audience to the honoree's contributions.

Mid-Career awardee, Deborah Damast, an enthusiastic promoter of dance education, described the power of personal expression through dance for young students.

Once a student at Juilliard, Lifetime Achievement Honoree Diana Byer studied with the formidable Antony Tudor who inspired her not only to dance but to form a chamber ballet company that revived many of Tudor's choreography.

A staple in the modern dance community, Lifetime Achievement Honoree Dianne McIntyre graduated from OSU and set up a dance tent in Harlem. Establishing a haven for many evolving Black dance artists, McIntyre was a dance explorer choreographing for her company, the camera and many other nationally recognized companies. She marveled at the way Martha Hill knew about her work and avidly kept abreast of so many young dance artists in NYC.

The unswerving president of the fund, Vernon Scott grabbed everyone's attention when he delivered a poem of endurance and love. In the Gala invitation, Scott reminded everyone: “The Martha Hill Awards continue the legacy of Miss Hill by recognizing those who have exhibited stellar achievement in teaching, performing, and nurturing future generations of dancers in a way that embodies Miss Hill’s commitment to the art of dance.

This art group's event stands apart from others because, rather than relying on funders to fill the seats, dancers, choreographers, teachers, and all manner of dance professionals migrate to a mighty celebration of their field.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipoitis

February 14, 2023
Earlier generations claimed to love dance after watching The Red Shoes. A few decades later it was The Turning Point and then, in a total reversal of the ballet centered, aspirational films came Flashdance. Pop music soars over scenes of women claiming their bodies, their say as welders, club dancers and people with dreams.

Directed by Adrian Lyne, Flashdance's cinematographer Donald Peterman breathtakingly captured the generationally groundbreaking choreography by Jeffrey Hornaday.

When this film premiered, people were not only stunned by the dancing, but they were equally taken by the camera work. Rather than stay still, the camera moves with the dance, frequently shooting from the floor, above the dance and just as frequently in silhouette.

Hip hop's B-Boys excited the dance scene in the 70's and then in the 1980's they went commercial with films like Flashdance, TV ads and more.

Hung on a heartwarming love story between a charming, supportive boss, and a girl who is a welder by day and club dancer by night with a dream to be a dancer, Flashdance springs from the music video genre born in 1982.

Jammed with dance songs, most scenes include dance, ice dance, as well as artistic physical workouts and the ever-present iconic "Flashdance" song being belted by Irene Cara.

Well worth a revisit by the Dance on Camera Festival, I only regret there was no post conversation about the technical and artistic elements that set this film apart.
EYE ON THE ARTS--Celia Ipiotis

February 14, 2023
Presented by Dance Films Association, the Dance on Camera festival finds its home at Film at Lincoln Center each year platforming artists working and collaborating between the mediums of dance and film. The festival’s programming features 30 new films across 12 programs.

One such program, screening in the intimate Francesca Beale Theater, focuses on NY filmmakers whose 6 shorts are connected by more than just geography. Each film is beautifully composed and watching the well-curated 70 minutes leads to the discovery of common themes.

Most apparent are the three films that address grief and the healing power of dance. Each demonstrates the specific strengths of the artists involved: You Left Me Alone by Lauren Fondren boasts gorgeous cinematography while The Fell of Dark by Marla Phelan showcases bold aesthetic choices, and The Dance After The Last Dance by Candice Holdorf displays moving and well-crafted storytelling.

Contrary to these affective stories is The Game, a hyper-stylistic short by Pierre Marais and James Kinney, which features a troupe of dancers who each embody a film noir trope—from the femme fatale to the gritty detective—dancing a highly technical jazz number as each player chases after a shining silver coin blinking between the performer’s fingers.

Continuing in this dynamic Suck It Up by the duo Baye & Asa explores the roots of toxic masculinity with humor and bombastic performances by both dancers.

Tumbling through electric characters and dance styles they toe the line between satire and grim sincerity to produce a conceptually compelling performance.

The highlight of the program, however, is a verdant and introspective film by Jeremy Jacob and Pam Tanowitz titled I was waiting for the echo of a better day. Filmed in the Hudson River Valley it traces a day through the lush landscape while the brightly clad dancers twist and bend in Tanowitz’s signature idiosyncratic but unmistakably balletic style. Framed against greenery, clouds, and a glorious sunset the dancers bring the beauty of the natural landscape into focus as the film drifts along its 23-minute course scored by the ethereally droning strings of musicians Jessie Montgomery and Big Dog Little Dog.

Displaying the diversity of New York’s artistry is no small task but the program prevails by remaining cohesive and moving traversing the impressive breadth of subjects and styles.

This festival is not to be missed, and next year’s is sure to continue providing fresh and exciting dance films.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

February 11, 2023
Ten dance groups joined the Young Soon Kim Dance Company, celebrating works of young, mid career, and veteran choreographers in the SoloDuo Festival produced by White Wave at Dixon Place. Highlighting the evening was Amos Pinhasi’s Walking On Frost. Appearing in the center spotlight, a sleepwalker or a dreamlike ghost in a white nightshirt, expresses the soul of a man teetering on the precipice of life, death, and uncertainty in each moment.

He moves with folk dance-like steps, stomps and occasional small, sprightly hops, framed by graceful undulating arms to the music of Vivaldi and Purcell. This evolves into a more somber, foreboding section. Slow thoughtful lunges express resignation continued with walks to and from the edge of the light touching and questioning the unknown. Finally, arms thrust in the air punctuated by defiant fists, and he leaves the dream.

In Old Man Adagio to music by Penguin Cafe Orchestra ("Life Boat"), David Popalinsky and Michael Hazinski from Santa Clara University, elegantly portray two older men reminiscing on their careers, friendship, and longevity with humor, understanding, and poignancy. Dressed in pedestrian shirts and pants and seated in wheeled rotating desk chairs, they first dance with only their arms, depicting typical youthful male activities. Soon they wittily scoot forward in the chairs using only one lazy foot, eventually rising to convey years of body experience, knowledge, and love of the stage.

Maddie Burnett and Madeline Kuhlke of the New York based Alison Cooke Beatty Dance Company, presented Song of Thunder, a luscious duet. The two begin upstage, progressively attaching and detaching with pulls and pushes, developing into an aggressive confidence, eating up the stage with pure dance movement.

Robenson Mathurin and Kristi Ann Schopfer, in choreography by Winston Dynamite Brown and Latra Ann Wilson, seamlessly harmonized weight exchanges on the floor and in dynamic lifts. Jared Harbour, Georgia Greene and Xander Perone revealed their flawless technique in a lively cavort to In 3’s by the Beatie Boys.

Other respectable works on the program were performed by Heather Roffe/HR Dance, Dibble Dance, Emily Bufford’s choreography on Central CT. State University dancer Karis Bongiolatti, Bailey Seymour Dance, and Alyssa Myers and Aurora Vaughn.

Ending the evening, WHITE WAVE performed a sextet iyouuswe III and Section 8. This strong, energetic, compatible company showcased its continuing success and resilience, navigated by the indomitable Young Soon Kim.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

February 8, 2023
Colors saturate the screen in Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour's Call Me Dancer, the opening night program for the 2023 Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center. Scheduled for four days from Friday, Feb. 10 - 13; shorts, full length films, and conversations on the mechanics and creative pursuits of videotaping dance fill the roster along with the closing night screening of a dance classic: Flashdance.

A few sparkling highlights include Manas Sirakanyan’s documentary feature Top Nine: A Story of the B-Boy Crew, about an internationally renowned break dance crew, and Swedish filmmaker Emil Dam Seidel’s short film SHE, about the exploration of identity, highlighting issues and perspectives from diverse regions.

Part documentary, part feature film, Call Me Dancer, the opening night feature centers the immense talent and struggles of a young male, Indian street dancer who discovers the rigors of ballet.

Born of a working family, Manish is seduced by street dance. One day, he passes dancers spilling out of an inner-city dance academy where he snares a scholarship. Instead of accommodating his parents wishes and going to college, Manish bears down on a grueling dance regime overseen by a hard-bitten, seasoned Israeli ballet teacher, Yehuda.

Despite the parents' concerns about the professional prospects facing a male dancer (what parent doesn't share that same angst) Manish's sage grandmother embraces his dream and lobbies on behalf of his career choice.

Large personalities fill a part of the world overflowing with more than 2000 years of culture ultimately producing "a sea of talent." In the opinion of Yehuda, ballet--the most complete technique--is essential to the study of all global dance.

Naturally Manish's voyage takes him to dance companies in America where he auditions for a chance to be called "a dancer."

A compelling tale of perseverance, passion and friendship, filmmakers Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour forge a deeply personal investment in their subject. No question, Call Me A Dancer will be a festival favorite.
Screening Feb. 9
EYE ON THE ARTS NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 8, 2023
When hip-hop seeped through the Bronx and beyond, young men started teaching themselves this highly athletic, beat -driven dance form in Russia and elsewhere. MTV became a major carrier of hip hop culture making it possible for international youths to become expert B-Boys.

One of the premier European groups sprouted in St. Petersburg, Russia. A country renowned for it's rich dance history, Russia produced an award-winning troupe of devoted B-Boys.

Fans of early hip-hop will thrill at all the footage of battles and boom boxes. The film, by Manas Sirakanyan, draws viewers into the lives of young men intent on excelling technically and artistically in this very American urban art form. 

In one very poignant scene, a Top 9 member stands in the middle of a bustling city square and pronounces Kharkiv (now under siege by Russia) the "hip hop capital of the Ukraine." After injuries and the strain of passing years on their bodies, the young men marry, have families, and yet, they retain a soulful connection to hip-hop culture.
Screening February 13 as part of the Dance on Camera Festival
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis      

February 8, 2023
When modern dance began to take it root, the majority of the creativity and action was centered on the East Coast and Manhattan in particular. As a result, dance history underscores techniques and companies built in NYC.

This East Coast superiority aggravated Bella Lewitzky, one of Lester Horon's muses and partners in creating a modern dance branch in the American west.

A power-dancer with a tightly pulled back bun and sharp cheekbones, Lewitzky thrived with Horton whose most famous student was Alvin Ailey. But then, even Ailey left California for NYC.  Remarkable in his own right, Horton invited people of all races to his studio--at a time when races did not mix. Fascinated by large scale works, Horton presented extravaganzas at the Hollywood Bowl including his version of the radical "Rite of Spring" in 1937.

Despite these high profile events, paying the dancers proved challenging. Nationally, people struggled to make ends meet because the Great Depression ransacked livelihoods in 1939. This made it tough on dancers, spending hours a day dancing, to survive.

Bella explains that Horton's film gigs secured company members' financial sustenance.  However, determined to follow her own drummer, Bella leaves Horton to form her own group. Her mantra centered on the importance of modern dancers being able to improvise and discover the choreography in their own bodies--even when executing someone else's dances.

Insightful archival footage captures Lewitzky dancing  in the 1940's, 50's and onward.  As much an activist as an artist, Lewitzky was subpoenaed to speak in front of the Un-American Activities Committee charged with "outing"  Communists polluting  America. Black-balled after the incident, only Agnes deMille dared employ Lewitzky inviting her to work as her choreographic assistant on the groundbreaking musical, Oklahoma.

Over the years, Letwitsky built a successful dance school and company that toured throughout the world. Her husband, a former Horton dancer turned architect, proved an inspired partner.

When the National Endowment for the Arts came under attack by the Conservative Right in the early 1990's, Letwizky once again faced legislators in Washington D.C. refusing her $70,000+ grant and demanding her First Amendment Rights.

A tenacious task-master, former dancers recalled her demands in the classroom, caring less about their feelings and more about the craft. Dance excerpts and comments by former company members are sprinkled throughout Bridget Murmane's well tailored film (Alex Bushe, editor) bringing this nationally recognized modern dance luminary to life. Indeed, like Martha Graham, Bella Lewitsky dug into "the bones of the work."
Screening February 13 as part of the Dance on Camera Festival
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia IPiotis

February 2, 2023
Flight fascinates artists, and in particular dancers. Merce Cunningham devised a ballet Beach Birds inspired by those flighty creatures-- and before him, many more. Makes sense because ballet dancers in particular seek the sky, a release from the earth.

Those images floated through my mind during the premiere of Keerati Jinakunwiphat's Fortuitous Ash to a score by Du Yum: "Run in a Graveyard" and "Air Glow." What appears to be a large sized image of a bird's eyeball and iris stares from a black and white kite-shaped flag above the stage.

A flurry of dancers enter and exit until they congeal. One at a time, they spin into view, backs to the audience, legs and arms rise up weightlessly. At another point, a dancer runs to the light, balances on one leg, arms splayed from the shoulders. Stretching into a diagonal line, the arms balance against the air, some crooked over heads, or spread wide and high.

Jinakunwiphat demonstrates a knowledge of ballet technique, stringing out moves in clear lines, fashioning steps common to ballet sifted through modern dance.

Overall, the ballet exudes a soft sensibility that wafts over Don Scully's projections on the floor, reminiscent of thin clouds. Everything suggests a commonality of desire; an ever-present team spirit composed of distinct talents.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 30, 2023
Salmon Rushdie mused, "Before there were books there were stories.....the beloved tale becomes a part of the way in which we understand things and make judgments and choices in our daily lives."

The story I'm about to tell unfolded in Philadelphia in 1990, 10 years after Jeff Bush and I launched our weekly TV series, EYE ON DANCE (EOD).

In 1981 -- a time when computers, social media platforms, and cell phones did not exist -- television was the most powerful communications medium. But with few exceptions, dance was absent from the airwaves. After pitching my concept for a topical interview series on dance, a TV executive summed-up the prevailing disinterest by stating, "After you discuss sore feet and weight, what's left to talk about?"

Despite the rebuke, we created weekly, televised dialogues centering dancers' ideas, contributions and expectations. Think of it: At a time when many thought dancers should "dance and not speak" EOD forged a space for under- acknowledged culture bearers shaped by social, political, historical, and educational forces.

EYE ON DANCE's success secured a Pew Foundation grant to explore the Philadelphia dance community in 1990. A whirlwind week shooting Philadelphia city streets, rehearsal studios, classrooms and performances drew us to the inimitable Joan Myers Brown.

A woman with a mission, Brown founded Philadanco in 1970 and single-handedly re-shaped the dance scene in Philadelphia. However, after grooming exquisite dancers, Philadanco lost talent to the seductive Alvin Ailey Dance Company causing Brown to acerbically quip: "Philadanco serves as a farm team for Alvin Ailey."

After the shoot, I kept re-visiting the Philadanco footage of Gene Hill Sagan's ballet Sweet Agony. An intensely mysterious woman partnered by an equally striking male dancer haunted me. Hands gripped in a fist, they pulled away from one another, circling round, magnetically joined.

Watching them reminded me of a quote by Edward Villella when he spoke on EOD, "I go to the ballet to watch a dancer's mind." And indeed, I was intrigued by what she was thinking; what was her story, where did she come from, and where was she going?

For 30 years, I never knew the answer to those questions, then, in 2021 when EOD celebrated its 40th anniversary, we presented an EOD one-hour special composed of clips from episodes airing between 1981-86.

The Dance Enthusiast hosted the debut zoom screening and in the chat box, I spotted a note: "So happy to see Antonio Carlos Scott and me dancing Sweet Agony. I was thrilled! Finally, the captivating woman I met in the rehearsal room so many years ago materialized. In short order, I learned her name was Danni Gee and after a few days, we set-up a zoom date.

A full-throated laugher, I asked Gee to tell me about herself. Without hesitation, Gee plunged into a deep well of experiences not only as a dancer, but as a singer, producer and finally dance curator.

Around age 7, Gee traveled to NYC with a church group to see The Wiz choreographed by the stalwart George Faison and performed by an all-Black cast. Enthralled, Gee imagined a performance career and "knowing you moved people."

Later, Gee’s budding talent got her into the performing arts high school in Philadelphia. Classes in ballet and modern, primarily Graham and Horton techniques, honed her skills. She seized upon the opportunity to excel in dance, and after a few years, came to the attention of Joan Myers Brown (Aunt Joan).

Back in the 1980's and 1990’s, dance was less than a reliable career choice. Dancers rarely got health insurance (to this day, few do) or a steady salary. Still, costly classes, marathon rehearsals and performances consumed dancers' days and nights.

After attending an Ailey performance, Gee knew “The House of Ailey” was her future. At first, her dream was difficult to attain. A lead dancer at Philadanco, Gee felt prepared; but even after two auditions, her goal remained out of reach.

Finally, in 1991, after Judith Jamison took the reigns, Gee got the call to come to NYC. However, for Joan Myers Brown, that opportunity equaled loss. Excited as Brown was to applaud Gee moving on, that happiness was edged in frustration.

Gee admitted, regardless of her preparation, the Ailey routine was thrilling but utterly exhausting. The apex of her career arrived when she was scheduled to dance the iconic Crychoreographed for Jamison by Alvin Ailey.

With the privilege of dancing Crycame the agony of a career-ending injury. Despite the pain wracking her body, Gee performed Cry to an enthusiastic audience. But that milestone was to be her last with the company. The date: New Year's Eve 1996.

Forced endings are cruel, particularly for dancers. To this day, talking about the loss of her dance career still makes Gee well up in tears. It was her identity, her passion, and her one true love. "You have to turn yourself overnight into someone else. You've been dealt a humbling hand by life. But you can make a supreme effort to flip it, and make a magnificent and fulfilling life."

And that's exactly what Gee did touring with R&B artist Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge and later chartered her own musical career with an independent rock band, Suga Bush. While re-inventing herself, Gee was offered a job curating dance for NYC's Summerstage Festival (2006 - 2022), simultaneously running an artist-driven interview series on Youtube.

What I spotted that day in Philadelphia was an individual who dove 100% into her opportunities. That proved to be her secret weapon along with an intense desire to always create community. After successfully presenting countless dance artists at Summerstage, Gee catapulted to the position of Programming Director at the Joyce Theater.

Outgoing and uncommonly generous, Gee is admired by colleagues and loved by family and friends. We will all be watching and cheering her on!

January 29, 2023
Aaron Copland, an American composer of deeply melodic, uplifting scores tinged with jazz, wrote a few of the contemporary dance world's most popular scores for Martha Graham, Eugene Loring and Agnes deMille. 

Inspired by Copland's aural description of the Americana spirit, Justin Peck designed a premiere for the Winter Season entitled Copland Dance Episodes.

The full-evening work involved 30 dancers, incorporated visual design by Jeffrey Gibson who interwove elements of Choctaw and Cherokee Native American art, and included sharply focused lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker and former NYC ballerina, Ellen Warren's, rainbow colored costumes.

Copeland's sonorous Fanfare For a Common Man booms from the pit, through the visually assertive stage drop.  Painted in bright colors organized in geometric patterns under a central bullseye target, Gibson adds a vertical message (perhaps a metaphorical smoke signal?) saying: "the only way out is through."

When the drop rises, the company, draped in gauzy white loose cocoons,  appears frozen in place. Shedding their sheaths, the company exits and the dance begins.

  Cheerful and full of life, Peck's Copeland Dance Episodes lifts the spirit and engenders hope for the next generation of ballet dancers and choreographers.

Bursting in two-toned leotards and tights (reflective of the drop curtain) the large group sections resemble billiard balls spinning in and out of corners, bumping into each other, flying up and rolling on the ground to the boisterous music of "Rodeo."

Competitive jockeying infuses the ballet, particularly between the re-current male trio of Harrison Coll, Anthony Huxley and the twirling Roman Mejia.

Two skillful couples, Mira Nadon and Taylor Stanley; Tiler Peck and Chun Wai Chan materialize throughout the ballet like wistful memories of young, optimistic love. Elegant and lyrical, Nadon smoothly lengthens her legs stretching from the tips of her fingers, through her supple torso to the tips of her toes. Always a thought provoking performer, Taylor clasps Nadon hands, as bodies pull apart forming a connected, long arabesque that allows Stanley to arch back with arm out resembling a bird about to take flight. Peck and Chan nimbly engage each other and the music. In a series of lifts, Chan places his palm up, caressing a part of her leg, sensitvely supporting the contours of her form.

Although the full length ballet is abstract, the kinetic narrative nods to the originals. In the "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid" sections, men hop and kick out legs stallion style, boisterously challenging each other bumping shoulders and eyeing the person across the way.

Indeed, Peck infuses the ballet with modern dance idioms-- flinging bodies to the floor, tucking in street dance dodges and pedestrian jaunts.Perhaps this is a good time to note Peck credits the following assistants: Craig Hall, Gonzalo Garcia, Patricia Delgado, and Craig Saltstein.

Combined with NYC Ballet's new generation dancers Ashley Hod, and Indiana Woodward as well as Cole, Huxley and Mejia--Megan Fairchild's understated prominence draws all eyes in her direction. At one moment Fairchild (in Humphrey/Limon dance style), drops to the floor  on her side in one gorgeous breath, and then recovers. I kept hoping it would happen again, but there was only that one, glorious punctuation mark.

Throughout the ballet, same sex partnering, including lifts for the female combos, assume a naturalness belying its recent appearance on ballet stages. 

Does Peck choreographically reference the "pictures" drawn by Copland--at times, yes. Still,  there's enough step and pattern inventiveness to smilingly nod at the winks towards Graham's "Appalachian Spring," deMille's "Rodeo," and Loring's "Billy the Kid." 
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 26, 2023
For nearly one hour, Israel Galván delivers a master class in the percussive beat of Spanish dance at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. A maverick in the world of flamenco, in SoloGalvan dons a red bib apron, white shoes and an exquisite imagination.

He expertly deploys a series of melodies and rhythms from his rapid-fire feet. Never at rest, his arms, hands, shoulders and face evoke an alertness kissed by wit.

Depending on his location, various quadrants of the stage emit distinctly different sounds from a natural tap timbre, to amplified beats, sand scrapings and flirty, soft ripples not to mention a ballet arabesque and plié or two.

Absent musical accompaniment, Galván produced a symphony of richly shaded riffs. A little more than midway through, switches to a black bib apron and dons a pair of rubber boots. This switch from the toreador-like white shoes with taps, deepens and rounds out the beats.

For a few minutes, one additional sound comes into the mix--castanets humorously clacking in the palm of his hands. The all-important sound is controlled by Pedro León.

This fanciful work resolves with Galván removing his boots and socks and thumping the floor, his base, his earth-- barefoot.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 22, 2023
Hardly a ticket was left for the one night only appearance of Natalia Osipova, a ballerina who soared to international fame while a principal Bolshoi ballerina. Later, ABT invited her to appear as a guest artist which crowned her star status in the American dance community. Now a principal with the Royal Ballet, she also tours as a solo artist.

When Osipova's appearance was announced in the fall, the program was juicily filled with ballet classics. By the time she performed at City Center arrived, the offerings were decidedly revised. Gone was Dying Swan and Don Quixote. What remained were other classical dance excerpts and a sprinkling of modern works.

The 19th century classic, Giselle opened the program on a high note. Osipova's natural buoyancy, physical strength and dramatic interpretation animated the ethereal role. Her partner, the clean-lined and elegant Marcelino Sambe drew additional ooh's and aahs.

But perhaps the surprise of the evening came when the ABT Studio collaboration featured a remarkable performance by Takumi Miyake along with the lovely, young Ukrainian ballerina Yeva Hrystsak. Miyake's whipping turns, and traveling leg beats dazzled the audience and whet their appetite for much more.

In the solo Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncanoriginally created by Frederick Ashton for Lynn Seymour, Osipova's execution was solid but lacked a grounded evanescence.

Not surprisingly, Ratmansky's Valse Triste showcased Osipova's finer qualities. It was, as if, they spoke the same balletic language thus inspiring Osipova immersion in the intricate steps, twisting turns and unusual lifts.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Pure plumbed cushiony, flowing movement for Osipova and Kittelberger who choreographed two other works on the program: Weight of It (premiere) and Ashes.

Despite the loss of some audience favorites, Osipova proved herself capable of transforming an evening.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 18, 2023
Full of flowing breath and mesmerizing rhythms, the impressive Vertigo Dance Company, founded by Noa Wertheim and husband Adi Sha'al 30 years ago outside of Jerusalem, appeared at the Baryshnikov Arts Center with Pardes (orchard, garden of trees) .

Men and women outfitted in black, full length dresses that convert into sufi-style skirts cinched at the waist (by Rosie Cannan) commune with mysteries and realities.

In a repetitive ostinato, they step side to side, slapping one foot against the other ankle, over and over. Reminiscent of some classical South Asian dances, the percussive sound adds another layer to the atmospheric score by Itmar Doari.

Movement caresses the earth, ultimately inhaling motion upward and outward. A compelling company of six, each dancer spins an internal narrative, inherently connected to one another, either by gesture or look. Never exiting the stage, when a solo or duet emerges the rest sit on the benches propped around the sides of the stage against the deep red-earth walls by Zohar Shoef.

Bodies drop into one another, gather support uniting all the individuals into a communal conversation that forms one living, breathing, organism. There's a tidal wave of movement that floods the over one-hour performance, suggesting an atmospheric river event.

In a tender and provocative duet, Sian Olles and Korina Fraiman draw close, loosening their tops enough to drop to their waists revealing skin colored leotards. Magnetized, they circle each other while zooming in and out, bodies loose, eyes intent.

Choreographed by Nora Wertheim, Pardes is built on a series of pedestrian gestures. However, there's never a doubt the company is exquisitely trained and capable of expressing themselves through all dance forms.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 18, 2023
On a mild winter evening, NYC Ballet launched its 2023 Winter Season. Classics rub against new works from Jan.17 to February 26 with opening night devoted to the company's founder and inspiration, George Balanchine.

After the audience settled, Jonathan Stafford quietly stepped in front of the curtain to present the Janice Levin Dancer Award to KJ Takahashi.  Bestowed annually on a promising member of NYC Ballet's corps, Takahashi shyly took the microphone to thank those who helped him achieve his goals including his father and Paul Meija.

Most poignantly, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to embrace this great art form in contrast to his brother who experiences restricted mobility due to a physical disability. Always worth keeping our lives in perspective.

The evening's program sprinkled charming romantic works throughout more modern offerings. Donizetti Variations (1960) exudes the buoyant aesthetics linked to the athletic Bournonville and 19th century Italian ballet technique.

Cheerful dancing sprints into bounding jumps and nonstop turns that bend processions of trios into circular spheres. In the central duet, Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley eased into their rhythm before soaring through the demanding leg beats and flying, picture-perfect leaps.

The next two, more intimate works, showed-off rising company talents. More reserved, Haieff Divertimento (1947) moves into the cleaner, more modern ballet mode and centers Indiana Woodward and Harrsion Ball --dancers attracting intense attention for their ease of motion and daring.

Valse Fantaisie (1967) slips into a post modern mode allowing Erica Periera and Daniel Ulbricht to share a relaxed, assured partnership. Ulbricht retains his technical sprightliness, but most importantly, he offers a lesson in self-assured, nearly invisible partnering.

Finally, the brain cleansing Stravinsky Violin Concerto  (1972) a ballet that inverts traditional ballet, closed the evening. Angular and strict, the sharp twists and leg plunges to the ground are tweaked with barely visible hip rotations. Arms stretch between couples but rather than embrace the arms stay rigid reaching beyond the body's perimeter.

Mira Nadon and Adrian Danching-Waring are particularly effective in the clarity and coolness of their duet. Additionally, Ashley Laracey and Joseph Gordon attack edgy steps with crispness.

And Stravinsky's score is another marvel, at once brusk and mournful, it sings under the baton of Andrew Sils featuring violinist Kurt Nikkanen.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 14, 2023
Rigorous and mysterious, in Bill t. Jones' newest production Curriculum II the audience borders the 4 sides of the space. Tilted screens glow in the theater's original raft of seats and in the center, a ticker tape style box hangs from the rafters. Faces and text materialized on the screens while the intense, excellently trained dancers move nonstop for just over an hour.

Contentious social and political themes stream through a dance that breaks into clumps on the edges of the stage, slips into side spaces and up and down the audience staircases.  Gestures break from a ballet base to broken, jagged moves forging dark and light spaces like Picasso's Cubist images based in African imagery.

Since Bill T. Jones assumed ownership of the former Dance Theater Workshop, programs in dance are joined by thought-instigating conversations with literary, political, social and educational provocateurs. 

Soaked in the politics of AIDS, racism and the white gaze, Bill T. Jones holds true to his concerns about racist myths, human vulnerability, truth and the future of this universe. Yes, these are all gargantuan topics, none of which can be assessed through a single dance, but at least the ideas can swim into consciousness encased in the bodies of committed dancers moving, singing and speaking.

Stepping out of the audience, the ten dancers turn on their phone's flashlight to light their way to the stage. In short order, Marie Lloyd Paspe convincingly sings the forlorn "Everyone's Gone To The Moon." Microphone in hand, the hippy-looking Shane Larson states "he is the narrator" of many names--perhaps like the narrators of our lives--but most importantly he wants everyone to picture him "as Black." Much later, the dancers scatter into various sections of the audience and paint themselves in colors easily found on Sesame Street, on warriors, in minstrelsy, ancient rituals and so on.

In this multimedia rich production, David van Tieghem (a revered post modern percussion/audio/theater artist) interspersed text and sound next to movement and lighting patterns projected by a long-time Jones' collaborator, Robert Wierzel.

Conceived and directed by Bill T. Jones with choreography by Jones and Janet Wong as well as the company members, the complicated visual score speaks loudest when the dancers dive into the movement. Fearless spins sprint into outsized kicks, breath-holding balances and generous embraces. Gentleness splits into daring lifts between all the performers regardless of gender or body proportion. Each dancer speaks their own truth through motion. 

Many historical horrifics are forced to the foreground, including P.T. Barnum's exhibition in 1835 of a slave woman, Joice Heth known as the 161 year old "nursing mammy of George Washington." That lead me to remember the way Black politicians were despicably caricatured in white periodicals during the short-lived American Reconstruction.

And that's the nature of Curriculum II's streaming images and text--much too thick to fully digest--instead they instigate a wider realm of thought.

At one point, Philip Strom storms the stage in the American flag ripped into rags and flapping from his limbs as he flings his arms and legs in a whirlwind of thrusting arms and striking legs. Another fierce performer, Nayaa Opong's sharply focused moves, clarity and soulfulness make for captivating viewing.

An animating and disquieting experience, my one desire would be to couple the performance with a conversation illuminating the rich source material from Achille Mbembe to Shakespeare and beyond.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia IPiotis

December 28, 2022
Only blocks away from the spectacular Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the Alvin AIley Dance Company's winter season at City Center met with the usual giddy audience anticipation. With a nod to the future, the evening I attended delivered works by contemporary choreographers Andrea Miller's Busk, Kyle Abraham's In Your Feelings,and Jamar Roberts' In A Sentimental Mood.

A sought after choreographer, Kyle Abraham's success with ballets for NYCB spring loaded his choreographic career the past four years. For Ailey, he embroiders steps over the sonorous soundtrack extracting playful and supportive duets for couples. Frequently investing one dancer with essential choreographic seeds, Khalia Campbell responds to his choreography with soulful, sweeping movements seemingly exhaled through her pores.

Backed by R&B and pop music including a Nina Simone classic, The First Time Ever I Saw Your face, the energy quotient truly exerts itself in the final group section. Bodies cluster into a "V" electrically passing movements from one to another. A spiritedness bubbles through the group loosening hips under tensing then wiggling arms. They drop to the floor and then spirit themselves  back to the sky.

Jamar Robert's duet In a Sentimental Mood radiates the intensity of a Gothic noir tale set against a 1930's smoke filled jazz score. A man and woman (Courtney Celeste Spears and Christopher R. Wilson) tighten up inside an embrace. Legs jut out, allowing their torsos to push against the cool air. This image suggests a black and white photograph cast inside a red-lit  boudoir by Brandon Stirling Baker. Piercingly performed by Spears and Wilson, they lengthen their limbs into dangerous blades, then contract into Graham convulsing torsos and depart.

Choreographed in 2010, "Busk" by Aszure Barton throws a spell over the audience. Thirteen dancers pound out rhythmically compelling sequences. Stooped over, draped in monk like outfits with hoodies covering heads, the piece unfolds in a mesmerizing swirl of motion that enlarges and breaks apart.

Stomping feet keep the mysterious marauders shaking in unison, rhythmically pulsating in circles and splintering into smaller groupings. Silently exchanging survival information, the nonstop motion finally ceases to the roar of the crowd.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

December 14, 2022
Dancers' bodies drape  down from the benches on their sides to the floor into a sprawling "V" -- like an ancient Greek frieze depicting a ritual procession.

The languor and beauty of this sight fades into walks around the Baryshnikov Arts Center space. Each dancer is distinct, holding a different energy.

Everyone circulates around the room and at some designated point, they move in unison, stretch apart and release an individual in the center. Processed through  a flow that breaks into duets, the dancers face each other and angle arms up and to the side, framing the face and then freeing the arms in pendulum swings repeated by legs.

A flurry of motion circulates around the space, and at some point, everyone backs away leaving one couple to perform an intimate duet.

Some duets are based on traditional modern dance moves, others rely on club style arm gestures and torso twitches or supportive leans in and away from each other. Each one engages in a distinct duet reacting to one another. Perhaps one lifts another, or they cross arms, flip palms up, elbows to the side -- referencing the gay balls.

A distinctive group of dancers, Jordan Demetrius, tall and self-contained is compelling in-part because rather than look intently at the audience, he expresses a gaze that's internal. Indeed, everyone expresses a matter of fact look. one that's -- business as usual -- while doing some extraordinary things inside a frame of thoughtful sequences.

It's not so much the actual steps as it as the aroma of the overall sensations. Entitled "Rivulets", that's an apt title for a work that repeatedly seeps through your mind.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 23, 2022
Gorgeous dancers captivate audiences wherever Complexions Contemporary Ballet appears. And now they are at the Joyce Theater for a two-week season.

Opening night, Kelly Ripa joined Phylicia Rashad who honored the Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden for their 28 years of service.

Before the company performed excerpts of works, students. from the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Pre-Professional Division Students in collaboration with Complexions' Pre-Professional Program demonstrated dance's promising future.

An enthusiastic audience stood at the end applauding what will unfold in the next two weeks. The season guarantees beautiful dancing and promising choreography by Rhoden, Richardson, Francesca Harper, William Forsythe, and Jae Man Joo from Nov. 23 to Dec. 4.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 16, 2022
The Paul Taylor Dance Company has staked out a new and interesting strategic position: presenting an authoritative and moving rendition of the cult classic The Green Table, the infamous ballet by Kurt Jooss, perhaps the best since the Joffrey Ballet left town more than twenty-five years ago. Although PTDC is branding itself as “A New Era,” this work from 1932 has put them on the map as artists capable of dance historical stewardship outside of the Taylor zone. Other companies have given performances in New York since the Joffrey departure, but to my eye, the intensity and gravitas of the Taylor performances captured the essence of the work.

I speak from having the experience of dancing The Green Table many times as a member of the Joffrey, and also having been part of the documentary film celebrating the centennial of Jooss’ birth in 2000, when Ana Markard, Jooss’ daughter, worked with us to create the homage that aired on PBS in Chicago. Dancing this work was a transformative experience.

The Green Table is a special gift for the audience, but even more so for the dancers: the rehearsal process makes one feel part of a timeless artistic endeavor: art as protest. I recall every day for six weeks, when we spent hours upon hours deconstructing the minutiae of how the hand curved inward and then out in the table scene, the stiffness of the spine, the oiliness of our expressions, contractions, the dynamics, the energy, and how the message radiated, even behind masks. The long discussion on expressing the differences between Death taking a soldier, a young girl, or a dying woman; the feeling of despair, and how the movement itself required no extra histrionics. And we became part of a long tradition, something much bigger than ourselves, or our dance season.

The Taylor company worked with Jeanette Vondersaar, the inimitable and exacting assistant to Markard who has spearheaded revivals since Markard’s passing. Jeanette performed the role of the Partisan herself, and worked side by side with Ana for years. She has brought this production to life, I think, with a welcome intensity, clarity, and heightened drama. The Taylor dancers embodied the physicality and weight of every detail as I remember it, with love and commitment. To me, it was like watching myself and my colleagues transported to the present, behind those costumes, in the timelessness of the movement itself.

A special mention must go to Shawn Lesniak as Death. He truly understood the carriage, the weight, the musicality of the character. He mastered the slicing motion, the turn of the head, the intense yet empty glare, the snarl or the indifference that might emanate from that towering figure at any given moment. But the entire cast deserves praise. And a special shout-out to Kevin Dreyer, who also lit the Joffrey production years ago, and of course to Artistic Director Michael Novak, for committing to bring this timeless and unfortunately always relevant moment in history back onto the stage once again.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy

PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY/Sunset/Diggity/Scudorama/Polaris
November 11, 2022
In college, Paul Taylor studied painting and that training, that understanding of positive and negative space infused many of his works, but none more than Polaris. A Taylor collaborator, Alex Katz, designed the set, a cubicle made of bars expertly illuminated or doused in darkness by Jennifer Tipton.

Polaris breaks into two parts. A visual pun, Part I and Part II are exactly the same except the cast, music and lighting are different. Without this knowledge, few people notice the switch. Dancers fill the interior of the cube, appearing almost suspended in space until limbs break through the visual barrier. Donald York's score grounds the dancers, infusing the exact same athletic steps with vigor.

One of the most visually beautiful Taylor/Katz collaborations, the wistfully romantic "Sunset" glides over a poignant score by Edward Elgar. Peach skies and black arabesque lines dotted in green float over a black guardrail lining one side of the stage. The luscious two-panel set consumes about 1/3 of the stage leaving an angular space brilliantly defined by the ballet.

Like a breeze floating through a mellow day, a group of four women in virginal white wander into the park where six soldiers in khakis and red Berets relax. Stirred by their presence, the men brighten, playfully attending to the ladies, and bending over to form a bridge for Madelyn Ho to cross.

Languid duets and touching solos suggest a youthful joy and nagging sadness. And like a vanishing dream, the ladies withdraw, leaving the soldiers to tie shoelaces, brush off shirts, lean on each other and gaze into an unknown future.

Full of delight, Katz's Diggity fashions an obstacle course by strewing cutouts of dogs throughout the space so it resembles a miniature golf course.

Cavorting between the pups, dancers bound and swirl to such an animated degree that the dogs seem to break into laughter. Although the whole cast excels, Lisa Borres' utterly charming presence speaks volumes through a supple torso, rippling arms and effortless flow. 

In opposition to the beauty of Sunset and Diggity, Scudorama drains the bodies of lyricism and fills them with jagged, aerobic sequences that demand constant, quick jumps against steps scurrying this way and that.

Dressed in Katz's brightly colored leotards and tights, with some sporting ruffled white Tudor collars, the choreography travels on vertical and horizontal spheres. Scudorama opens on a physically exhausting and much darker expression of humanity.

Perhaps an indication of his mindset, when Taylor choreographed Scudorama in 1963, he inserted a quote in the playbill from Dante: "What souls are these who run through this black haze?"

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 10, 2022
The Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Fall Season at Lincoln Center, entitled A NEW ERA, included historical masterpieces, commissioned works, as well as the Taylor canon.

Two dance pieces graced the stage: Larry Keigwin's Rush Hour and the crowd pleasing opener, Company B (1991). Costumed by long-time Taylor collaborator Santo Loquasto with lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Company B displayed the entire company depicting the wide range of conflicting emotions experienced during World War II to a soundtrack by the Andrew sisters. Taylor crafted ensemble, solo, duet, and mixed gender groupings that alluded to the lyrics -- all framed between the opening and ending musical selection "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen", an obscure Yiddish love song often translated as “To Me, You Are Beautiful.”

The relatively new company members were outstanding, especially featured soloists Alex Clayton and John Harnage. Twitching, leaping, turning, and jumping, Clayton animated "Tico Tico." Harnage's high energy knocked out "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", a song that referenced the enthusiasm and naïveté of young soldiers going off to war, only to end up suddenly dropped from the air to the ground. In an upbeat ending to "Rum and Coca Cola," Madelyn Ho, flirtatiously teased and cavorted with the male cast casually let loose “on leave."

Sandwiched between the two dances, the Orchestra of St. Luke’sperformed George Gershwin’s 1924 master work "Rhapsody in Blue." Under the direction of David LaMarche, the musical interlude featured the gifted Conrad Tao seated at a grand piano onstage. In its time, Gershwin’s piece inaugurated a new era in America's musical history, crossing between classical and popular music. Perhaps this inspired Michael Novak’s vision of “A NEW ERA” reminding audiences of the power of creativity in forms other than dance.

Larry Keigwin’s 2016 full company work, Rush Hour concluded the evening. Performed to an original musical score by Adam Crystal and played live by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, it proved uplifting for the dancers. With costumes in shades of grey and black by Fritz Masten, and imaginative lighting beaming down by Clifton Taylor, Keigwin intertwined the dancers in a multitude of configurations.

Fleeting motion shifted forward to back, and side to side, with fast paced leaps and runs to the ever shifting somber to aggressive score. It suggested the literal pace of life found in the daily travels of city dwellers or perhaps the more existential rush to experience every moment to its fullest.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

November 5, 2022
The Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch theater for the first time since 2019 with a series of programs under the title “Taylor: A New Era”.

The evening of their annual Gala began with the iconic Arden Court, displaying Taylor’s signature modern-balletic style. Accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Lukes, who bring lush depth to the Baroque symphonies of William Boyce, the choreography’s saccharine humoris is performed with vim and vigor by the exceptional company.

Ebullient attitudes and idyllically outstretched arms abound as the dancers flash on and off the stage. Striking moments are caught under the bright lights when one small dancer clings to the back of another while he balances and turns, limbs sturdy and poised under her weight; or a train of dancers tumbling and rolling under the reach of a grand round de jambe then vanishing into the wings before the toes of the extended leg return to the floor.

Punctuating these images are sections of group work, where Taylor’s geometrically complex lifts are especially exciting to watch, employing as many as six dancers to make shapes that seem to defy gravity.The dance finishes with a triumphant parade of leaps from the ensemble in a jubilant diagonal across the stage, driving home the artistic and athletic talents of these dancers.

The second dance in the program, choreographed by the company’s resident choreographer Lauren Lovette (a former New York City Ballet principal dancer) rounds out the flavor of the evening with its dramatic flair. Titled Solitire, the piece is anything but lonely, as a vibrant ensemble of thirteen dancers pack the stage, filling every inch with dynamic tableaus forming and reforming couplings that pair each dancer with another continually finding union, release, and eventual reunion.

Santo Loquasto's set is especially exciting when softly colored bars descend from above and cast a lattice of shadows over John Harnage dancing a roiling solo before giving way to a beautiful and fleetingly tender duet between Harnage and Lee Duveneck.

When they break apart the set floats away and with this lifting, the grey light that had permeated the stage turns to warm yellow like dawn breaking over the the rest of the ensemble pouring back onto the stage. Finally the curtain falls on Harnage with his back to the audience, looking up the the sky and the promise of a future filled with exciting and beautiful dance, new and old.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

ABT/The Dream/The Seasons
November 1, 2022
The curtain rises on a mystical forest, designed by David Walker and reminiscent of an 18th century, airy lithograph. To the skittering strings of Felix Mendelssohn's score,  dancers issue forth in bejeweled,  diaphanous gowns in Frederick Ashton's The Dream -- an exquisite adaptation of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Every second of this ballet enchants, particularly with the commanding cast led by a radiant Gillian Murphy (Titania), and David Camargo (Oberon); the comical Tyler Maloney (Bottom); a sensational  Herman Cornejo (Puck); and the zany Courtney Shealy (Helena), Claire Davison (Hermia), Duncan Lyle (Demetrius), and Lysander (Roman Zhurbin).

Intent on claiming the Changeling Boy for his entourage, Oberon tangles in a challenge of wills with Titania. Determined to win, Oberon's large arabesques and leaps of masterly domination manifest his rule. Assisted by the mischievous sprite Puck, Oberon commands Puck to create havoc in Titania's Fairyland and set right a pair of matched and mismatched lovers. For all the merriment, the glory is in the dancing and in the characterizations instilled by Ashton. With a droll hand, Ashton expertly personalizes each role like the pantomimic gestures enlarging the angst, love and confusion knotted between the two pairs of lovers.  

  Puck's countless runs resemble Hermes in his winged sandals racing from between heaven and earth -- always intent on causing mayhem. Suspended in the air, Puck's feet flutter. His legs connect in a battery of beats that split into effortless whirls and springy arches unsettling everyone with his antics.

In one of literature's great pranks, Puck puts a spell on Titania with a magic flower that causes her to fall in love with the first thing she sees upon awakening.    First Puck alters an actor into a man with an ass's head, then pushes him next to Titania. When her eyes open, Titania falls madly in love with the ass. This conceit produces one of the most touching duets in ballet. She scratches his ear and Bottom paws with point shoes at the earth angling for sweet grass.  And, let it be said, Maloney's paint work is impeccable!

The lovely Titania airily pivots into Bottom's arms and just as lovingly, releases her body into Oberon's supportive embrace.  One could easily see The Dream become the Spring season version of winter's Nutcracker. I defy anyone to dislike it.

After the succinctness of The Dream, Alexei Ratamnasky's The Seasons to Alexander Glazunov's voluminous score, looks overstuffed. Ever-inventive, Ratmansky appears to never suffer from "choreographer's block." As a result, the constant influx of choreographic permutations starts to wear. 

One longs for cleaner, more delineated lines and steps.   Granted, not unlike Balanchine, Ramansky's choreography challenges the dancers, making them better interpreters. Each season-- winter, spring, summer and fall -- is marked by a specific ambiance, elevating the ensemble of dancers nurtured over the past decade. A grand example of new ballet rooted in the arc of Petipa, The Seasons continues to awe even when it tires.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 22, 2022
BAM in association with FIAF’s Crossing The Line Festival Presents CROWD Conception, choreography and scenography by Gise`le Vienne Lights… dim… dirt… covered… floor… slo…-…mo… walk… from… the… corner… in… a… hoodie… and… glitter… sneakers…

  Did you ever go to a parking lot as a teenager, drink, smoke, smooch, bare your midriff, and generally interact in close bodily contact with other teens? Either way, watching a performance of those rituals for ninety, uninterrupted minutes, by non-teens, to an electronic sound scape, is a special challenge.

One may never tire of watching the sheer virtuosity of highly trained bodies re-enacting pedestrian movements executed in extreme slow motion, but soon the mind wanders… the voyeurism of watching sexualized, irreverent, hedonistic, sometimes violent, mostly crass imagery morph from one calculated moment to the next has its own appeal, but eventually one wants more.

  Choreographed and designed by Gisele Vienne and presented by FIAF's Crossing the Line Festival, at CROWD's forty-five-minute mark a group downed a couple of beers at a snail’s pace, then everyone froze and looked up, overcome by angst, like a vision of a Renaissance Pieta, or a Descent from the Cross, where every character’s horror is frozen in time.

But like every other moment, it melted away, replaced by aggression, flying dirt, two girls kissing, and someone screaming. Without some cohesion, we are left to wonder what is left… Eventually, everyone collapsed… the dirt floor littered with inert bodies… an image of the aftermath of mass shootings, or a battlefield full of corpses and the wounded, or the Walking Dead… one girl crawled to the other dead bodies. There’s plenty of time to think, of course-- which is not a bad thing… if… you… have… the… time…
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy

October 21, 2022
Back in 1973, Robert Joffrey invited Twyla Tharp to choreograph a ballet called Deuce Coupe,which shook up ballet audiences by meshing modern and ballet to the sounds of the Beach Boys performed against a visual backdrop of graffiti. 

Some 12 years later, when Tharp returned to BAM after a three year hiatus,  she astonished everyone in the theater with a "sneaker" and "toe shoe" ballet to a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass called In The Upper Room. One year later she was invited by Michael Baryshnikov to join American Ballet Theater and  that season they revived In The Upper Room---again to ecstatic audience response.

Now, over three decades later, In The Upper Room still excites, even if the City Center stage compresses the ballet's outlines. These days, Tharp does not have the luxury of her own company. Instead, she invites notable dancers from around the world to work with her. 

Immensely capable, the dancers throw themselves into Tharp's demonically tricky choreography, sealing gulping leaps inside sprints, and endless turns that disappear through the white mist into the darkness by lighting designer Jennifer Tipton.

When the curtain opens, the "stompers" Kaitlin Gilliland and Stephanie Peterson are dressed in black and white striped, billowy tops and bottoms  by Norma Kmali. They announce the pounding whirlwind to come with arms pumping hard against jogs and serpentine lines. 

A powerful opening, the center meanders through remarkable yet repetitive sequences. Dancers fly through the air into awaiting arms. Stripped of their shirts, three sterling men--Richard Villaverde, Lloyd Knight, Reed Tankersley -- pound out a physical workout of shoulders shimmying over split leaps, tilted arabesques and flying spins to audience yelps. 

Swank and romantic, Nine Sinatra Songs display breathlessly intricate ballroom dance partnering. Each couple echoes emotions emanating from a Frank Sinatra song. Defiant couples, merge with sweethearts, and steamy grasps. In particular, Cassandra Treneary along with her partner Benjamin Freemantle melt into the liquor doused "One For My Baby" with a seductive elan. Effortless turns and rocky lunges sharpen the taut conversation between the fiery Jeanette Delgado and the Baryshnikov channeler, Danny Ulbricht.  

The satisfied audience stepped away from the performance with a renewed view of popular ballet.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 17, 2022
New choreography gets a glamorous springboard during NYC Ballet's Fall Gala program. That program was repeated again during the season retaining that special, opening night enthusiasm.

By far the most thrilling part of the evening was witnessing a youthful, racially mixed crowd. Decked in fine evening wear, the Promenade staircase became the backdrop for countless photographs of women in filmy tutu-like dresses, men in kilts, suits and kaleidoscopic hair.

A young and very promising choreographer, Gianna Reisen Play Time to music by the popular, multi-faceted Solange Knowles with costumes by Alejandro Gomez Palomo for Palomo Spain.

Sparkly, geometrically constructed pieces including skirts shaped like rectangular light shades, and futuristic tops shifted the shapes of nine featured dancers. Quick transfers of weight side to side and precise footwork stoked the chamber piece allowing all the dancers to shine. Like previous works, Play Time pointed to a skillfully crafted work.

Solo by Justin Peck, Resident Choreographer, surrounded principal dancer Sara Mearns, whimsically outfitted by Raf Simons, in a solo to the deeply poignant "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber. Singularly capable of immersing herself inside a musical stream, she extended her limbs into the space cushioned by the music.

Becoming an audience favorite, Kyle Abraham's Love Letter (on shuffle) embraced 15 company members in work that tapped the isolations and oozy steps borne of club dance stirred into modern and ballet. Set to a score by the British musician and producer James Blake to feathery and colorful outfits by Giles Deacon, Love LetterLove Letter spoke clearest through Jonathan Fahoury's riveting solos and duets.

However, Dan Scully's atmospheric lighting cast a foggy darkness over the stage. It strained the eyes, and lessened the choreographic impact. Clearly, the dancers were enthralled by the funky freedom and kinetic colloquialism.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 8, 2022
When I saw Yvonne Rainer in the lobby of NY Live Arts after the premiere of  Hellzapoppin’ What about the bees?(1941) I told her the program  did not signal her purported  "swan song." Rainer laughed and said "the words just slipped out of my mouth, but who knows what might happen next." No truer words spoken. 

Divided into two halves, a film by Rainer and Charlie Atlas butts visuals up against text that describes how culture and history are intertwined in the rise of the 20th century Austrian empire.

The treatise ramps through anti-semitism, the connection of corrupt politics, and  how culture becomes the handmaiden of the oppressors generating the fall of empires. Through slits and variously shaped windows, parts of White Oak Dance Project dancers in work out clothes step and drop, swirl and lunge. 

Part II underscores the dance craze of the 1930's and 40's, the Lindy Hop. Born of the two-step and Charleston, the Lindy was celebrated at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, the home of "Happy Feet." That's where Whitey's Lindy hoppers tore up the floor. These athletically mouth-dropping dancers appear in the film "Hellzapoppin'" that includes one of the world's most turbo-charged dance sequences on film. 

Despite her post-modern, "less is more" aesthetic, Rainer maintains she can't get enough of this routine by four Black Lindy Hop couples. Men toss women over their heads, flip them to the floor and slide the gals between their legs; men split their legs apart in flying leaps and women's feet slap the floor so fast the image blurs. 

Balanced next to the film is an old black and white film of a boy's boarding school and an erupting pillow fight.

None of this jives with the manifesto Rainer wrote in 1964 and can't shake: "No to virtuosity; No to spectacle; No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer...." I mean right there, Hellzappin' breaks at least three if not more of the commandments of the Manifesto.

True to her post-modern ethics,  when the screen rises, the predominantly white dancers are grouped by 4 on either side of the stage. Dressed in casual clothes, tees and track pants, they start to reproduce a deconstructed "Hellzapoppin,' only the dances are absent the the high-powered athletics, dynamics or showmanship. 

They take the very same choreography and whiten it up; denude it of any sexual power, slow it down, and open spaces around the moves instead of the original tight, corkcscrewed, whirlwind sequences.

Arms pump up and down in loose grooves, while one person climbs slowly up and over another. Loose  hips swing side to side, dipping into slippery slides on the floor. Rather than jamming the camera with personality, the two teams of 4 dancers retain a sense of cool and casualness, supportively assisting one other. 

One more thing, the original, cosmic jazz music was removed when the original played, and parts of it played over the post modern version. Near the end, Kathleen Chalfant sitting in the front row, interrupts the performance, critiquing the dance only to be quieted by Rainer. Always in the crossroads of art and politics, Rainer once again comments on contemporary issues through dance and text.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

Fall For Dance Progrmam #5
October 5, 2022
New York City Center’s annual Fall for Dance Festival has continued to ramp up its in-person programming since its entirely virtual 2020 season. This year many international companies are welcomed back to the stage, and Program 5 showcased this with three delightfully different dances.

First was Poornarati, a collaboration between the traditional Indian Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and Sri Lankin Chitrasena Dance Company, which simultaneously performed Odissi and Kandan styles of dance with exceptional focus and talent.

Accompanied by a mesmerizing ensemble of live musicians, the dancers were ethereal as they floated about the stage with their arms and legs catching exquisite contortions. Huge barrel roll jumps were matched with wide eyes, their whites surely visible from nosebleed seats, and dexterous fingers alighted with precise mudras.

The Dutch National Ballet’s contribution to the program was Hans Van Manen’s Variations for Two Couples, in which all four dancers were truly powerhouse performers executing the virtuosic choreography with ease, its immense difficulty betrayed only by their sweat-slicked unitards.

The dance was full of lifts and glides that mimicked flight and legs reaching skyward, all while retaining a degree of humor such as when the dancers’ heads bobsled back and forth in time with the vibrato of the stringed instruments that filled the score. As the two couples enter and exit, their motions mirror each other -- although never in perfect symmetry -- a reminder that precision does not require uniformity.

Closing out the program was the Martha Graham Company’s new work, Cave, choreographed by Hofesh Shechter. Driven by a throbbing techno track (by AME and Shechter) the twelve dancers churned with molecular dance-club rhythms, a sea of limbs that bent and snapped like chemical reactions coursing through liquid.

Lighting by Yi-Chung Chen elevated the performance in unexpected ways, as the dancers were often only half visible in the saturated light puddled on the stage, evoking the energy of a fantastic party where something breathtaking was always happening just out of sight.

A solo by Leslie Andrea Williams rounded out the piece, wilting and grooving along with the deep music. Her long braids tumbling down her back brought incredible texture to the near darkness. Each performance was met with raucous applause, beckoning the dancers back for multiple rounds of bows, and culminating in a standing ovation for Cave.

With a crack and burst of light confetti rained down on performers and audience alike, marking a truly joyous afternoon of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

October 4, 2022
Sean Curran Dance Company and Darrah Carr Dance paid homage to the age-old Céili, “a social gathering with traditional Irish or Scottish music, dancing, and storytelling” at the Irish Arts Center. In their hourlong work, a community of eighteen talented dancers showcased dynamic Irish step-dances, ballet, tap, and contemporary modern dance. Live music composed, arranged, and executed by Dana Lyn playing fiddle and Kyle Sanna on guitar, expressed Céili’s soul and essence.

An overture of mournful music introduced the piece before eight dancers, in varying costumes by Amanda K. Rigger of grey skirts, kilts, and pantsuits entered on diagonals that shifted and flowed into circling duets of flying Irish steps: flexed foot hops and skips, walking, kicks, lunges… interlacing into quartets and sextets as the tempo accelerated, enlivening the social interactions on stage.

One couldn’t take eyes off of the Tony-Award winning star of Billy Elliot, Trent Kowalik, dancing a vigorous step-dance solo in hard shoes; or Benjamin Freedman and Jack Blackman, performing an exquisitely soft adagio duet to a slow air, “After Aughrim,” evoking feelings of love, companionship, listening, sharing.

Céili, never lost momentum; it progressed and changed… as it continued to add or subtract community: a quartet, a solo, a duet, sextet, and more. Contributing to the experience was the lighting by Ammanda K. Rigger, plus set and visual design by Mark Randall.

An addition, Box Tops, choreographed by Tigger Benford and Martha Partridge in 1985, was a crowd pleaser! Two dancers facing each other atop two wooden boxes, sustained a fast tempo and unrelenting body percussion dance of claps and stomps.

Duets continued, with one dancer accompanying the other playing percussive spoons; and another using brooms to “brush” the floor with sound.

The finale, with eighteen on stage, nine sitting symmetrically across from the other nine on benches, clapping and stomping, accompanied dancers accumulating in the center. Delightfully, Curran and Carr, in cameo appearances, wove themselves in and around the entire group, exciting the audience to its feet with exuberant applause. As in the overture, mournful music now signaled an ending, with trio groups exiting on both sides of the stage, leaving the two choreographers to bow in traditional Irish folk dance style.

Curran and Carr’s effort, talent, and knowledge of the forms summoned up the spirit of dance and its necessity in our lives. Céili, brought together a community of audience and performers to merge and reunite after two years of pandemic deep sleep. Afterwards, the audience congregated, lingering to congratulate and share the heartfelt warmth this dance inspired.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

September 28, 2022
Time to charge up the fall gala season with NYC Ballet's 10th Annual Fall Fashion Gala on Sept. 28. One of the most anticipated fall events, this year's celebration spotlights a commissioned world premiere score by Grammy-Award winning singer, songwriter, and visual artist Solange Knowles choreographed by a rising talent, Gianna Reisen.

With the release of Solange's critically acclaimed albums, A Seat at the Table and When I Get Home, Solange has invoked themes of identity, empowerment, grief, and healing that have resonated with millions of voices. The ballet includes costumes by fashion designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo for Palomo Spain, featuring Swarovski crystals; and lighting by Mark Stanley, NYCB’s Resident Lighting Director.

In addition, the evening will include a World Premiere ballet by Kyle Abraham (costume design by Giles Deacon), the live performance premiere of Justin Peck’s Solo (costume design by Raf Simons), and excerpts from George Balanchine’s Symphony in C (costume design by Marc Happel).

This year’s event will honor Sarah Jessica Parker, a vice chair of the NYCB Board of Directors, who conceived the Fall Fashion Gala in 2012 with a celebration of the legendary designer Valentino.

Joining Parker as Chairs of the 2022 Fall Fashion Gala are Honorary Chair Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America; and co-Chairs Georgina Bloomberg, Andy Cohen, Laverne Cox, Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy, Jill Kargman, Diane Kruger, Mazdack and Zanna Rassi, Deborah Roberts, Jordan Roth, and Lizzie Tisch.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 27, 2022
When COVID hit, dancers took to recording themselves inside apartments. Space was scarce and solos abounded. One of those homemade solos by Jamar Roberts made it into City Center's digital Fall For Dance Program in 2020 and now it's live for Program #2. Roberts, a former Alvin Ailey dancer, forged a successful choreographic career and like so many others, expressed his complicated emotions about COVID and racial justice through dance.

Set against a mind-refreshing score by The Last Poets, John Coltrane, and Nina Simone, Roberts' Morani/Mungu(Black Warrior/Black Gold)spaced the solo into 3 parts divided by blackouts. Performed by the outstanding Ailey dancer James Gilmer, the solo was both abstract and emotional (passionate). Divided into three parts by black-outs and musical choices, Roberts invested the solo with an intensity of personal expression. Passing through sections of intense feelings; in the final section, flashes of Dudley Williams dancing the elegiac "I Wanna Be Ready" -- dressed in white, lying on his back, arms searching the space for salvation-- echoed. 

San Francisco Ballet's new Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo, had much to celebrate after the company's stellar performance of Jerome Robbins' ballet In The Night. Set to Chopin Nocturnes, three couples embraced in humanized, romantic encounters. Swirling weightlessly, Elizabeth Powell and Joseph Waish, slipped through embraces and airy lifts that defied gravity. Theatrical exclamations circled Sasah Mukhamedov and Tilt Helimets in their authoritative, slavic inflected duet. Unexpected lifts, arm holds and weight shifts colored the final duet with Dores Andre and Luke Ingham. 

Flamenco musicians and dancers claimed the stage when Maria Moreno and special guest Maria Terrmoto sparked songs and dances that spoke of raw emotion. Maneuvering a scarf with the calibrated artistry of a toreador, Moreno challenged the musicians to talk back to her drilling heels and fluttery castanets. Not just a singer, Termoto's hands never quit rippling, closely accenting the scent of the mournful and defiant music performed by the inspiring Maria Terremoto, Antonio Campos, Javier Ibanez, Miguel Resndo, and Paco Vega.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 26, 2022
Robyn Orlin’s New York City premiere delivers on her legacy of long and cryptic titles: And so you see… our honourable blue sky and ever enduring sun… can only be consumed slice by slice. The piece, presented by FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival at New York Live Arts, and performed by Albert Ibokwe Khoza is a powerhouse of solo performance art, as it runs a gamut across style and genre that is entirely transfixing.

Taking the seven deadly sins as a compositional road map, the performance is unconventionally staged with Khoza spending nearly the entire time facing away from the audience. A leather armchair sits a few feet from the first row and seats, and in it lays a body shrouded in strips of white fabric.

As the lights go down, video manager Thabo Pule begins to unwrap the motionless figure of Khoza. From the projected overhead view, the cloth gives way to the glistening cellophane wrapped tightly around his body. This constriction seems dangerous with only Khoza’s lips and shoulders escaping the binding, but his voice emanates from the plastic cocoon vacillating between soaring pure notes and rumbling growls.

With his arms released, Khoza brandishes a bowl of oranges and a knife, carefully peeling the first in an elegant spiral and vivisecting it, plunging each quarter of the dripping fruit into his mouth between bouts of tittering laughter as the knife’s edge darts around his mouth with excruciating precision.

Likewise, much of the performance exists in the closeup view of his body, fingers and hand bedecked in glittering jewelry flitting about a mirror or his virtuosically agile face leaping from animal impressions to serious glamorousness in the blink of an eye.

While painting on the makeup Khoza declares that he has an incredibly important date to prepare for. It is with none other than Vladimir Putin, whose involvement with Africa stretches back before Orlin’s conception of And so you see…in 2016. Khoza tells him: “my people dance with our weapons. Can yours make such beautiful sounds?” and the skirt he wears, made of woven whips and brightly colored fabric, lifts like the plumage of a peacock and swishes across the floor as he dances. Indeed, the sounds are beautiful.

Orlin’s superb composition with Khoza’s magnetic personality and exquisite vocal talent, make for an evening of art that is thoughtful and challenging while retaining a wonderful sense of humor.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

September 25, 2022
Fall For Dance Program #2 brought audiences some heat, a little cool and lots of energy.
Exuberance and friendship overflowed when the curtain rose on an animated group of dancers and musicians circling the stage  teasing out samba steps and percussive beats in Leonardo Sandovala and composer/musician Gregory Richardson's I Didn't Come To Stay. The long, lanky Sandoval joins the corners of  tap and funk, to house dance and West African forms. Deep inside, the "beat" repeats and connects the Afro-diasporic forms to an enthusiastic audience. 

In Pam Tanowitz's No Nonsense, two outstanding dancers, Melissa Toogood and Herman Cornejo-- a modern dancer and a ballet dancer -- unite in  understated choreography  to a musical duet performed on stage by Kate Davis and Katie Geissinger. Moving in separate spheres, the dancers produce clean lines and unexpected twists -- like standing back to back and pressing a foot on the other's calf. Other tokens of familiarity seed the  duet. Clean and explicit, they connect in open lifts and body to body supports that slip into casual caresses. 

Ailey dancers must delight choreographers because of their ability to morph into most dance styles. In the case of Busk by Aszure Barton, they meld into a single organism bound by a shared mystery. At times hunched over. they lift themselves, chests open arms loose, in elevated expressions of openness and readiness. Sounds of gypsy and choral music thicken the sense of a protective and expansive community.  
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 23, 2022
Works by George Balanchine flooded NYC Ballet's opening night making it a particularly satisfying program.

Surrounded by a cast of dominant young dancers, Balanchine's 1956 Mozart ballet Divertimento 15 formed a musical springboard for a traditional form invigorated by neo classical invention. Split between 3 soloists and 3 principals, six variations showed-off each individual dancer's personality: Sara Adams, Erica Pereira, Unity Phelan, Emilie Gerrity, Joseph Gordon and Megan Fairchild. Style and clarity colored their solos with an extra dollop of attention going to Periera, Phelan, and Gordon.

Scotch Symphony headed for the highlands led by the air borne Ashley Bouder, along with Jovani Furlan and Baily Jones. Echoes of the 19th century La Sylphide's sprightly sensibilities seeped through the buoyant jumps and springy turns that nodded to the master 19th Century choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville.

When a poet and a beautiful sleepwalker meet, mystery ensues in Balanchine's La Sonnambula. Charming and flamboyant, The Coquette (Sara Mearns) circulates through a masked party, commanding everyone's attention and stealing into the dreamy Poet's (Taylor Stanley) arms. As if in this world, yet part of another, Stanley effortlessly moves through the party, gallantly partnering Mearns in affectionate, suspended holds and flawless lifts.

Bounding from the wings, Harlequin (a NYC Ballet stalwart, Daniel Ulbricht) dazzles all with his technical fireworks jumping twice his height and pirouetting into perfect landings. As the guests dissipate, a light appears in the windows of the house revealing a beautiful Sleepwalker (Sterling Hyltin) holding a candle in one outstretched hand while quickly slipping on point across the space.

Whenever Stanley reaches out to grasp her, Hyltin sways forward and back, or round and round like a fluffy cloud blown by a sweet breeze. Desperate to hold her, Stanley approaches, but Hyltin executes a series of fleeting steps (bourrees) backwards that blur into an inexplicably ephemeral flight -- a breath-taking sight.

The rapt audience roared its appreciation for a company emboldened by its impressive ranks and commitment to American dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 22, 2022
Opening night of Fall For Dance, fans filed into a line that stretched up 55th Street to Seventh Avenue. Once inside, Arlene Shuler (overseeing her last Fall For Dance Season before stepping down as executive director) stood in the middle of the lobby enthusiastically greeting well-wishers. Afterall, this was her idea in 2004--an idea that grew into a NYC dance staple.

An animated audience enthusiastically received France's Compagnie Herve Koubi's excerpts from Boys Don't Cry. An all male troupe of physically fit black and brown men decked in white pants and shirts gracefully blend street dance with martial arts and social dance. Artfully moving on a white floor framed by white curtains, the compact Mohammed Elhilali breaks from the group. With microphone in hand, he relays a poignant tale of being bullied and his father's tough response: learn Judo. Mohammed's takeaway: "Boys don't cry."

Frequently swirling in circles, the adept company alternates between remarkable tricks like spinning on one's head only to corkscrew slower and then speed back up, and snapping into kick flips that fold into a satisfying, communal huddle.

Balletomanes revelled in the grand Pas de deux from Le Corsaire choreographed by Marius Petipa and performed by two Portuguese artists Margarita Fernandes and Antonio Casalinho. Pristine technique supported the requisite flair indispensable to executing an intricate string of fouettes and sky rocketing barrel turns.

A relatively new NYC dance company, Gibney Dance (founded by Gina Gibney) closed the night. Attractive dancers saunter through Bliss by Johan Inger to a piano score by the astonishing jazz artist Keith Jarett. Bliss' friendly ambiance extends to house lights remaining up and the dancers sporting everyday, casual outfits.

Under the bright starburst light suspended overhead, dancers pass and mix, sharing kinetic stories and repeating bluesy refrains: loose prances, bent arms pumping up and down, and dancers shifting from one foot to another in time to the divine piano riffs.

Throughout the ballet, optimism pervades the jaunty runs, and shoulder shimmies that float over light footed trills and flirty duets. What could make this better? Keith Jarrett playing live!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 18, 2022
For Jeanne, an awkward French teenager, going live on Instagram is a rare occasion but when she has the house to herself (father’s on a business trip, mother’s at a church meeting) she presses record and starts to talk to her followers. Created by Marion Siéfert and presented by the French Institute Alliance Française as part of their annual Crossing The Line Festival _jeanne_dark_ is a tour de force one-woman show, performed by Helena de Laurens.

The stage of the lovely Florance Gould Theater is transformed into a white box, fabric walls devoid of decoration and flanked by two tall and equally plain screens--onto which English supertitles and Jeanne’s live video are projected. Jeanne herself is colorfully clad in Valentine Solé’s costumes, smartly tasteless in a way that endears her to the audience. She babbles about controlling parents, faith, school, and her jealousy of the fact that her sister is no longer a virgin, punctuated by the occasional dance break.

In these moments the performance is at its most sublime: Jeanne’s strange and erratic dance moves reveal things about her relationship with her body that her words cannot. And as each dance passes her language loosens and her relationship with sexuality becomes more lucid as she provocatively adjusts her clothes and dances along to Cardi B’s WAP.

As the performance spirals things start to get weird: one of the various Instagram accounts commenting on Jeanne’s video begins to address the audience, providing commentary and comedy. Jeanne smears lipgloss across her mouth and eyelids and, in a surreal turn, produces a sparkling knight’s gauntlet from her backpack and runs it across her body, imbuing herself with violent self-empowerment.

Climactically the disembodied voice of Jeanne’s mother arrives, knocking loudly on her locked bedroom door and demanding to know what Jeanne is doing. In their argument Jeanne lashes out with her words and hands, leaving her mother crying as she displays a capacity for cruel honesty that is alien to the timid version of her that began the play. Retreating into the corner of the room and readdressing her digital audience, she peels off her shirt and writhes slowly to ethereal music as the light drains away.

_jeanne_dark_ is an invaluable addition to the growing pantheon of hybrid format theater, providing a unique and intriguing experience both live and online, and pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a stage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

September 13, 2022
On Skirball’s bare stage, the walls glow with an eerie light as the audience settles in for the premiere of John Jasperse’s Visitations. The piece, taking its inspiration from “spiritualism, Mesmerism, the occult, hysteria, and the exoticization of myth” is a spacious 75 minutes danced by three exceptional performers: Tim Bendernagel, Cynthia Koppe, and Doug LeCours.

As the lights go down, the dancer’s heavy footfalls settle as a puddle of light pools upon a figure draped in pale fabric, their back arching and falling as their shroud rises—a classic silhouette, ghostly beneath a sheet. A sound forms in the darkness; huge cracks and rumbles ripple across the silken mantle as a single foot emerges, gently carrying the specter away into the dark wings.

Now Bendernagel and Koppe fill the stage with their spare movements, languidly rolling and contorting about the stage as the cacophony of Hahn Rowe’s soundscape intensifies until it is almost unbearable. The sound breaks when LeCours enters and begins to move through a series of preternatural gestures, grasping at his face and arms in the newfound silence.

Rob Gould’s set and Amy Page’s costuming complement each other very well, and the textures of their varied fabrics turn sublime under Stan Pressner’s stark lighting.

In a tender duet, LeCours steps away from the prone Bendernagel, whose outstretched hand traces the back of his calf, fingers splaying into the air. Nothing here is hidden, even as the dancers subtly enter and exit, the soft drift of a curtain at the back of the stage anticipates each arrival.

In its penultimate moments, the piece is defined by another piece of fabric that floats through the air drawn by a smart system of pulleys and weights. Landing between Koppe and the other two dancers whose shadows bloom like a Rorschach inkblot across the cloth, it wrinkles and bunches where her hands grasp at their invisible bodies as she executes a possession-esque backbend.

Met with a standing ovation, Jasperse’s new work is a triumph of singular focus, which the performers deliver with a trance-like intensity. The audience is transported into a space charged with the supernatural, a sensation that is not easily shaken.

Even after departing the theater into the bustle of a Manhatten evening, spirits still float in its periphery.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

September 6, 2022
You might think it's too early for the start of the "award season" but The Clive & Valerie Barnes Foundation, under the leadership of Holly Jones and Lloyd Mayor, announced The finalists for this year's Theater Artist Award are Justin Cooley—Kimberly Akimbo; Jasai Chase-Owens—Sanctuary City; Erin Wilhelmi—To Kill a Mockingbird; and Samantha Williams—Caroline, or Change.

This year's Dance Artist Award finalists are Zimmi Coker—American Ballet Theatre; Erica Lall—American Ballet Theatre; Mira Nadon—New York City Ballet; and Jake Tribus—Gibney Dance Company.

The winners will be announced during the ceremony on Sunday, September 18, 2022. Recognizing excellence in theater and dance each receive an award of $5000 while the finalists enjoy a cash prize of $500.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

BAAND Finale
August 29, 2022
Lincoln Center’s second memorable BAAND Together Dance Festival, a week-long series of open-air dance workshops and performances at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch featured Kevin McKenzie in the closing ceremony. American Ballet Theatre’s departing Artistic Director, McKenzie hailed the festival as a testimony of New York City’s thriving united community.

Three years ago, the Artistic Directors of ABT, Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theater of Harlem, and NYCB, got together during the pandemic’s onset to collaborate in finding strategic solutions to keep dance performances and educational workshops alive.

Irradiating excitement, Robert Battle, Eduardo Vilaro, Virginia Johnson, John Stafford, and Wendy Whelan joined McKenzie on stage. With the audience cheering, Whelan presented McKenzie a gift for his contributions to the BAAND festival and recognition for his 30 years leading ABT (1992-2022).

The dance program then opened with ABT performing Children’s Songs Dance, a delightful, creative work by Jessica Lang to Chick Corea’s homologous score, played live by pianist Emily Wong. Through a set of tableaus of Matisse-like playful imagery, eight dancers delineated impeccably fluid compositions of a blend of fresh neoclassical and contemporary ballet.

Ballet Hispánico followed with an exhilarating bang of Mambo trumpets and dazzling couples performing excerpts from Club Havana. Honoring Tina Ramírez’s legacy, the contemporary dance company’s contagious swings, swirls, shimmies, and plethora of lifts spiced up the flavor that distinguished this choreographic voyage in time to choreographer Pedro Ruiz’s native Cuba.

New York City Ballet's performance of Allegro Brilliante delighted the audience with a gush of George Balanchine’s signature whirling enchaînments to Tchaikovsky’s variations, starring Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia.

In contrast, Dance Theater of Harlem's When Love, choreographed by Helen Pickett, brought a sense of intimacy to the stage. In an open-hearted distinctive contemporary pas de deux, Amanda Smith and David Wright drew in space through the collage of music, song, and spoken word in Philip Glass’ Knee Play 5.

Next, Ghrai DeVore-Stokes superbly conveyed Alvin Ailey’s Cry with an enrapturing powerful, and moving performance.

In closing, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s One for All brought the five companies together, interweaving their signature aesthetic and dynamic qualities with her distinctive configurations.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

August 16, 2022
Kyle Abraham's ambitious new work Requiem: Fire in the Air of the Earth is an "Afro- Futurist exploration of death, reincarnation, and the after-life" which certainly delivers in metaphysical splendor. The score—drawn from Mozart's Requiem in D minor—fits right in at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, where jazz and classical music often find a home.

However, as pulsing bass so deep it makes vision tremble reverberates through the theater alongside choral voices, mixed live by the tremendously talented electronic musician Jlin, Mozart's work becomes a point of departure for the exploration of Requiem's epic themes.

Similarly, when the curtain rises on a stage strewn with ten dancers who undulate in Abraham's signature genre-bending style, balletic form serves as a base into which modern and Black social dance are folded. The dancers find elegant diagonals and extensions interspersed with organic twists and leans, all delivered with athleticism and grace. Their costumes, designed by Giles Deacon, are all soft colors and bunches of pleats forming skirts, loose pants, and even a stiff tutu -- all of which shuffle and bounce with fashionable panache.

Canons of choreography send the dancers oozing across the stage before it becomes a bare and bright space. In this sudden vacuum a lithe solo becomes a taut duet that evolves into a liquid trio before the full ensemble crashes back into the fray roiling in the nightclub lights. Violent seizures punctuate the performance, moments of collapse and spasm that disrupt the churn of choreography.

When a dancer falls prone and convulses their companions swiftly lift them from the floor as they are folded back into the throng. But before long, dancers pull away from the floor by their companions back into the thick of it.

Dan Scully's lighting design is excellent, with sharp lines and precise circles that cut through the hazy air in saturated neon colors. A particularly striking moment finds a footlight casting the dancer's shadows huge against the wall in angular silhouettes that overlap to make surprisingly soft shapes.

Throughout, a neon circlet floats above the heads of the dancers like a sun hanging low in the sky, and within it images swirl: Curling fingerprints, ink dripping in water, and upturned soil are projected into the dark hollow.

In the final moments rippling water alights there, superimposed over the face of a black child, who soon after wades knee-deep into a river. The dancers stand watching, their back facing the audience, as the curtain falls.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --- Noah Witke Mele

August 12, 2022
REJOICE - RECLAIM - REMEMBER… words on banners framing the stage were important reminders of New Yorkers’ celebration of dance following the pandemic, as five iconic companies joined together in the second BAAND Together performance on Thursday, August 11. BAAND Together Dance Festival, (which is an acronym for Ballet Hispánico, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem), showcased all five companies on a spectacular summer evening.

One for All, a World Premiere by Colombian/Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, featured fourteen dancers from all five companies, set to music by Dizzy Gillespie & Funky Lowlives, opened the evening. Costumed in white fluffy tutus, black tights and formal long sleeved black gloves -- men bare chested and women in nude colored leotard tops -- the dancers enveloped the stage in various formations of solos, duets, trios, sextets, and a final unison grouping, preening, posing, and flirting with the audience to the sexy rhythms of the music.

Pedro Ruiz, Cuban born and trained choreographer, used ten Ballet Hispánico dancers in his signature work, Club Havana (2000), with Afro/Cuban/Latin musical selections by Israel Lopez, Rubén Gonzales, A.K. Salim, Perez Prado and Francisco Repilado. The rhythms of the conga, rumba, mambo, and cha cha helped bring to life scenes of Cuban night clubs and mating rituals. Five men and five women embraced, swaggered, and tangoed, in sensuous dreamy duets, trios… lifting, draping, and surrounding their partners, while cigar and cigarette smoke embellished the atmosphere. Costume designer, Emilio Sosa, dressed the women in dramatic gold, red, green, blue, and magenta cocktail dresses and the men in stunning suits to match.

Pas de Duke, An Ailey classic, originally choreographed in 1976 for Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov by Alvin Ailey, is set to classic music by Duke Ellington, (“Such Sweet Thunder” (1957), “Sonnet for Caesar” (1957), “Sonnet to Hank Cinq” (1957), “The Clothed Woman” (1948), “Old Man Blues” (1930)). It featured performers, Jacqueline Harris, one of Ailey’s finest, dressed in black, who found her match with ABT’s Herman Cornejo, in white. They enjoyed the ease of a friendly, competitive partnership in five sections: solos and duets, which showcased their technical brilliance and light hearted self assurance.

New York City Ballet’s Red Angels, choreographed by the late Ulysses Dove in 1994, was absolute perfection on stage as four exquisite, flawless dancers: Emilie Gerrity, Ashley Hod, Davide Riccardo, and Peter Walker, all costumed in flattering red unitards by designer Holly Hynes, and lit in red by Mark Stanley, embodied technical magic on stage to composer Richard Einhorn’s unrelenting score (Maxwell’s Demons) which was performed live by Mary Rowell on electric violin. The stunning ending silhouetted the dancers at the back of the stage, lit in white from above, truly angels on earth.

When Love (2012), a duet by choreographer Helen Pickett partnering with composer Philip Glass’s "Knee 5" from Einstein on the Beach, repeatedly asked the question “How Much Do I Love You?” Dance Theater of Harlem’s Daphne Lee and Kouadio Davis achieved a fast paced, sometimes frenzied connection, in Pickett’s desire to represent timeless love and devotion.

Love Stories (2004) (excerpt), the finale of the evening, choreographed by Ailey Artistic Director, Robert Battle, did not disappoint and was the highlight of the evening. Nine prolific dancers in shades of red and orange jumpsuits banded together to express imagination, playfulness, joy, enthusiasm, the power of community, and the power of dance, to Stevie Wonder’s riveting rhythms and inimitable harmonica. A standing ovation followed the performance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

July 1, 2022
An inexhaustibly enthusiastic crowd cheered Skylar Brandt (Odette/Odile) and Herman  Cornejo (Prince Siegfried) in the popular story ballet Swan Lake.  Based on the revised 1895 ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov Swan Lake with poignantly lush music by Tchaikovsky, Kevin McKenzie adapted the ballet and added a front-of-the-curtain prologue visualizing the evil sorcerer snatching a beautiful woman and turning her into a forlorn swan.

In celebration of the Prince's 21st birthday, peppy villagers frolic and toss off festive gigs, topped off by the diverting pas de trois danced with verve by corps de ballet members, Zimmi Coker, Breanne Granlund and Patrick Frenette. Although fully capable, Frenette's body holds tension until he loosens up in whizzing barrel turns. A natural jumper, Granlund airily springs into the rafters and Coker endearingly ferries through lacy hops and directional shifts.

A mainstay of ballet companies, Swan Lake demands technical and dramatic mastery and in her debut performance, Brandt took control of her destiny. Steady in Cornejo's embrace, Brandt's winged arms undulate over the signature, straight-arrow arabesques, framed by her torso folding into soft backbends guided the whole time by Cornejo's eyes and sure-hands.

Surrounded by a shimmering corps de ballet that breathe as one, Odette-- at first concerned by this man with a lethal crossbow -- succumbs to Prince Siegfried. Learning that "true love" can break the the sorcerer's spell that transforms Odette from a woman at night to a swan in the day, Siegfried swears he will love her throughout eternity.

When Siegrfried arrives at the ball the following day, processions and courtly dances abound until gate-crashers materialize to the sound of trumpets: Odile (Odette's evil twin) and the evil Rothbart (performed by Gabe Stone Shayer). Both Brandt and Shayer exude youthful eagerness rather than radiating ravishing wickedness and sexual allure. Constantly gaining in performance strength, Shayer-- like Brandt-- exhibits a love of dance. 

In the duet with Cornejo, Brandt strikes out in a wide, arabesque tilted rivetingly off-balance, nearly tipping over but for Cornejo's perfectly timed hand grasp. Fully prepared, Brandt sustained extended balances and tossed off the centerpiece 32 fouettes. 

Cornejo soars through his solos, finishing in immaculate landings, executing clear beats and the signature leaps that stretch into longing back arches. Individually, each step and gesture speaks of his anxiety, despair and love. Invariably retaining visual or physical contact with Brandt, like all great actors, Cornejo reveals his interior thoughts and emotions through his interpretive skills.

A large scale production, the ballet ascends and wanes, but the central solos and duets remain compelling. It will be a pleasure to watch Brandt mature into the role, find more breath and expansiveness in Odette; danger and attitude in Odile. Otherwise, brava to a rousing debut.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 29, 2022
The advent of modern dance saw expanded movement vocabularies within newly invented techniques. The postmodern movement of the 1960’s was concerned more with motion, as well as breaking from classical structures with new choreographic methods. As a student and professional dancing in the 21st century, I’ve often wondered how we might identify the guiding principles of what is so frustratingly vaguely termed “contemporary dance.”

Gibney Company’s Up Close provided an answer – we are no longer interested in movement, nor in motion; we are interested in dancing itself – making and performing it as dazzlingly as possible, alongside increased advocacy for fair and equitable compensation for artists, so historically conditioned to working tooth-and-nail for next-to-nothing.

Up Close is not a piece; it is a sort of programming format. It is never made clear in the program for Gibney’s New York Live Arts run what this format is, but what unfolded was an evening of three short to mid-length works, made by two guest choreographers, Yin Yue and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, and one “Choreographic Associate,” Rena Butler, who additionally performed as a dancer in the Company.

Their works were ordered with a keen sense of digestibility – two short dances (Butler’s and Yin Yue’s), followed by Sansano’s longer piece on the other side of an intermission. The combination of dazzling dancing and program digestibility melds into how Gibney aims to solve the problem of an underfunded dance sector – strip away the esotericism of contemporary dance to appeal to a wider audience.

For a program featuring three choreographers of diverse and intersecting identities, these digestible dances were disappointingly similar in an aesthetic I can only encapsulate as “opening ensemble number on Fox’s "So You Think You Can Dance.” Gibney’s remarkable ensemble of dancers are all masters in infusing American competition-grade contemporary movement with convenient notes of contemporary European styles. If you notice I’m saying “contemporary” a lot, that’s precisely the problem.

Rena Butler’s Re / Build / Construct (Part I) tries too hard to make something of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” with a collaged score by Darryl J. Hoffman and a modular set, designed by Tsubasa Kamei to illustrate the Allegory’s images of shadows and light. The movement falls dynamically flat, dancers vigorously hobbling around like Coppélia dolls and yammering gibberish to express their unenlightened state.

A Measurable Existence allows itself to be about nothing specific, and more purely showcases Yin Yue’s athletic moves.

Sansano’s To the End of Love nods to Pina, strewing the floor with posters of online dating lingo, shed a la Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Quirky music choices and sudden affective contrasts will not so much delight tanztheater enthusiasts, but allow novices a way in.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

June 23, 2022
Operatic ballets wowed late 1800's audiences in Russia. Exotic themes, extravagant costumes and lush music accompanied star-crossed lovers, battles, heady dreams and reconciliations.

Well, you get all that along with imaginatively scored choreography in Alexei Ratmansky's Of Love and Rage.

Spread out over a popular score by Aram Khachaturian, the ballet references the first known romantic novel "Callirhoe" possibly written 1-2 BCE. Set in the Greek city of Syracuse during the Golden Age of ancient Greece, 400 B.C.E., gods, kings, pirates and the goddess of love Aphrodite make appearances.

As if ripped from the friezes of ancient Greek vases, the production opens on a bevy of beautiful maidens outfitted in long, filmy tunics (by Jean-Marc Puissant). Lyrical cascades of soft movements led by the exquisitely expressive Catherine Hurlin (Callirhoe), fan across the stage like soft Mediterranean waves cresting against sun bleached shores.

Difficult to fully capture Ratmansky's unending invention, women partner women, men partner men in balances and lifts that incorporate unexpected points of support and quick directional switches between partners. At times, Ratmansky's unending movement options invite editing, but on this occasion, his immaculate choreographic originality is framed by clarity.

Perfectly suited to play Callirhoe, the woman whose beauty captivates men, Hurlin theatricalizes her role without over dramatizing by simply interpreting Ratmansky's intention-laden choreography.

Based on an entangled narrative that incorporates everything from Adonis-like Greek male athletes to strong-willed noblemen, pillaging pirates, and fanciful women, the ballet loosely follows the lovers Callirhoe and Chaereas (a fervent Aaron Bell). Wooed by many a noble young man, Callirhoe choses to marry Chaereas and they exchange gold wrist bands as a token of their unbroken love.

At this point, Jose Limon's The Moor's Pavane comes to mind, because a similar plot is hatched when Callirhoe's maid helps the unscrupulous suitors replicate the wedding bracelet for the maid to wear and causes Chaereas to believe Callirhoe to be unfaithful. Chareas rushes into her chamber and kills her--arms rise behind the bodies of witnesses.

Taken to the mausoleum, Callirhoe survives only to wake up in time to witness pirates carting off her funerary possessions and make her their captive.

Part of Ratmansky's choreographic allure is the logic imposed on one passage after another. Unlike other colleagues, Ratmansky's choreographic arc is not interrupted with oddities parachuted in for no discerning reason.

A grand scale ballet, strands of dancers file into diagonal patterns that break into flowery chunks, reconvene as noisettes and split into the air. Fanciful folk dances abound and simple typical ballet jumps are embellished with additional twists, or directional changes that required not just a buoyant pop, but a vertical balance.

After Callirhoe is abducted, she's deposited in Anatolia, where the nobleman Dionysius (the compellingly brooding Daniel Camargo) mourns his wife's death until....the sight of Callirhoe undoes him. After some cajoling, she marries him (in part because she's pregnant and requires a husband). Camargo's smoldering dark looks amplify his earthy dips and expansive leaps, as he and Hurlin entwine in a duet of majestic lifts, and elastic embraces.

But all is still not well because Callirhoe captivates Mithridates (Jarod Curley who admirably replaced an injured Cory Stearns), another nobleman in Babylon who dukes it out with Dionysius until--voila! Chareas appears. Ok, the story is a bit circuitous, but it gives lead dancers an opportunity to dramatically invest their dancing with oversized emotions embedded in intricate choreography.

In Puissant's massively colorful production, gorgeous costumes festoon the narrative, color-coding one tribe from another and splashing the ballet with light by Duane Schuler.

Hurlin and Bell soar through the ballet capturing the lovers' passion. Invested with technical facility and interpretive bravery, Hurlin seamlessly fastens the dance to the character.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 20, 2022
Paul Taylor Dance Company usually performs at such large venues as Lincoln Center, a fact that made their weekend at the Joyce in Chelsea a wonderful opportunity to see the dancers at work in an intimate space. The programming for this limited run centered some of Taylor's less performed work, along with mainstays of the repertoire like Aureole, and put them in dialogue with new works commissioned by contemporary choreographers.

Program B featured four works by Taylor, and a New York premiere of Peter Chu’s A Call for Softer Landings, which—given the rather immense stylistic differences—complimented each other incredibly well. Chu’s piece was much more narratively driven than Taylor's, whose work is marked in the grand scheme of modern dance for its departure from the storytelling style of Graham, whose company he danced for.

Chu’s sharply contemporary choreography gesturally evoked rich relationships between the dancers, from fraught to loving, violent to tender. Lee Duvenek’s duet with Madelyn Ho was exceptional, a carefully composed sequence, where she beat him with fists, knees, and elbows, in a thoroughly dangerous bit of dance executed with precise control.

Beyond Chu’s work, pairs of dancers stood out across the evening in dynamic partnerships. Taylor's work lends itself to geometrically athletic sequences, most clearly in Profiles, where two duos made a series of hard blunt angles, arms bent up at the elbow giving way to stern fists. The dancers were deft and careful as they lifted each other precariously on their shoulders or in gravity-defying leans, exemplifying the piece’s near two-dimensional staging.

Stunning in its simplicity Events II, offered an entirely different take on the duet form: Eran Bugge and Jada Pearman stood, sat, and lay across the stage in relative stillness, done up in dresses, up-dos, and heels. Besides the economical adjustments of their positions, the two were more moved by the soft breeze that drifted across the stage than by each other.

Aureole departed from these partnerships, as dancers dressed in bright white lept playfully across the stage to baroque music, in almost ballet form. Austin Kelly was a standout, his bright smile and saccharine comportment brought affective depth to a performance that could easily have fallen into empty cheer.

Paul Taylor Dance Company has been dedicated to the necessary and precise preservation of Taylor’s work since its inception. This program certainly demonstrates that, and additionally works to keep the repertoire fresh and in conversation with the contemporary landscape of dance with much success.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

June 18, 2022
Periapsis Music and Dance's tenth season culminated in UNBEKNOWNST, a program of five new works by its resident and guest choreographers, in collaboration with the company’s resident composers. All works were performed by an ensemble of dancers and musicians, with two prestigious guest musicians joining the program. Five world premieres, with choreography by: Rohan Bhargava, PeiJu Chien-Pott, Da' Von Doane, Gabrielle Lamb, and Evita Zacharioglou graced the program with original music by: Annie Nikunen and Jonathan Howard Katz, the artistic director.

The program began with “Dissimilate,” by choreographer Rohan Bhargava, in collaboration with four female dancers to music by Annie Nikunen, with Jeffrey Zeigler playing live cello. According to program notes, the piece expressed “the search for individual identity against societal conformity.”

The lights came up on four women folded over, with bottoms facing the audience, showing only half of a body, with arms reaching and curling around upside down torsos before finally rising to erect postures.

Dancers connected and disconnected in estrangement, manipulating and contorting the body of one, while others watched or surrounded dispassionately. The work culminated in a duet where arms intertwined, uniting. It seemed that Bhargava was trying to find redemption through love and connection, in a world of indifference.

“The Subject” by choreographer Evita Zacharioglou, live piano by Jonathan Howard Katz, and musical soundscape by Spenser Robelen, showed three dancers (one of them the choreographer) in suit jackets, lifting, turning, gesturing, swirling, and diving towards and away. The dancing was respectable and professional, the music atmospheric, but there seemed to be little “subject” or point of view evident in this work, more like a work in progress that could be revisited.

Da’ Von Doane’s choreography for two men, in “What Kind of Land” with pianists Melinda Taylor and Jonathan Howard Katz playing to Annie Nikunen’s asynchronous score, did not equal the vitality of the music. The movement, often pedestrian walking, towards and away, around… symmetrical… embracing, and separating, meandered respectably, but without the passion needed to be believed.

Fourth on the program was “Split” by choreographer PeiJu Chien-Pott, danced eloquently by Liz Hepp and Paulina Meneses, in original yellow and black costumes by Lauren Carmen. Live cello, by Jeffrey Ziegler. Original score by Katz. Geometric floor patterns and shifting geometric shapes, in unison and oppositional duet configurations, explored the musical dynamics impeccably.

Gabrielle Lamb’s “”Unbeknownst” ended the evening, displayed the most experienced choreography of the evening. Lamb’s choreography responds to Katz’s music in this piece more than any of the other works, and she uses her dancers well. The piece begins with two minutes of piano and viola music only, and resolves at the end, with only the music.

“Unbeknownst” (the title of the evening) meaning “happening without the knowledge of the other” was too often the irony of this evening's presentation. The original music outweighed most of the choreography in its depth and knowledge, regrettably, often too divorced from the work onstage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

June 16, 2022
New York City's teeming artistic atmosphere bred America's second generation of performing and visual artists in the 1950's and 1960's. Deemed a "naughty boy" by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor left her company and flipped a few cultural mores along the way. These early days of experimentation and agitation are on view at the Joyce Theater.

Spare yet colorful, Fibers (1961) butts against an atonal score by Arnold Schoenberg, wrapping dancers in bright, rope-like fibers by the avant-garde artist Rouben Ter-Arutunian. Contractions edge against hard, athletic gestures and runs break out, arms swinging high side to side, legs gulping space. Inklings of Taylor's technique are outlined while exhaling Graham's influences and perhaps even suggestions of Jean Erdman's mix of myth and design.

Before exiting Graham's company, Taylor choreographed Images and Reflections in 1958 to a score by another experimental composer Morton Feldman and designed by Robert Rauschenberg. Silk-like fringe runs up and down John Harnage's spine reminiscent of a bird or native American headdress; arms stretch and back extends. In counterpoint, Kristin Draucker in a puffy, 50's style dress of tulle goofily shifts side to side in a dreamlike surf.

A jaunty new work by Michelle Mazanales Hope is the Thing with Feathers captures the company's vitality. Line dances and contemporary tunes hark to some of Taylor's own joyful odes to catchy, popular music from various decades.

Another Taylor gem Aureole galvanized Taylor's assertive choreographic reputation. Set to music by George Frederick Handel, Aureole foreshadows the brilliantly structured, lyric pieces to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 14, 2022
American Ballet Theater's season opened with sparkling comments about McKenzie's extraordinary service to the company. McKenzie, originally a favored ABT dancer who became artistic director for over 4 decades, will be succeeded by another former ABT dancer, Susan Jaffee. Change is-a-comin' to American Ballet Theater.

Intent on showcasing the company's wealth of talent, the Gala program embellished the major roles in Don Quixote with several different casts. A lively ballet full of comedy and overwrought drama is set to Ludwig Minkus' lushly romantic music flecked with Spanish cadences, crisp castanets and finger snaps.

Loosely based on the story of Don Quixote's quest the ballet hones in on the love story between the beautiful Kitri and her rakish beau Basilio and their village of characters.

In the first rotation, Aran Bell embodies a dashing young beau, raring to sweep away his sunny Kitri, Catherine Hurlin. Joo Won wins over his Kirtri with buoyant jumps that swoon over the powerfully delicate Hee Seo. A strong partner, Daniel Camargo frames Christine Shevchenko's crowd-pleasing technical prowess.

Two of the livelier roles, Mercedes, the street dancer and Espada, a famous matador allows dancers larger interpretive freedom.

The vainly dramatic matador finds favor in Thomas Forster who has his way with a cape, while Calvin Royal III charmingly claims his ground and Gabe Stone Shayer fires up tons of dash and daring. All three Mercedes' -- Devon Teuscher, Katherine Williams and Cassandra Trenary -- toss off impressive kicks, and flirtatious skirt flicks. A newer face, Williams (ABT soloist) demonstrates fresh verve and the pleasingly theatrical Teuscher returns in a convincing turn as the Queen of the Dyads (Act II).

Someone who nearly steals the show, the wispy corps member Lea Fleytoux, streaks through blurry quick point work, and pliant leaps and turns in the role of Amour.

Facing a new age, American Ballet Theater is building a strong foundation for a creative future that promises to continue its legacy of excellence and broaden its ranks to embrace America's rich cultural, ethnic and racial heritage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

June 13, 2022
Sergei Prokofiev composed Peter and the Wolf in 1936, after being commissioned by the director of Moscow’s Central Children’s Theatre, Natalya Sats, to write a work that, through marrying narrative and musical motif, would introduce children to symphonic instrumentation. Prokofiev ended up writing the libretto as well, creating an airtight educational piece that has since been filmed, televised, staged, and danced.

In 2007, Guggenheim’s Works & Process series premiered a production with fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi narrating, which, under Mizrahi’s subsequent direction in 2013, would go on to include dancers, choreographed by John Heginbotham and costumed by their director/narrator.

Nine years and a pandemic later, Mizrahi has concocted a sequel – a companion piece, written by the designer, entitled The Third Bird, adding composer Nico Muhly to the collaborative mix.

Muhly, like Prokofiev, prioritizes clarity in cross-medium analogs, but departs from Prokofiev’s combination of instrument and theme to achieve it, relying more on instrumentation, and replacing strictly set, varied, and recapitulated themes with the rhythmic atmospheres of modern minimalism contemporary choreographers can’t get enough of.

Some instrumentation/characters carry over – The Bird/Flute (and now Piccolo), the Duck/Oboe (and now English Horn), The Cat/Clarinet, and the Grandfather/Bassoon. Strings have been reassigned from Peter to an Ornithologist, a Central Park Zookeeper is represented by a combination of Harpsichord and Whirly Tube, and the titular Third Bird is an Ostrich, sounded by a Bass Clarinet. The Moon, oddly, has no musical correlate, and was danced by Heginbotham himself when an eleventh-hour injury prevented its intended Gus Solomons, Jr. from performing.

Mizrahi’s narrative, however, is all over the map. What is, in theory, centered on the Ostrich’s journey to embrace itself as a flightless bird is, in practice, distracted by wit for wit’s sake, told as a string of meandering “and then’s” that corner Heginbotham into representing much of the action via dancers reacting to events we are left to imagine.

With the central medium so diffused, it’s anyone’s guess as to the work’s purpose. Mizrahi speaks with child-like awe at the sounds Ensemble Signal uses to portray the characters, and yet his (very entertaining) voice overpowers the score (we’d rather hear more of). His costumes are crafty and clever, but relatively humdrum despite being Mizrahi’s actual medium.

Third Bird is marketed as children’s theater, but when The Duck, after learning to fly to escape Grandfather’s Cat, is sucked into the turbine of an airplane, a young audience member vociferated, “THAT’S NOT FUNNY.” We can perhaps best understand this who’s who of a collaboration as a living New Yorker cartoon, its tongue too far in its cheek to touch any hearts.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

June 13, 2022
Entering its 36th year, the Performance Mix Festival, hosted at Abrons Arts Center, is the longest-running women-led experimental theater festival in New York City. This year featured 12 shows between Thursday and Sunday, platforming more than 35 artists. Friday night’s Program B included works by David Lee Sierra, Kayla Hamilton, and Blaze Ferrer, a wonderfully diverse trio that complemented each other in their immense differences.

David Lee Sierra opened with Public Structures of Feeling, a rich and disturbing endurance performance. Entering at a sensuous pace with all the gravitas of a high fashion pop star, she sported ten-inch pleaser heels and, as her costume changed from glittering chains dripping down her chest and thighs into tight latex, little was left to the imagination. Pounding techno music and droning synthesizers accompanied Sierra mounting a piece of scaffolding, where she found precarious balances and excruciating holds tangled among the bars. Bathed in deeply saturated light she smeared herself in blood, turning her platinum blonde hair dark and stringy.

In stark contrast, How to Bend Down/How to Pick Up by Kayla Hamilton, was introduced as “still in its dreaming stage”. Such a dreaming stage involved description and experimentation of what the performance might become as it explored the history of cotton as it “threads between Blackness and visual Disability”. Striking moments included a verbally guided dance solo that evolved with the inflection of the repeated choreographic directions and the final dance, set to Lead Belly’s "Pick a Bale of Cotton", that had the dancers executing repetitious motions as they moved up and down the stage.

Blaze Ferrer closed the show with Diamond Dessert Cuck, a queer romp featuring two dancers in bedazzled bodysuits with Furby faces affixed to their crotches. As a dreamy score played they ran in circles side by side, arms swinging with increasing verve, punctuated by moments of stillness where they rose into careful relevé. The expansion and contraction of their bodies’ heavy breathing was accentuated by their glittering costumes. In the performance’s climactic moment, a shining cape was lifted into the air by a fan. The billowing fabric evoked a queer jellyfish, under which a dancer churned and rolled about the floor.

All in all, a thoroughly entertaining night at a performance festival whose work feels necessary, not only for an audience but also for the development of the presenting artists.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

June 13, 2022
Kudos to the faculty, artistic director, repertory director, executive director, production manager, and most importantly, the students of Ballet Tech Kids Dance! Opening night at the Joyce Theater gave a complete and satisfying celebration of the end of an era and the beginning of a new period for the company as Eliot Feld retires and Dionne Figgins assumes the helm. And great honor to Eliot Feld for his vision in 1978 to build this school which has developed many professional dancers throughout its existence.

The two hour opening night spanned decades of choreography, from a 1957 version of West Side Story with choreography by Jerome Robbins and music by Leonard Bernstein, to excerpts of Feld’s 1992 Hello Fancy, and a 1994 First Movement of his 23 Skidoo in the first act, and a 2022 piece choreographed by Figgins.

Throughout the evening, the Ballet Tech students were well rehearsed, polished, and confident in a variety of styles and moods. A complete ensemble of dancers dressed in black and white, opened the evening with Feld’s Hello Fancy. Dancers lunged across the stage with twisting torsos, figure eight arms, kicks, sauté’s, in varied groupings, and ending with the entire cast on stage.

Eureka! (2022) choreographed by Artistic Director Dionne Figgins, cast students in street attire of red, blue, green, and pink, jackets atop sweat pants, accompanied by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. A combination of hip hop, break dancing, and balletic pirouettes intertwined to make a cohesive whole.

Jacqueline Scafidi Allsopp, repertory director, fabulously staged sections of Robbins’ West Side Story” weaving “Jets and Sharks,” “Dances in the Gym,” “Cool,” “America,” and “Somewhere” in imaginative configurations, reminiscent of the stage and screen versions of the work.

Raymonda, choreographed by Petipa and set to lush music by Alexander Glazunov, demonstrated the company’s exquisite mastery of classical work, featuring soloist Raven Barkley (guest artist courtesy of Charlotte Ballet and former Ballet Tech student). Her subtle upper body nuances and gestures, commanded the stage.

Guardians by contemporary choreographer Men Ca, set to dreamy and dramatic music by Joseph Trapanese and Max Richter, stretched dancers across the stage in runs, pique arabesques, with arms slashing and cutting through space.

Manhattan Research by John Heginbotham showcased a group of younger dancers dressed in “I Love New York” tee shirts and shorts. A light- hearted work set to jazz music by Raymond Scott, rows of dancers bounced and ran, snapped fingers and clapped in shirting circles.

The evening ended with Infrastructure by Michael Snipe, Jr., opened with smoke on a dimly lit stage. Dancers in navy leotard tops and long grey unisex skirts, walked forward and back, side to side, arms gesturing large. Bodies lowered to the ground, contracting and lengthening, ending in low lying lunges.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

June 6, 2022
In West Side Story, composer Leonard Bernstein uses what, in Western music, is understood as a dissonant harmonic interval to aurally symbolize the plot’s tensions. Alternatively, this same interval (the tritone) is a common feature of the Jewish music Bernstein grew up hearing. In Somewhere, choreographer Doug Varone exploits a similar duality in the score itself as an (excerpted and instrumental) whole: Yes, it is the music from West Side Story, a groundbreaking musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but it is also just music – music that is really fun to dance to.

The concept is daring, considering the savage territoriality of New York’s musical theatre fandom; however, when one considers Varone’s interests and track record as a choreographer, it makes perfect sense. Varone is clearly aware of this, and has offered many an Easter egg that prevent Bernstein’s orchestral selections from being totally divorced from their source material.

The exposed brick of The Joyce stage’s back wall immediately conjures vintage NYC alleyways. The costumes read as pajama variants of 50’s street gang-wear. Aya Wilson, who opens the work, exudes Anita’s aura. Speaking as a musical theatre lover myself, this effort to include aesthetic handholds for purists prevents the work from fully achieving its simple (and pure) purpose of repurposing.

Still, Varone succeeds at a symbiotic relationship between mediums – he gets to choreograph an iconic score, and West Side’s musical details we either take for granted or overlook altogether get their chance in the limelight. Varone achieves this with his tried-and-true method of visualizing musical texture, often assigning bodies as direct correlates to instruments and lines.

The raucousness of “The Dance at the Gym” is allowed to be fully embodied as such, rather than as a utilitarian accompaniment to an evening social at a time when people socially danced in a certain way, as heightened by Jerome Robbins. We forget the musical gunshots interspersed in the chromatic fugue of “Cool” when dancers simply follow Bernstein’s dizzying entrances. We can (and do) still revere Robbins; there is simply more we can do.

The challenge to strip away and replace a score’s primary association allows Somewhere to succeed at what Rise attempted in 1993 (and as this program’s finale). John Adams’ Fearful Symmetries is stuffed with fun sounds and grooves, but it lacks the overall cohesion and dance-readiness guaranteed by distilling a hit Broadway score into defined selections (quite literally “symphonic dances”).

The same trademark-Varone swings and swells of sprawling movement, slicing through space in shimmering swirls that somehow come to crystalline order are relatively at odds with and at the mercy of a long piece of music concerned more with its own formalism than riding momentum.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

June 6, 2022
The Valentina Koslova Dance Conservatory’s Studio Company premiere took place at Symphony Space last Saturday night. A fledgling group of committed dancers between the ages of 15-19, danced several classical excerpts and one contemporary piece by Koslova herself.

The evening began with a short excerpt of the rare, recently revived Petipa ballet Ruslan and Ludmila based on the 19th century Pushkin poem. Costumed in pretty blue-green long chiffon dresses and tiaras, some jitters and shyness were evident in some of the young corps de ballet dancers, as they warmed up to being onstage. The soloists danced with assurance and Courtney St. Cloud’s circle of jumps was impressively buoyant in this excerpt reminiscent of Ondine and Les Sylphides all in one.

The classical excerpts showed the different personalities and levels of the dancers. Emma Tatum was charming in the Walpurgis and Fille excerpts, and Jullian Schubert danced a technically assured Black Swan variation. Mary Elsener and Albert Davydov danced the first act Don Q pas de deux with pizazz but needed more technical precision while The Napoli excerpt should have more stylistic clarity.

Clement Guillaume’s energetic presence and technically strong variation in the classical Graduation Pas de Deux complemented his strong partnering of the tall and delicate Katherine St. Jean.

Kozlova’s choreography Overcome, created twenty years ago in the wake of 9/11 wrapped up the evening. Revival of the piece included assistance from alumna Lyla Medeiros, whose mother designed the costumes. The bouncy, sleeveless black dresses moved nicely with the sharp gestures and moving, emotional solos to uplifting gospel music. It was a joyful way to end the program.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy

May 31, 2022
The vase, made of mycelium, weighs next to nothing. It is around 14 inches tall, and its solid root structure—that usually distributing nutrients to the stems and caps of mushrooms—is smooth to the touch. A band around its widest section is rougher and pressed into the surface is a woven texture from a hand-embroidered textile that was incorporated into the vase’s mold. This is the information relayed to a viewer by the house manager at Danspace during a preshow touch tour of iele paloumpis’s In place of catastrophe, a clear night sky.

In fact, a large portion of the dance performance itself takes place through what, in other more conventional dance spaces, would be called accessibility accommodations. But in paloumpis’s show, audio description of performance becomes a performance of its own, so that visually impaired and blind people (performers and audience members alike) are more than accommodated as the dance works to “de-center sight as a primary mode of experiencing dance”.

In similar fashion, Alejandra Ospina provides a rich narrative audio description of the performance from inside a laptop wheeled by the performers about the stage.

The in-person cast is excellent: Ogemdi Ude, Seta Morton, and Marýa Wethers are exceptionally grounded in their performances, delivering dynamic and swirling movements along with concise and evocative descriptions of each other’s moves. When the cast’s vocalizations take center stage M. Rodriguez’s voice soars, often lending powerful and glittering melodies to the space which brings a welcome unity to the sprawling and lush soundscape. Additionally, Marielys Burgos Meléndez brings a verve and playfulness that beautifully rounds out the group’s presence.

When Krishna Christine Washburn appears projected into the arch of Danspace’s sanctuary she remotely leads the rest of the cast in a joyous dance from her kitchen dance studio, making a beautiful stage picture. Below her image, the church’s altar is covered embroidery by paloumpis, and strewn with burlap roses and colorful braided fabrics. At intermission these set dressings are tied around the performers into stunning harnesses, which accentuates the more movement driven second act.

In the final moments of the performance the dancers form a strong diagonal line across the sanctuary floor and walk through a series of sacred hand gestures which the audience is invited to mirror, an act which ushers in a gentle close to paloumpis’ wonderfully caring performance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

May 24, 2022
The Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the official school of American Ballet Theatre, gave its first in-person performances in years at the NYU Skirball theater. By presenting a handful of classical ballet repertory excerpts, the school positioned itself as steward of classical ballet style, and beautiful classical ballet style and training was evident in each and every one of those dancers.

The clarity of their port de bras and their joyful stage presence are just two essential elements of this tradition that are clear values being instilled in the young dancers. Kudos to outgoing JKO Artistic Director Cynthia Harvey for shepherding the students with such integrity throughout the many challenges of the past few years.

The program began with Conservatoriet, a classroom exposition by the 19 th -century Danish master August Bournonville staged by Petrusjka Broholm. It begins with a nerve-wracking series of grand-plies (in pointe shoes!) in the center of the stage, which will bedevil even the most seasoned dancers. Aside from one or two nervous baubles the dancers managed the fiendishly difficult choreography with assurance and aplomb. More than few dancers stood out for their ballon and carriage during batterie sequences – key ingredients for Bournonville technical virtuosity. Impressive control was displayed by Savannah Quiner in her variation, and the young men controlled the ends of turns and double tours with ease.

Le Petit Ballet by Robert LaFosse with lovely music composed by JKO student Charles Chaitman showed off the up-and- coming-dancers with well-executed simple steps and partnering.

Excerpts from Sleeping Beauty staged by Ms. Harvey herself showcased the gifts of particular dancers, especially the clarity and musicality in the Prologue fairy variations danced by Audrey Cross, Caroline Quiner, Rachel Quiner, Cle´mentine Boulle´, Julia Norr, and Fiona Quirk. It was nice to see the relaxed banter and mutual admiration expressed between outgoing ABT main company Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and Ms. Harvey, as they spoke while costume changes were happening backstage.

A lively rendition of Moiseyev’s Jota Aragonesa opened the second half, in a stellar example of cross-cultural homage. It’s hard not to love a Soviet Russian’s balletic transformation of a traditional Spanish folk dance danced by young American- trained dancers with respect and joy, to Glinka’s rousing score.

A bravura rendition of Black Swan by ABT company members Lea Fleytoux and Jarod Curley showed what the future might hold.

And excerpts from the beloved classic Coppelia, seamlessly staged by Robert LaFosse with Carmella Gallace and Ruben Martin spotlighting different couples sharing the leading role, wrapped up the evening. In the first and third act pas de deux, Ellie Iannotti and Max Barker, Silvie Squires and Brady Farrar, were charming and assured. And Vince Pelegrin radiated with joy while the corps de ballet supported through their own ballet dancing well done.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

NYCB- Apollo/Orpheus/Agon
May 19, 2022
Before the evening opened on three major Balanchine/Stravinsky collaborations, the orchestra played Stravinsky's playful "Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra," a fitting start to an evening bowing to George Balanchine's remodeling of American ballet.

Balanchine migrated from Europe to NYC in 1933 at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein and and over 12 years later, choreographed Orpheus(1946) in collaboration with Igor Stravinsky and  Isamu Noguchi (best known for his collaborations with Marth Graham). Nogouchi's eerily ancient abstract sets and mythical costumes (featuring long tail-like fringe, stringy hair and serpentine motifs), animated the Greek myth about Orpheus and the tragic loss of his wife Eurydice to Hades.  Blessed with the voice of an angel, Orpheus embraces his signature lyre (handed down by the God Apollo) and fiery love for Eurydice. 

With his back to the audience, Orpheus (a sleek Joseph Gordon) stands dejected, his beloved lyre dropped by his ankle. Visited by the Dark Angel (Andrew Scordato) Orpheus is guided through the menacing Furies, Lost Souls and Bacchantes, led by a strong Megan LeCrone, to find his Eurydice (the striking Sterling Hyltin).  Throughout the ballet, Noguchi's sets convert from rocks to clouds, illuminated from behind and shifting silently into mazes and mythic puzzles. As much a visual/theatrical event as a ballet, Orpheus is built on dramatic movement interpretations. 

A classical ballet of god-like proportions, Balanchine's Apollo (1928) relies on dancers' clarity and classicism. An introspective Taylor Stanley steps into the role of Apollo, the ancient Greek god of music. As if cut out of white marble, the choreography frequently situates Stanley in profile--like a sculpture in relief. 

To instruct the young god, Apollo is joined by the three muses: Tiler Peck (Terpsichore), Brittany Pollack (Polyhymnia) and Indian Woodward (Calliope). Woodward, the muse of poetry, navigates her measured steps with aplomb, gesturing outward from the diaphragm with one hand while pricking the floor en pointe in silvery arabesques.

The muse of mime, Pollack bolts into rapid-fire attitude turns tied to speedy steps. Again, the difficulty level is upped because one hand remains near the mouth in a "sushing" position while the other is extended.

Finally, Peck arrives bending and extending the music's interior, as Terpsichore, the muse of dance and song. Like a youthful colt, she playfully paws the ground, and circles in jetes and springy, coquettish walks on her heels. Unlike the first two muses, Peck 's choreography gives free form to both arms.

Finally, Apollo rises to dance a contained solo marked by legs crisscrossing in front, melting into heroic poses and thoughtful dips. Balanchine brings the three muses together for a romp with Apollo in a jaunty series of exchanges between the muses and their Apollo.

Agon brings into focus Balanchine's neoclassical style. Choreographed in 1957, the ballet opens, unusually, with dancers' backs to the audience. An example of Balanchine's signature speed, it breaks into fractured timings, cutthroat partnering holds and balances suspended over whiplash directional changes.

This season, NYC Ballet is testing the mettle of many younger dancers. From the looks of it, the ranks are well seeded with talent we can all look forward to in the near future. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 16, 2022
Ugemdi Ude’s I know exactly what you mean, presented by Danspace, was a dance about lying. Upon entering the historic St. Mark’s Chruch in-the-Bowery the audience wandered past a large printer, a dormant and tantalizing detail that would eventually pay off, before finding their seats.

Exquisite in the simplicity of its premise and the rich depth of its execution the show began with the performers, Selah V. Hampton, Symara Johnson, and Ogemdi Ude, sitting on the steps beneath the arch in St. Mark’s sanctuary. Projected above them were distorted music videos, collaged movement and color from which bodies and faces emerged.

These figures were perhaps Ludacris or Lil’Kim whose sounds, among those of other hip-hop performers, DJTONYMONKEY used to score the show. As the performers began to speak—recounting stories of adolescent untruths into handheld mics—their words replaced the projections with fragmented texts, print overlaying itself to the point of illegibility as their stories interrupted each other.

These words were in excellent literary company; the performance’s program cites Toni Morrison and Suzan-Lori Parks as inspirations for using fictitious storytelling as a method for healing Black Americans. On this Ude writes that “we are addressing the fissures in personal and collective memory that a traumatic event creates. When we don’t remember, we fabricate to make sense out of what we do”. These themes are elevated by a narrow lane of design decisions, lights and costumes alike stick to the colors orange and black.

The dancing itself was excellent, each of the performers demonstrated not only technical skill in hip-hop and modern technique but also the affective components of the performance.

The choreography, sometimes riotous and others molasses-slow, found impressive shifts between joyous movement, plucked out of a wonderful nightclub in sync with the music’s pounding beat, and a raw vulnerability that felt equally melancholy and sharp as if it could have physically wounded the performers as they danced it.

Climactically, the printer began to spit forth its ream of paper, which fell to the ground in folds, grasped and stretched— but never torn— by the performers as their voices rose cacophonous against the thrumming music.

All the stories that had been told throughout tumbled from new mouths bringing into question the factuality of the narratives, even as they clarified Ude’s promise that “lying can often help us make sense of an essential truth”.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

May 9, 2022
The air was crisp and chilly as the audience arrayed themselves of the bleachers of Sky Rink at the Chealsea Piers to watch Ice Theater of New York’s Home Season program. A family event through and through, the atmosphere of the rink was jovial, and the show—running a tight 50 minutes—left the audience sated but certain to attend again. This is in no small part due to the immense talent of the performers who collectively hold a considerable number of ice dance and figure skating titles and awards.

The audience certainly appreciated the technical skills on display erupting in applause as impressive lifts, turns, and jumps were landed with ease. Equally compelling was the choreography, as in Mauro Bruni’s Body Parts, which stood out as a glowing example of modern dance on ice. The five performers wore bright monochromatic outfits, and moved with the flowing grace of waves crashing on a shore, shifting seamlessly between gentle lyricism and roiling bedlam.

Often, the dancers arrived to moments of stillness with knees, hand, and sides pressed against the ice to great dramatic effect. Between each dance the sound of skates on ice was titillating, the gentle scraping of dancers setting themselves kept the audience leaning in for the appearance of the skater in the spotlight.

Such a moment was the opening of Emanuel Sandhu’s performance to Madonna’s Vogue, where he snapped along to the song’s rhythmic start. Then, oozing with charisma, he deftly executed the choreography by Joanne McLeod and Cesar Valentino -- full of smart footwork and dynamic gestures that brought the music to life. In a particularly delightful moment, he threw off his black suit jacket and dynamically spun on the ice, revealing the glittering back of his crisp dress shirt. But as fun to watch as Vogue was, it’s sparkling queerness put many of the other dances into an odd perspective, reminding the audience that (much like classical ballet) ice dance easily falls into heteronoramtive pairings, where men and women perform very specific gender roles dictated by the form.

But by the end of the show, such worries were far from mind, instead one might marvel at the map that spread itself across the vast plane of ice, a myriad of rivulets cut into the rink by skates, tracing how the performance unfolded in gentle arcs, tight spirals, and delicate piles of ice shavings.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

May 2, 2022
Before a packed audience at the Joyce Theater, the Limon Dance Company opened with Waldstein Sonata. The dance featured eight strong, confident dancers, dressed in costumes by Haydee and Maria Morales; the women in shades of apricot and pale dresses, the men in loose pants and tops, reminiscent of the 70’s modern dance scene when this piece was first created. Dr. Danny Lewis reconstructed the original work in 1975 on Juilliard dancers, and today it still holds its stature. The dancers exchange positions from center circles, often reaching arms high with clasped hands in prayer-like positions, with lower body variations of stag leaps, attitude hops, and lunges. During the second half, with neutral light on stage, and adagio (from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Opus 53, played live by pianist Soheil Nasseri).

Three duets emerge-- women are lifted, rising effortlessly and softly landing to the floor, then lovingly cradled in the arms of their male partners. The piece ends with all eight dancers on stage, smiling expressively moving forward and back, completing their trajectory in low lunges to the ground, as if quietly spent from the seemingly effortless work. The work shows its deep attention and respect for Beethoven’s work, and displays Limón technique at its best; a stage palette designed with integrity and imagination.

Danzas Mexicanas, a series of five solos, originally choreographed by Limón in 1939, and reconstructed for this season by Artistic Director Dante Pulieo. It features three men and two women expressing Limón’s homage to the spirit of his native country. “Indio” danced by Robert M. Valdez, Jr. enters in white with background projection of green grass. Savannah Spratt dances “Conquistador” in black dress, boots, walking and pounding her feet majestically as she reigns over the stage, depicting the European infiltration of Mexico.

“Peon,” danced by Terrence D.M. Diable, arrives bare chested with white pants and red sash, arms often in prayer position, symbolizing the enslavement of the native people. “Caballero,” performed by Johnson Duo in a red tuxedo jacket, represents the new generation of conquistadors, with “all of the cruelty and none of the strength of the originals.” Finally, Lauren Twomley enters upstage right in “Revolucionario” initially crawling on her belly until the driving music allows her to rise and fill the space with brave, exuberant jumps, signifying the “contemporary, descendants of those before who now fight against oppressive systems of power.” Live pianist Soheil Nasseri accompanied each dance with music by Lionel Nowak.

Migrant Mother (World Premiere) by contemporary choreographer Raul Tamez completed the evening, using the brilliant skills of eleven dancers. Billed as a tribute to the magic of Mesopotamia. It opens with dancers in still shapes, surrounding a central figure created by two intertwined dancers swathed in gauzy fabric. Tamez’s work expresses the repressed and wandering emotions: rage, fear, possession by evil spirits, reflected in the primal scream of the victimized woman, and referring to an earlier pre-catholic form of religion.

Highlighted by numerous musical works, it rambles on without a coherent statement, but perhaps that is the point. A dancer dressed as a stag (helmet of antlers) leaps, staggers, and “dies” on stage in the finale, reminding us of the vulnerability of nature.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

April 22, 2022
What's left to say about George Balanchine's mesmerizing ballet Serenade. As if part of a dreamscape, ballerinas in knee-length, tulle dresses resemble a mystical tribe of ephemeral women bathed in moonlight and poised to move.

Their balletic incantations surface in simple movements--feet snap open from a parallel standing position; arms rise, wrists drop, and soon there's a silent rush into swirls of motion, spiraling inward and outward.

Coinciding with news about the heartbreaking carnage in the Ukraine, watching Serenade delivers an even weightier jolt of melancholy through the tug of Tschaikovsky's mournful score and Balanchine's contemplation on the fleetness of life.

The evening closed with Jerome Robbins' epic Goldberg Variations which comes in at one hour and twenty-four minutes. Effectively an evening-length ballet, it is set to Johann Sebastian Bach's popular "Goldberg Variations" composed in 1742. A veritable ballet time-machine, Variations loops from the delicate, filigree Baroque dance forms and costumes to the athletic and quick modern ballet technique birthed by the courts.

Susan Walters, the valiant piano soloist, accompanied and inspired the dancers. Strong in will and execution, all the company members (regardless of rank) negotiated a flurry of swift footed runs and leg beats happily maneuvering through impish rhythms and surprising changes of focus. At times ballerinas' hips swiveled inside balletic poses, and males cavorted, arms swinging and attitudes swaggering. Each section exuded a different personality tied together by one, very singular vision.

The ballet opens with dancers in Baroque styled costumes, travels into the new-age leotard and tights routine back to the elegance of Baroque. In Part II, six of the company's Principal Dancers usher in an air of resilience and expressiveness to the closing cadences. Unity Phelan and Taylor Stanley fill the ballet vocabulary with warmth and fluency; Sarah Mearns and Tyler Angle exalt in expansive extensions and commanding lifts while Tiler Peck and Joseph Gordon's tight knit turns and explosive jumps radiate inside rhythmic acuity.

A demanding work, Goldberg Variations deservedly received gales of applause.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 21, 2022
The José Limón Dance Company celebrated its 75th Anniversary two week season at the Joyce Theater. Week one they presented three iconic works and one contemporary premiere. All four works exalted the human spirit during this time when our culture aches for redemption and relief after pandemic and world atrocities. The evening also revealed Artistic Director, Dante Puleio’s commitment to bridging the past with the future by featuring the work of contemporary choreographer, Olivier Tarpaga. Each dance in the program was prefaced with recorded narration by Dion Mucciacito, providing important historical notes and context.

Doris Humphrey’s Air for G String (1928), (music by J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 3 in D Major, “Air”) opened the evening with a blessing of grandeur and reverence, reminding us of her influence as Limón’s mentor and artistic director of his early company. Five tall, willowy women, draped in cascading, golden silks, (original costumes by Pauline Lawrence, rebuilt by Ali Lane) circle, arch, and curve, in slow promenades, connecting through spirit and breath, suspending and seemingly floating to heaven while never leaving the ground; angels on earth.

Psalm (1967), considered to be one of Limón’s masterpieces, with the original musical score by Eugene Lester, features 15 dancers in community surrounding a central heroic figure who suffers life’s burdens and responsibilities for the group. Grief, suffering, longing, searching, hope, caregiving, redemption -- all human experiences -- embody the half hour work. The exquisite choreography and the dancers' technical brilliance confers a complete depiction of Limon's depth of humanity.

Johnny Gandelsman (solo violist) and Donovan Reed (solo dancer) captivate and mesmerize the audience in Chaconne (1942), Limón’s inspired first work, with music by J.S.Bach’s Partita #2 in D Minor. A majestic, austere solo, with deep lunges and arabesque pirouettes, the figure floats in space on one leg in endless moments of suspension to the impeccable brilliance of Gandelsman’s violin interpretation of Bach’s score.

The final work by contemporary choreographer Olivier Tarpaga, sets the company’s sights on the future in Only One Will Rise (2022), a premiere for the ensemble group to original music by Tarpaqa and Tim Motzer includes live percussion, guitar, and bass musicians. Narrated explanation describes Tarpaga’s identification with Limón’s search for redemption and the celebration of the human spirit.

Opening with twelve still dancers surrounding a central grieving figure, the work develops with slow moving dancers juxtaposed next to quick, eccentric movements by others, offering alternatives in the experience of time within the same moment. Projection design by Michael Clark changes our perspective of location and space, alternating between abstract contemporary art with nature images.

Continuous changes in groupings, from solos, to trios, to sextets, to unison group work, show Tarpaga’s respect for Limón’s use of “fall and recovery” in the choreography, dancers often rising and falling to the floor, but with his own signature style based in his African roots from Burkina Faso.

The evening ended with a Q & A discussion with Artistic Director, Dante Pulieo, Choreographer Olivier Tarpaga, and Company member Savannah Spratt, moderated by artist/scholar/educator Kiri Avelar.
Mary Seidman

April 21, 2022
New York City Ballet is getting spruced up for its Spring Gala on May 5. One of the more artistically compelling ballet galas in NYC, this year's glittery event features a new work by former NYCB dancer Silas Farley and energizes NYC Ballet's two week Stravinsky Festival that pays homage to the landmark 1972 NYCB Stravinsky Festival.

Currently the Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute in LA, Farley excelled in his intellectual interests in dance and his curiosity about all forms enlivening the field. Farley's first major piece, Architects of Time for 16 NYC Ballet dancers to a commissioned score by David K. Israel (inspired by Balanchine and Stravinsky), is joined by Jerome Robbins' delightful Circus Polka featuring 48 students from the School of American Ballet (there was a time when 48 professional dance students in NYC was unheard of!).

George Balanchine's lighthearted Scherzo A La Russe, and the exhilarating Stravinsky Violin Concerto close out the gala chaired by Diana L. Taylor, Chair of the NYCB Board of Directors, and Liz and Jeff Peek, the President of the NYCB Board of Directors.

This will be a night to remember.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 12, 2022
The Martha Graham Dance Company has done it again – while sublimely honoring their founder, an icon of mid-twentieth century modern dance, they also managed to blow the audience away in the most contemporary, heart-pounding way. From the hoots and hollers elicited by Hofesh Schecter’s new work, to the joyful theatricalized staging of Graham’s Ritual of the Sun from Acts of Light (1981), the Graham company’s programming cut across generational divides and excited their gala audience like few major dance companies today.

As a clean and clear-eyed exposition of Graham technique, Ritual of the Sun is choreographically simple: group sections, solos and duets highlight signature qualities: a proud, open chest that contrasts with the concave use of the torso, joyful bodily expression, and the amalgamation of ballet technique into a new dance language.

Dressed in bright yellow unitards designed by Halston and Graham, and proudly exuding their Graham heritage, the dancers danced to the heroic music by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen with total commitment and gusto, uninhibited by the dated nature of the work.

Canticle for an Innocent Comedian, a work inspired by Graham’s work from 1952, was commissioned by Artistic Director Janet Eilber from eight different choreographers. Sonya Tayeh’s excerpts were as mysterious as they were absorbing. Groups of three to four dancers lined up behind each other, limbs out and fingers splayed in branch-like shapes, bodies shifted, stretched, and circled around each other, slowly changing configurations.

The gorgeous costumes by Karen Young – long skirts with alternating sheer panels and colorful mosaics – swayed with the sensual movement, as circling bodies pulled and embraced each other, in contrast with our pandemic world. Smoke emanated superfluously from behind each group, seemingly for “atmosphere” that was already present in the music and choreography. A Sun solo, in a radically different ritual from the previous work, was impressively embodied by the sinewy and supple Lorenzo Pagano.

A break in the dancing brought CNN’s Alina Cho, the evening’s host, onstage to honor five women whose collective accomplishments are beyond impressive: Tracy Richelle High, Dr. Kathryn Jansen, Jackie-Michelle Martinez, Jane Edison Stevenson, and Carol Wincenc. A wonderful nod to the positive impact of female power.

Last but not least, Hofesh Schecter’s CAVE, a co-production with Studio Simkin, brought the evening to a wild and exhilarating close. Simkin, a former ABT principal, fit right in with the spectacular Graham dancers as they all showed off the athletes of the Gods that they are, while still part of a cohesive group. In an intensely hot amalgam of highly structured dancing blended with individualized club moves and shades of other forms, the dancers moved nonstop to a relentless house mix by AME and the choreographer.

The impact of CAVE reminded me of what I have heard about Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe: a theatricalized exploration of what it means to be young now: energized young people (in spite of the pandemic, or perhaps because of it).
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

April 10, 2022
Clad in a gown sewn full of roses Carmina Cortez tears the room open with her voice. It is like an excavation, digging toward the depths of roiling emotion that are at the heart of flamenco. The rest of Noche Flamenca’s program at the Joyce Theater was equally full of such Herculean tasks. From castanets clicking together at what seemed like inhuman speed to subtle wrists twisting with bombastic Spanish bravado, Martin Santangelo’s choreography is both thrilling and heartbreaking.

The stage was adorned with a raised platform which, aided by microphones along its lip, amplified the sounds of the dancer’s feet. Such a setup was invaluable, as the sound of Pablo Fraile’s toes dragging across the floor might be missed otherwise, and such intimate details brought a tenderness to the solo that tempered the matador jacket and masculine attitude that Fraire rakishly inhabited.

Similarly, in a solo danced by Antonio Granjero, musicians classically arrayed themselves across the back of the stage as Granjero exploded again and again and again, eliciting cries of “Olé!” from audience and performer alike. Astoundingly it seemed as though Granjero never stopped dancing, as he mopped sweat from his brow with his kerchief his feet continued to accelerate.

In a moment that audibly draw gasps, he inched backward stopping just short of falling into the first row of onlookers. Catching himself at this cusp he playfully stuck his heel against the edge, its sound whispering into the microphone. From here the program ran a gamut of intensity, turning to vocalist Manuel Gago whose rich voice filled the darkened theater with mourning, singing of his lost son and the depth of his loneliness.

Through all of this shone Soledad Barrio, who ended the show with a firey dance composed of precise rhythms and stomps. With her skirt gripped just above the knee she demonstrated not only mastery but restraint, holding back as if to not give everything to the tragic dance. This proved to be an impossible task, and in the final moments, she pounded her way to the front of the stage, her shadow cast huge against the brick behind her.

Here she let out a guttural yell, unspooling herself, this sound cut through the music, bringing it to a halt and the audience to their feet in roaring applause and tears.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

April 8, 2022
At a time of great unrest, and only 3 years until the start of World War II, Martha Graham's 1936 "Chronicle" stood as a fierce manifesto rejecting the rise of fascism in Europe. Unnervingly aprt for our time as well.Despite the all-femlae cast, there's nothing delicate or pretty about these warrior women pounding their feet, and slashing, angular arms against leaps propelling them to freedom.

The youthful Graham dancers plunge into politically charged Chronicle particularly the determined and stately Leslie Andrea Williams who fans her full skirt exposing the blood red bottom under the black sheath in the "Spectre" (created in 1914--the start of World War I). Section II, "Steps in the Street:Devastation--Homelessness -- Exile"  finds  a fine and intense Marzia Memoli commanding the throng of dancers demanding everyone be attentive.

Leslie Andrea Williams and Memoli announce "Prelude to Action: Unity--Pledge to the Future" which draws together the fiery female corps resolving the fear and devastation into hope and determination.  A masterwork, it's difficult to catch your breath after this piece, let alone absorb works of lesser power.

Prior to the performance, Artistic Director and former Graham dancer, Janet Eilber welcomed the audience to the company's more than 5 decade history. Importantly, Eilber concisely delivers brief notes on the dances, contextualizing them for the benefit of everyone. Over the years, Eilber has mastered the art of enhancing the public's understanding of Graham's creations and the company's forays into new choreography.

This season, the Graham Company commissioned the creation of a new work inspired by the themes of Graham's 1952 work Canticle for Innocent Commedians organized by Sonya Tayeh, and featured sections contributed by Dristina and Sade Alleyne (Earth), Jenn Freeman (Water), Juliano Nunes (Fire), Micaela Taylor (Stars), and Yin Yue (Death) Sir Robert Cohan's Wind. Although much of dance is lost in time, Graham's Moon section survived in a film and takes its place among the newer sections.

A popular choreographer, Hofesh Shechter’ frenzied Cave steps into the Graham repertory. Daniil Simkin (former ABT dancer) serves as creative producer and performs in the crowd-pleasing closer.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 2, 2022
Founded by the powerhouse Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispanico is now a NYC institution. In honor of their over 50 year legacy, the company, under the direction of Eduardo Vilaro commissioned a full- length work by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Based on the life of Eva "Evita" Peron, Dona Peron plumbs the life of the controversial Argentinian woman who rose from poverty to the palace. Equally loved and maligned, the First Lady of Argentina was spellbinding, dying at age 33 due to cervical cancer.

Bathed in white light, Eva Peron(the excellent Dandara Veiga), a larger-than-life figure, stands proudly far above the crowd in a long white gown that flares to the ground. Within minutes, this mesmerizing figure undoes her bodice and drops her skirt only to reveal a ladder which she climbs down (only to climb back up during her political reign) and joins the throngs in the streets waving white hankies. A dynamic cast draws from several contemporary dance forms tracing Argentinian street dances from the tango, to upper class waltzes, modern and ballet elements.

Eva Peron's rise from the streets evolves through several scenes describing her harsh upbringing, to nights performing in dance halls and finally her fortuitous meeting with Juan Peron (Chris Bloom). The various locations indoors and out are depicted through Christopher Ash's lighting, and projections onto a long white rectangular object suspended from the rafters.

Both Bloom and Veiga deliver commanding performances, particularly Veiga who not only dances nonstop, she changes outfits by Mark Eric just about every 10 minutes.

Constantly surrounded by the masses, Bloom and Veiga are fed by a Greek-style chorus that stamps and twists in unison fueling a rhythmic soundtrack over the score by Peter Salem. Dancers throb in the Argentinian streets of the 1940' and 50's, one moment playing, the next rebelling. Tight hip switches side to side punctuate straight backs and sharp feet compounding the dramatic tension.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and artistic collaborator Nancy Meckler excel at capturing the mood of the masses. Less successful is an actual reading of such a complicated scenario. Despite any dramaturgical questions, Dona Peron radiates energy throughout the evening and showcases Ballet Hispanico's outstanding dancers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis
Photo of Dona Peron with Dandara Viega and Ballet Hispanico by Paula Lobo

March 29, 2022
Ladies of Hip Hop: Black Dancing Bodies, presented by the Guggenheim as part of their Works and Process series, was a wonderful suite of dance and history that brought together many generations of Black women in celebration of their contributions to hip hop.

The show began with a film by Loreto Jamling, made during the company’s residency at NYPL for the Performing Arts earlier this year. The dancers grooved in the stacks of the reference library and strutted their way down the long tables, transforming what is usually considered a quiet space into a wonderful dancehall, filled with energy and the sounds of clapping and stomping.

After the film was met with raucous applause we were treated to a series of live performances, beginning with a dance choreographed by LOHH’s executive director Michele Byrd-McPhee, whose exquisite footwork will be sticking with me for a long time. From little jumps that landed before you’ve realized they left the floor, to taps and hits that revealed the rhythms inside the music, the dancers effortlessly moved about the stage.

While Bryd-McPhee was credited as the choreographer for the first dance, it was only the structure of the pieces that she provided. As the night progressed, company members brought their own expertise to the stage. Hip hop dances are communal and before they were performed behind a proscenium they were pioneered in dance clubs, where moving together was paramount.

Byrd-McPhee is clearly aligned with house dance, but a menagerie of other styles like jazz and swing were also present in her choreography, and company members contributed vogue and whacking as well as stepping and West African. Even when the dancers were in unison their individual styles shone through—revealing the rich and varied tapestry of experience that the company brought to the stage.

The final dance began with a playground scene, dancers double-dutching and playing rhythmic hand games before morphing into competitive freestyle and breaking battles, met with cheering and whistling from the crowd.

In a triumphant scene near the end, Byrd-McPhee and LaTasha Barnes, another of the “dance elders” in the company, found themselves dancing on stage together, silhouetted against a bright orange backdrop, kicking their heels up and bringing the house down.

Dance lovers should keep their eyes open for this company in the future, they are a delight and not to be missed!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

March 25, 2022
This spring, four major dance companies are appearing under the umbrella of the inaugural City Center Dance Festival. Paul Taylor Dance Company kicks off the season followed by Dance Theater of Harlem, The Martha Graham Dance Company and Ballet Hispanico. The Taylor Company dove  into the utterly gorgeous Roses, Lauren Lovette's premiere Pentimento and the romantically idiosyncratic Brandenburgs.

Sandwiched between two major Taylor works, Lovette's Pentimentoto a score by the classical Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera excels in the ease with which the dancers embody the movement. Like Taylor, Lovette dispenses with over-wrought choreography, and instead aspires towards a cleaner palette. In fact, it makes sense to import a NYC Ballet dancer turned choreographer, because Paul Taylor actually appeared as a guest artist with NYC Ballet from 1959-1960.

Although retired from NYCB, Lovette remains an eloquent performer and her embodied experiences translate seamlessly to her interpreters. Effectively locating dancers' comfort zones, Lovette forms highly organic choreography filled with spatial clarity.  In this instance, Lovette imbued herself in the Taylor athletic style -- one that pulls dancers to the ground rather than into the heavens. Despite this earthy technique, speed remains central--similar to her native Balanchine tongue. In Pentimento a red scarf appears in the arms of a dancer and later it's passed among the 14 performers. Duets filter through the scenes, mixing genders, heights and forms traveling in tandem, lunging and lifting one another.

An open-chested expansiveness filters through outstretched arms and a surprising shimmy or two. Compassion and hope color her easily communicable choreography. Now the company's Resident Choreographer, Lovette will have an opportunity to go even deeper into her own aesthetic in communion with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The evening included the wistfully romantic Roses and uplifting Brandenburgs.In Roses groups collect and fan out across the stage in nimble counterpoint contrasting against curved, angular forms. Five pairs of dancers share time, and when not dancing, they lay in repose, with women leaning back against men's bodies as if in a sun soaked glen. Clad in white, the lead couple scoops up huge hunks of space with elongated arms, and body lengthening dips.

Taylor's Brandenburgs, to the baroque music of Johann Sebastian Bach, establishes a classical dance frame and quickly upends it with an all-male corps followed by a trio of women who are part of a single man's entourage-- not unlike Balanchine's "Apollo." Dancers weave through thickets of dancers and sail effortlessly through the air.

Throughout the evening, the Orchestra of St. Luke's performs under the baton of David Lamarche. Currently, many of America's major modern dance companies are coping with the generational and COVID-related loss of dancers, and still, the Taylor magnetism continues to buoy this new generation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 8, 2022
Yuriko was a great woman of dance who mentored countless dancers and inspired audiences world-wide: EYE ON DANCE Tribute to Yuriko joined by Maria Benitez to investigate issues related to cultural identity and methods employed to elicit inspired performances regardless of form or age. EOD includes the only existing excerpt of Yuriko performing a solo she choreographed called "Cry." This EOD episode was produced in 1986. LINK

February 25, 2022
Overcome with delight, Kyle Abraham thanked his dance collaborators on An Untitled Love, introducing them one by one during opening night bows at the BAM Harvey Theater. Then he paid tribute to the influence of choreographer Ralph Lemon's Charley Patton -- both works journey through extended family experiences shaped by love and joy, lightness and darkness.

A group of friends sit on a plastic covered, terra cotta-colored couch and enticingly bob their heads, twist their wrists, cross and uncross their ankles to the bluesy sounds of D'Angelo & The Vanguard. Soon others enter the room (Scenic & Lighting design by Dan Scully), chatting and flicking hands in recognition of one another (reminiscent of Alvin Ailey's Revelations). Very much a close/bickering family, Abraham's dancers are remarkable in their ability to seamlessly shift from ballet and modern to street/club dance--all in one phrase. It's as if they speak one language with three tongues.

Friends enter and exit, changing outfits by Karen Young and partnering up in supportive balances and holds. The company shares a loose, cool style that rarely nods to an angle or sharpness. They all dance smoothly and soundlessly, like cats effortlessly pouncing onto a shelf, or swirling round and round.

When the dancers chat with one another, the scenes begin to resemble episodes from the popular TV series "Friends." And even though the text personalizes the performers, the audio balance makes it difficult to fully understand the words. Also, the dancing is so appealing that whenever it stops-- the exuberant energy drops.

Over the past several years, Abraham has made a number of successful dances for NYC Ballet and other major companies including Alving Ailey. But seeing Abraham work with his own company is to see his soul.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 14, 2022
Under a full moon on a chilly February night, NYCB warmed up the audience with no fewer than a dozen company member debuts. Romantic repertory bumped up against a Neo-classical ballet masterpiece and shimmering ballet duet.

George Balanchine's masterful Four Temperaments fully reveals the dancer in the dance. Lean choreography dominates, tightening the vocabulary to a handful of steps combined and recombined to the music of Paul Himdemith. Legs slice the air, hands snap at the wrists and shards of unison movement thrill all.

For sheer female warrior power, there's no better example than the invasion of the stage by four women advancing towards the male, legs flaring up, then stabbing floor followed by sharp pelvic thrusts forward and back.Hair rasing.

All those who debuted: Jacqueline Bologna, Jonathan Fahoury, Kennard Henson, Ashley Hod, Peter Walker, and Emily Kikta plumbed details that amplified their individualistic qualities.

Sonatine, a quiet, unassuming yet tingling duet by George Balanchine to music by Maurice Ravel played on the piano by Elaine Chelton featured an incandescent performance by Ashley Laracey and Taylor Stanley. Delicate phrases fluidly spin between Stanley and Laracey. Over the years, Stanley has discovered a meditative stillness that silemces the air and magnetizes the viewers. Similarly, Laracey seamlessly floats through the folk dance kicks and regal backbends.

Flashy and uber theatrical, the Black Swan Pas De Deux by Peter Martins was dominated by Mira Nadon and Chun Wai Chan. Both were convincing, and clearly moving towards making it their own. Technically crisp and dramatically sharp, Nadon has all goods. A secure partner Chun Wai Chan opens up to the movement. With the acquisition of a little more stamina, they will be a partnership to watch.

Nearly flawless, Tyler Peck's immersive musicality, and effortless technical acuity, frees her up to indulge in George Balanchine's abbreviated Swan Lake interpretation. A new suppleness and vulnerability support her Swan Queen performance. A well matched partner, Joseph Gordon's clear, strong classical line and attentiveness secures his place as a dancer of uncommon talents.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 4, 2022
After a minor delay due to COVID, NYC Ballet opened its doors to dance lovers eager to bask in company premieres and classics. Season festivities bounced open with the premiere of Justin Peck's sneaker ballet Partita. Enriched by Caroline Shaw's thoroughly intriguing a cappella composition Partita for 8 Voices performed live by Roomful of Teeth, a tribe of 8 dancers mirror the vocals. Dressed in casual shorts, tops and tights, by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, the energized dancers slither through Eva Lewitts whimsical set design of colorful, scalloped fringe.

Frequently cast as the breathing center of Peck's ballets, the serene Taylor Stanley breezes into view, chest open and arms extended in a meditative embrace joined by Harrison Coll. in contrast, Tyler Peck sparkles into action, legs clicking out layered tempi. Overall, these two artists encapsulate the ballet's ethos.

Always able to tap into NYCB dancers' youthful exuberance,  Peck's colloquial moves feed into ballet extensions and voguing style arms signaling cryptic messages. A strong cast, India Bradley and Claire Kretzschmar unite in a fluid duet built on mutual support while Ashley Hod, Roman Mejia and Chun Wai Chan generate a splash!

Taking a post-modernist turn, NYCB performed Merce Cunningham's elegant "Summerspace." Originated in 1958, the pastel colored pointillist backdrop merges into the moving bodies covered in unitards of a similar palette created by Robert Rauschenberg.

The demanding vocabulary is surrounded by Morton Feldman's Ixion, a sound score filtered with sounds of nature.Stillness and spatial awareness penetrate the leggy combinations spilling out over internal meters. Dispensing with visible preparations, dancers instantaneously pop up on one leg, into a stag leap with foot to crotch. This happens not just once, but three times in a row!

Torsos float over elongated legs poised on top rotating limbs. Despite the foreignness of the vocabulary, the dancers fearlessly navigate the angular terrain even if the torsos lack a bit of the top-of-spine contraction and fluidity.

Nevertheless, a bond exists between Balanchine and Cunningam's focus on legs, feet, directional changes and speed. Considering the amount of time  they've spent living with a decidedly post modern dance language, the company's facility in Summerspace is quite remarkable. You can see their brains working.

The evening closes on DGV:Danse a Grande Vitesse a mysterious, dystopian looking ballet by Christopher Wheeldon. Originally a NYCB ballet dancer and choreographer who has successfully transferred his talents to Broadway, Wheeldon's ballets are always smartly crafted and joined to strong visual elements. In this case, the undulating, silver sheet by Jean-Marc Puissant exudes an industrial hardness.

 Wheeldon generates pools of activity breaking up his 26 dancers into discrete units working in contrapuntal relationships against four central duets.

Originally created for the Royal Ballet in 2006, the ballet is set to a strong score by Michael Nyman written in 1993 to "commemorate the 1993 inauguration of the north European line of the French 'train a grande vitess' -- otherwise known as the TVG."  Despite intriguing combinations bubbling up in different spatial pockets, a chill permeates the onstage community.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

January 24, 2022
Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith have been making work together for 15 years. Their BAC Digital commission, gloria rehearsal (excerpt) shows what is relationally possible in performance with such collaborative tenure.

The 90-minute video consists of two large sections: a disjointed opening, followed by a comparatively unified closing. Filmed in a Baryshnikov Arts Center studio by Tatyana Tenenbaum and Colin Nusbaum, the pair begins on separate tracks, somewhere between a warmup and a performance.

Smith takes up space, which Lieber frames with the studio’s mirrors. Lieber takes things further, partnering with the mirrors, and arranging them into a cubist view of the studio, occasionally catching the videographers within reflections of reflections. They find each other, engaging in laborious partnering that meshes their bodies as one.

When Smith brings on a set of microphones and stands, tenderness turns invasive as the two probe themselves and each other with live mics, contributing to James Lo’s 3D sound design. The two trade incomplete renditions of familiar songs: Smith comments on the section as a whole with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Getting to Know You,” while Lieber’s use of Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch” remarks on their increasingly nude interactions, erupting in a screaming fit. Smith closes the section belittling Lieber’s emotionality as “too much” as the lights shift to a gender-reinforcing hot pink.

After so much unraveling, the remainder of the work finds the two stuck in a durational jazzercise routine to a schizophrenic sound score that stretches Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” to epic proportions, interspersed with urban soundscapes, a colonial military march, and scant but equally evocative other sonic bits, to which the pair’s tempo remains resolute.

Once more the pink peters in as their simultaneous solos slowly melt into an awareness of and care for each other. They come to mirror each other and tangle as before, however more able to surrender to each other, as though having cleansed themselves of patriarchal toxins.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews Guzman

PILGULIUM/Baryshnikov Arts Center
December 15, 2021
Ella Rothschild’s Pigulium portrays a different flavor of loneliness than a lot of digital performance that has come from the pandemic. Instead of focusing on isolation, Rothschild shows the desolate effect of sustained unhealthy relationships in a bitter trio. Adi Zlatin performs a vengeful spirit, constantly berating all that is around her. Ariel Freedman shares some of this fire, but also falls into more whimsical affective shifts. Keren Luria Pardes contrasts Zlatin with a chronic, submissive depression, hanging on the edge of each scene, showing true concern only for a small, red book she whips out as her only solace.

Pigulium utilizes a dreamscape structure in which events blur into one another to illustrate feelings and mood swings. The events that may have caused these feelings are absent, leaving us in a one-note wash of pure subjectivity. There are times when the three performers share moments in which they grimace, keep their distance, and tangle in uncooperative folk dances.

Elsewhere, they occupy their own worlds. Freedman delivers a long monologue by herself with her arms absurdly extended by a prosthetic set of two right forearms. Sitting profile, she turns her head to the void, reciting a litany of her troubles in alternating tones of stoic remove and prideful gloating. Any reference to anyone else, however, conjures associative suspicion of her cast mates.

What grounds the material is a dinner table designed by Ofer Laufer. Perfectly timed for the holidays, it is the primary prop on which dysfunction is staged. A table cloth is used as a shroud for Zlatin, first atop the table, and later beneath it, her slow pulling of it over her head inches a sprawling table setup to near collapse as Freedman works quickly to condense it all at the edge.

A supportive ensemble of dancers from Maslool Professional Dance Program enter not so much as dinner attendees, but as a visualization of energetic interpersonal wavelengths that keep the three primary performers from achieving peaceful coexistence. Movements ripple through them, eventually landing on and manipulating the main players into new configurations of mutual avoidance.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

November 18, 2021
An icon of late 20th century modern dance, choreographer Twyla Tharp's "Deuce Coup" for the Joffrey Ballet in 1973 rattled the dance community. A skillful mix of ballet, and modern dance to a sunny Beach Boys soundtrack, Tharp's nonchalant style softened tight ballet knees, loosened dancers' necks and got a syncopated, funky shoulder and arm thing going. Audiences were thrilled, and from that point on, Tharp charted a nearly 60 year career that spanned creative forays in modern dance, ballet, films, theater and writing.

She returned to City Center this fall with a "pick-up" company of stunning dancers. Working during COVID, Tharp revived two duets, created 1 new one and an ensemble work.

Perky and full of spunk, Tyler Peck (NYCB Principal) performed Cornbread along with the animated Roman Mejia (NYCB Soloist)to folksy music by the renown Carolina Chocolate Drops (an old-time string band from NC).

Illuminating her incomparable footwork, Peck trilled backward and forward on pointe. Bouncy jumps and high-stepping turns were reminiscent of hoe-downs where folks shared time together and swung their partners "round-and-round."

Darker in nature, Second Duet (World Premiere) to a score by Thomas Larcher and Aztec Camera, coupled two Ailey dancers: Jacquelin Harris and James Gilmer. Much smaller in size than Gilmer, Harris flipped Gilmer  to the floor, and twisted his arm letting him know that she could do anything he could do better.  

And in an amusing passage, Harris bent her knees, gripped the floor determined to prevent Gilmer from lifting her. The second half resembled a slow-motion aerial Lindy Hop sequence with over-head flips  and a slow pull of Harris' body through Gilmer's legs and back up in the air.

When Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to America, he claimed he wanted the freedom to work with many different artists. One of his chosen choreographers was Tharp. Together they created a now famous duet Pergolesi to music by Pergolisi. Known for his breath-taking technique and dry wit, Baryshnikov was a foil to Tharp, the slinky, haughty modern dancer that could give as good as she got.

This time, Tharp assigned Misha's role to Sara Mearns (NYCB Principal) and Robbie Fairchild (former NYCB Principal, Broadway actor/dancer) assumed Tharp's role. Technically demanding, the duet switched directions and energy levels with alacrity, and generated speed normally seen in Balanchine ballets.

Capable of the intricate footwork and technical brio, Mearns remained contained rather than releasing herself into the energy flow. On the other hand, Fairhild's years dancing many Robbins' works including Fancy Free and West Side Story, helped him sink into his knees, sway his hips and free his head with nonchalant panache.

The final World Premiere All In to Johannes Brahms was a combination of well crafted duets that featured the whole ensemble including Aran Bell, and Cassandra Trenary. In a generous gesture, Tharp plucked young dancers to appear with the company after seeing them on various social media platforms. Giving young dancers a chance to shine on stage--particularly after a period of sequestration--was grand, but  the manner in which they were grouped behind the principals muddied the overall ballet. 

The straight-forward but effective lighting was by James Ingalls and costumes by Santo Loquasto. John Selya (a longtime Tharp dancer) serves as Artistic Associate and Mark Mongold is the Production Supervisor. One more thing: The evening was filled with live music.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 15, 2021
Three veteran dancers/choreographers teamed up as colleagues and performers to present THEN UNTIL NOW, a 75 minute performance without intermission, spanning 40 years in the field. Known in the experimental, modern and educational fields of dance, Vicki Angel, Eric Barsness, Carol Clements served up a series of solos.

The evening began with Carol Clements’ tongue in cheek SO LOW (1986). Dressed in a tight fitting, long, red gown, she shifts back and forth in elegant gestural shapes, before struggling in a tug of war dance against two cement blocks that hold the dress down. The piece speaks to the negative self-thoughts that weigh and limit the character -- though she continues to keep up the front.

Vicki Angel then takes the stage in a three part piece entitled THE HESITATION (2021). With text throughout, Angel elaborates on the importance of taking space between thoughts, the importance of timing, quoting various cliched phrases like “He Who Hesitates is Lost” as she accentuates the text with seamless center stage gestures and body movements.

Part 2 finds her comically lecturing from a podium, again about hesitation, but also “acting as if you are sure of yourself” even if you’re not. In Part 3, she carves through space struggling to learn dance directions from a recorded sound track.

Eric Barsness’s SEVEN ENDINGS, is a twenty minute, hilarious discussion on the history of opera pieces. Starting with an old fashioned record player and vinyl record, he flips between speaking about specific operatic composers, performers, and stage snafus over the years, to singing along with the recordings. Oozing perfect comic timing, the tall, long limbed Barness playfully and ingeniously delights the audience with various personae.

Angel then performs a heartfelt solo UNDERNEATH(1985), to moving music by Scriabin. She dances, leaves the stage, and returns, fighting the knowledge that she might not be on stage much longer.

The final solo, NOW AND THEN I REMEMBER (2021), by Carol Clements, elicits gut- wrenching laughter from the audience as she struggles to recapture a piece made in the early 70’s, forgetting much of the piece as she asks the audience to help her remember and rehearse with her.

The show concludes with a trio, THEN AND NOW AND NEVER AGAIN, with all three costumed in colorful Edwardian type outfits and sunglasses, dancing in unison, employing playful head nods, hip twitches, and shoulder circles reminiscent of 70’s rock groups.

The entire evening reminded us of the talent and perseverance these artists embody, as they rehearsed during the pandemic and waited during a postponed year before the Gibney Studio opened its theater again to live audiences. Well worth the wait!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

November 5, 2021
By the end of the concert, the packed house at the Joyce Theater eagerly stood up to salute Gina Gibney -- not just in support of her new dance company-- but in tribute to her manifold contributions to the dance community.

The enterprising woman behind the Gibney Dance center in lower Manhattan, embraced the independent modern dance community's extensive needs by re-imagining a center for performances, classes, workshops, seminars and field-wide conversations.

For many years, Gibney headed a company stamped with her choreography then flipped the equation and converted her primarily single choreographer company into a repertory troupe just before COVID hit. This global, life-shifting pandemic gave the new group time to gestate until its debut in November at the Joyce Theater.

Three choreographers built pieces on a texturally impressive company of dancers: Lucien Oyen, a choreographer, director and playwright from Sweden; Rena Butler, dancer and Gibney Company Choreographic Associate; plus Sonya Tayeh, Tony-award winning choreographer of Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Text and movement flowed through a shadowed space in Lucien Oyen's The Game is Rigged set to Gunnar Innvaer's sound design. Pedestrian movements stretched through modern dance forms revealing dancers equally capable of speaking and moving. With roots in the European dance theater movement, most visibly promoted by PIna Bausch, Oyen's choreography honed in on internal narratives spilling out of dancers' gestures.

Stylized acrobatics resounded in, Lusus Naturae by Rina Butler. Three male dancers hunkered over each other imitating primate-like movements teased through hip hop lopes only to straighten into upright gladiators and then plunk back down to earth.

After intermission, the audience was treated to a new piece Oh Courage! by Sonya Tayeh, the Tony award winning choreographer of Broadway's Moulin Rouge. Dancers surround the live music performed by Shaun and Abigail (think Janis Joplin meets Meredith Monk), Bengson. Dancers popped up on a box near Abigail physically emoting improvisational sensations. Complex body isolations punctuated wide, free-wheeling patterns that kept the stage in a dynamic state. The dancers are quite distinctive and talented, however, Leal Zielinska captured some serious limelight.

Eager to catch the next Gibney Company production.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 1, 2021
The Graham company looks better than ever, as if covid did not happen to them at all. The program was a perfect mix of Graham classics and excellent new work, and the dancers were simply stunning. The proximity of the Joyce Theater stage made it all the more enjoyable to see the clarity, beauty and commitment of the dancing.

The evening began with a powerful performance of Graham’s Steps in the Streets from 1936, Graham’s response to rising fascism. An all-female work, the Graham women immediately set the tone with their strong unison steps, clenched fists, and intense stares, sometimes looking straight at us, clearly demanding action. Led by the beautiful and imposing Leslie Andrea Williams, the work took on a new meaning with the current backdrop of political turmoil, BLM, and long-overdue change.

In a stark contrast between powerful community and propelling individual existence, the steady Jacob Larsen danced a solo with extended arms and swift changes of direction, created in conversations with Sir Robert Cohan during and after covid, “in the twilight of the choreographer’s life.” None of this was readily apparent in the sharp, angular movement, which speaks to the ineffability of both movement and personal experience.

The biggest surprise of the evening for me was Treading, a duet created by Elisa Monte for the Graham company in 1979, to music by Steve Reich. An image of amorphous life grows into the full-bodied, sinewy Lloyd Knight, moving with stealth motion and bird-like arms. As he receded, Marzia Memoli replaced him centerstage and executed her own unhurried, gorgeous solo floor work, her articulate torso going from extreme contraction to extended arms back like a balletic swan. Costumed in skin-colored unitards with smudges, the two reunited in a series of gorgeous shapes and seamless partnering from some natural world, a slow, deliberate mating dance, unlike nature, a union with stunning control.

Pam Tanowitz’s Untitled (Souvenir) is an homage to Graham, referencing lesser-known works, and to my eye, some Cunningham and Balanchine too. The Noguchi-like set pieces and fabulous Graham-esque costumes modernized by Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of TOME, complemented the intricate and absorbing world created by this melding of styles. Moments of buzzing and others of stillness lived within asymmetrical structure dotted with very human moments, eye contact, and connection – moments we all hunger for in today’s isolating, covid-limited, smart phone world.

Rounding out the program was an energizing performance of Graham’s Diversion of Angels. The dancers moved with such fullness and joy they breathed new life into this classic tribute to a woman’s love as it changes over time. From innocence to passion to wisdom and back again, we felt the ups and downs of what it means to love, anew.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 31, 2021
A particular lightness filled the lobby of the NY State Theater on Oct. 27, the first Pride Night celebrated by American Ballet Theater. People in sparkly clothes beamed and tipped glasses of bubbly prior to the performance featuring a very special guest appearance by Lypsinka--a renown downtown drag artist.

Percolating with high energy and youthful joie de vive, Bernstein in a Bubble choreographed by Alexi Ratmansky to Leonard Bernstein's "Divertimento" kicked off the festivities. A tumble of dancers swung through jazzy, slinky steps with a nod towards "West Side Story." The playground jauntiness broke into smaller groups including a warm, bonding male duet.

Centered on two men, Touche by Christopher Rudd with dancers Calvin Royal III and Joao Menegussi, is filled with longing and trust. In a "first", an intimacy director was involved in the coordination of the duet. Unlike many other male duets, this one was more specific in its ardor between the two men who fell into each other's arms, and slipped down along the other's body. Effectively crafted, the duet is constructed around an embrace that felt universal.

A much-loved ABT dancer from the 1980's, Clark Tippet started to choreograph a few years before his untimely bout with AIDS. Some Assembly Required demonstrated his wit and architectural sensibility between body and space tied to his pure love of dance.

Musically, the antecedent to Bernstein's "Divertimento", Darrell Grand Moultrie's Indestructible Light sets dancers off on a jazzy frolic to music by some of the greatest swing jazz artists-- Duke Ellington, Count Bassie and Neal Hefti. Historically, they served as Bernstein's inspiration. Unison lines of kicks and loose wristed-hands flapped and snapped adding zest to a soundtrack of classics that can't be beat.

Following the performance, Lypsinka (aka John Epperson ABT classroom pianist) appeared in a full skirted frock to campily "lip synch" some favorite show tunes.  Lypsinka introduced the panel that closed out the evening discussing the making of the works and the inclusion of an intimacy director. 
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 28, 2021
The line outside NY City Center for Fall for Dance was imbued with heightened anticipation – returning to the theatre for indoor performance, adding checks of COVID vaccination status to the ticket retrieval process. Program 3 features a stylistic metamorphosis through ballet, contemporary, and stepping. Sequenced so linearly from ethereal to earthbound movement, a clear commonality of restlessness pervaded the works – to return to the stage as much as we were eager to witness it.

Opening the program was the Philadelphia Ballet with the NY Premiere of Juliano Nunes’ Connection. Ten dancers in tight flesh tones move together as a fluid swarm from which each dancer participates in a highlighted duet. Nunes’ partnering tests limits of flexibility and strength in forward fluid motion that forbids indulgent positional loitering. Even as men unilaterally manipulate women, each mover takes on a viscous form in space.

Limbs tangle and unwind in chains of shifting equilibriums in which arms that might otherwise simply support are absorbed into all-consuming partnerships. Albeit created in pre-COVID times, one can’t help feeling that performing this marathon of contact now helps to make up for the past two years of distance and isolation.

Micaela Taylor sets herself front and center in her TL Collective’s Drift. Taylor’s movement has a similar flow to Nunes, but is subject to sharp rhythmic manipulations in short theatrical spurts of physical sentence fragments, connected by transitions of pedestrian stillness and pacing.

It adheres perhaps too loyally to the soundscore, dominated by a spoken word piece discussing the concept of “drifting” as an antidote to modern life’s pressures.

Initially establishing an intricate ensemble texture, Taylor, whose towering, narrow, and bendy form already makes her hard to miss, takes the reins and relegates her company as backup dancers to her authoritative execution of her aesthetic.

All authority was dismantled by Step Afrika!, who turned the house on its head with Conrad Kelly II’s The Movement. Of the three works, Step Afrika! succeeded at achieving an equitable balance of ensemble and spotlighted dancing. They had to, given the subject matter. Created most recently, The Movement is a Black Lives Matter rally, conjuring the pain of 2020’s breaking point of racial violence and seeing it through to a call towards a brighter future.

No movement other than body percussion can equally satisfy the intensity of community grief and the levity of celebration, so much so that, by the end, they had the (largely older, white) audience on its feet, clapping more or less on beat, fully on board.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

Fall For Dance Program #4
October 26, 2021
Now in its second week of programming, Fall For Dance retains its popularity with audiences. Program #4 drew performances from ballet, modern dance and swing dance. Unable to perform, Lil'l Buck, a jookin' favorite was replaced by Caleb Teicher's exhuberantly bouncy piece to an excerpt from Meet Ella.

Lar Lubovitch, a master builder of classically based modern dance invited two much watched young male ballet dancers from NYC Ballet, Adrian Daching-Waring and Joseph Gordon to embody City Center's newly commissioned ballet entitled Each In His Own Time. Both men exude clean, classical lines allowing movements to be startling visible. An intuitively lyrical choreographer, Lubovitch locates the melody inside the bodies.

A nonstop duet to a score by Johannes Brahms the dancers wove their arms in loops around each other's bodies, and overhead -- reminiscent of the Olympic loops. Dressed in white loose shirts and pants, long arabesques pulled into rippling turns unfolding into supported lifts. A constant flow of motion, one can only hope this duet makes its way into the NYC Ballet rep.

Projecting an urban mentality and sensuality, BalletX returned with Matthew Neenan's wistful piece Mapping Out A Sky set to the orchestral music of Stephen Sondheim. Bluish splashes color the thigh-high cut leotards suggesting a timeless theme. Lines of bodies rippled in succession, rolling forward and sideways with the precision of the Rockettes. While solo or duets broke away from the wave of connected humans, the dancers cut a sharp silhouette of sleek bodies against the never-ending flow of motion.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY ----- Celia Ipiotis

Fall For Dance Program #2
October 17, 2021
Fall For Dance Program #2 launched the evening with Stephen Petronio’s 2019 American Landscapes.  The curtain opened with a view of three side-by-side box-type projected images on the backdrop (Robert Longo and Don Cieslik) that changed throughout the work from forest, to moon, airplanes, American flag, Earth, and animals. Petronio’s ensemble work featured nine dancers executing modern/balletic movement vocabulary in Cunninghamesque tightly choreographed quartets, duets, and interchangeable group work, with twisting torsos atop legs of exquisitely performed traveling steps, jumps and leaps.

The dancers were costumed in grey leotards by designer H. Petal. Lighting (Ken Tabachnick), changed from stark black and whites to sepia shades at the end supporting warmth and community as the dancers held hands while performing unison, interdependent partnering.

Next came Sons de L’Ame (2013), translated in English to mean “Sounds of the Soul”, choreography by Stanton Welch, Artistic Director of Houston Ballet. The piece opened with male dancer Connor Walsh on stage, with live pianist Vladimir Rumyantsev eloquently playing Frederic Chopin pieces as Karina Gonzalez enters en pointe. Dressed in matching leotard pants and a halter top that strategically exposed her incredible torso muscles, she seamlessly performed rising and falling movements, jumps and leaps in the air.

Walsh lifted, supported, and shifted his weight and strength throughout to feature her dazzling technique, poise, and virtuosity. At one moment, Gonzalez balances en pointe by the piano, suggesting the love and interdependence between the dancer, the dance, and the music.

The final piece of the night, a definite crowd pleaser, ODEON: Redux (2018) by Ephrat Asherie Dance Company, was accompanied by live musicians, playing guitar, bass, and percussion instruments to Latin-influenced music by Ernesto Nazareth. Six dancers dressed in assorted black costumes and sneakers, performed intricate body percussion claps, stomps, and finger snapping rhythms weaving the movement throughout the stage.

A female duet featuring fast moving footwork with rapid, articulate arm gestures was the highlight of the piece, which ended with the musicians joining the dancers on stage in a final jam session, the audience accompanying them with enthusiastic clapping.

ODEON Redux, playful and beautifully performed by the entire company, was an inspiring, spirited celebration for all who have survived and returned to the proscenium stage and theater after pandemic-induced separation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

October 15, 2021
Amber Sloan has no particular movement language. A long-standing member of The Bang Group, a curator, and a composition teacher, Sloan has her toes dipped in too many niches to settle on one way of doing things. Her first full-evening presentation at Arts On Site demonstrates a rigorous commitment to ideas and a devout authenticity in composing the results of deep research. There is no ulterior motive, and no fat to trim.

Sloan performs in Apart/Together, alongside Nik Owens, alongside a sheet and a shelf, respectively. They examine every way of interacting with the props in a combination of partnering and puppetry. When the two meet, they keep the shelf between them. More than a creative task, the work was begun remotely before the two decided to work in tandem.

Apart/Together is a trajectory of creative problem solving – how to dance in separate spaces, how to partner with minimal risk of infection, and how to make all of this still make sense in an increasingly vaccinated world.

Rigor remains, though puts on a fur coat for Yma Dream, performed by high camp priestess Sy Lu, who performs a physical companion to the wordplay of Anne Bancroft’s monologue recounting Yma Sumac demanding she introduce accumulating guests at a party who all have two-syllable names like hers. A “physical tongue twister,” Lu patterns movements in an analogous fashion, while maintaining a veneer of old Hollywood glamour that makes the whole ordeal digestible.

Golden Delicious treats plot as task. Jordan Morley and Chelsea Hecht stand, nude, intertwined in an Adam and Eve narrative. After intricately textured partnering, they repeat the opening sequence, now attempting to censor each other at the same time, until the decision to put on clothes spirals original sin into a more universally applicable human condition.

Sloan’s most recent effort, A Tangled Web, aims only for its title’s prescription. In doing so, she achieves the rarely considered option of each member of the trio operating under completely independent sets of dynamics and timings, all stemming organically from the simplicity of starting in a circle, facing inward, holding hands.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 15, 2021
The delightful Sw!ng Out is a throwback to the days when instead of liquor stores or banks on every corner, dance clubs dotted NYC streets--particularly in Harlem.

The spirited Caleb Teicher, salutes the grand dance ballrooms of the past in Sw!ng Out--an  energetic Lindy Hop jam at the Joyce Theater.

Famous for it's integrated clientel and the home of the "Happy Feet" the Savoy Ballroom attracted film stars and Whitey's Lindy Hoppers--the most blockbuster talented dancers of their time. Back in the 1930's and 40's, the dance halls were open for business most of the day sporting some of the swingingest bands in the land including Chick Webb, Count Basie and Jimmie Lunceford.

At the Joyce dance club, clusters of dancers partner up: men with men, women with women, men and women -- not unlike the Savoy days when men easily popped up to dance together, showing off their stuff. Although less frequently, women danced together as well, but those pairings were less physical.

With the companionship of an upbeat, very live swing band, the music drives the dancing. Couples mix and match releasing soloists who toy with the music and at times "Trade Sixes" with band members like jazz musicians do in "call and response" riffs. This demands close listening and communication and can produce wildly inventive concoctions.

Composed of innumerable body types,  the on-stage dancing family creates space for all who love to dance. After the bubbly first half, the second half is devoted to audience members eager to Lindy the night away on stage with a live band, top drawer dancers and unrivaled memories.

Avita Arce, Latasha Barnes, Nathan Bugh, Macy Sullivan, Caleb Teicher, and Eyal Vilner appear in the program as the "braintrust" with Teicher as director. Eyal Vilner is also responsible for the charts performed by the animated swing band.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 15, 2021
Many may be operating as though the pandemic is over, but choreographers are continuing to get great mileage out of themes of isolation. Dancing spouses Mats Ek and Ana Laguna contributed their own variation on the theme with a semi-reciprocal dance film project, swapping roles of dancer and videographer of two new Ek solos that amplify the movements of domesticity.

Medans (“Whilst”) finds Ek seated on a wooden chair in an empty kitchen. Using Liszt, Ek relies on deliberate, though atmospheric musical phrasing to guide his transformation of quotidian gesture into formalized physical patterning. His hand wipes up and down his lap until Ek’s limbs, like vines, tangle about the lattice of the chair. His 76-year-old body is enviably articulate, fluid, and in control of every moment, even as his character descends into a schizophrenic aimlessness.

Pedestrian non-sequiturs such as holding the chair as jail bars, briefly flashing his belly button, or trying out his coat inside-out and right-side-in speak to idiosyncratic quarantine coping mechanisms. Largely naturalistic filming, editing magic swoops in when Ek falls backward in his chair, only to be rewound into a second chance.

Laguna depicts a more concretely relatable scenario, however blown up to cartoonish proportions in Mitt Brev (“My Letter”). To Bach’s first Cello Suite, Laguna goes through what we more often experience these days via email. She fears opening a letter, her avoidance channeled into subtly manipulating the paper into the physicality of a yapping chihuahua. She Shakespearianly wields a steak knife to carve open the envelope, only to drop it, tip down, into the floorboards.

A similar sort of editing allows Laguna to stab and eat the blank page inside, only to regurgitate it, unmarred and filled in with a message that wasn’t so bad after all. Ek ends staring blankly out his window; Laguna, relieved and able to laugh at herself.

As an explicitly pandemic piece, the project is hard to get behind. We can’t all empathize with a pair of renowned dance artists who had a peaceful and productive refuge during lockdown, but we can certainly applaud their ingenuity.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 10, 2021
Guests to the cell plunge into a sound bath drawn by Johnny Butler. Participants are free to wander, chit-chat, and view a video installation on the second floor by Alex Taylor, displaying stark, head-on footage of the members of Gwendolyn Gussman’s HOLDTIGHT answering the evening’s work’s titular question, What Keeps You Going?

The answers continue in physical space, only to re-enter a comparatively analog digital one. Each performer, Gussman included, individually speaks their own recipes for self- sustainment into a tape recorder and plays their answers back in a harmony that joins Butler’s continuing mix of live and pre-recorded sound. A trademark Bausch-ian move to give only answers to unspoken questions, a collage of warm fuzzy feelings wafts above a floor covered in a lot of a substance – here, shredded tires, courtesy of Anna Driftmier.

The performers take deliberate steps along right angles amid the rubber rubble. The occasional bumping of bodies is handled with grace, until conflict, as though a foreign pathogen invading an ecosystem, infects each performer’s objective – Gussman and Nico Gonzales argue over arranging rubber shards in circles or squares; Xenia Mansour rattles off a litany of desires until Emily Haughton pummels her into a wall, Café Müller style. We are not here just to feel good about ourselves.

What follows is a walking tour of solos, each of which follows the same energetic arc: meditative beginning, quirky buildup, climax of rage or sadness, “what now?” denouement. Mansour, Gonzales, Haughton, Gussman, and Dervla Carey-Jones do the dance-theatre version; Butler takes the same ride with his saxophone. Each is a fully committed force of nature, though, in rapid succession leaves the whole both stilted and emotionally exhausting, and your average empath concerned for the well-being of the performers who solo twice, sometimes consecutively.

On the other hand, much of the piece’s efficacy comes from Gussman’s willingness to overlap and overhear. Scenes become richer when one’s text infuses with another’s movement. Either way, more needed to have been worked out by the time we arrived at a premature feel-good hum-along finale when it was energetically clear that tensions were still high.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 10, 2021
I feel an affinity for the Liberty Hall Dance Festival. I danced with its director, Nicole Buggé, whose Buggé Ballet always has a slot in the Festival. It was one of my duo, BREAKTIME’s first public performances in 2017. Four years and a pandemic later, the festival remains a well- organized oasis on the campus of Kean University – if you can get to it.

Knowing the Festival to be a rotating promenade, I took my time arriving somewhere between 1 and 4pm. Though I remembered the Union NJ Transit station to be a mere 15- minute walk away, Google urged me to take a train to Newark Airport, take an AirTrain to Terminal C, and take a (15-minute) cab ride (a mere 42 bucks).

I arrived, disoriented and frustrated, to the Festival in the last hour and went to the nearest movement I could find. The Liberty Hall Museum stands in homage to the American Revolutionaries who inhabited it – a site specific dance festival’s wildest dream.

At the Ice House performed the Cranford High School Dancers, under Emily Donahue. One can’t be as in their program along a site-specific tour as when in a dark room. It was only after seeing erect spines, camouflage leggings, and regimented spatial patterns that my thematic hunch was confirmed by its title, All the Daring of the Soldier.

Another student work, by Mandy Stallings’ class at Packer Collegiate Institute, played before a sprawling Rose Garden in a feminine nod to Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table. Eight female-presenting dancers in Victorian garb form a bouquet of polite postures, from which dissenters digress in earthbound choreographic asides. On Frippery symbiotically benefitted from and cast as a character the space around it.

I concluded with Teresa Fellion’s BodyStories. Back at the Ice House, the 3:30 sun cast a shadow that marked off boundaries for Emma Iredale and Kimberly Murry to pounce in and out of light in contrasting dynamics. Stallings’ preceding use of environment had me wishing for the same ingenuity from Fellion, particularly when the work ended waiting for a blackout in a theatre we were not in.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 2, 2021
Merce Cunningham and Mikhail Baryshnikov share a penchant for collaboration, one that even drew them together as optically unlikely partners, beginning with Baryshnikov adding Cunningham to American Ballet Theatre’s repertory. At Baryshnikov Arts Center, there is a studio named for Cunningham and John Cage, wherein BAC Digital’s In Conversation with Merce was filmed. Liz Gerring and Kyle Abraham take excerpts of Cunningham’s 1972 Landrover as a prompt for their own physical musing on the original work’s fixation on the ways living beings travel in space.

Staged by Jamie Scott, Alvin Ailey company dancers Chalvar Monteiro and Jacquelin Harris brave locomotive obstacles between partnering anyone who has lived through the past two years might describe as “socially distant.” Contact consists of non-hugs – embraces kept at arms’ lengths, promenades in which Harris is fully self-sufficient in her off-kilter orientations with merely gestural support from Monteiro, who focuses more on harmonizing his body with hers in interlocking revolving shapes. That is until Monteiro hoists Harris upside down onto his back at an incline. Harris makes up for lost time by slithering slowly down Monteiro’s spine and hamstring until the two lie, prone, heads yearning for elsewhere.

Liz Gerring’s Dialogue feels more like a report. Landrover’s classical structure of duets flanked by alternating solos is kept for Mariah Anton and Cemiyon Barber, who impersonate Cunningham within Gerring’s vocabulary that draws largely from the fitness industry. A lot of lunges, planks, and chair poses are distorted with spinal adjustments from running starts. There is connection, though with considerably less relation. If Cunningham made the “socially distant” work, Gerring made the “together while apart” dance, Gerring focusing on destinations, counter to Cunningham’s adherence to journey.

Kyle Abraham takes a completely left-field approach, exploring softness, release, and loosely fitting garments (by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung) within what remains an undeniably Cunningham-ian time/space. Donovan Reed and Claude Johnson achieve a male-on-male tenderness rarely, if ever seen in Cunningham’s oeuvre. Where Cunningham engineers independence in partnering, Abraham designs coordinations impossible to execute without an other half. Within this, glimmers of Merce surface in unexpected gestural outbursts that punctuate Abraham’s waves of fluid continuity.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 2, 2021
NYCB continues to take bold steps encouraging commissions by choreographers outside of the traditional ballet community. In keeping with a Spring Gala tradition, NYCB paired 2 choreographers with 2 fashion designers. Andrea Miller collaborated with Esteban Cortazar and Sidra Bell (the first African American female to choreograph for NYCB) connected with Christopher John Rogers.

Both revealed moments of inspiration and both fell under the spell of NYCB's glittering production values ultimately losing track of the main event--the choreography.

Sky To Hold starts inside a whirling mist. Ecstatic dancers in bodysuits that get more colorful with time, rip through space like sprites ushering in Taylor Stanley who unfolds from an amoebic form. Back-bends transmute into crab-walks making Stanley an oddly compelling character. He's joined by the free-spirited, golden- haired Sara Mearns uninhibitedly commanding her universe.

The commissioned score by Lido Pimienta includes live vocals by Pimienta standing in a glowing yellow gown on the side of the stage. The atmospheric music suggests the Lion King or perhaps that image materializes when dancers on mens' backs, arms spread in angular forms over bent legs approximate untamed--or mystical animals in the wilds. Some of the most propulsive moments are a result of the captivating partnering including a dancer hooking a leg over another dancer's shoulder and releasing the torso into a pendulum swing. 

On the other end of the dance spectrum, Sidra Bell's Suspended Animation to music by Nicholas Britell, Oliver Davis and Dosia McKay shocks the senses with iridescent Baroque-nouveau costumes topped by outrageous hats, some of which resemble 1950's lampshades. Posing and gliding like tiny ballerinas in a music box, the eye-popping costumes are shed -- over the course of the ballet -- to reveal sleek, embellished, body hugging outfits.

Possibly, the opening speaks to  ballet's roots in the sumptuous courts of Louis XIV? Traditional ballet combinations fold over a more flexible modern dance torso, isolated limbs and free-wheeling arms.

In one of the final tableaus, dancers in the high-fashion gowns move behind a screen against the stripped down modern ballet folks moving in front--conceivably suggesting the past and the future remain in active conversation?

The night I attended, the program closed with George Balanchine's joyous "Western Symphony" -- a tutorial on how to make choreographing dance look natural.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

NYC BALLET: Serenade, After the Rain, Symphony in C
September 23, 2021
Deafening applause washed over the exquisitely iconic opening image of George Balanchine's Serenade. Ballerinas in soft blue tulled dresses stand poised in parallel position, one arm raised, as if saluting the grateful audience. In truth, the performance receded in contrast to the audience's pent-up enthusiasm. Built on poignancy and life's etherealness, Serenade generated the kind of  insistent applause associated with wildly voluble TV shows like "America's Got Talent."

At the forefront, Sterling Hyltin achieved a new vulnerability; Ashely Bouder's bounding elevation was not diminished by time catching everyone's breath with a flying back leap into the very capable arms of Adrian Dancing-Waring while the towering Megan LeCrone was vigorously cheered for her perfectly executed one leg arabesque rotation. The tranquility generally felt when watching Serenade gave way to an audience intent on shouting their love.

Christopher Wheeldon's duet of longing and connection, After the Rain to heart-wrenching music by Arvo Part paired Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour in a deftly synched performance detailed in its contrasting movement quality--taut gestures melting into embraces--in a space of trust. Both dancers will be retiring this year which added a dimension of wistfulness to the performance.

Before the final grand ballet, Symphony in C by Balanchine to Georges Bizet, co-directors Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan appeared in front of the curtain to claim "We are back!" To showcase the musicians, the NYC Ballet Orchestra, under the direction of Andres Litton, cheered the audience with a bright rendition of "The Waltz of the Flowers" from the beloved "Nutcracker."

The lavish and technically demanding Symphony in C most definitely challenged the company. In a spirited performance, Megan Fairchild and Joseph Gordon exuded confidence and cheer while Gordon spit out a glowing series of multiple spins and sparkling jumps ingratiating the audience; in the Adagio, Sara Mearns turned her duet into one luxurious musical inhale and exhale while Indiana Woodward and Harrison Ball, Laruen King and Andrew Socrdato swirled through the intricate footwork.

Despite the year and a half hiatus,there was no lack of energy and optimism in the opening night of NYC Ballet.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 17, 2021
In Balanchine's Classroom filmmaker Connie Hochman condenses 100 interviews with current and former NYC Ballet dancers into a portrait of the man they--and so many others--idolized as well as the mystery and science of passing dance from body to another. Inspired by the Americans' outgoing and inquisitive manner, Balanchine took a fresh approach to traditional ballet.

Cutting between seated interviews, in-person coaching and crucial archival material, the film gazes at the man many consider responsible for redefining European ballet into American terms. Unique in the world, the Balanchine dancer shared European and Russian centuries-old ballet traditions streamlined through American rhythms and optimism.

In 1933, when Balanchine arrived in America, Europe was on the verge of WWII before even recuperating from the devastation of WWI. Diaghilev, one of the greatest ballet impresarios was dead, and his renown company, the Ballets Russes, disbanded.

In one questionable section, archival footage of a ballet duet from 1913 includes a voice-over stating Balanchine overturned the staid ballet of his time. However, 1913 happens to be the year Vaslav Nijinsky shocked the dance world with his ground-shattering ballet "The Rite of Spring." Indeed, Balanchine did turn away from the stuffy academy, but his novel ideas were inspired by avant-garde choreographers of the time like Fyodor Lopukhov.

For ballet dancers, a choreographer's interaction with the material is all important. Did he come in with the material set, did he improvise, or ask for movement contributions. According to the interviewees, it was yes to all. Most importantly, if it suited him, Balanchine incorporated "accidents" (a dancer running into a piece late) or unintended gestures into his ballets.

Famously, his daily class was a place of inspiration and bodily assault. When most dance classes might have asked for 8 repetitions of one barre exercise front, side and back; Balanchine went for 64 repetitions at an accelerated speed. Besides speed and musicality, Balanchine took pointe work to a new frontier regarding the foot as a complex, expressive organism capable of micro articulations. Less a teacher and more a movement explorer, Balanchine embraced the classroom as an opportunity for experimentation and the development of exercises that could support his vision.

Suki Schorr, Merrill Ashley, Heather Watts, Edward Villella, Gloria Grovin and Jacques d'Amboise (with young children) are seen coaching or teaching dancers in a classroom. All three taskmasters convince the dancers to not only execute the movements but understand why an accent comes at a certain point, or arm drops down in front of one's face. Despite the exactness of the corrections, or inclusion of vivid imagery, everyone agreed that once the master choreographer passed, his ballets changed. Not surprisingly, Balanchine trusted his dancers to dance and "let the dancers put in their own spice," ultimately feeling "ballets belong to the dancer."

A man whose iconic status only grows with each succeeding year, Balanchine was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was oracular " (the ballerina) don't need to be right tonight, you have to know what's right."

There are some omissions, most noticeably the absence of Suzanne Farrell, one of Balanchine's most famous muses. Even without her personal testimony, many people enthuse about her ability to intuitively interpret Balanchine's choreographic intent in a way few others could.

Running about 90 minutes, "In Balanchine's Classroom" will delight young ballerinas dreaming of a career and reinforce the Balanchine lore. Dance lovers will appreciate the extensive archival footage and those less involved might wonder why dancers "sacrifice" themselves to such a rigorous and frequently disparaging art form.

With time, much changes, but perhaps in the world of dance Balanchine was right when he opined "I want dancers who need to dance."
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 18, 2021
How do you know you're back in NYC? Here's one clue: You order food, then ask for bread and the waiter snaps, "You ordered enough food. You don't need the bread." 

Happy days are back, or so we hope, and Lincoln Center celebrated with a "who's who" of dance performance series at Damrosch Park. Energy buzzed  the spiraling lines of dance lovers intent on getting a seat and embracing friends not seen for months on end.

Robert Battle (artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) giddily welcomed the audience and introduced the program that crackled with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performing an excerpt from Rennie Harris' evening length work Lazarus. The punchy, hip-hop based piece revved-up the audience. 

In a complete turnabout, New York City Ballet's Taylor Stanley absorbed the space in a meditative solo Ces noms que nous portons by Kyle Abraham. Radiating an introspective intensity, Stanley stood on one leg and leaned forward, arms reaching towards the audience in a prayer of serenity.

Next Dance Theater of Harlem brought a feisty excerpt from Harlem on My Mind by Darrell Grand Moultrie performed on pointe. Later, In a tribute to the great Tony Bennett -- who just announced he will no longer be performing live -- ABT delivered Jessica Lang's swooning, breathlessly lyrical duet Let Me Sing Forevermore.

The one-hour program ended on a earthy, throbbing excerpt from Gustavo Ramirez Sansano's 18 + 1 for Ballet Hispanico.

The outdoor dance programs will continue through Saturday.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 23, 2021
Near the end of Jamila Wignot's immersive documentary on Alvin Ailey, he states in very clear terms, "I want it to be easier than it was for me" (EYE ON DANCE, 1989). Clearly, the man who built the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had a vision that included an "easier" future for the next generation of BIPOC and LGBTQ dancers.

Ailey's life unfolds in a series of potent archival clips, performance footage and friends' reminiscences. A complicated man, Ailey and his mother left the heat and dirt of Texas for LA when he was 12 years old. While money was scarce, inspiration peaked in the form of dance. First smitten with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, later he was awed by the Dunham Dance Company. Ultimately, his dance career was defined by Lester Horton, one of the first people to run a multi-racial dance company and studio. Horton became Ailey's lifelong role model.

Thrilling black-and-white footage captures Ailey's full-throated, emotionally committed performances. Oddly, much of the critical archival footage is not credited and neither are the dancers who appear in rehearsal segments one-on-one with Ailey (i.e., Ailey rehearses Donna Wood in Masekela Langage). Citation details enrich our grasp of the time-line and our engagement with the material.

The film faithfully maps out Ailey's growth during the Civil Rights Movement, the wild success of Ailey's masterpiece set to gospel music Revelations (Ailey confesses to Harry Belafonte -- in a 1978 Dance in America program--he tires of the demands to program Revelations), as well as a grueling touring schedule and demands to keep a company afloat in NYC. These stressors contribute to Ailey's mental breakdown sensitively revealed through poignant reflections by Ailey's close dance family members. Mary Barnett, Sylvia Waters, George Faison and Bill Hammond are just a few of the artists who affectionately round-out the story of Ailey.

The Ailey lineage continues through the company and a new crop of choreographers. For the purposes of the film, we enter the Ailey Company rehearsal room several times to observe street dance based choreographer Rennie Harris create his one-hour production piece called Lazarus as an homage to Ailey and the struggles of so many black artists.

Ailey was a trailblazer who concertized his lived experiences and celebrated not only the works of black choreographers, but at a time when modern dance was predominantly performed to classical or modern music, he embraced America's jazz, gospel and pop music.

Impressively edited, the richly varied look of the film is composed of countless visual images sliding over spoken words and music.

Trained on Ailey's personal landscape, Wignot's film bends towards Ailey's emotional arc rather than his life-long challenges keeping a company solvent, attracting audiences, and coping with the critics.

Because of Ailey's passion and compassion, the 21st century Ailey company led by Robert Battle is in the black, sells out houses and attracts praise from critics.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 12, 2021
Nothing like an epidemic to make you appreciate there's no place like the live theater. NYCB is poised to open its 2021-22 season on Sept. 21 with a special one-night-only program in celebration of NYCB’s first full-company, live performance in more than 19 months and includes George Balanchine's classics: Serenade (which I'm positive will make me cry), and Symphony in C plus Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain Pas Deux.

Season highlights: World Premiere ballets by Sidra Bell and Andrea Miller at the Fall Fashion Gala on September 30; Justin Peck at the annual New Combinations Evening on January 27; Jamar Roberts on February 3; Pam Tanowitz on April 22; and Silas Farley, who will create a new work for the Spring Gala on May 5, as part of NYCB’s 50th anniversary celebration of the Company’s legendary 1972 Stravinsky Festival.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

May 17, 2021
Relaxed lopes invert into barrel turns and floor hugging street dance riffs. Without pointing at the hinges joining modern dance to vernacular forms, Seymour Chafin's vocabulary registers as natural, unstressed and clear.

Co-commissioned by the American Dance Festival and the Limon Dance Company, and presented by the Joyce Theater, new-comer Chafin Seymour's Suite Donuts suits the Limon family. Set to an appealing score, Chafin expertly melds  compositions by Miguel Atwood Ferguson to Erik Satie and Slum Village and mounts them to a resourceful movement vocabulary.

In the opening minutes, a lone male dancer senses the space around him through inquisitive, free flow motions punctuated by gestural comments.  Solitary for only a couple of moments, a communal line of dancers fan out behind him. 

Suite Donuts invites company members into its fresh, fluid, rhythmically concise movement tracings organized around slouchy shoulders, playful lifts and stylish floor patterns.

Dressed in loose, long sleeved shirts and draw pants of warm blues, reds, tans and white by costume designer Keiko Voltaire, the high contrast lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker sharply edges the dancers' silhouettes -- conferring a bit of mystery or even dreaminess to the atmosphere.

Seymour has a knack for making dances feel youthful yet fully mature. His traditional dance training supports concise choreography that can soar or drop down into  some serious funk.

During these days of over-zoomed audiences, Seymour uncannily pulls the audience  in through the screen. Let's hope this is only the first of many commissions by Seymour for the Limon Dance Company.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 17, 2021
Celia Ipiotis and the living legacy of "Eye on Dance" The Dance Boom that began with Nureyev and ended with Y2K still resonates today April 17, 2021
Facebook Twitter WhatsApp Telegram Send Print
Surrounded by ephemera: Celia Ipiotis in the "Eye on Dance" Archive, an unparalleled repository of source materials from the Dance Boom, ca. 1980-2000.

Timing, people say, is everything. Dance, people say, is the most ephemeral of the arts. What a stroke of fortune, then, that Celia Ipiotis came along when she did with her long-running half-hour TV talk-show-with-benefits "Eye on Dance," catching America's legendary late-20th-century Dance Boom in full bloom.

Born in Athens, Celia came to America at the age of three, when her father, a polymer chemist, won a fellowship for advanced study in New York. Her father's subsequent employment at General Motors took the family to Dayton, Ohio.

Show Daddy what you learned in class: Celia's fifth position at age six.
Celia's passion for dancing kindled early. By the age of five, she was taking lessons. At 11, she made her professional debut with Josephine Schwartz's Dayton Civic Ballet, landing a precocious solo in the company hit "Archaic Fragments." On tour to Cleveland with excerpts from The Nutcracker, she opened the show, first out of the wings with an air-borne split jeté. At 13, she was creating her own choreography. "I got released from school for rehearsals and performances," Celia remembers, "I got free toe shoes, and I got a paycheck." Such was the company's reputation within dance circles that Allen Hughes, of the New York Times, went out to file what turned out to be a highly favorable report.

Leader of the pack: Celia performs with her all-volunteer Living Arts Summer Dance Company, a magnet for driven artists in the off-season.

After earning her BFA at Ohio State University, Celia founded the Living Arts Summer Dance Company, which she ran for three years. Based in Dayton, the all-volunteer ensemble attracted budding professionals with a compulsion to keep working—and showing their work to the public—in the off-season. No free toe shoes here, but then, none were needed. Celia had switched to bare feet. "I prefer modern dance because I love to feel the ground and grab it with my toes," she told the Dayton Daily News in 1976. Next stop: Manhattan and the New School for Social Research, Center for Understanding Media, her bridge to dance on video, an art form then in its infancy. While still in graduate school, Celia made the cover of Videography magazine, a human tornado the camera morphed to a blur not even her mother could have identified for sure.

A human tornado: Celia's first magazine cover.

All the while, Celia's concept for "Eye on Dance" was taking shape, and it was revolutionary in its way. Like Garbo in Ernst Lubitsch's revolutionary comedy Ninotchka, the dancers would talk! An impossible dream, but it came true.

As moderator for "Eye on Dance," Celia displayed boundless curiosity, free of any agenda. The camera loved her bohemian fashion sense and hairstyles (ribbons, braids, bows!), but what drove the show was her sensibility, her intelligence, her respect for the intelligence of others. She was a demon researcher, always thoroughly prepared. She sat tall in her chair, poised and relaxed, with a Sphinx's smile, ever on the lookout for the telling detail. She made no show of imaginary intimacy, never invaded a guest's space.

Co-creation: Celia develops a new dance with Jeff Bush, video artist, co-founder of "Eye on Dance," and life partner (with the marriage license to prove it).

Over the years, her roster ran from international principal artists to break dancers, choreographers on the cutting edge and choreographers who work like archaeologists, from hieroglyphic notation. Further afield, she introduced audience to musicians, physiotherapists, and intellectual-property lawyers. Topics that in our trigger-happy times would have to be approached with extreme caution if not ruled out as taboo include sexual politics, representation, appropriation, even minstrel shows. Conversation was punctuated with performance segments both thrilling and informative, many broadcast live from the studio.

"Eye on Dance" launched in 1981 and ran through 2004. For the double-length 200th episode in 1986, Celia and her founding co-creator and co-producer Jeff Bush prepared a double-length, 60-minute, highlights reel. On the eve of this year's 40th anniversary of the ongoing "Eye on Dance" enterprise, they have restored their long-unseen scrapbook of wonders. Partly the program serves as a fundraising vehicle. More importantly, it aims to connect new generations of dance professionals and audiences with the inquisitive, inclusive "Eye on Dance" mindset.

"Scholars and historians have been amazed to find that nearly half the archive covers, in considerable depth, artists of color and artists with AIDS whose work is documented nowhere else," Celia says. With every passing year, more of these voices are lost, lending ever greater importance to the archival record, which provides the wherewithal to enrich academic curricula and stimulate original new research. The invitational virtual premiere of the "Eye on Dance" special took place in March on the online platform The Dance Enthusiast; future showings are booking now at educational institutions and libraries.

Though Celia and Jeff produced their last television segment a short lifetime ago, their work continues on behalf of the endangered Eye on Dance Legacy Archive, a repository for some 2,400 analog videotapes, including outtakes, shows never broadcast, studio performances, and demonstrations); 7,500 black-and-white photos from guests' personal collections; 10,000 sheets of print materials, among them personal communications, research, production notes, press materials, and scripts; and 1,000 rare publications, programs, souvenir books, catalogues, and professional chronicles. Most of this material resides in secure, climate-controlled vaults of the international suggestively named information-storage company Iron Mountain (think Fort Knox).

To date, some 60% of the video library—much of it on unstable videotape—has been digitized, and sales of the materials to educational institutions and research libraries help fund the ongoing work. The Archive in its totality, however, has yet to find a permanent home. What's needed is a facility with the space, conservation technology, and the imaginative resources to excite future generations of historians, artists, and audiences.

According to an unverified report, an international tycoon stepped up not long ago, offering to snap up the archive on behalf of his dance-loving daughter for a cool seven figures. But the prospective buyers refused to commit to sharing the contents with the public in perpetuity, and the deal collapsed. Several institutions in the United States and abroad would provide a natural fit. Given Celia's Buckeye roots, her alma mater Ohio State University has a sentimental edge, in contention with the Olympian likes of Library of Congress, the New York Library of the Performing Arts, the Harvard Theatre Collection, the Juilliard Library, the British Museum, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. But placement at any of these would require the largesse of a dance lover with deep pockets—or of a determined consortium.

What's at stake? Documentation unique in its scope and quality of a high point in dance history. Anna Kisselgoff, chief dance critic of The New York Times from 1977 to 2005, sketched out the parameters in a Critic's Notebook essay the week before departure, virtually simultaneous with Celia's disappearance from the airwaves. The headline read "Thoughts on the Once and Future Dance Boom." "[The year] 1962 was really when it all began," Kisselgoff wrote,

... ushering in a true golden age: Nureyev [who had defected in Paris the previous year, generating headlines around the world], Balanchine at his peak, Cunningham as the pope of the avant-garde, innovative pure-dance choreographers. That was the heyday, too, of the experimental Judson Dance Theater [...] and like-minded rebels whose use of nondancers and nondancer movement questioned the nature of dance itself.

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Towards the end of her piece, Kisselgoff had this to say:

[E]veryone knows that the dance boom has ended. It fell victim to drastic cuts in government and private financing that curtailed touring and put some companies out of business. The creative impetus of that exciting time, especially in the 60's and 70's, also petered out.

But the torches were blazing bright when Celia burst on the scene. And as culturally attuned New Yorkers in the 1980's and 1990's knew full well, they continued to do so virtually to the close of her quarter-century adventure. With the appointment of Arlene Croce as dance critic of The New Yorker in the early 1970's, a whole burgeoning cadre of similarly minded scribes, sharp-eyed and ambitious, invaded the arts-and-entertainment pages to an astonishing degree, colonizing column inches to rival the front-line theater and movie critics.

Critical evaluation has its uses, in the moment and after the fact, but "Eye on Dance" was trading in quite different coin. Airing on the local PBS stations WNYC and WNYE in tristate Metropolitan New York, the show excited mavens—even as it demystified an art many outsiders were apt to shun as esoteric and arcane. Rather than hand the megaphone to the chattering class, it gave a voice to people who lived the life, opening doors and opening eyes. To avoid scheduling conflicts with live performances, Celia's show aired on Sunday or Monday evenings, when dance stages were dark. Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder with George Balanchine of New York City Ballet, watched religiously, never failing to spring his notes on Celia at intermission on the promenade of New York State Theater, in his day the Times Square of the dance world.

"Naturally, we would wonder every year whether our contract would be renewed," Celia said recently. "But ours was one of the most popular programs on our two stations. The executives were floored." Remarkably, "Eye on Dance"—alone in the lineup of the stations' original niche programming—cleared the one-percent market-share threshold to receive a Nielsen rating.

"The truth is that we weren't so esoteric," Celia continues. "People tuned in with their families because the show was intriguing. One week we'd have ballet, then a physical therapist, a lawyer, a sports figure, a tap dancer... And if you can believe it, over 50% of our viewers were men. I'd get letters from men who wrote, 'I never understood or knew about dance.' In public, they might have been self-conscious about expressing an interest in dance, but in the privacy of their homes they would tune in and get fascinated about the ways dancers think and navigate their fragile careers. They became enamored and start showing up as dance regulars."

At this remove, the titans of the late-20th-century dance boom stand out in ever bolder relief, their stature attested in major biographies and/or documentaries. While many of them visited "Eye on Dance," some, for various reasons, did not. George Balanchine was in failing health by the time Celia got cooking, so she recruited dancers of his from the New York City Ballet as surrogates. Knowing that Jerome Robbins turned everyone down, she never asked him. Though Martha Graham and Antony Tudor both agreed to appear, they never managed to ink dates. But individual absences do not detract from Celia's granular panorama of the entire ecosystem. The body of work she created is irreplaceable.

"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?" Jeff shoots, Celia pushes her limits.

But she does not live in the past. "Our hope today," Celia says, "is that we can trigger conversation on issues we were focusing on back then. Because they're still totally contemporary today! Black Lives Matter, equity, and women, it's all there. Think of the program as a springboard for engaged and thoughtful conversation about dance of all kinds. We never privileged European concert dance as the be-all and end-all. We did street dance, social dance, vernacular dance. We looked at artists' First Amendment rights around gender politics and things the religious right was branding as obscene. There was never a topic I wouldn't face head on. That's why I loved 'Eye on Dance.'" That's why her work still matters and will continue to do so.

Pundicity--Matthew Gurewitsch

January 28, 2021
The line outside NY City Center for Fall for Dance was imbued with heightened anticipation – returning to the theatre for indoor performance, adding checks of COVID vaccination status to the ticket retrieval process. Program 3 features a stylistic metamorphosis through ballet, contemporary, and stepping. Sequenced so linearly from ethereal to earthbound movement, a clear commonality of restlessness pervaded the works – to return to the stage as much as we were eager to witness it.

Opening the program was the Philadelphia Ballet with the NY Premiere of Juliano Nunes’ Connection. Ten dancers in tight flesh tones move together as a fluid swarm from which each dancer participates in a highlighted duet. Nunes’ partnering tests limits of flexibility and strength in forward fluid motion that forbids indulgent positional loitering. Even as men unilaterally manipulate women, each mover takes on a viscous form in space. Limbs tangle and unwind in chains of shifting equilibriums in which arms that might otherwise simply support are absorbed into all-consuming partnerships. Albeit created in pre-COVID times, one can’t help feeling that performing this marathon of contact now helps to make up for the past two years of distance and isolation.

Micaela Taylor sets herself front and center in her TL Collective’s Drift. Taylor’s movement has a similar flow to Nunes, but is subject to sharp rhythmic manipulations in short theatrical spurts of physical sentence fragments, connected by transitions of pedestrian stillness and pacing. It adheres perhaps too loyally to the soundscore, dominated by a spoken word piece discussing the concept of “drifting” as an antidote to modern life’s pressures.

Initially establishing an intricate ensemble texture, Taylor, whose towering, narrow, and bendy form already makes her hard to miss, takes the reins and relegates her company as backup dancers to her authoritative execution of her aesthetic.

All authority was dismantled by Step Afrika!, who turned the house on its head with Conrad Kelly II’s The Movement. Of the three works, Step Afrika! succeeded at achieving an equitable balance of ensemble and spotlighted dancing. They had to, given the subject matter.

Created most recently, The Movement is a Black Lives Matter rally, conjuring the pain of 2020’s breaking point of racial violence and seeing it through to a call towards a brighter future.

No movement other than body percussion can equally satisfy the intensity of community grief and the levity of celebration, so much so that, by the end, they had the (largely older, white) audience on its feet, clapping more or less on beat, fully on board.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews-Guzman

December 31, 2020
In 1966, Hilary Harris had a filmic field day with then Paul Taylor rookie Bettie de Jong. Entitled Nine Variations on a Dance Theme, the variations are Harris’s, which refract the danced theme: de Jong performing a short physical palindrome nine times with solemn exactitude. Never established in an all-encompassing static wide shot, Harris demonstrates how movement can only be captured if the camera is moving just as well.

The first two variations slowly circle de Jong to aggregately document two sides of her shapes, generating a three-dimensional awareness of the movement in the viewer’s mind’s eye. As the camera zooms in, finds more obtuse angles, and allows editing to break the sequential flow of the subject, we know exactly (and quite classically) how these increasingly adventurous variations deviate from their prime form.

Nine Variations was instrumental in unlocking the potential for dance-film as its own artform. Today as performing artists must figure out how to operate during a global pandemic, many are turning to (digital) film with a similar spirit. Recognizing this cross-generational connection, Taylor alum Michael Trusnovec and current dancer Kristin Draucker have revived the concept.

Nine New Variations can be seen as a continuation of Harris’s work, as it does not so much replicate, but riffs. Instead of one dancer, we have nine, each a female ambassador from the contemporary Western dance world. Instead of one phrase, diligently repeated, each dancer chooses a physical proximity to de Jong’s theme, sometimes quoting it directly, other times obscuring any trace.

Graham dancer Xin Ying commences, like de Jong, starting on the ground, though with more surrender to gravity. Of the nine, she is the only one to noticeably repeat her movement, setting up elusive structural promises.

Akua Noni Parker, of Dance Theatre of Harlem and Ailey, comes closest to both de Jong’s choreography and Harris’s filming, executing the climactic a la seconde leg lift completely out of frame, though with enough continuity to know exactly where she is headed. Margie Gillis, whose brother Christopher danced with the Taylor company, concludes. She evokes Harris’s penchant to discover bodily frames and topographical beauty in ostensibly unflattering perspectives, however conversely bringing them actively towards a fixed lens.

Others veer in camerawork and editing as well. Taylor alum Annmaria Mazzini wafts in a field, occasionally in reverse. Gallim artistic director Andrea Miller and Kyle Abraham’s Tamisha Guy employ multiple frames to put themselves in counterpoint. Pam Tanowitz’s Christine Flores and New York City Ballet’s Sara Mearns harmonize with themselves via cross-faded double exposures, and Lucinda Childs’ Caitlin Scranton steps between a wooded deck and an urban rooftop.

What Nine New Variations lacks is Nine Variations’s capacity to teach us how to watch it. Nine Variations is a dancer and a filmmaker working intimately together; Nine New Variations is a conglomerate of requisite isolation, in which dancers must be their own director, cinematographer, and editor, whether possessing those skills or not. An homage to radical experimentation yearns for connection where cohesion cannot be guaranteed.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

December 22, 2020
Next year the EYE ON DANCE (EOD) Legacy Archive celebrates its 40th Anniversary. This dream -- to introduce the public to the multiplicity and complexity of dance -- became a reality in 1981.

Every week on public TV, EOD became a megaphone for dance introducing hundreds of thousands of people to everything from ballet to hip-hop guided by forgotten heroes as well as acclaimed artists.

By widening traditional perspectives to include all, EOD consistently chronicled artists- of-color (many no longer living) and not documented elsewhere.

For our 40th anniversary year, we will restore video footage of artists essential to their communities yet frequently overlooked as heirs to our history.

Your support is crucial in helping us restore destabilized analog video footage and securing the required $20,000 match for our National Endowment for the Arts award.

With over 40% of the EOD archive containing recordings of artists' of color, we can— with your support— rebalance our dance inheritance.

While everyone waits for the world to reset, EOD will take advantage of the streaming opportunities and assemble curated excerpts of restored original source footage.

In this time of historical reckoning, EOD can communicate how the past informs urgent issues in the present. The archive also contributes towards the remediation of racist interpretations of dance history.

We respectfully accept tax-deductible donations of any size towards the restoration of the EYE ON DANCE Legacy Archive. Please make checks payable to: EYE ON DANCE, 70 East 10th Street, #19D, NY NY 10003.

EOD Sampler: HERE

Restored EOD 30-minute titles are available to educational institutions and libraries.

December 21, 2020
Lincoln Center Previews of Guggenheim Works and Process Commissions The Missing Element, Music for the Sole, Ephrat Asherie
One of the unintended consequences for dance during the pandemic has been the necessity of staging and filming dance in new kinds of spaces and in new ways in order to stay visible, survive, and stay relevant. Suddenly, creative staging and skillful video editing have become key to keeping dancers and choreographers working, and a new way of engaging with art emerges.

Lincoln Center is presenting short video previews of Works and Process commissions from vastly different artists and genres, staged in outdoor spaces around Lincoln Center. The new context just adds another dimension to our (and their) experience of the dance.

The Missing Element, a collaboration between beat boxers, break dancers and rappers that was supposed to occur inside the rounded architecture of the Guggenheim, instead is filmed “in the round” around the Lincoln Center fountain.

Four seamlessly filmed sections (Wind—Kenny Urban and Anthony Rodriguez (Invertebrate), Fire—Amit Bhowmick and Joseph Carella (Klassic), Water—Chris Celiz, Gene Shinozaki, and Graham Reese, and Earth—Brian (HallowDreamz) Henry and Neil Meadows (NaPoM) gave us a closeup collage of street and arthouse techniques that we could never experience so intimately seated in a blackbox theater or straining to watch from the Guggenheim rotunda. Like Wim Wenders wonderful film Pina, we feel like we are inside the action, a very different and vastly more intimate experience. Yes, I wanted to see more.

What can be more fun than watching expert tappers while listening to a Brazilian fusion of funk, house, jazz, and Afro-Cuban music? Watching and listening to Music from the Sole with a moving camera that closes up on them, gives us varying degrees of closeups and angles of the performers to look at with the north side of the Lincoln Center plaza, a sunny, cloud filled blue sky, a reflecting pool and Juilliard school in the background adds to the experience. The film amplifies what we can see, hear, and feel as we watch these artists. I wonder, what will seeing them in a more traditional context do to our already heightened experience of the work?

There are so many ways to describe Ephrat Asherie’s work Underscore, but even one word can capture it: JOY. Her clever use of the architecture on the side of the iconic Metropolitan Opera (who hasn’t wanted to sit or jump up into those concrete spaces?) is like the static medieval sculptures in the niches of so many cathedrals suddenly injected with life, color and unbridled energy. Asherie’s work is fun, infectious, creative, pleasing, and serious, and it communicates so much of what dance is: a means to share life, positivity, and community.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Nicole Duffy Robertson

Fall For Dance #2
November 1, 2020
New York City Center produced the second program of the Fall for Dance Digital series. In stark comparison to the quiet undertones of Program One, Program Two was livelier and felt much more in line with the typical Fall for Dance programming.

Opening the show were excerpts from George Balanchine’s Who Cares?. Formatted in three different solo sections the piece is set to a classical medley of George Gershwin composition. Danced by New York City Ballet dancers Ashley Bouder, Tiler Peck, and Brittany Pollak, and set to a backdrop of the skyline, this excerpt is a high energy ode to New York City. Flashing quick feet, dizzying turning sequences, and flirty poses the three women, Peck in particular, dazzle with their freewheeling performances.

A world premiere and New York City Center Commission for the festival, featured a solo for American Ballet Theater’s Calvin Royal III. Choreographed by Kyle Abraham, to be seen underscores a gorgeous mixture of Royal’s ballet technique and Abraham’s smooth contemporary, West African, and hip hop rhythms. It is within Royal’s DNA to be architecturally crafted on stage, though somehow he is able to remain casual and pedestrian throughout the solo. It is captivating, and entertaining yet smooth and subtle- a juxtaposition that Abraham seems to have perfected in his style. The repetitive nature of the music, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, felt intentionally used as familiar background noise, so that Royal really is the centerpiece; the one who you can’t seem to take your eyes off of.

Next was Lar Lubovitch’s duet from Concerto Six Twenty-Two. Danced by life partners on and off stage, Joseph Gordon and Adrian Danchig-Waring carry each other through a soft and picturesque partnership. A gravitational pull between the dancers is palpable throughout the piece, with weight sharing and lifting highlighted. Lubovitch describes the piece as a response to the AIDS pandemic, which is perhaps what makes this 1983 duet feel relevant yet again.

Closing the program was Sumbry-Edwards’s self-choreographed and performed Lady Swings the Blues. A world premier and New York City Center commission, Sumbry-Edwards dazzled the virtual audiences, figuratively and literally- adorned with a gold sequin blouse and tap shoes. Joined by three musicians onstage, Sumbry-Edwards and her accompaniment play to one another, and in doing so drew the audience in by creating an environment of livelihood and connection. She thrills the audience as she uses her entire body to move her taps and create and contrast rhythms with the music. Completely magnificent, electric, and free- Sumbry-Edwards offered a perfect and uplifting ending to first (and hopefully last) virtual Fall for Dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

October 25, 2020
As time goes on during the pandemic, and especially in the wake of the election, I have found it difficult to get excited over online dance. Nevertheless the show must go on, and in a completely COVID-friendly setting New York City Center managed to pull off its first ever digital Fall for Dance. Though hushed and scaled back, the festival no doubt produced stimulating new work.

Opening with a trio of women from Ballet Hispanico, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano’s 18+1 was a gestural and flirty number. Though there were solo moments of silence and seriousness, the piece served to be the largest of the program, making for an adequate opener in an otherwise subtle festival lineup.

The second piece was a standout solo from Alvin Ailey’s resident choreographer Jamar Roberts. Marani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God) was self choreographed and performed, and commissioned by New York City Center for the virtual festival. The movement certainly carried allusions to the title, with Roberts’ presence fluctuating from wrathful and vengeful to understated and gentle. A timely reflection on the black male experience in America, Roberts’ solo was filled with graceful strength, and ended with notes of optimism.

Thirdly came a powerful and historic rendition of Lamentation by Martha Graham. Originally set in 1930, there are hallowing parallels to the economic and emotional depression we face now as a country. This was the first time the solo has been performed by a black woman in the United States, and Natasha Diamond-Walker performed the iconic role with elegance. Graham herself described the work as the “personification of grief”, and it is only fitting that the work continues to take shape 90 years later.

Closing the program was the highly anticipated duet between David Hallberg and Sara Mearns. Having never danced together before, the dancers met in a folkloric union choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Floating along to the gruff sound of Joni Mithcell, Mearns exuded soft joy while Hallberg was a stoic presence in The Two of Us. Together in their pas, their moments of synchronicity left me wanting more.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

October 18, 2020
Many dance companies shifted from the "live dance performance" format to the on-line viewing of company offerings. This change hasn't stopped artists from creating new works, but this virtual medium is particularly effective when presenting archival works by groundbreaking artists.

Th Graham Company's series of on-line programs serve to broaden Graham's biography as well as the tenets of her technique and aesthetics. In the most recent October event, viewers witnessed Graham coaching her company members in the art of her renown work Lamentation. Not only does she discuss the precision of each step, Graham invests each movement with an image or an emotion. For instance she associates the rocking motion with the loss of an infant. Of course, Lamentation expresses profound loss. Watching Graham perform the work underscored the intensity of her choreographic courage and focus.

In response to Hitler's invitation to perform at the Olympics, Graham said "no" and amplified her sentiments through one of dance's most potent anti-war creations called Chronicle. The powerful women of 1936 are seen in archival footage followed by current Graham dancers performing one of the sections --Prelude to Action-- a perfect comment on today's political affairs.

This opportunity to both hear Director Janel Eilber speak fluently about Graham's life and see the actual dances serves the historian, student and dance lover in everyone.
EYE ON THE ARTS/NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 6, 2020
Catherine Turocy, director of the NY Baroque Dance Company is generating opportunities for people to experience the pleasures of historical dance through zoom. An avid researcher and historical dance advocate, particularly as it relates to today's modern and ballet community, Turocy explains:
"We are able to take advantage of the zoom platform to bring in people from around the world who have worked with us in the past so they can bring us up-to-date on their latest research.
For example, Claudia Bauer (mentored by Sandra Hammond -- an expert on early 19th c. ballet technique) is teaching a 19th c. ballet technique barre.

Alan Jones is zooming in from Paris to teach the "Mad" scene (which we can all relate to) from the 1786 "Echo and Narcissus" -- a ballet that originally included pantomime and dialogue.

Additionally, participants join in learning the Parisian social dance that predated the legendary "Can Can". Marcea Daiter teaches the Haitian and Cuban Baroque dances (performed to this day) designed to include songs and dances from many parts of Africa. These forms fuse French and Spanish Colonial culture to create new expressions.

Act now to join the workshop Aug. 8 & 9 beginning at noon. Go to:
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

August 6, 2020
New York City Center released its second presentation of the series Studio 5: Live @ Home: Great American Ballerinas this week. Featuring New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns, and Artistic Director of the State Ballet of Georgia Nina Ananiashvili, Alastair Macaulay moderates this lecture and demonstration on the classic ballet, Swan Lake.

Sara Mearns and Nina Ananiashvili have never met in person. One is tuning in from New York City, while the other is in Tbilisi, Georgia. However, within the first five minutes of this video call they quickly realize how much they have in common. Both have felt connected to Swan Lake since they were young. Both have danced the role of Odette/Odile numerous times throughout their prestigious careers. While dancing over technology can certainly bring awkward challenges, the two have an immediate bond over the understanding and intricacy of this role.

Macaulay splits the demonstration into four sections from Balanchine’s version of the ballet: Odette’s entrance, Odette’s first variation, the coda, and Odette’s farewell. From the entrance to the exit, the online audience sees repeatedly how the coaching lineage in ballet is crucial to preserving the integrity of the work. While in this instance, Mearns is being coached by Ananiashvili, Ananiashvili continually instructs Mearns with tips from her coach Marina Semyonova. This passing of generational knowledge gives the audience a small glimpse inside the details required by dancers to champion their role in a ballet.

Though steps may change through time and dancers may interpret the work differently, the caricature of the role is maintained. Many times Ananiashvili’s critiques reference mood or emotional translation, rather than technique or specific steps.

She emphasized what Semyonova emphasized to her: eyes, épaulement, angles, musicality. Throughout, the audience is taught a crucial lesson. As much as ballet is a performing art that can be recounted physically, it is also an artform which requires the passing of a detailed oral history in order to be preserved in its fullest form.

You can see Mearns, Ananiashvili, and Macaulay through Wednesday, August 5th on New York City Center’s website, and you can follow the Studio 5 Live at Home series Great American Ballerinas now through September 30th. If you enjoy this programming, consider donating to help sustain City Center as a theater for all throughout and beyond the coronavirus crisis by visiting their website
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

June 20, 2020
As creative artists, dancers quickly find ways to continue their practice throughout world wars, massive budget cuts, and pandemics. These days, they follow classes on Instagram and log onto Zoom classes organized by their teachers and directors. They improvise, film, edit and post sequences of themselves dancing, but in limited and confined ways. Like so many others, after much rehearsal and hard work, they search for closure and new opportunities.

But what about the immigrant dancer, the dancers that by virtue of their raw talent and sheer determination have left their home country to dance in New York City, the dance Mecca, in hopes of making it big, of achieving their dreams?

Shayla Hutton is one such dancer, who has been dancing and training in New York City since leaving Canada for a scholarship that opened the door. She is talented, versatile and was chosen to be in the now defunct Joffrey Concert Group. She danced soloist and principal roles in a diverse repertory of 19th and 20th-century classics and collaborated in the creation of new work.

After a grueling audition period, she is dancing with several small contemporary companies as an apprentice. She is a brilliant, intelligent, and interesting dancer, and she should be sharing her talents without impediment. But the artist visa process is now is harder than ever, and a dancer’s lifetime speeds on.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

NYCB On-Line #1
May 4, 2020
Introduced by Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet (NYCB) presented its digital spring season with insightful programming. The two-part thirty-minute program brought a bit of Lincoln Center into the living room.

First in the viewing lineup was George Balanchine’s 1978 ballet Ballo della Regina. Led by principal’s Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley, the ballet (filmed in 2006) exemplifies Balanchine’s iconic petite allegro and geometric formations.

Described by Whelan as Balanchine’s tribute to water, this ballet floats precisely through the space. Juxtaposed against the large group number is Christopher Wheldon’s grounding pas de deux, After the Rain. This sustained duet (filmed in 2005) is elegantly embodied by Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall. Strong and stripped down, these two veterans filled the screen with assurance.

You can participate in NYCB’s Virtual Spring Season on their website every Tuesday and Friday at 8pm, and learn more about their relief fund at
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

March 11, 2020
The Scottish Ballet presented their program This is My Body... at the Joyce with two remarkably different pieces. Sibilo, created by Sophie Laplane, was a humorous number that didn’t do enough, while MC 14/22 (Ceci Est Mon Corps), choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj, was an aggressive number that did too much.

Sibilo, which translates to hiss or whistle in Latin, was inspired by the nuances of whistling. Set to an original score of music and sound by Alex Menzies, the ambiance bounces between quirky humor and disturbing manipulations within relationships. Much like the piece, the score was jumpy and disconnected.

Springing from electronic beats, to 1950’s string ballads, human whistling, and the blowing of a whistle, the score jumps around as the four couples attempt to match it--making it easy for an audience member to get lost. While the movement phrases at times felt overly predictable, there were cleverly placed and intricately partnered duets poignantly thread throughout.

The dancers’ movements skid from angular sequences, to flighty gestural sections which made for an unfortunate energy that just didn’t fit. Though the theme and variation were clear, the obviousness of the work left the piece feeling flat.

MC 14/22 (Ceci Est Mon Corps) was indeed a more grounded and primal work, though no more fulfilling. Noted as a “hymn to the male body”, the piece features twelve men who explore their masculinity in a viscously exhausting way. This work is based on the Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 14, Verse 22, in which Jesus Christ states, “Take it; this is my body”. Inspired by a story from the Last Supper (the night before Christ is crucified for heresy), the piece begins in a visually stunning ritual as a men dressed in white underwear bathe one another upstage.

The soft lighting by Patrick Riou is haunting. Another man upstage makes a tape pile on the ground. The rest of the eight men are in the back, stacked on a series of piled metal tables resembling bunk beds. They move in slow, rhythmic patterns which curl in and out of fetal position.

It is a striking opening which gave me high hopes. Unfortunately, this beautiful image is unfurled into a messy chaos of anxiety and relentless aggression. The minute the tables are unstacked, the dancers brutally manipulate and violate one another. They choke, gag, and push the breath out of each other. They physically suppress one another by throwing and thrashing in ferocity.

While the beginning felt like an opportunity to explore a beautiful and archetypal concept, the end left me in an uneasy cesspool sick to my stomach. Perhaps since men have been exploring their masculinity on stage for, well for forever, maybe it’s time to leave that memo behind.. no more good can come out of it.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

March 11, 2020
Remarkable technicians and movement interpreters, the NDT dancers’ talents lifted the choreography presented at City Center.

All the evening’s repertory shared a “film noir” atmosphere and similarity of form. Each ballet placed daring demands on the dancers, but these physical feats were absent a cathartic center.

Marco Goecke’s Walk the Demon scattered dancers in isolated movement gyrations resembling a series of body electric shocks. Transferred from one dancer to the next, cascading leg twitches sift across the band of dancers. Unquestionably, the immaculately controlled dancers reflected one of Goecke’s program quotes, “In their voice lies a torment that points inward.”

Closing the program, Shut Eye by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, gargantuan, foreboding shadows dwarf the dancers. Inventive partnering compose inventive architectural forms that morph into pre-historic cellular organizisms, variously combing, re-combining and taking flight.

Of all the ballets presented, The missing door by Gabriela Carrizo most effectively and compellingly drew the audience into an Alfred Hitchcock style suspense thriller. People look fearfully side-to-side, doors open releasing questionable suspects. At first all seems copasetic in a well to do domestic scene until it doesn’t. Earlier in his career, performance artist Ping Chong devised these worlds of upper class privilege that visibly disintegrated as greed, fear, and panic overrides the passive/privileged sheen.

A door swings opens allowing light to seep out sharpening the dancers’ edges. Extreme acrobatic partnering animates dramatic tableaus. A female rockets around like a Ferris wheel over and around a male while a maid flits in and out in various states of solemnity and despair. All alone in a corner sits a disheveled man in a suit; in another quadrant a bloody body punctuates the characters’ unaccountable comings and goings. Lighting by Tom Bevooort contributes enormously to the ballet’s eeriness and theatricality.

Despite the qualms about the chosen NYC repertory, it’s always a pleasure to visit with the Nederlands Dans Theater.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

March 7, 2020
Karen Bernard’s Lakeside is, at the very least in title and chronology, a companion to 2019’s Poolside, my missing of which has me unfortunately unable speak further to their relationship. I did, in the previous year, see and write about Showgirls, performed in 2018 at the currently relocating Brooklyn Studios for Dance. A testament to the way Bernard’s imagery sticks with you, seeing Lisa Parra’s wide gaze and blank smirk again in Lakeside immediately brought me back to her solo on roller skates two years prior – a sort of familiarity typically experienced with dance companies seen regularly over consecutive years.

This aptitude for lasting impressions can be attributed to the way Bernard unfolds moments in time. Lakeside begins with a search. Armed with flashlights, Bernard and Parra alternate between poised seeking and resting in sagging postures in an interrogative interplay of light and movement that removes the sense that Douglas Dunn’s Studio might have any walls. It does, however, have mirrors, which allows their respective rays to bounce about the space in topsy-turvy zigzags, illuminating the slightest glimpses of their features for only so long.

What they are looking for has, meanwhile, lain right below their setup of two foldup lawn chairs. A costume created for Bernard in the late 70’s, they discover a tiny dress in yellow and black segments. With no sentiment towards its history or its cuteness, Bernard and Parra patiently probe it – folding and unfolding – like an autopsy.

Removing her translucent outer layers, Bernard initiates what is ultimately a rather classical structure of traded off solos, concluded by a reconvening duet. Each solo finds each performer engaging the garment not so much as costumery, but in a fluid puppetry, which, despite the performer operating the garment, blurs the notion of which entity is actually playing the role of puppeteer and puppet.

Bernard no longer fits in the dress. She compensates by wearing it like a bib with sleeves. In it, she is transported to a time of childhood dance recitals while maintaining the rage of lived womanhood. The juxtaposition, often attempted by recent college grads, is truly unsettling from a performer who has actually put in the years. As she shimmies and kicks, her smile wavers, emanating rabid growls until her routine is done.

Parra is comparatively serene in expression, though physically demonstrates a similar distance of dynamics. She can wear the dress, and shows this ability off through a slow sensuality, interrupted by clunky episodes. She slowly shakes off the dress to match Bernard in sparkles for a redemptive closing. As they approach the machine projecting vibrant colors onto them, they mutter suggestions at each other on a downward trajectory toward a final resting place.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY — Jonathan Matthews

February 22, 2020
Not surprisingly, the house was packed with people smartly dressed, anticipating an elegant night in the company of Peter Martin’s Swan Lake.

The evening’s Odette-Odile, Megan Fairchild, claimed the stage in a performance embracing a new command of emotional longing and lyrical ampleness. Always a capable technician, Fairchild is stepping into a more confident persona. This was particularly evident in the last scene, when her prince returned to plead forgiveness for unwittingly breaking his oath of love to her forever (Wonder how many times that oath has taken a dive?)

Floating over the darkened stage, her feet skimmed in tight traveling steps backing away and moving towards her devastating love. Her back arched like a weeping willow over his arm, while exhaling through a never-ending arabesque.

In this production, the Per Kirbey’s bleak sets, recalling Scandinavia’s famed winter darkness, framed his Tudoresque outfits for the royals, and Bournonville style knee-length skirts for the guests.

Tall and imposing, Siilas Marley loomed large as the evil Von Rotbart. Seemingly three times taller than Fairchild, when he leeringly bends over her, his body makes hers nearly disappear.

Ms. Fairchild’s Prince Siegfried, Gonzalo Garcia, was also enjoying his debut, but electricity did not ignite the two. But then there was the explosive Roman Meija jauntily blazing across the stage in the requisite explosion of air turns and spitfire spins.

In truth, the Hungarian dance inevitably exudes a thrilling passion between the two leads—something that always feels lacking in the Back Swan sequence. However, Fairchild made a smashing debut and she will unleash her inner swan with time and seasoning.

February 14, 2020
Che Malambo captured the Joyce Theatre’s audience from the moment the cast of 12 dancers appeared through the dark stage against a bright backlight with a crescendo of zapateo - Argentinean rhythmic footwork - culminating in a roaring shout. Choreographed and staged with rampant showbiz and savoir-faire, Gilles Brinas catered an array of traditional Argentinean dances set in an austere contemporary framework. For the entire performance, the dancers wore a single outfit compose of neutral black sleeveless shirts, plain black pants and Malambo boots.

The evening started with a variation of the widely known Malambo Norteño, characterized by its brisk zapateo characterized by fast shuffles, hip twists, inverted leg whips, kicks, heel scuffs, toe accents, all embellished by its steady elegantly proud stance. A vibrant feast of bombo legueros followed with the cast showcasing their drumming mastery.

Commendable was the soloist that introduced Malambo sureño, still in the black plain shirt and pants, but barefooted, accompanying himself playing with his guitar the pampeño showcasing chords that gradually grow from lethargic cadences to prestissimo tempi. The mood shifted as the leading drummer sang a ballad, introducing a Chacarera, a festive folk dance which is traditionally danced by partners drawing geometrical shape floor patterns within courtship sequences.

The evening’s climax built through a series of acts displaying whirling boleadoras (interconnected cords with round weights on the ends) that decorated the stage with the reflection of their patters effectively embellished by Mr. Brinas’ lighting design. After closing with a comedic improv number and the corresponding bows, the company shared a well-received encore inviting the audience to clap the Malabo rhythm.

Post-performance comments were positive. Argentinean tango artists were very vocal expressing their appreciation of the virtuosic work Che Malambo. The only regrets shared by connoisseurs was Brinas’ choice of maintaining an abstract aesthetic, thus abstaining from including traditional attire.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

GABRIELLE LAMB - PLEXUS: a work in knots
February 13, 2020
Gabrielle Lamb’s co-commission with composer James Budinich, through the CUNY Dance Initiative, has resulted in a work that is curious, confounding, connective, meditative, and sometimes discomfiting, oscillating between transcending the physical and psychic distance between the dancers, and sometimes between us.

Lamb’s distinct movement crystalizes through a flow of bodily connections, the touch of a knee or an elbow caused a reaction that sometimes freezes, and sometimes resolves into something else. Dancers simply and cleanly costumed in grey leggings and mint green tops and socks by Christine Darch inhabited an overly smoky, other-worldly green-lit stage designed by Barry Steele.

They moved with liquid joints while crouching down, in, around and through each other’s limbs, intent on piercing through the other’s space, while also remaining apart. Fingers interlocked like the itsy-bitsy-spider, tense and rotating, and animalistic squats, stealth crawls, and heads pokes shaped our perceptions; each interaction a chain of energy created, transferred, broken, renewed.

Budinich’s music, a creation with wind chimes, metal pipes and electronic distortions, provided an even-toned sound that on occasion swelled dramatically, but never overwhelmed the steady flow of action. A strange, rubbery green tube was brought onstage, physically connecting the dancers, sometimes by having one insert the tube into another’s mouth.

This somewhat awkward use of an object to literally connect gave me a flashback to Martha Graham’s Cave of the Heart, but with none of the melodrama. Later, the dancers manipulated semi-circular, stiffer sections of tube continually composed into circles broken apart by the dancers.

In the most eloquent moments of Plexus, no prop was necessary. One dancer roamed in and around the group, placing the other dancers’ bodies into still positions and then molding her body onto theirs. When she slipped away, she left her presence behind, the negative space now full of meaning. A hollow once occupied melted away, in a very human and poignant physicalization of our search for belonging.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Nicole Duffy Robertson

February 10, 2020
Historic works rarely revived at NYC Ballet both puzzled and delighted audiences. Last performed in 1993, George Balanchine’s charming Haieff Divertimento (premiered 1947) showcases the company’s new class of ace dancers. In a combination of classical ballet and a jazzy, modern dance vocabulary the ballet features one lead couple, the engaging Unity Phelan and Harrison Ball along with 4 supporting couples. Musically, it flows in a five-part piece that flexes its danceable American music roots—at times referencing Balanchine’s Square Dance.

If Haieff Divertimento resembles bubbly wine, then the 1959 Episodesequals a dry martini—hold the olives. An early experiment meant to bring together two giants of dance world, Balanchine and Martha Graham, Episodes was broken into two parts, separated by one intermission, united through Anton von Webern’s music, and the exchange of a couple of dancers. At the time, Taylor was a member of the Graham Company so Balanchine invited Taylor to dance in his section of Episodes while Graham selected the dramatic NYCB dancer Sallie Wilson.

Taylor performed the solo for two seasons in 1959-60. After that, Episodes appeared now and again in the rep, but minus the solo. In 1986, NYC Ballet revived the full-length ballet and invited Taylor to coach Peter Frame who performed it in 1986 and 1989. Spin ahead to 2019 when Michael Trusnovec, one of the Taylor Company’s finest dancers was asked to perform the solo. Because of Frame’s sad passing in 2018, Trusnovec lost the direct link to Taylor and was coached by another dancer.

However, Frame appeared on an EYE ON DANCE (EOD) television episode produced in 1987 and discussed his performance of the solo. He shared vivid descriptions of Taylor’s coaching, including the fact that Taylor “took out much of the knee work” fearful it would injure Frame. In addition, Frame demonstrated 5 minutes of the solo, verbalizing Taylor’s descriptions.

Armed with mounds of his own research, information from NYCB, EOD and his own body-truth, Trusnovec reconstructed Taylor’s solo. The result: illuminating. Although not as burly, Trusonvec shares Taylor’s intensity. A series of twisted poses resembling an insect caught in a jar (a Balanchine description) Taylor’s signature Zeus tossing the lighting bolt stance (legs apart, body in profile arms straight out, .

Shifting from one twisted sculptural position to another, Trusnovec’s eyes focus sharply, and intently on the audience. Classically built, Trusnovec posses the earthy, mesmerizing stance of a modern dancer embracing the universal Vitruvian Man sphere of movement.

After seeing the solo reinstated, it’s easy to understand why it can stand-alone or be removed from the ballet. The other four sections reflect a singular choreographic hand while the solo is of its own making.

After watching Balanchine’s experimental black and white ballet, Justin Peck’s deconstructed Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes breathes with the wide expansiveness of America’s western frontier and full throttle camaraderie of men, arms interlaced, generously led by Taylor Stanley.

What a marvelous period at the end of a stimulating evening of dance at Lincoln Center.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 7, 2020
In a multimedia production of film, dance, poetry, and music, Deborah Colker presented her Brazilian based company, Companhia de Danca, in Chelsea’s Joyce Theater. Colker’s piece was an eightpart series which focused as much on scenery and ambiance as it did on the dancing itself.

The piece, Cão Sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers), was inspired by the poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto. The opening section, titled Alluvium, begins with a projection along the back wall of the theater.

A stunningly cinematic image in black and white shows a child carrying the branches of a tree through a forest, then a dried up river bed. He is barefoot, minimally dressed, and caked in mud. Following him transports the audience into a land which feels vast and foreign, the opposite of a cramped cold, theater in the heart of New York City.

The film continues throughout the work as it follows various protagonists through different scenes. Directed by Joao Elias and Colker, the film couples nature and beast in a beautiful marriage. Through Brazil’s expansive landscapes of sugar cane farms, deserts, and mangrove forests, it explores the rich caverns of Earth’s diversity.

As dim yellow lights rise on the stage, the high energy of the dancers come as a surprise following the tranquility of the film. Colker’s movement vocabulary is hard to nail down, and at times this becomes extremely overwhelming. There are unique moments where the dancers are controlled, emotive, and mesmerizing. However, before the moment can sink in, the dancers have already moved on to meaningless, generic tricks and recognizable ballet vocabulary.

Though not against a fusion of forms, this particular combination eliminates the sacred nature of the work and muddles the thesis of the piece. The set of the stage mimics that of the film. A thin layer of dirt and dust is kicked up into the air as the dancers fill the space and stomp the floor. There are strips of canvas which sometimes hang from the ceiling mimicking the mangrove roots.

The dancers even experiment with metal cages like the holes of the dried river. Dressed in unitards which look like the body covered in mud, they remain androgynous. Neither man, nor woman, perhaps not human at all, their image marries the theme of man’s origins within nature.

All in all, Cão Sem Plumas' stunning interaction feels like a sacred work- which is why the stimulation of elements feels overproduced and misaligned. Arguably, this could have been Colker’s method in a desire to drive the point home. Just as man destroys nature by overly mining its resources, Colker grossly stimulates the work to leave the audience begging for simplicity within sanctified ground.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

February 4, 2020
Known for the width and breadth of his rich dance vocabulary, for his fifth NYC Ballet commission Alexei Ratmansky stepped outside the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, made a right turn down Broadway directly into the lap of the downtown post-modern dance scene. Or perhaps another analogy might be the difference between Tolstoy and Hemingway.

To start, Instead of binding his choreography to a complex, highly orchestrated score by the likes of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, or Leonid Desyatnikov, Ratmansky embraces an sound score by the avant-garde composer Peter Ablinger that super-imposes spoken text over a single piano line. The audio elements are visually projected on the scrim in the form of a recorded signal (looks like a PolyGram in a lie detector test).

In stark contrast to Ratmansky’s filigree choreography the score suggests concise, direct, staccato movements that stop and start like a clock being constantly re-set.

Sharp-shooting ballerinas forging the heart of Voices dance to a single, female activist’s voice. Broken into bits, the voices include: Bonnie Barnett (jazz artist and radio host), Forough Farrokhzad (feminist poet), Setsuko Hara (film star known for tragic heroine roles), Agnes Martin (abstract artist and writer), Nina Simone (civil rights activist, jazz vocalist and musician), and Hjendine Slalien (Norwegian folk music proponent).

Female solos end by linking up to a group of 4 men running across the stage arm-in-arm dressed in glossy colored one piece outfits (by Keso Dekker) that resemble swimsuits of the 1920’s. All exit but one male who peels off to execute a spectacular series of turns, jumps, leaps or leg beats traveling backwards. This bravura exclamation point serves as a humorous bridge between solos and a reminder that these dancers can do it all.

The solos revolve around dissonant combinations that posit space not melody between stretched arabesques with arms up, broken at the wrists looking a bit like a threatening swan suspended in air. Loping gallops allow legs to flare away from the knees, slip in and out of tight little steps, jittery moves or quirky turns only to drop to continue on the floor.

Each ballerina brought her own touch of magic starting with Sara Mearns who can make the most constricted movement spacious; Megan Fairchild’s cheekiness; Georgina Pazcoguin’s passion; Lauren Lovettes’ friskiness; and Unity Phelan’s shadings. In the end, the whole cast swarms the stage -- ballerinas flying into men’s’ arms until they merge to the floor quieting the motion. At this point, the curtain pauses just above the dancers’ heads. Perhaps that’s a sign that movement and sounds continue into infinity?

The rest of the program was filled in with a strong performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia to music by Gyorgy Ligeti; Justin Peck’s romantic Bright to a score by Mark Dancigers and Jerome Robbin’s Opus 19/The Dreamer.

What’s most heartening is to see the theater packed with supportive audience members willing to taste new material instead of another, well-worn story ballet.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

February 2, 2020
By now Michael Bourne’s reimagining of Swan Lake feels like a NYC institution. Many encountered it on Broadway in 1998, and later in 2010 at City Center where it’s returned. A lover of the production choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895, Bourne kept the bones of the ballet but re-arranged a handful of gender roles and iconography.

Set in the English courts (after all (Bourne is a Brit) the story follows the sultry young The Prince (a fine Andrew Monaghan) who must choose a bride. A flair for the theatrical, Bourne elicits all the dramatic talents of his dancers to paint a contemporary “coming of age” story imbued in all its glorious angst and confusion.

Of course the kicker comes when the Prince escapes the ball, running to a park and sits by a mist-shrouded lake. There, out of the thick night materializes The Swan (startlingly good Matthew Ball). He emerges bare chested, donning knee-length-knickers covered in long white threads (like a lambs wool rug) savage eye make-up, his hair slicked into a V that juts down his forehead. In their first encounter, the amazed prince falls back, awed by the exotic and aggressive male/bird. This tension flourishes throughout the ballet, adding an additional dimension of fear and longing to the original.

Ball’s presence expands with every entrance. A strong technician, he has a gift for displaying the physicality of a predatory and passionate creature. Throughout the ballet, Jung’s theory of the existence of the masculine side (animus) inside every female and the feminine side (anima) inside every male coats the ballet. Barefoot and muscular, the male Swans uphold the beauty of the unison corps, swirling circles and iconic arabesques.

When the action returns to the castle for the ball and preparations for his marriage, Ball transforms into the ravishingly seductive Stranger. Another outstanding performer, the unscrupulous Queen (Katrina Lyndon), executes amazingly sharp gestures. All the fatuous, dolled-up ladies and gob smacked men (including the audience) fall under the Stranger’s flashing smile, peacock stance, flawless partnering and simply mesmerizing presence.

Unable to withstand this deception (Stranger feigning similarities to Swan), the Prince goes mad, and wakes up in an all white sanatorium. Finally, after being jabbed by lines and ladders of doctors in white frocks, he returns home.

The most graphic scene, the kind that forever remains glued to the back of your eyeballs, transpires in the Princes’ bedroom. Physically and psychologically exhausted, the Prince witnesses the Swan pushing through his mattress. Hungering for each other, a romantic pas de deux ensues -- as heart wrenching as Romeo’s last dance with Juliet. They wrap their bodies around each other until wild, rabid swans tear out of the matters and attack the couples! It’s truly horrifying.

If you haven’t seen Sir Michael Bourne’s Swan Lake, take a chance on a refreshed ballet classic.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

November 16, 2019
Paul Taylor and Donald McKayle’s friendship spanned over half a century, and both have recently passed away. So it was moving to see the Taylor company celebrate McKayle in a full evening by inviting three other dance troupes to perform some of his iconic dances. The evening began with McKayle’s best-known work, Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder(1959), performed by the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

A signature work of DCDC since they began dancing it in 1987, what was striking about this performance was the high intensity and polish of the dancers, who gave it their all, but whose interpretation seemed slightly at odds with the content: a group of men in a prison chain gang, who are down and out, abused, but still have the strength and hope to long for freedom.

Countess V. Winfrey appeared in different guises as Sweetheart, Mother, and Wife, bringing to life an optimism (and some sexiness) in the mens’ imagination. This cast was big, beautiful, strong, flexible and passionate. But the sheer technical force of their dancing felt almost celebratory, rather than also speaking to the pathos and pain that might have emanated from the original.

The Juilliard School Dance Division dancers performed Crossing the Rubicon: Passing the Point of No Return, a work McKayle created in 2017 for his UCI Etude Ensemble, another student group. A work about the plight of refugees, the choreography was heavy on unison movement and long diagonals. The Juilliard dancers, costumed in Indian and middle eastern inflected garb (by Connie Strayer after Kathryn Wilson) lacked urgency in their movement.

Naya Loveli and Alexander Sargent stood out in their duet, a lovely expression of bonding together in the midst of a crisis. The lighting by Kenneth Keith shifted from white shafts of light in the backdrop to a warm, yellow beam that seemed to weave in the threat of global warming to the refugee crisis.

The evening closed with Ronald K. Brown/Evidence dancers in McKayle’s Songs of the Disinherited from 1972. If you are mostly familiar with Ailey’s Revelations as the iconic dance expression of the black diasporic experience, Songs is an energizing and different alternative, also imbued with the both the pain and the joyous feeling of black spiritual life. Annique Roberts gave a proud rendition of "Angelitos Negros," a song with lyrics by Andres Eloy Blanco that questions why angels aren’t ever depicted as black.

With flamenco flair, Roberts moved from modern dance expressions of pain to defiance with a convincing assurance. And in "Shaker Life," the Evidence dancers gave their all, in a powerful and impressive unison ending, with everyone hopping into an extended extreme layout with the leg high in the air, while changing directions, a fierce finale for a memorable celebration of a modern dance master.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 20, 2019
Bizet’s familiar opera Carmen has numerous interpretations in dance, but few if any that question its basic premise: when a woman is out of line, it will be her destiny to suffer a violent death. As part of the National Day of Action against Domestic Violence, choreographer and dance artist Gabriela Estrada created a solo that brings attention to the sobering facts surrounding domestic violence, and the problem of our blithe acceptance of what amounts to a crisis of epic proportions.

The lovely Ivanka Figueroa began with her back to us, with strains of the opera playing as she moved through flamenco-esque port de bras and the sensual movement often used to portray Carmen. After a tender quotidian moment where she rinsed her hair in a small basin on a table, we heard the sound of a heavy door slam, and the mood instantly changed. Figueroa’s sweet, carefree expression and liquid movement quality became tinged with fear, palpable both through the tension in her body and her sharp gestures, as well as her eyes.

Estrada’s combination of modern dance movements and gesture imbued with meaning expertly transported our attention through Figueroa’s emotional stages: a daydream abruptly turned to nightmare, without any gratuitous show of violence; the mere suggestion of what was coming was enough. At the end, Figueroa slowly and deliberately pointed to three audience members, and lastly to herself, in a strong denial of being the next victim (one in every four women will suffer domestic violence – a sobering statistic). It was a potent and moving solo that successfully avoided the pitfalls of creating a socially conscious art, by not sermonizing or veering into cliché. Estrada is a choreographer to watch.

A full performance of Ni Una Carmén Mas! Not a Single Carmen Morewas given at St. Mark’s Church on October 5th in collaboration with Joy Kelly (actor and storyteller), Regina Ress (storyteller), JoannAnn Tucker (filmmaker). Art still holds out the possibility of making a difference: may their work continue to increase awareness and help women heal.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 19, 2019
There are times when information is inadvertently sexy. As social media accounts (usually of artists) are censored left and right for displays of graphic content, arguably raunchier imagery is more easily viewable in forums that inform. John Kelly’s Underneath the Skin is just that - a live action Wikipedia article on Samuel Steward.

Steward lived a long life (1909 – 1993) with many subheadings – professor, tattoo artist, pornographer, research assistant. Performed by Kelly, each is touched upon with equal weight in an undynamically chronological order, spoken exclusively in Steward’s words with no critical point of view on him or why a show about him is happening now (save Halloween’s imminence).

Steward was a man of many words, so many that Kelly splits the text between himself, too many voice-overs, and a video projection which takes the form of Star Wars’ opening text crawl. When he speaks, Kelly does what one must trust to be a spot-on impersonation – coldly soft spoken. Meanwhile, images and videos shine from NYU Skirball’s big floating screen, bearing so much content and context that we must forgive it for anachronistically disrupting the mise-en-scène.

The show bills itself as “solo dance-theatre,” yet contains a mere four blips of movement-dependency and three additional bodies. A foursome, one of Steward’s early sexual encounters, is a straightforward sex scene we mustn’t discount the craft required to stage. When covering Steward’s alcoholism, Kelly writhes under a sheet while the others strut about in platform heels, tiny underwear, and animal masks. Nodding to Steward’s narrowly missed tenure with the U.S. Navy, the same men, in uniform, execute a meandering walking pattern while Kelly wistfully wafts about, sans shirt. Sexography returns in accompaniment to Steward’s reminiscing, but could have developed further contemporary partnering’s erotic potential.

These other performers, vaguely credited and similar(ly good-looking) in appearance, are primarily props. When Steward takes up tattooing, one sits silently as his client. Until necessary they are stowed, dressed as university students, in box seats. This performative objectification is the only way the work reflects on its subject – a man who logged his hundreds of hookups in a meticulous “Stud File.”

Aged with makeup, Kelly ends the piece singing a melancholic tune while the big screen rattles through photos of mostly male homosexual kisses. The sentiment is initially lost on me. Steward didn’t die in war, succumb to AIDS, or fall victim to the violence that still plagues the queer community. The tragedy is more personal. Steward romanticized an early demise, yet missed his chance. Having left academia to become the sexual renegade he is lauded for having been, his experiences were ultimately channeled into scientific studies on human sexuality. At least now there is an inadvertently sexy show about it.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

October 16, 2019
Fall for Dance’s last program ended with a most prescient note: the Martha Graham Dance company in a heart-felt rendition of Chronicle, her masterwork from 1936. Created after her refusal to perform at the Olympics as a protest against Hitler and the rise of fascism, the Graham dancers commanded the stage with fierce, precise and urgent dancing. Sequences of speedy, flying jumps across the stage and a strongly delivered solo by Leslie Andrea Williams made that warning explicit, and the resistance clear.

The program began on a lighter note, with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal offering Dance Me (2017), a series of excerpts by Ihsan Rustem and Adonis Foniadakis to music by Leonard Cohen. On a darkened stage in a downspot, a woman was continually wrapped around her partner, never touching the floor, in a labored sequence to Cohen’s "Suzanne."

Foniadakis’ sections – one doused in falling snow – included a series of duets and trios with liquid contemporary movement that built into sculptural groups, extending a balletic line throughout. The finale with sexy costumes by Philippe Dubuc (pants and bras or vests) to a funky beat gave Les Ballets Jazz its current glamorous gloss. As often happens, fantastic dancers needed more meaty choreography to transcend just being cool.

Kim Brandstrup’s Blancfor New York City Ballet’s Sarah Mearns and Taylor Stanley had some big ideas that ultimately did not come across. In a reference to Romantic ballet’s “ballet blanc,” (the supernatural scenes with fairies, sylphs, etc.) Mearns appeared looking extremely distraught, as Stanley – the apparition – came and went out of her reach.

Accompanied by loud noises like the shutting of a metal door and some Beethoven, Gonashvili and Schumann, the evocation of the 19th century “empty space that the elusive apparition attempts to fill” (according to program notes) felt contrived. It’s hard to make a dance as good as these dancers are – one never tires of watching them. But the sameness and sadness of mood throughout this extended meditation made one lose interest.

In a brilliant curatorical move, the melancholy was quickly banished by Monica Bill Barnes’ fantastic adaption of The Running Show, a group piece narrated by Robbie Saenz de Viteri and danced by Barnes and dancers from each location where it is performed, this time with excellent dancers from CUNY’s Hunter College Dance Department.

Funny anecdotes about the life of a dancer – from the strange obsession with being a ballerina at a young age (danced by a very cute Charlotte Anub from the New York Theatre Ballet School) to the pride of a 46 year-old dancer being in better shape than younger cast members, this piece both demystified and elevated dance as a valuable, enjoyable, and challenging pursuit that attracts special kinds of people. But the message was also that dance belongs to everyone, with the promise of tangible and intangible rewards just one sweaty, humorous work-out away.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 15, 2019
On a sparkling fall day, skate boarders audaciously zipped around Washington Square Park situated in the heart of the 1960’s and 70’s post modern dance scene. A major experimental dance venue Judson Church flanks the park and next door sits NYU’s Skirball Center where the 35th NY Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies) Ceremony and the Angle’s Party (a fundraiser) took place on Oct. 14.

Before the main event, supporters and friends of the Bessie Awards (a nonprofit organization) gathered in the Rosenthal Pavilion—with wine in hand -- to honor Laurie Uprichard.

Along with David White, Ms. Uprichard guided the Bessie Awards for many years through the auspices of Dance Theater Workshop. Her influence as an arts administrator, promoter and supporter of dance was impressively delineated. When Jawole Will Jo Zollar spoke, she underscored Uprichard’s “integrity” and deep love of the field.

Ms. Uprichard declared, in her usual self-effacing manner, that it was not really about her, but about the cooperation of everyone in the dance “village.” Originally, The Bessies were established to recognize the outsized contributions of downtown dance and performance artists. This community did not have access to the type of support attracted by major dance and cultural institutions, so The Bessies projected a spotlight on an innovative, tireless group of artists who were re-shaping the boundaries of dance.

Ms. Uprichard noted that, under the leadership of Lucy Sexton, the Bessies have jumped into the 21st century. Now the Bessies included downtown and uptown dance as well as ballet and musical theater. Named after the beloved teacher and coach Bessie Schonberg, Uprichard reminded everyone “Bessie was one of the fiercest women to walk the earth.” She exhorted people to always take risks and never settle for less.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 15, 2019
On a brisk, bright fall day members of the dance community streamed into NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts greeting everyone with hugs and kisses, and squeals of delight. In the theater, Lucy Sexton (an award-winning avant-garde artist and administrative powerhouse) welcomed the full house along with her sensational associate the Bessies’ Managing Director Heather Robles (decked in an off-the shoulder dress created by her mother) introduced the evening’s inimitable MC Justin Vivian Bond donning a gorgeous sparkling gown.

The categories for the NY Dance and Performance Awards ran from “Outstanding Performer” to “Outstanding Revival” and “Lifetime Achievement Award in Dance.” A list of all the stellar nominees and winners can be found here:

In between the announcements of the categories and nominees, choreographers presented works starting with a stirring West African laced dance “Migrations” by Camille A. Brown & Dancers and musicians. Other performance contributions came from Hope Boykin and performer Jeroboam Bozeman; Daina Ashbee and performer Benjamin Kamino. The performances represented the wide swath of dance practices thriving in the larger NYC dance community.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement in Dance Award was presented to Joan Myers Brown, founder and director of Philadanco, based in Philadelphia, PA. Introduced by George Faison, the first African American Tony Award-winning choreographer, cultural entrepreneur and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater mainstay, spoke majestically about Ms. Myers-Brown’s talents and vast contributions.

When Myers-Brown arrived on stage, elegantly dressed in a sparkly sheath and black spiked heels, she looked very bit the dancer she once was—both as an aspiring ballet dancer under the tutelage of Antony Tudor and show dancer. She loved ballet, but she made money as a show dancer, which ultimately paid for the school she opened in a derelict block of Philadelphia that ultimately became the renowned dance company Philadanco.

She, like so many other great women of dance, proved that tenacity and passion combine to build and propel essential dance institutions. Coming out of the Jim Crow era, Ms. Myers-Brown studied with some of the greats like Karel Shook (founder with Arthur Mitchell of Dance Theater of Harlem) at Katherine Dunham’s school. While idolizing Janet Collins (the first African American ballerina to dance with a ballet company—Met Opera Ballet) she did not fulfill her dreams of being a ballet princess, but Myers-Brown did widen the opportunities afforded the next generation of African American dancers.

The award for Service to the Field of Dance went to Louis Mofsie, founder and director of the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers—a company intent on preserving the dances, songs and cultural ways of Native Americans.

To welcome Mofsie to the stage, Mofsie’s nephew Kevin Tarrant of SilverCloud, an intertribal drum and dance troupe, sang a haunting solo accompanied by a hand-held drum. When Mofsie accepted his award he made an important point: Native American dance is an artform. Mofsie is all about people staying grounded through community, and that community centers around music, dance and stories.

All of the final recipients were deeply moved by the community’s honors. In the case of Taylor Stanley’s (NYC Ballet Principal) award in the category of Outstanding Performer, the presenter Sara Mearns (NYCB Principal) nearly broke down when announcing his name.

When Ana Janevski accepted the award for “Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done,” the audience learned that the extraordinary exhibition and series of performances took three years to execute.

Overall the evening was filled with enthusiasm and gratitude. The only odd moment came during the In Memoriam section. Three artists who had passed were singled out with spoken tributes. This was awkward because the rest of deceased artists’ names were projected in a rolling list.

Perhaps in the future, the Bessies will instead include a one or two-word description of the deceased dance professionals clarifying their identities because the Bessie Awards not only celebrate exceptionalism in dance, they educate the community by linking today’s dance champions to yesterday’s warriors.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 14, 2019
Fall for Dance's fourth program delighted audiences with a luscious journey from contemporary dance icons to thriving choreographic proponents.

Honoring the centennial of avant-garde genius, Merce Cunningham, New York City Center’s ruby curtain unveiled a tranquil cinematic scene: Cunningham's Beach Birds. The aesthetically soothing lighting and costume design by Marsha Skinner allowed the audience to indulge in the sky-blue cyclorama delineating the silhouettes of a cast dipped in white unitards and thick black lines created by their arms, hands, and upper body. The dripping sound of a rain stick interrupted by piano chords added a nature-fresh dimension to the abstract visual composition. As the backdrop transitioned into a warm sunny orange tone, the predominant lilting, curved poses accented by sudden hand and leg flicks gradually grew in dynamic springing sequences embellishing the scene like paint dabs on a canvas.

Geoffrey Holder’s Come Sunday was exquisitely staged by his muse, Carmen De Lavallade. Deceivingly delicate in nature but powerful in performance, the recently appointed director of Julliard’s Dance Division, Alicia Graf Mack, shot energized beams of expression crafted by the magnanimous choreographer. Dressed in a long white gown, Alicia began “Glory, Glory,” the first of the four-song work, sitting tucked down on the dim stage bathed by a moonlight-like gentle spotlight. “Deep River” followed, generous in subtle torso ripples and boundless battements. Literally, with the audience in the palm of her hand, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand” warmed the house to conclude with “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” As Carmen de Lavallade joined Alicia for the final bow, patrons stood to express their endearing appreciation.

For Us, choreographed by Madboots Dance’s artistic directors, Jonathan Campbell and Austin Díaz was originally commissioned for the Fire Island Dance Festival Dancers Responding to AIDS gala, and created in response to the Pulse Nightclub’s shooting that occurred in Orlando in 2016. After running on stage into an abrupt roll over each other that interrupted Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” David Maurice and Austin Tyson engaged in a raw, energetic movement debate throughout the stage. Progressing through a reactive series of explosive grounded swirls while reaching towards and pulling at each other, the narrative reflectively passed into silence under West Side Story’s “Somewhere.” After halting in a colliding embrace, the dancers melted into a slow dance kiss fading into a blackout.

Unveiling displayed Sonya Tayeh's uncanny blend of stars from the theatrical, vocal performance, and contemporary ballet. The work's impact acquired a spectacular dimension with the breath-taking lighting designed by Davison Scandrett. The first scene revealed the statuesque vocal musician, Moses Sumney, poised in front of a microphone stand on a high black box platform showered by slick tubular light rays. Creating a ground-based rhythm loop tapping on the mic, Sumney deliberately added layers of humming sounds, lyrics, and percussion into an augmenting music track.

Meanwhile a male dancer, partially visible behind him, peeled off from the platform to take center stage. In an eloquent crescendo signature of Tayeh’s choreography, Robbie Fairchild’s solo of isolated weight displacing shifts was counterbalanced as Stella Abrera joined him in a pas de deux of viscous mutable lines. Detaching from the platform and sinking into the stage’s vanishing point, Sumney’s voice climaxed as Gabe Stone Shayer entered the scene adding sharp counterpoint elements to the composition and the eclectic quartet receded into the wings. The audience erupted in roaring applause.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

October 10, 2019
While Indian classical dancer Shantala Shivalingappa and four musicians regaled us with five works at The Joyce Theater, the last work Bhairava jolts you immediately with the fierceness of her scolding fingers twitching faster than a typist, held high by the back-lit dancer. For 600 years, Kuchipudi dancers have admonished the heavens in this manner to destroy fear by shocking them with an ascendant lightning rod. This dance makes you feel like a child being intimidated by your mother to Never again do whatever heinous thing you did. Could the inventors of this art have laid the groundwork for radio waves, sending vibrations upward to the “influencers” of their day?

The musicians J. Ramesh (vocalist), K.S. Jayaram (flutist), B.P. Haribabu (percussionist - nattuvangam and pakhwaj), and N. Ramakrishnan (percussionist - mridangam) join the tiny dancer Shivalingappa in every moment and lift us into Akasha which in Sanskrit means Sky or Space. This dancer drops and rebounds in turned out positions, executes the footwork and gestures (mudras) with consistent calm and precision; she is so accomplished that the viewer can muse about what this dance form might have looked like in its first 100 years. How long did it take to gel this art, to decide the timing and exact placement of each mudra?

The other pieces in the program Om Namo Ji Adya, Krishnam Kalaya, Jaya Jaya Durge, and Kirtanam were danced with lyrics dating from the 13th to 16th centuries. The lyric in the first solo with Lyrics by Dhyaneshwar, “I prostrate myself before him (the Supreme Being). In the form of Ganesh, the elephant-headed God, you are the light that enlightens our intellect. The sound ‘A ‘ comes from your lotus-life-feet, ‘U’ emanates from your belly, ‘M’ comes from your crown….”

Before the last piece was an extended percussion duet with a speed and complexity to equal the tapper Savion Glover. Perhaps Glover was a South Indian in another life?

Shivalingappa changed her silk costume only once, from orange and gold which is topped by a headdress that resembles the decoration on the seven lamps, the central one in the triangle being the furthest and highest upstage to a black, green, gold one. Obedient to tradition, yet free to choreograph within those bounds, Shivalingappa offers a profound, thought provoking experience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Deirdre Towers

October 10, 2019
In Fall for Dance’s third program, the first three works were about relationships, and juxtaposing them invited questions about power dynamics, different kinds of connections and agency, and what feels “contemporary” now. Also, why is it seemingly inevitable that every piece has to start (and mostly stay) on a darkened stage?

The Mariinsky Ballet’s At The Wrong Time (2019) choreographed by Alexander Sergeev gave us a light, throw-back conception of heterosexual relationships at their simplest. The cuteness began with pianist Vladimir Rumyanstev looking at his watch even before he began to play Heitor Villa-Lobos pleasant piano waltzes. In an oft-seen structure in ballet, each couple reflected a different kind of love (matching the womens’ dresses by Daria Pavlenko): the light blue was young love, burnt orange was reluctant struggle, and yellow was cute and perky. The Mariinsky dancers are gorgeous to watch, in terms body, line and technical ease. Each man got a short solo after dancing with a woman – like a prize for being a good partner. Ballet steps were executed smoothly, archetypes came across sweetly, and not much challenged our expectations.

In contrast, a young voice in the City Center audience was heard asking “Is that ballet?” when the couple from English National Ballet came onstage for Akram Khan’s Dust Duet (2017), costumed in refugee/immigrant garb in plain off-white colors with a kerchief on the woman’s head by Kimie Nanako. They proceeded to burn their struggle into our consciousness with their circling upper bodies, dejected lifts with her slumped over as he held her with one arm, and Khan’s signature mirroring arm gestures as they faced each other, her legs wrapped around and clutching his waist. Erina Takahashi and James Streeter moved with grace and pathos from violence to tenderness and despair, seemingly on a road to nowhere. It had none of the gloss of the previous dance, and somehow compelled us to feel more.

A most stunning display of strength and resolve came next: in Dare to Wreck (2017), Madeline Mansson in a wheelchair and Peder Nilsson as her “stand-up” lover played, struggled and seemed to emotionally hurt each other over and over again. Mansson’s spectacular core control was on full display as she bent backwards, over, and through positions and multiple sequences where her body and her wheels became a part of a pyramidal sculpture, or she was lifted upside down by her wheels, held aloft and spun by Nilsson. Every tricky transition was seamless, and even though the relationship was aggressive and contentious, pity was not part of the equation. Often, it was Nilsson who seemed more wounded and Mansson who showed the way, and in the end, she left him, to our collective relief.

Lazarus (2018) was commissioned by the Ailey company from hip-hop master Rennie Harris. The initial image of dancers on the floor, undulating their arms like snakes in the grass sets a mysterious mood; later Lazarus emerges amidst the joyful group dancing. The music by Darrin Ross ranges from wind sounds, Gospel, jazz, and the words of Nina Simone, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day… and I’m feeling good.” Although narrative clarity was obscured, the Ailey dancers pushed this high-energy finale to its limit. But the most unexpected and moving moment of all was hearing the voice of Ailey himself, speaking his famous thoughts about “blood memories” – still passionate and prescient words today.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 7, 2019
Fall for Dance is a huge event in New York City every year – tickets go on sale in a virtual waiting room, lines get jammed, and dance performances sell out. The brainchild of Arlene Shuler, NYCC’s President and CEO, Fall For Dance’s low ticket prices ($15!) and brilliantly diverse programs are a recipe for success. The second FFD program this year brought a revival from the Mark Morris Dance Group, a contemporary work by the French company Dyptik, a new ballet by the Washington Ballet, and an over-the-top closer by the Argentine all-male group Malevo.

Mark Morris Dance Group’s Eleven to Mozart’s piano concerto #11 in F major (2006) was a sweet, earnest dance that moved in swirls with wide open arms, turns with head rolls, heart-clutching gestures and lots of walking, running holding hands – reminiscent of Paul Taylor’s seminal works of the 60s and 70s. The balletic steps – jétés a la seconde, ronde de jambes, arabesque turns – were executed efficiently by the cast, with Lauren Grant’s breath and dynamics giving the work a much-needed spark. Interestingly, the men leave after the first minute or two, making us wonder why they didn’t come back…

The French company Dyptik danced Dans L’Engrenage (loosely translated as In the Cycle, from 2017) – a much more energetic, mysterious piece, with a cast that gestured sharply at each other over a long table, like a contemporary version of Jooss’ The Green Table (or Crystal Pite’s The Statement) The way they argued and froze, and later jumped up on the table to make a point to an ominous electronic beat by Patrick De Oliveira pointed to a board room of the future – a diverse and aggressive cast locked in a power struggle. They stalk each other around the table, then join together with forceful, urgent and confrontational contemporary movement, with solos and duets in various modes, including hip hop, pop and lock, and a fierce, crazy shakes solo that made one feel a part of a certain dystopian future.

Washington Ballet’s commission by Dana Genshaft was in the usual contemporary ballet vein, complete with bare legs and non-descript thin, flowy beige costumes and pointe shoes by Reid & Harriet (including unfortunately oversized tights for the lead female). The stark lighting by Joseph R. Walls and an annoying movie-soundtrack-like score by Mason Bates distracted from the more interesting moments of the choreography. A welcome surprise was the variety of bodies and temperaments onstage – as of now, WB is not your cookie-cutter ballet company. But Shadow Lands would benefit from a more original conception and visual aesthetic than the melancholy outsider story that doesn’t reveal something deeper.

Fall for Dance programs usually end with a bang, and the testosterone-fueled finale by Malevo brought the house down -- it’s not often one sees senior citizen ladies jumping to their feet and fist-pumping the air. The dancers, decked out in sexy all-black leather outfits, contemporized use of zapateo based on traditional Argentine folk dance and tore up the joint with their powerful dancing and drumming. Accompanied by stellar live musicians, a solo dancer (later joined by the whole group) executed a sequence of rapid-fire swinging of balls on a string at dizzying speeds that made Salvaje (Savage) the kind of exciting and unpredictable finale that makes audiences want to come back to Fall for Dance, year after year.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 6, 2019
In a mind-bracing piece of choreography -- Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s revival of Rosas danst Rosasbased on the accumulation of movement, rhythm, wooden chairs and sound -- kept the audience rapt at NY Live Arts.

Rhythmically timed pedestrian gestures were transformed into riveting movement scenarios as breath animated the gestures that began with a head lift, hand pushing hair back, floor drops, rolls -- back to the start. Each sequence built on the preceding one, both in the filigree of the gesture and elevated rhythm.

Short-sleeved v-necked tops dropped over short skirts slung over black tights. The sultry, sometimes naughty, ladies of the dance change their expressions from blank faced to come-hither smiles. Slyly seductive fingers toyed with the neckline, pulled it down exposing more neck and chest skin. Simple, but effective.

The score by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch worked in partnership with the action and most importantly the silences.

After a slow burn on the ground, the dancers lined up wooden, straight back chairs and slipped on work boots. The action sped up as the four female dancers built on the floor patterns adding more arm movements and quicker foot patters. Thin ribbons of light reflected off the dancers in the short, slanted mirrored slats on both sides of the stage area. Sitting, spinning and jumping off chairs, the dancers swirled into a cyclone of motion – and then finally…just stops.

The youthfully committed dancers included Laura Bachman, Yuika Hashimoto, Laura Maria Poletti and Soa Ratsifandrihana. It’s always a pleasure to re-visit Ms. De Keersmaeker’s creations.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

October 4, 2019
The Little Prince is a strange, wondrous and beloved classic, and Ballet X has commissioned Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to tell this simple yet multi-layered story through dance. The production was beautifully crafted and performed, and it captured the melancholy and sadness of the story. Yet something essential – seeing truth through an innocent’s eye – was somehow lost.

Lopez Ochoa wrote a brisk scenario that elevated the Snake character (which represents Death) to a master of ceremonies that appears throughout ballet. Danced by the brilliant Stanley Glover, his slinky, lurking movements in a glittery black unitard showcased his long, elastic physique and the androgynous beauty of his dancing. Yet the somewhat discomfiting sensuality and showmanship of his persona took some getting used to: wearing a bowler hat and spinning a cane, Glover’s smooth, silky, sometimes humorous presence was at times oddly reminiscent of Joel Grey in Cabaret.

The Little Prince was danced with dexterity and lightness by Roderick Phifer, and in each scene where he meets a “narrow-minded adult” it’s clear who is the disturbing the peace. These all work to an extent as characters, but the speed of each interaction makes it challenging to absorb each lesson: most importantly, looking beneath the surface and realizing the uniqueness of each being. Harder still was getting used to the Little Prince sporting shiny yellow spandex shorts and a real moustache. Phifer is black, but it wasn’t color or age that put his look so at odds with the innocent child at the heart of the story – it was the facial hair.

The imaginative, all-white set design by Matt Saunders conjured a different world – square white boxes, some placed inside each other, evoked rose petals, or were stacked to create the illusion of a landscape. A flat, puzzle-plane in pieces is eventually and magically put together for the Pilot’s escape. Ballet X’s wonderful dancers in white danced the gorgeous choreographic transitions from one scene to the next, sometimes holding aloft long sticks with colorful birds or stars that flew as the dancers jete-ed across the stage. The costumes, for the most part, were imaginative and well-executed by designer Danielle Truss, assisted by Martha Chamberlain. The computer-generated music was an eclectic mix of ocean sounds, carnival sounds, harmonica strains, ominous moments, bird sounds, even sheep bleating, played live by composer Peter Salem. Sometimes the dancers would speak, “Who are you? Where are you?” The Pilot, danced with pathos and tenderness by Zachary Kapeluck, eventually finds an answer, having absorbed the biggest lesson of all from the dying Little Prince: “look at the stars to remember me.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY ---Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 2, 2019
Music wafted through the lobby where audience members wondered into pop-up dance performances with wine or beer in hand, either watching slow deliberate moves choreographed by Neta Yerushalmy or joining the raucous, Latin social dances curled inside a hip hop vernacular by Ephrat Asherie.

All this activity led to the opening night of City Center’s Fall For Dance season. Intent on drawing new audiences, the tickets are cheap ($15) and programming varied.

Known for their dynamic style, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago led the evening with a stealth performance of Crystal Pite’s A Picture of You Falling. Alicia Delgadillo and Elliot Hammans moved silently in a stretch of white light to a “voice-over” by Kate Srong. Like many of Pite’s creations, this mysterious and at times ominous dance- theater piece moves between light and dark spaces—figuratively and literally.

Pite’s text floats over the dancers: “This is your voice…welcome back…here you are again.” Percussive movements swell over Owen Belton’s sound score, which includes elements of musique concrete. Arms slice front and back against bent knees and arched backs framed by a string of white lights that encased the dance in a womb of memories.

The South African Vuyani Dance Theatre delivered the US premier Rise to stirring choreography and music “intended to carry a message of hope to young people.” And that it did with the casually dressed dancers backed up by a dynamic D. J. who jumped up from behind the turntable turning in a deliriously happy solo with crutches and one leg. Indeed, the company has a lot of grit.

The American Ballet Theater ballerina, Misty Copeland, teamed up with modern dance choreographer Kyle Abraham in the solo Ashto music by Ryuichi Sakamoto + Alva Noto with Ensemble Modern. Filmy white material by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung dropped over Copeland’s hips. In a simple, but evocative piece, she pricked the floor with her feet and flared her bare legs into shoulder high extensions. Simple lines and strong movement intent escorted Ash into a satisfying galaxy.

Someone who knows how to gather a group together and put on a fun show is the enormously talented Caleb Teicher. He delivered a world premiere Buzz that included some stellar soloists joined in the happy creation of a tap dance aimed at supporting one another and embracing the audience. Although the whole cast was quite wonderful, Luke Hickey is a dancer to watch. Teicher’s own dance style almost always includes a wink and a nod to the simple delight of dancing. This was no exception.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 29, 2019
Lights flashed, and people posed while sipping Ruinart bubbly on the night of the NYC Ballet Fall Fashion Gala. The evening included two new works by the next generation of ballet choreographers, Lauren Lovette and Edwaard Liang, followed by George Balanchine’s majestic Symphony in C.

Led by the stand-out Georgina Pazcoguin dressed in black pants, white shirt, black toe shoes and black pixie wig, Lovette’s The Shaded Line spread over an enticing, Eastern infused score by Tan Dun. The dancers wore traditional ballet outfits – with a twist -- designed by Zac Posen featuring Tutus swinging upward in back suggesting bird-like swoops.

To her credit, Lovette (a NYCB Principal) takes risks every single time she choreographs a new work. Rather than remain in a comfort zone, she eagerly pushes past her previous explorations and adds or subtracts movement elements.

Couples switch it up in gender-blind partnering, that puts men with men, and women with women but not necessarily projecting anything more than joining people in movement combos. The marvelously spirited Pazcoquin appears at times as an outsider observing a community that spills across the stage in inventive clusters.

At other times, she engages with the dancers partnering ballerinas or being partnered herself. The Shaded Line underscores Lovette’s choreographer chops and as well as her generosity towards young dancers who she skillfully promotes to the front of the stage.

A former NYCB member, Edwaard Liang returned with Lineage to music by Oliver Davis. Currently director of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, Liang’s choreography has become much more fluid. In an establishing image, dancers are stretched out on the floor in a long diagonal. Liang contrasted modern dance movements such as torso contractions against feathery, floating arms.

Three lead couples included the: sparkling Ashley Bouder and Peter Walker; eye-catching Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen, plus Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle who produced a moment of sweeping lyricism when Kowroski folds her torso over his arm. Dancers wore shimmering costumes with sheer black tops and metallic, removable skirts by Anna Sui.

George Balanchine came on strong at the end with the grand Symphony in C originally choreographed in 1947—a large-scale ballet that carries the glamour of great opera houses where ballet was raised.

An enthusiastic audience greeted the night with cheers.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipitois

September 27, 2019
Many artists, particularly of the solo variety, project, to varying degrees of subtlety, the will to stand out. Ayodele Casel very tangibly doesn’t. Instead, she educates us of the rich lineage of female tappers of color, at which she is currently the forefront. This generosity is not the sort with which one embarks on a career, however; it comes from an active, humbling realization along the way that one is never alone.

“There was only ever room for one,” Casel explains within her recent collaboration with Latin jazz ambassador Arturo O’Farrill, to tell how she journeyed from her Ginger Rogers-obsessed teens through NYU’s drama department to becoming a sultan of tap dance. At tap jams, she discovered a connection between the conversational side of tap with the communicative capabilities of African drumming, and began researching and reaching out to tappers who were not only female, but looked like her, too, whose legacies may have been overlooked, lost to time, or transmuted to whichever “one” there was only ever room for. They should be very proud.

Casel’s tapping bears a logical resemblance to that of Savion Glover, in whose Not Your Ordinary Tappers she was the first and remains the only female member. Like Glover, her feet manage to make more sounds than their movements suggest. Where she becomes distinct is in her specific focus on salsa music, her innate knowledge of which manifests in filling rhythmic gaps versus hitting the same marks as O’Farrill’s ensemble. This frees Casel to push beyond metric limitations, functioning as the timbales player, appropriately absent from the band.

She joins her fellow tappers into tight synchronicity. As though rhythmic prowess weren’t enough, the rest of their bodies move, too, employing spatial patterning and physical counterpoint that highlights each dancer’s contributions to the percussive web. We become intimately familiar with their physical personalities one-on-one. Casel’s bound quality is able to travel swiftly in space with a look of, “Wow, I am doing this,” effervescing about her face. Andre Imanishi, lean and long, slips and slides, nearing his edge though never wiping out. His haphazard presence is balanced by Naomi Funaki’s crisp restraint. Similarly crisp but hardly restrained is Luke Hickey, who occasionally lets his hips do the talking. Dre Torres, while quieter in character, is no less solid a hoofress.

It is the greatest relief that such a talented crew only gives so much. The fast-paced show consists of short pieces, each a new bit of information. The tapping quickly explores its capabilities as accompaniment, most notably to a group of young women of color who articulate their dreams as plans. Casel deftly reels us in with entertainment to get us on board demanding that inclusivity not only be celebrated, but practiced.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonthan Matthews

September 26, 2019
Dressed in a black filmy top and pants, Catherine Gallant greets the audience. She states her age, 63, and enumerates the steps in her life that lead to her dance career. It all clicked when Gallant met and studied with Julia Levine, one of the “Isadorables” – Isadora Duncan’s adopted children.

For the next 90 minutes, Gallant delivers a compelling master class in the life and dances of Duncan. Calmly narrating the evening, Ms. Gallant breezed through Duncan’s biographical time-line bulleting important events through words and corresponding dances.

Midway through, she asks for the lights to come up so she can invite people to come on stage and experience some of the Duncan movement vocabulary. People eagerly step on stage and follow her instruction to find their breath, project with their bodies and locate the weighted swing in skips. Everyone embraces the simple, redolent moves, in a chorus of motion. Gestures followed breath, and motions link one person to another to forge a community.

Conceived by Jerome Bel, many know the outlines of Duncan’s life (born 1877)—her love of ancient Greek culture, dance and men—but every few minutes, another historical nugget is polished. Supposedly Duncan choreographed over 100 dances, but only about 40 exist by virtue of the oral tradition—one that passes dances down from one body to another.

Outfitted in a filmy tunic, Isadora shocked audiences in the early 1900’s by baring her legs and dancing barefoot. If anything was made clear, it was that only Duncan had ownership over her body—nobody could tell her what to do with it, and with whom.

According to Bel and Gallant, Duncan would listen to the music first, then dance to it the second time around. Of course, the dances were set to short preludes and waltzes, but still, it’s like tasting the wine before consuming the full glass.

A producer and performer, Duncan performed throughout the world, and she opened three schools in Berlin, Moscow and Paris. They were free! Children lived at the schools, were taught dance as well as other subjects and learned how to be human. What a beautiful thought.

One of the most poignant depictions arrives when Gallant recounts the death of her 2 children in Paris. For 2 years following the loss, Duncan does not dance. For Duncan, that must’ve been like living without breathing. Finally, she returns to the stage, and performs a piece expressive of her profound loss. Gallant explains the narrative of each gesture: the mother brings a child into the universe, protects and loves it until one day she reaches out and the child is gone. At that point, she waves adieu to the child.

This was a very affecting performance that not only illuminated the simplicity and greatness of Isadora Duncan, but also proved the power of illustrating dance for an audience through a lecture demonstration format.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

September 20, 2019
George Balanchine’s majestic “Jewels” reigns over the first week of performances opening night of NYC Ballet’s brief fall season.

Elegantly expressive, Emeralds calls for fluid torso and arms gracefully framing the upper body. Particularly enchanting, Unity Phelan moves airily, calmly elongating her limbs into soft arcs of motion distinguished by the swan-like use of her elegant neck. Abbey Stafford and Ask la Cour are engaging and Amar Ramasar delivers his usual, assured and gallant performance, steeped in the romantic sweep of reminiscences.

Rather than Gabriel Faure’s sensual “Pelleas et Melisande and Shylock”, Stravinsky’s “Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra” hard, jazzy chords command sharp outlines of dancers with flexed feet, arms bent at the elbows, fingers splayed. Physically demanding, the lead roles were originally interpreted by she former boxer turned ballet principal, Eddie Villella and the technical spark-plug, Patricia McBride Athletic and vibrant, Rubies demands fleet footwork and spinning top turns keenly executed by the lean Sterling Hyltin who packed her steps into bundles of energy, popping into skimming hops and cleanly etched shapes. The sharply attentive Andrew Veyette tackles his solos with a keen integrity. Driven by unanticipated plunges into spread leg, deep knee bends and frisky prances, time is speeded up against the solo piano played with gusto by Stephen Gosling.

In the final, grand Diamonds section to regal music by Tschaikovsky, Mark Stanley’s bright lights sparkle against Peter Harvey’s set design, which switches from the emerald green spider web, or ruby reds baubles to the dazzling diamonds reflected in the white costumes. A serene partner, Tyler Angle guides the gazelle-like Maria Kowroski in a gloriously expressive performance. At one point, Kowroski luminously drapes her back over Angle’s arms while he sways. As the years move forward, Ms. Kowroski finds deeper and deeper reservoirs of compassion and strength in her dancing.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

July 23, 2019
I am no authority on August Bournonville, but our fleeting encounters, in footage and history, leave me an unwavering, if casual, admirer. In a fortunate seating accident, I watched The Bournonville Legacy at The Joyce alongside Anna Kisselgoff (former chief dance critic of the NY Times), who shared with me her knowledge of the technique and repertoire.

While helpful, it did not alter my credibility, and I have nonetheless come to the work as it was organized by Ulrik Bikkjaer – a crash course for the beginner; a greatest hits album, performed by the ones who do it best.

La Sylphide opened skipping straight to the juicy middle. Madge, a witch, is working with minions to create a diaphanous white scarf made from difficult to see, though undeniably, dank ingredients. In the role is Tobias Praetorius. Men often perform en travesti to highlight the ugliness of such characters; Praetorius remains handsome in his ragged robe. His character work is as rigorous as any variation, rousing his team and relishing the evil of his impending revenge.

Given that this selection of the Royal Danish Ballet is traveling lightly, such performative vibrancy is essential to effective storytelling. When Marcin Kupinksi, as James, chases Astrid Elbo’s Sylph, extremity in gaze and locomotion allow us to mentally conjure a sprawling forest on a stage containing but an offset, miniature tree stump.

This gender-swapped performance of preserved steps establishes the ballet as a fairytale reflection of our time. Elbo is swift; James physically cannot flirt, so he must chase this winged female egging him on with momentary breaches of personal space. When James unwittingly kills her with Madge’s scarf, the backup sylphs immediately become pallbearers as though it is to be expected that a periodic confused earthly male will wreak accidental havoc as punishment for being rude to a witch. Their world is chaotic, with unprotested senseless death within a specific community, fueled by erotic misfire. So is ours.

A Bournonville Square lightens the air with a Cunningham-esque event of non- exoticizing nods to social traditions with which Bournonville had contact – British jockeys in From Siberia to Moscow, tarantellas in Napoli, and a ménage of folk dances in The King’s Volunteers on Amager, all framing the Pas de Deux from The Kermesse in Bruges, danced by Stephanie Gundorph and Jon Fransson in unparalleled technical clarity of effervescent splendor.

This collaged pure dance marathon is ultimately made digestible by the acting. Former soloist Sorella Englund is essentially sedentary yet integral to the action, and Praetorius is sublime in his trumpet lip-synching as Napoli’s Streetsinger. Across the board, their onstage watching demands from us the same human engagement.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

July 22, 2019
Maria Kochetkova’s Catch Her if You Can shows the ballet world taking on a downtown model of working. Essentially speaking, this consists of dancers freely bouncing between multiple choreographers, making non-traditional work in collaborative relationships. The unfortunate reality is an oversaturated, factional community, bound together by a rarely realized aspiration for recognition and funding.

Kochetkova demonstrates someone at the rare intersection of excitement and boredom of prematurely peaking. This 35-year-old, Bolshoi-trained ballerina managed to hold simultaneous principal roles with the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre while guesting all over the world. What does one do with so much accomplished, yet, even by ballet standards, so much still to physically offer? A split-bill show!

The evening runs such a qualitative gamut that the curation can be only explained as “cliquey.” These dancers and choreographers have worked together, are friends, or, at the very least, are aware of each other as contemporaries. Forsythe’s preexisting Bach Duet and David Dawson’s At the End of the Day feature Kochetkova and Sebastian Kloborg in the same collection of simultaneous windy movements that confuse the moments in largely acrobatic partnering that decide to be tender.

Marco Goecke’s Tué and Marcos Morau’s Degunino feature Drew Jacoby and Kochetkova, respectively, in intense physical involvement – Jacoby rolling off sharp gestures from her liquid spine to Monique Serf’s quivering voice, and Kotchetkova sharply folding like a pipe cleaner in the hands of an aggressive toddler.

Jacoby has a piece of her own in which she and Kochetkova, dressed like Jetsons, dance before a large hypnotic display of 3D black and white illusions. Preoccupied with being quirky, primary focus is upstaged by the secondary. The multimedia, however, reminds us of the show’s contemporary interests.

Then there’s Masha Machine, which projects Kochetkova and “non-dance” choreographer Jérôme Bel’s Facebook chat history of humorous dance commentary, footage of a young Kochetkova, and some cathartically awkward exchanges between a choreographer and a dancer who wants to try something new. She eventually takes the stage, in sweats, walking perhaps the spatial pattern of some variation, port de bras floating as she speaks of her tendency to avert her gaze in performance. That Kochetkova put herself through this is a profound example for those similarly looking to truly phase from the traditional to the experimental.

Bel is an avant garde choreographer the ballet world respects. There are others, who all have in common an already generally agreed upon greatness. Part of Kochetkova’s mission is to assist in contemporary choreographers eventually becoming the greats of their time. Bel (and Forsythe) doesn’t need to worry about that. For the rest, the work just needs to be better.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

July 17, 2019
From the first thud of his sneaker, you are primed to the limitless potential of Savion Glover’s feet. In introducing LADY 5 @ SAViON GLoVER’s BARoQUE’BLAK TaP Café, he speaks chummily to Joyce patrons between verses of what feels like an air, until a shuffling hi-hat pattern cracks a window into an unceasingly rhythmic subconscious.

Rhythm is Glover’s genius. He avoids choreographic intricacy, seemingly standing still amid rapid syncopations produced by straightforward shuffles, flaps, and stamps. It is in his unconventional laying of these steps onto familiar musical meters in infinitesimal subdivisions and brain-busting polyrhythms that the tapper maintains both untouchable virtuosity and neighborly accessibility.

It’s even better with friends. Alongside Marshall Davis, Jr. and Jeffry Foote, Glover forms an incorruptible membrane of rhythmic patterning, the spaces through which corresponding musical selections freely seep. Two will ground down to hold up a soloist, running the gamut of articulations from sprawling saxophone phraseology to the wild freedom of the timbales. Together, they expand our capacity to trust in the eventual resynchronization of long forays into interlocking counterpoint.

Still, even tasteful virtuosity does not a storyteller make. Despite communicative potency in Glover’s jazz approach to tap, he sits dramaturgically in limbo between its traditional use as theatrical enhancement, and the potential for the form to truly speak.

In his preshow, Glover explains the show’s intent to put on and remove masks. Baroque costuming scattered throughout the set anticipates anti-colonial takes on appropriation, exoticism, and minstrelsy. We sort of get it at the beginning; dense foot patterns not only fill but seem to pry open the spaces within a collection of accordion solos, many of which utilizes hemiolas, among other European rhythmic tendencies.

Then costumes suddenly shed, music shifts to R & B and we lose that established reciprocal gap filling as selections become more customarily syncopated. Masks proceed to go un-dealt with, from a punchline pair of light-up sneakers to actually dressing the one white performer in momentary blackface.

Additionally confounding is the inclusion of four women and one periodic man on whom the tappers rely for breaks and sex appeal. They are competent jazz dancers but proportionally hold no candle to their hooved counterparts. Taking no cues from what made the tapping so successful, they redundantly dance on beat and, overlooking the inherent theatricality of pure dance, cast jazz as decoratively female while tap asserts itself as shamelessly male.

When contribution to timely conversation carelessly rests on some assumed correctness, the participants actually doing the work must work all the harder to steer the conversation back on track. An attempted subversion of racial status quo dissolved into a celebration of patriarchal heteronormativity, when all Glover had to do to was move his feet.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

June 17, 2019
Last weekend, Paul Taylor’s Company co-celebrated the Orchestra of St. Luke’s 2019 Bach Festival. The predominantly mature audience indulged in the company’s elegant space-carving athleticism embellishing the masterful orchestral performance.

In Junction, the polychromatic compositions of dancers in unitards complimented the robust simplicity of Bach’s excerpts of Solo Suites for Cello no. 1 and No. 4, eloquently interpreted by Myron Lutzke, and counterbalanced Taylor’s abstract, pensive choreographic proposal. Junction’s narratives were conveyed through a series of constructing and de-constructing compositions, created by bodies building structures in space like human lego blocks. Taylor’s scenic choreographic dialogue of swirling rotating shoulder to arm gestures and contained weighted carving shapes was contrasted by the exploration of his minimalistic unanimated statements.

Last weekend, Paul Taylor’s Company co-celebrated the Orchestra of St. Luke’s 2019 Bach Festival. The predominantly mature audience indulged in the Company’s elegant space-carving athleticism embellishing the masterful orchestral performance.

Acclaimed contemporary dance choreographer, Pam Tanowitz's All at Once invested in a dialogue of vertical angular thematic reiterations. Accompanying the score for Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor and Oboe Sonata in G Minor, the company issued reflective, indirect, contained movement phrases throughout the work. The unitard costumes enlivened the stage with their aqua tones of light green and pale blue hues covered in white transparent veils. Commissioned in part by Teresa and Douglas Peterson, Tanowitz created this interesting, recitative modern work. As the piece progressed, a series of groupings interchanged within a prevailing staccato vocabulary. Abundant parallel sissonnes were framed by arms in 1st position, and temps levés in sturdy third arabesque were counterbalanced by spiraling attitudes en tournant within Carlo Blassis’ aesthetic.

Tayor's Promethean Fire, choreographed as a reaction to the destruction of New York’s twin towers, conveyed a sense of triumphant harmony resurgent from the ashes of struggle. A constant flow of interweaving circles alternated with shuffling parallel lines of dancers, merging into architectonically mounds of overlapping bodies. Taylor’s poignant musicality dynamically highlighted the accentuation of the orchestra’s crescendos, vividly painting instrumental cannons on stage, and encasing grave tones through powerful gestures. Especially captivating in this work was Taylor’s coiling lifts, and intrepid running fouetées caught in mid-air. Paul Taylor’s rampant choreographic statements left the audience breathless with Promethean Fire’s visceral cry, enlarged by the burning red atmosphere designed by Jennifer Tipton, which enhanced Bach’s compelling Toccata & Fugue in D Minor orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski.

June 16, 2019
The transfer of leadership has begun at PTAMD and Michael Novak, the newly appointed artistic director succeeding the late Paul Taylor, is off to a good start. The company is dancing as part of the Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) Bach festival, presenting all six dances Taylor created to Bach’s music. This programming is also a declaration of Novak’s intention to mine the company’s rich history, positioning the company as an important steward of classic American modern dance, while moving it forward with new commissions.

Tuesday night’s program opened with Taylor’s Musical Offering (1986) to Bach’s Das Musikalische Opfer, BWV 1079, orchestrated by Anton Webern and Michael Beyer. A curious work with a simplified movement vocabulary and a somewhat limited range of motion, the dancers worked with a spatial restraint that seemed unusual for Taylor. Inspired by wood sculptures from New Guinea, its stiff, side to side rocking bodies and angled arm positions with flat palms belatedly inserted Taylor into a long history of Western choreographers and artists who have appropriated “archaic” form from other cultures to explore their own. The costumes by Gene Moore have an outdated “Tarzan” look, presumably to match the “primitive” movement. I wonder if Taylor had been aware of the art historical controversy that exploded over MoMA’s exhibit “Primitivism in 20th Century Art” just a few years before the premiere of this work.

Either way, this dance’s abstraction of visual art into movement was reminiscent of dances from Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun (1913) to Jerome Robbins’ Antique Epigraphs (1984), as it created a different world from those, where a community simultaneously celebrated and mourned a young woman’s imminent death. Yet the stilted beginning gave way to something more spectacular, embedded deep within the structure of the work. Toward the end, veteran leading dancer Michael Trusnovec, who is retiring after this season, danced a solo with such exquisite artistry, technical precision, and intent, that suddenly we understood Taylor’s movement, the logic behind it, and the beauty in it, even in this constricted form. Through Trusnovec’s dancing, Musical Offering went from an unusual exercise to that place were dance outdoes words.

The program closed with Taylor’s masterpiece Esplanade (1975) to the Violin Concerto in E major and sections from the Double Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. It slowly built to its unforgettable finale, where the speed and daring of the dancers as they run, jump, roll, and catch each other make for an exhilarating closer. One eventually gets used to the costumes in shades of bright orange (brighter than usual?), becoming absorbed in the patterns and fearlessness of the dancers. The last two movements, which are danced to the same music as Balanchine’s iconic Concerto Barocco (1941), demonstrated a true feat of a great choreographer: through the force of his own vision, Taylor completely remade the indelible images some of us associate with this epochal music, giving us another possibility, and a superlative gift.
EYE ON THE ARS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

June 4, 2019
The Limon Dance Company presented four works at the Joyce this week, in a well-curated program that included Limon masterworks alongside new works. This simple formula satisfies everyone who wants to see dancers embody their history but also challenged in new and different ways.

Artistic director Colin Connor’s The Weather in the Room opened the program with an “intergenerational” cast that included veteran dancers and teachers Miki Ohara and Stephen Pier (formerly with Martha Graham and Limon companies, respectively). Dressed in casual cocktail wear by Krista Dowson, they faced each other and interacted with big arm gestures, spiraling spines, and dynamic drops (clearly related to Limon’s technique) while evoking a wide range of emotions that belong to a couple that has weathered years of being together. Three young couples walk, sometimes standing still and observing, sometimes dancing around them with an energy that suggests the older couple’s past is still within them.

There are few dance masterpieces with as powerful a narrative and dramatic force distilled to its heart-breaking essence as Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane (1949). Based on Shakespeare’s Othello, a cast of four dancers moves between the public and private spheres, building a tale of jealously, deception and cruelty that methodically brings us to its horrific conclusion. Jacqueline Bulnes as His Friend’s Wife and Savannah Spratt as The Moor’s Wife were both charming and displayed their differences in character through the bend of the torsos: Spratt’s extreme range of her head conveyed Desdemona’s delicate innocence to the extreme, while Bulnes expressed both Emilia’s spunk and grief with her whole being. Mark Willis was too lightweight as The Moor; each gesture needed to rise more from deep inside his core, and he could have been heavier and more grounded in his movements. Jesse Obremski was effective as a sly and compelling Iago.

Francesca Harper’s Radical Beasts in the Forest of Possibilities” (world premiere), created in collaboration with the dancers, showed how work created on the dancers themselves gives them an opportunity to shine. A young Asian woman with bangs killed it with a dynamic and forceful swirling solo; others clearly enjoyed the freedom of this kind of work. Best of all, the music composed by Nona Hendryx (on piano and computer) was played live by her.

“Psalm” (1967) excerpts are always an appropriately sweeping and grand finale to any Limon evenings. The fervor of the music and dancing, especially by The Just Man, danced by David Glista, has an inevitably inspirational feel. Yet this staging seemed a bit muted, perhaps by the small size of the Joyce stage. Having seen it recently with live orchestra, I missed the power of the music propelling the dancers’ fervor. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see this kind of drama and emotion onstage, when so much of today’s contemporary choreographer lacks gut-felt force and unabashed humanity that is essential in Limon’s work.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

June 3, 2019
The Theatre at St. Jeans housed Alessandra Corona Performing Works featuring Just Joy, Interaction, and W2! (Women Too!). The Italian founding director and dancer in her company proudly welcomed an intimate audience graced by dance colleagues and friends such as renown choreographer Pedro Ruiz, with whom Corona had partnered years ago in Ballet Hispánico’s company.

Alessandra Corona’s production philosophy fosters the interaction of European and American multidisciplinary artistic initiatives, welcoming dancers and choreographers from both continents to join in the creative process of her repertoire. She actively incorporates voice, song, audiovisuals, and abundant narrative gestures into her dances.

The evening’s opening number restated the potential of dance as a tool for advocacy. Denouncing the status quo perpetuating gender roles through history, Paris Lewis intertwined contemporary choreography, recitatie, and opeartic songs against the Baroque music. As explained by W2!’s choreographer, Manuel Vignoulle, his proposal emphasizes “how women have struggled to accomplish recognition, and how men have been influenced by women’s attitudes.”

Unfortunately, on July’s 2nd performance, the noble intentions of the work were slightly tarnished by technical mishaps in the venue’s lighting logistics and costumes. After an initial moment of silence in the darkness, the red curtain unveiled a quartet of women dressed in black corset tops and plain long black skirts gathered around a tall while armchair. As the choreography evolved, four men dressed in black pants and casual black suits joined the women onstage in a dialogue of gestures and movement phrases. The piece progressed through a series of partnering interactions with the women and men going through a gradual transformation assuming opposite stereotyped gender roles while scattering and reuniting around the white armchair. The work climaxed as Parris climbed up the armchair while the cast lifted it high in the air promenading her through the stage, concluding in a sculptured ensemble composition surrounding the armchair.

The seamless transition between Jost Joy and InnerAction made the two works appear as a longer unit. Both pieces, created by Guido Tuveri and the company, explored the stages of life and relationships “without emotional barriers” respectively. The storyline opened as a male trio mirrored a female. Both engaged in an antagonistic struggle to reach the other group - the leading male dancer held by the firm grasp of his group partners, while the female lead was restricted by her fellow dancers pulling the draping laces in her costume.

Alessandra’s release set in motion a series of choreographic partner encounters flipping through moods and themes created by the music choices and continuous costume changes. As the piece progressed, elegant silhouettes oscillating from playful softness to cold sharpness were traced on the stage against the projection of a series of images from The Rose by award-winning Italian Film Director, Giovanni Coda. It culminated in a pyramidal formation placing Alessandra Corona at the apex.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

May 19, 2019
Absolutely remarkable! Celebrating New York Dance Project’s second year, Davis Robertson, Co- Founder and Artistic Director, and Nicole Duffy Robertson, Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director, showcased a series of choreographic treasures from America’s unique dance scene at Symphony Space on May 13, 2019.

Curated by both directors, former Joffrey dancers and répétiteurs for The Gerald Arpino Foundation, the program titled “Beyond Ballet” offered a gamut of styles ranging from Bournonville’s Romantic ballet to neoclassical repertoire, as well as post-neoclassical and contemporary dance works created for their company.

With a commitment to artistry surpassing any expectation, the program was embellished through an array of fine and audacious dancers demonstrating a profound investment in the style and choreographic intention of each signature choreographer. From the breathless delicate grace expressed in Napoli’s Romanticism to the rampant ground-shaking afro-contemporary Battlefield, the audience erupted in a mix of gasps and shouts of praise.

The evening was graced by the elegant chivalry displayed by guest artist, Joaquin de Luz, New York City Ballet Principal dancer and upcoming director of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, whose appointment will start this summer.

The program opened on the cutting-edge slick Sonnaufgang (Sunrise - 2019), choreographed by Davis Robertson with music by Joseph Haydn, exploring the musical motifs of unpredictability, conflict, and harmony resolved through defiant contemporary dynamism within a post-neoclassical ballet aesthetic.

Robert Joffrey’s Gamelan (Excerpts - 1963), dormant since its 1968 revival, was welcomed back. His harmonious compositions were enlivened by Maria Gabriela Perez Quintero in the role of the Warrior Goddess, and the delicate trio of The Bird, The Wind and The Hunter, performed by Brittany Larrimer, Joseph Peñaloza, and Ivan Tocchetti respectively.

Work in Progress drafted shape-flow-bold trio compositions by Dwight Rhoden, Founding Artistic Director/resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

The dance community happily celebrated Nicole Duffy’s restaging of one of the most popular works by Gerald Arpino, Birthday Variations (1986), a work created to Giuseppe Verdi’s score commissioned as a gift to the Chicago Opera House owner. Embellished with costumes designed by Stanley Simmone the versatile ballerina quintet comprised Megan Foley, Cheyenne Fitzsimons, Maria Gabriela Perez Quintero, Jenna Torgeson, Ashley Eleby, and Francesca Kraszewski was supported by Steven Scarduzio’s elegant partnering.

After a brief pause, A Suite of Dances (1994) paid tribute to the chameleonic choreographic talents of Jerome Robbins. The three variations honored Bach’s emotive solo cello suite composition, masterfully interpreted by NYCB former Principal, Joaquín de Luz, in alliance with the solemn performance of internationally respected cellist Sujin Lee. Each suite evolved as a heart to heart conversation between Joaquín’s pensive pizzazz, Sujin’s melodic embroidery, and each patron.

Peace Piece (2018) shifted the evening’s tone with a contemporary work collaboratively choreographed by Tyler Gilstrap and the cast’s dancers. Soloist, Ivan Tocchetti, eloquently melded rich movement qualities against the conglomerating the corps as they morphed through contrasting jazz tones from Bill Evans’ album “Everybody Digs Bill” and the interjected percussive beat by Chemical Brothers.

Delightfully, the company’s youngest talent, Francesca Kraszewski, brought to life August Bournonville’s Napoli (1821) which relays the story of a young Italian girl in love, admirably conveying the beautiful aesthetic essence of Denmark’s ballet legacy.

Robert Battle’s Battlefield (2001), a contemporary choreographic uproar amazed everyone. Thoroughly invested in the piece, the dancers unleashed earthy African and Caribbean movement references. It was amazing to witness the young company’s versatility, commitment, and stamina as they concluded their second evening’s back to back program.

A remarkable amount of artistic investment fueled the NYDP pushing forward our rich ballet and modern dance heritage. Certainly, the transcendence of their work will endorse the future legacy of the dancers who embellish their vision. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

May 12, 2019
Mark Morris and the Beatles sounds like an interesting combination, and it is… but in Pepperland, not the way one imagined. In 2017 the City of Liverpool commissioned MMDG to create an evening length work celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper album and Morris enlisted jazz composer Ethan Iverson to reinterpret six Beatles classics.

Using voice, theremin, soprano sax, trombone, piano keyboard and percussion, Iverson composed a “Pepper-inspired” original score that illuminates the LP’s broad-ranging roots (including vaudeville, classical, jazz, avant garde and blues). The result is a different musical experience that will disappoint if you are expecting to hear the Beatles themselves. Unfortunately, the sparse, brainy score inspired a lukewarm collection of group dances, duets, endless entrances and exits that, to quote the Beatles’ Nowhere Man, “doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to…”

A promising beginning has a group of dancers in a clump, slowly walking backwards as if unraveling back into time. The costumes by Elizabeth Kurtman in bright, bold cartoonish color combinations (hot pink pants, yellow shoes, turquoise suits) recalled the LP cover and Morris’ Act I of The Hard Nut. Each dancer is introduced as a character from the 60s, or not: Marylin Monroe, Oscar Wilde, Shirley Temple, Ringo… This sets up the audience for some sort of narrative that never materializes.

Two men dance together, heterosexual couples dance together, two women dance together, they dance alone, and in unison, in an eclectic mix of ballet, pop, modern, and a hint of Indian dance. We see the Charleston, balletic lifts, yoga poses, neat patterns, and it’s all very sedate. Even the cool space-age set of aluminum rocks lining the back by Johan Henckens and excellent lighting by Nick Kollin couldn’t take the edge off dull.

Each section is well-crafted, but there is no moment where we feel a shot of adrenaline or much of anything. In one sequence the dancers execute a sideways “assemble” jump with both legs together in the air, and by doing it in different directions and in the same angle created a visually invigorating moment where everyone seems to fly, even though spatially constricted. But for the most part, the dancing seemed secondary to the dissonant extensions of the score, turning what could have been an exhilarating evening into one of polite dancing.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

collective terrain/s
May 12, 2019
There is nothing that St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery cannot frame into a heightened beauty. Considering all the work presented through Danspace Project that enjoy this luxury, it is all the more refreshing to see pieces that not only remind us of the sanctuary’s beauty just as well, but that also sequence together in a cohesive evening of multiple voices.

Drawing on a shared mission of researching embodied sound beyond the limitations of language, collective terrain/s has no problem achieving this sort of programmatic unity. It is instead all the more impressive that two choreographers in the same circle craft distinct uses of shared ingredients.

Tatyana Tenenbaum’s Tidal builds slowly, but in a way that is trustworthy in the direction of its progression. One performer sings the word “circumstance” on loop, carving arms that ease the body into rotation. Six others trickle in, filling the silence between the motif’s iterations with a harmonic cycle that enters warmly, tightens in tension, and releases. In repeating, words become more recognizable – right, here, now – along with phrases that speak of feeling and knowing – a dwelling meditation on any one experience of the present. Movement is casual in presentation, switching between gestures and footwork. Isolated, the elements are simple, but, coordinated, the material requires an unfettered focus in execution.

you think you fancy gathers a larger ensemble, unified in black sisterhood. Director Jasmine Hearn is able to keep herself and her cast busy while directing eyes and ears to focal points that rise and recede into a texture of glittery fabric that connotes southern church attire, inner city discount clothing, and the channeling we perform of our favorite divas within whatever means we have. Movement is more rigorous and varied, and sound wafts more freely on the lower and upper levels of the sanctuary.

Cutting through hazes of echoed snaps and collective sing-alongs are direct monologues spoken through two microphones. Utilizing stereotype to address larger issues, one explains that black girls must indeed be able to run fast so that they can escape mistreatment. Still, each of these moments returns to a thick, celebratory stew of experiential translations, held up and fortified from within.

Tenenbaum’s abstraction is driven by tightly constructed vocals, while Hearn utilizes more collage-based techniques to specifically represent her community. This contrast of form to subject matter between the two manifests in lighting as well, with lamps, both hand-held and swung from above, limiting who in Tidal is visible. Alternatively, you think you fancy fills St. Mark’s with splashes and beams of color, as well as periodic video projections on the ceiling that keep the space constantly shifting in scope. Both seat their audience in particular formations so the works wash over us, leaving us damp in contemplation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

April 5, 2019
Eagle high jumps and effortless technique joined to a trés jolie stage presence positioned the Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova front and center on the international stage. Before her first appearance in NYC with American Ballet Theater, balletomanes witnessed her prowess in live broadcasts from the Bolshoi—particularly her starring role in “Coppelia”. Now, Osipova, in the full bloom of her career, is guesting with many companies and touring in her own vehicles. Developed by Osipova, Pure Dancewas produced by Sadler’s Wells and arrived in NYC at the invitation of City Center. A mix of classic ballets and modern choreography dotted the evening’s varied program that showcased another international star David Hallberg along with Jonathan Goddard, and Jason Kittelberger.

In the opening piece, Antony Tudor’s wistful duet from The Leaves Are Fading joined Hallberg and Osipova in a tender realization of a time gone by. Seamlessly intertwining their bodies in circular embraces, the couple recalled moments of joy and levity followed by darker horizons. At ease in the perky hops and twists, Osipova’s youthful buoyancy latched onto Hallberg’s expansive attentiveness. This promise melted into a poignant reprieve that exposed Tudor’s delicate, yet detailed portraits of people’s innermost feelings. Tudor’s structures are intricate, musical constructions built on a movement’s intent, control and seamless release.

Two premieres followed Tudor’s masterwork: Flutter by Ivan Perez for Osipova and Goddard then the solo In Absentia by Kim Brandstrup for Hallberg.

A dramatic composition, In Absentia delved into an artist’s solitude. Seated in a chair, Hallberg’s head hung down, his super-sized shadow cast on the scrim across from him while listening to Bach’s Chaconne in D minor. Deep sighs expressed through long leg extensions snapped back into his body. These gestures drew an image of deep concentration and a searching desire for unanswerable questions.

For Flutter, Osipova and Goddard traveled on a perpendicular line moving downstage and upstage in a series of lifts and drops that bound arms and legs in flurry of activity. Dressed in sheer white pants and shirts, the foamy outlines accented the choreography’s’ angularity performed over a woman reciting numbers in Nico Muhly’s contemporary score.

Another relationship piece, Six Years Later choreographed in 2011 plunged Osipova and Kittelberger in an intense duet that seared the two bodies together in a multitude of intimate positions. At one point, Kittelberger’s arm passed through Osipova’s legs, his hand spread apart behind her rear as she sat on it, rocked and fell forward on top of him. Together, their bodies shivered and bumped chests in time to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata drawing close and pushing apart.

Finally, Alexi Ratmansky’s fluid and choreographically potent premiere Valse Triste to the music of Jean Sibelius returned the evening to the classical dance form. This ballet underlined Hallberg and Osipova’s trust in each other. From one end of the stage to the other, Osipiova flew into his embarce, dangled airborn off his arm and peeled off double tours in unison. Deeply satisfying, the ballet’s musicality and creativity deepened the audience’s undersanding and appreciation of Osipova and Hallberg’s artistry.

Running on two different, but equally exciting future tracks, the evening spotlighted the trajectory of Osipova and Hallberg’s spectaular ballet careers and glowing partnership.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

February 16, 2019
Camille A. Brown is stunning storyteller, and “ink,” her last installment of a trilogy on identity and the African diaspora, clearly resonated with the unequivocally diverse audience that embraced her work on opening night. The luxury of time, and the incalculable value of collaborating with other artists (both dancers and musicians) over a period of two years, showed how dance, shaped by excellent minds and bodies, can convey complex ideas while remaining legible and accessible to viewers with different levels of experience. Her dances, while deriving from very personal and unique narratives, somehow seem to speak to everyone.

Brown demystifies her work on two levels: the program provides much information on her process, and a Dialogue between the artists and audience after the dancing is part of the show. But what is most exciting is the legibility of the dancing itself, a dazzling fusion of everyday movement and vernacular interactions and gestures, with more “formal” dance moves taken from tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, African, and African American social dances. She seamlessly integrates every element, with the musician/collaborators sitting centerstage.

Two large billboard-like collages hung on either side of the stage, with several portraits emerging from a clutter of colorful asymmetrical shapes, in a lighting and scenic design by David L. Arsenault that complemented the fusion of dancing below.

Brown herself danced the first solo, Culture Codes, where she sat on a chair and danced for a while from the waist up: her stylized gestures evoked everything from wringing out laundry to painful bondage; she was also playful, sassy, and direct; at one point, she broke into a frantic football run, fists clenched. Every dancer was unique and compelling: Beatrice Capote, Timothy Edwards, Catherine Foster, Juel D. Lane, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, and Maleek Washington. Their bodies moved, shook, bounced, flew and were played as percussion, in a dizzying and satisfying series of human exchanges and situations. We saw beauty, friendship, sexiness, distress, tenderness, playful competition, and a myriad of other granular moments, each full of significance to the dancers, and to us.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

November 1, 2018
The American Dance Guild held its annual festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, also known as The Joan Weill Center for Dance. With the objective to convene established and emerging choreographers from around the globe, the festival included works by forty choreographers. This year’s celebration was dedicated to honor master choreographers, Jane Comfort and Eleo Pomare. As the titles suggest, the evening included nine contrasting works: Cantata by Cathryn Alter, Cante Flamenco by Jane Dudley, Like Remembering: Heavy Water by Gloria McLean, For the Price of Five Cows by Sabrina Wong, Perilune by Sue Bernhard, Veiled by Cherylyn Lavagnino, Good Game, Yo! by Stafford C. Berry Jr., Howl! by Cori Kresge, and On the Night Plain by Meghan E. Phillips.

Cantata presented a reflective quintet of female dancers dressed in hooded autumn-tone garments, developing a series of arm gestures and thematic sequences forming a dialogue journey of support. Reminiscent of Martha Graham’s aesthetic, Christina Sanchez performed Cante Flamenco, accompanied by the recording of Media Granaína by flamenco singer, Chato de Valencia. Dressed in a mustard “A” cut, long dress adorn by a toreador’s sleeveless jacket, Sanchez presented an impeccable variation interlacing Spanish prototype gestures, with Graham’s spirals, epaulements, contractions, parallel attitudes, arm lines, hinges descending to the floor. While striking her closing pose, she received an “Ole!” from the audience.

Like Remembering: Heavy Water, choreographed by Gloria McLean, the dance honored its theme conveying a bound weight bearing deconstruction and constraint. The duet formed by Mariko Endo and Gloria McLeaf was dedicated to Mrinalini Sarabhai and Lucky Dragon-Five.

Within a discursive myriad of multi-language texts, Sabrina Wong made a poignant statement denouncing crimes against women. For the Price of Five Cows opened with a striking triangular wall formation constructed by eight women dressed in various red clothing facing the cyclorama. The vigorous debate consisted of bounded stillness and escaping rushes, groups creating support structures, or individuals being trapped by hidden bodies. These contemporary dance phrases incorporated Bartenieff technique, and acrobatics. It built up to a conclusion where the triangular wall formation to the proscenium was brought to the front, this time with the dancers facing towards the audience.

Courtney Lopes and Elisa Schreiber performed Sue Bernhard’s Perilune. This two-part duet consisted of an introspective austere contemporary movement conversation of fluid over-curving thematic sequences reflected in the partnering and contact gestures in part “A,” which transitioned to sudden, celebratory movement.

Veiled presented a narrative of somber female dancers dressed in post-war gray skits and brown blouses. Sequentially laying down in stately parallel column formations, group proceeded through linear floor pattern configurations accentuated by connecting gestures. Stafford C. Berry Jr. opened Good Game, Yo! designing a lighter proposal with a dab of comic satire. The opening section introduced three female cheerleaders in theatrical improvisation combining spoken language facial gestures, street dancing, twerking, and extensively sustained poses. The scene transitioned as five male basketball players occupied the stage exchanging athletic training and modern dance themes with profanity over a summertime soundtrack by Annie Lennox.

Howl! consisted of a soloist dressed in black leggings and a shimmering reflecting tank top, headed in a sustained slow trajectory diagonally across the stage accompanied by an excruciating recording of howling sounds. On the Night Plain closed the evening with a quintet of neoclassical ballet dancers dressed in black unitards and a black wraparound skirts, displaying a plethora of lines, batterie and across-the-floor sequences.

Although the performance suffered several technical issues with the lighting, entrances, and exits, the community benevolently showed their sincere appreciation to the joint effort of the organization, and the diverse participants, in supporting the preservation of dance legends and the development of emerging artists.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

October 15, 2018
Every year the New York Dance and Performance Awards (“Bessies”) salute the NYC dance and performance community – our very own Oscars. But how does one decide to award one dance or performance over another? Because there are no categories or distinctions between kinds of dance, it often feels like comparing apples and oranges. Nonetheless, the evening, led by hosts Ayodele Casel and Shernita Anderson, had a casual, fun atmosphere and showed once again that New York is a vibrant, fertile, and inclusive ground for dance.

The highlight of the evening was Jennifer Monson’s introduction of Simone Forti, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Dance, and Forti’s thoughtful video acceptance speech, where she graciously accepted the honor while reminding us the work is “not about awards but about how we nurture…”

The Juried Bessie award went to Kyle Marshall, “for embodying rather than illustrating complicated issues” around race and sexuality, and Outstanding Revived work went to Jane Comfort and Company.

Marjorie Forte-Saunders, Geoff Sobelle, David Thomson and Nami Yamamoto won Outstanding Production, and Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance went to Marya Warshaw of the Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound went to Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and Visual Design went to the team that created Memoir of a… Unicorn.

The winner of the Outstanding Breakout Choreographer Award, Mariana Valencia, performed an excerpt where she walked around a lot talking with a mike about her childhood.

The Bessies are skewed toward “downtown” dance and performance – a fact that is probably not worth dwelling on. The four Outstanding Performer awards went to Germaine Acogny, Courtney Cook, Elizabeth DeMent, and Sara Mearns, all well-deserved. The only one I had seen live was Mearns, a consummate ballerina and artist, whose balletic interpretation of Isadora Duncan remains, for me, laced with a touch of irony, given Duncan’s anti-ballet rhetoric. It was a bit awkward to hear her fawn over her downtown collaborators, given her achievements across the board, but her work crossing that annoying uptown/downtown divide has a unique value that hopefully portends more interesting things to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

October 1, 2018
OCT. 17 Program at 6:30pm
SCREENING: “The Challenges Facing Female Choreographers”
EYE ON DANCE video episode shot in 1988, moderated by Celia Ipiotis
EOD GUESTS: Miriam Mahdaviani(Former NYC Ballet dancer and first female to choreograph at NYCB)Sarah Skaggs (choreographer), Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Director/Urban Bush Women).
TALK: Moderator Celia Ipiotis engages the guests in a frank discussion tapping into the professional hurdles navigated by female choreographers.
DANCE EXCERPTS: Zollar’s “Anarchy, Wild Women and Dinah,” Mahdaviani’s “Adagio for Two,” and Skaggs’ “Noh Body.” *LIVE PANEL: Curator Ipiotis along with Camille A. Brown (modern dance and musical theater choreographer) Sarah Skaggs, and Miriam Mahdaviani scrutinize the same landscape thirty years later.
Followed by Q & A.
++These programs are made possible through the EYE ON DANCE Legacy Archive Restoration Project. To help save the EOD video archive, please make a tax-deductible contribution.

July 10, 2018
In 1983, I invited theater, film and ballet star Liliane Montevecchi plus ballerina Galena Panova to appear on EYE ON DANCE. Ms. Montevecchi studied with the great Mathilda Kschessinska at the Paris Opera Ballet and danced in ballets by Leonid Massine and David Lichine before becoming one of Roland Petit's favored ballerinas. On the EOD program she underscored the importance of her training as a dancer and Petit's emphasis on feeling the emotion of each individual movement.

A most generous and highly theatrical human being--she never went out without a brightly colored scarf encircling her fully made-up face. She believed ti was imperative she extend the magic beyond the stage to every second of life.

Whenever we held a special event to raise funds for EYE ON DANCE, she would attend eager to help in any way possible.

Her great spirit, vivacity and genuine love of theater will be missed.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

April 17, 2018
Through a tridimensional time voyage, The National Arts Club presented EYE ON DANCE's remembrance of the Joffrey’s revival of Nijinsky´s version of The Rite of SpringLe sacre du printemps). Mr. Robert Joffrey’s investment in dance history and fascination by the enriching artistic collaborations in the Ballets Russes led him to several revivals: Le Tricorne (1969); Petrushka, Parade, Le Spectre de la Rose, and L’Après-midi d’un Faune (1979); and Le Sacre du Printemps (1987).

Unearthing of The Rite of Spring opened with an introduction by Celia Ipiotis describing EYE ON DANCE, a dance education series aired weekly on PBS television. Creator, producer, host Ipiotis plus co-founder Jeff Bush were recognized for the legacy of 23 years the EOD program aired (1981 to 2004) with a designation of "an Irreplaceable National Dance Treasure." They accumulated a robust archive of 24,000 analog videotapes, miles of print material, publications, recordings, and publications essential to the EOD series' preparation and research. A major fundraising initiative is underway to save the EOD archive.

The evening's agenda included a series of interviews, live and on film, bridging over a century of references highlighting the historical, social, cultural and political framework of Le sacre du printemps. Ipiotis showed the video of the 1987 EYE ON DANCE program (produced by the nonprofit organization ARC) where she interviewed Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, dance and art historians respectively, about their epic revival of Le sacre for Mr. Robert Joffrey's company.

Hodson described the feat involved in this quest guided in large part by the rhythmic complexities of the score and the inimical nature of the movement vocabulary. Both historians alluded to the eight years of archeological restoration it took to recreate Nijinsky’s choreography. This quest gains further value when taking into account the mere eight performances of the ballet. After its Parisian première, on May 29th, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Le sacre was taken out of the Ballets Russes' repertoire and, subsequently, forgotten.

Because Nijinsky’s Stepanov notation was lost, the reconstruction process included an analysis of Igor Stravinsky’s score and Nicholas Roerich’s designs, complemented by interviews of Dame Marie Rambert. Appointed by Diaghilev to assist Nijinsky in the staging process utilizing Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics method, Rambert was instrumental to the process. The last part of the televised program featured a segment of Rambert’s interview, performance and concluded with a glimpse of the Joffrey’s 1987 dress rehearsal at the New York City Center shot by the EOD crew.

Following the EOD Le sacre episode, there was a lively exchange between panel moderator Ipiotis and two former Joffrey dancers, Nicole Duffy Robertson and Denis Jackson Sutherland, discussing their experiences with the Joffrey Company and memories of Le sacre du printemps. EYE ON DANCE, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

EYE ON DANCE Unearths The Rite of Spring
April 1, 2018
April 12 at 6:30pm
National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park, NY NY 10003
RSVP: [email protected] (212-475-3424)
Video screening and discussion. FREE.

The Joffrey Ballet performed “Rite” in 1987 reconstructed by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer. Celia Ipiotis, creator of the television series, Eye on Dance, interviewed Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer in 1987. Ipiotis will show the program ? and interview two former Joffrey dancers:
Nicole Duffy Robertson andDenise Jackson Sutherland.

Public Screening: EYE ON DANCE ? "Le sacre du printemps"? ?(? 1987 ?)?
EOD Guests: Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987
Dance Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring”

?Panelists? : Nicole Duffy Robertson and Denise Jackson Sutherland, ? ? Former Joffrey Ballet dancers
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: ?The experience of reconstructing groundbreaking dances.?
Q & A

Created by Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush, EYE ON DANCE is a production of the nonprofit organization Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc. EYE ON DANCE was recently designated “an irreplaceable national dance treasure.”
For more information: [email protected]

EYE ON DANCE Unearths The Rite of Spring
March 16, 2018
National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park on April 12 at 6:30pm
RSVP: [email protected] (212-475-3424)
Video screening and discussion. FREE.

The Joffrey Ballet performed “Rite” in 1987 reconstructed by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer. Celia Ipiotis, creator of the television series, Eye on Dance, interviewed Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer in 1987. Ipiotis will show the program and interview two former Joffrey dancers:
Nicole Duffy Robertson andDenise Jackson Sutherland.

Public Screening: EYE ON DANCE "Le sacre du printemps" (1987) EOD Guests on Video: Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987
Dance Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring”

Panelists : Nicole Duffy Robertson and Denise Jackson Sutherland, Former Joffrey Ballet dancers
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The experience of reconstructing groundbreaking dances.
Q & A

Created by Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush, EYE ON DANCE is a production of the nonprofit organization Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc. EYE ON DANCE was recently designated “an irreplaceable national dance treasure.”
For more information: [email protected]

March 1, 2018
The Joyce Theatre was bursting with dance VIPS on the opening night of Company Wayne McGregor in anticipation of an inspiring evening. Having been thrilled with Alvin Ailey’s performance of McGregor’s Chroma, I too was pumped for the show. Early touted as a cerebral virtuoso, McGregor is the resident choreographer of The Royal Ballet, and a globe trotting artist, setting ballets on prestigious companies, such as New York City Ballet, and working in films and theatre.

An example of his writing about Chroma gives you a sense of his communicative gifts - “Often in my own choreographies I have actively conspired to disrupt the spaces in which the body performs. Each intervention, usually some kind of addition, is an attempt to see the context of the body in a new or alien way.” Notice the words particularly germane to understanding McGregor - disrupt, Intervention, alien.

His 80 minute offering, Autobiography which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in London on October 4, 2017 began with a compelling male solo. His ten dancers are a lithe, androgynous group, all capable of 180 degree battements and rag doll collapses. By the end of the performance though, my eyes hurt from the light, designed by Lucy Carter, that often shone directly into the audience forcing you to squint or simply close your eyes. Whether solo, duet, or group, everyone seemed repetitive, a leg thrust to the ceiling and then a shift of a body part - whether a head, or muscle in the upper back. Given that McGregor set out to write his life story in Autobiography, perhaps he is (inadvertently?) making a public confession that he is blocked.

Towards the close of the performance, the music assembled by Jlin (which included music by Hitdur Gudnadottir, Zelienople, Arcangelo Corelli, Carsten Nicolai, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Max Richter) offered a grinding sound during which a man said “You don’t want to hurt me” and then after 30 seconds of more grinding, a woman saying defiantly, “Oh yes, I do!” This almost childish exchange makes McGregor seem a bit wistful. However, the set of downward pointing triangles by Ben Cullen Williams that was lowered from the ceiling for one section was anything but. Perhaps we are to empathize with McGregor as a fellow victim of oppressive times.

His excellent dancers are: Rebecca Bassett-Graham, Jordan James Bridge, Travis Clausen-Knight, Louis McMiller, Daniela Neugebauer, Jacob O’Connell, James Pett, Fukiko Takase, Po-lin Tung, and Jessica Wright. Costumes are by Aitor Throup.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers

Ronald K. Brown Evidence
February 18, 2018
In a moment rife with both intense minority resistance as well as simultaneous backlash against and commodification of it, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence’s Joyce season is a peacefully subversive offering, celebrating blackness in a studied and curated way, that does not preach so much as situates itself, as itself, into a contemporary art modality.

Brown’s ultimate challenge is retaining the communal energy of the traditional African dance forms from which he draws in the intense spatial segregation of a proscenium theatre, for which Come Ye is the perfect opener, beginning boldly in the formation few contemporary choreographers dare to sincerely stage – the horizontal line – from which solos and duets emerge and return to the negative space held by their fellow dancers, suggesting invariable connectivity despite diaspora. The dancing maintains isolation, yet is elegantly designed to sync in and out with events happening across the space.

Dancing Spirit closes the program with an alternate use of line formations – a diagonal conveyor belt containing a long, cannoned loop, of which every dancer gets to be both follower and leader / child and elder. After exiting, they reenter, renewed, surrounding the initial procession’s completion like a cell membrane, a self-contained physical system.

Such elegant composition metaphorically joins together the artistic results of the African diaspora into a fluidly focused movement language, a mixed bag of riffing actions from traditional African forms, jazz, hip-hop, and their resulting impact on contemporary dance. Den of Dreams features Brown along with Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag, perhaps the only two dancers who can make mirrored unison look conversational. The actual choreography is hidden – a sequence of internal impulses, inciting their flesh to idiosyncratically spiral and melt around them accordingly.

Come Ye, on the other hand, has quite an external vocabulary – a series of physical snapshots of celebratory tropes such as social dancing, miming of urban pedestrianism, cartwheels, and absorptions of the earth’s energy. They notice when there is a syntactic shift, stopping to ponder the rapturous grand battement that interrupts the group’s grounded flow, before willingly joining in.

Similarly pluralist are musical juxtapositions. Come Ye ties together three manifestations blackness in a steady exposition of traditional African movement to Nina Simone jazzifying a southern folk tune. It connotes the spiritual, which serves as the soundtrack to slavery’s horror despite an often joyous sound. There is similarly rarely physical angst in Brown’s work, but he actively disallows these movements from becoming the dance of 21st century racism, insisting instead on their ability to speak to the totality of the black experience, for all to understand.

There are occasional moments of forced relevance. Come Ye’s second half, featuring a red backdrop behind Black Panther-esque costuming, feels unnecessarily decorative. While incredibly convenient in timing, 1995’s Lessons: March has audience members whooping in agreement not so much to the dancing, but to the excerpt’s soundtrack of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on white supremacy and privilege. Nonetheless, Brown uses these tactics sparingly to aid in the work’s accessibility, all the while demonstrating himself as fully capable and successful at achieving full embodiment and clear communication of his subject matter.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

February 4, 2018
A brightness born of youthfulness and hope floated over Peter Walker’s premiere “dance odyssey” by Peter Walker. Drawing in a NYC Ballet creative team, the cheery turquoise blue and lavender leotard and tights by Marc Happel were complimented by the equally long-term company lighting designer Marc Happel.

Simple in approach, but satisfying in delivery, the ring leader Tyler Peck whipped her legs in and out of perky struts, spinning and stopping on a dime -- and doing it all in musical stride. Zacahary Catazaro gamely supported the self-sufficient Peck and Adrian Danchig-Waring was a comparably game partner to Ashley Laracey elegantly embracing the lyrical, romantic role.

Soon eight dancers stretched across the stage and coupled up. At times the women’s’ legs hooked-up under men’s’ thighs tango style only to break apart and clump into a humorous body sculpture suggesting a multi headed, armed and legged Southeast Asian deity.

More wit was on display in the jokey duet between Devin Alberda and Anthony Huxley when the talented men nodded, and teased each other. Like magnets, they moved towards and away from each other, even sliding backwards in a cool moonwalk, knowingly nodding at one another. In the final moments, Laracey—dressed in a filmy grey dress- lingered inside a duet of warmth and pleasure with Danchig-Waring.

What a well-tuned work from an up-and coming young choreographer. And again, let’s remember that this remarkable stable of young choreographers coming out of NYC Ballet for over 18 years are the product of the NYCB New York Choreographic Institute established by Peter Martins and funded by Irene Diamond. Thank you.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 12, 2017
Celebrating the community as much as the individual, the Bessies Awards Ceremony returned for the 33rd year. Awards were handed out in a variety of categories at the NYU Skirball Theater. The lifetime achievement award shined on Jawole Willa Jo Zoller and her forceful push to amplify, through dance, basic truths surrounding women of color.

Dianne Mc Intyre paid tribute to Zollar, a young woman she met in the 1970’s who was determined to learn from her sisters, honor her elders and mentor the future. Near the end of a stirring acceptance speech, Ms. Zollar pleaded with dance critics to refrain from insulting dancers in their print and on-line reviews. "Please, do not insult us." Words everyone should consider.

For most of the evening, the two MCs, James Whiteside—looking nothing like an ABT principal – strutted across the stage in a bevy of skin-tight, bejeweled outfits flanked by the sassy Shernita Anderson.

Two large ensembles – -the skeleton architecture, or future of our worlds and Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd-- received awards filling the stage with a rainbow coalition of makers and performers. In fact, one of the presenters dubbed the 2017 ceremony the #(hashtag) bessiessoblack.

The award for outstanding Service to the Field went to curator and writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa who called on review outlets to invite more writers of color. Of course, this cry for greater balance is not new.

And although the majority of those honored came from the downtown and modern dance community, ballet took a few bows as well with the Outstanding Performer nomination of Diana Vishneva, Outstanding Visual Design nomination for “Whipped Cream” designed by Mark Ryden and choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky as well as Outstanding Emerging Choreogrpaher nomination to Katarzyna Skarpetowska. For a complete list of all the very deserving nominations and awards please click Bessie Awards.

All in all, the evning was a well-produced event that continues due to the hard work of the Lucy Sexton, her able staff including Heather Robles, supporters and volunteer committee members. It’s always a good time to stop and pay tribute to the dedicated work force forging the NYC dance community.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 1, 2017
The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, announce the lineup of special guests for the 33rd annual Bessie Awards. The ceremony, hosted by performance artist/entertainer Shernita Anderson and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer James Whiteside will open on Columbus Day.

This year’s Bessie Awards presenters include notable members of the dance and performance community including Reid Bartelme, Paul Bartlett, Yanira Castro, Gray Davis, Thomas DeFrantz, Lauren Grant, Carl Hancock Rux, Jerron Herman, Dianne McIntyre, Ron “Prime Tyme” Myles, Pamela Sneed, and Cassandra Trenary.

The evening will include performances by Bessie Award-winning choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in an excerpt from her 1987 solo Bitter Tongue, the Trisha Brown Dance Company in an excerpt from Groove and Countermove (2000), with a score by jazz composer Dave Douglas, and a musical tribute to Baba Chuck Davis, performed by Abdel Salaam and Forces of Nature.

As previously announced, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar will be presented with the 2017 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance, and writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa will be presented with the 2017 Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.

September 18, 2017
Pina Bausch, the German choreographer whose highly theatrical, emotionally charged dance-theater continues to inspire artists and audiences, once said, "I’m not interested in how people move but what moves them.”

Years after her passing, the impact of her work is undiminished. Her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, now under the direction of Adolphe Binder (formerly director of the Göteborg company and the first non-Bausch dancer to direct Wuppertal) is presenting two iconic Bausch works at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The performers range in ages from their 20s to their 60s, a wonderful and rare thing to see in dance.

In Cafe Muller (1978) chairs and tables are minor obstacles that get dragged, bumped into, or quickly removed as the dancers wander, move, run, and dance, alone or with varying degrees of interaction or isolation, seemingly trapped inside the grey walls. Moments of confusion, pain, sorrow, and sometimes physical violence are strung together, in seamlessly repetitive sequences, to the mournful 17th c. music of Henry Purcell. A woman in a long white satin dress, stayed mostly pressed against the wall, eyes closed, or stiffly and slowly walking with her arms reaching forward and out-turned, in an eerie state of perpetual vulnerability. A couple takes turns slamming each other against the wall, only to recover and embrace again and again. Bausch brilliantly connects heartbreaking moments with impermanent gestures of reconciliation, and we feel complicit when the initial shock wears off. Café Muller remains a stunning portrait of the paradox of human despondency and the resilience it continually engenders.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is a monumental work, originally premiered with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky by the Ballets Russes in 1913, a dance performance that famously caused a riot. Bausch is one of the very few choreographers since then to have successfully equalled the music’s legendary intensity. The stage is covered in real dirt, and soon becomes populated by women and men who dance in clearly gendered groupings, until one woman is chosen to be sacrificed. Bausch kept the original scenario but got rid of that production’s ancient Russian pagan costumes and décor: large baggy costumes exchanged for revealing the body, with the women in silky slips and the men black slacks and bare torsos.

The gut-wrenching, convulsive choreography for the women seems propelled by a pervasive fear, while the men surround them, at times even stalking them, making sure that the ritual comes to pass. It is uncanny to see the similarities between Bausch’s choreography from 1975 and the reconstructed work after Nijinsky, premiered by the Joffrey Ballet in 1987.

The same feeling of anxiety consumes both, and each builds to the inevitable climax, through its amorphous gendered groupings, circular patterns, and heavy, earthbound choreography, although they inhabit different stylistic universes. Nijinsky’s jagged, sharp, inward movement contrasts with Bausch’s more flowing, highly emotional and expressive modern dance vocabulary. But in both, the chosen one’s individual’s sacrifice for the community, through a final gut-busting solo dance, releases us from the gripping tension and delivers the cathartic moment.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson

September 10, 2017
The American dance guild celebrated diversity for its 60th anniversary festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Honoring Garth Fagan, Martha Myers, and the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, the American Dance Guild put together a program highlighting different nationalities, bodies, and backgrounds. Beginning with a video by Lisa Giobbi, the night was off to a great start. Giobbi’s video dance, Fight or Flight expertly created a vastness through lighting and space that engulfed her two dancers. Through the use of modern music and brilliant rigging, the piece built another world for the dancers to exist in and break out of. Smartly using the piece of film as an opening act, a welcome by American Dance Guild president Gloria McLean followed.

A jump immediately back into the night, Incommunicado by choreographer Catherine Meredith proved to be a great piece full of energy and breath. Meredith showed that choreographing for differently abled dancers adds texture and motion otherwise inaccessible, creating a fluid and powerful staging. Bringing the focus and mood to a wholly different realm was the following piece, The Voice of Light created and performed by Nancy Zendora. Her use of lighting, set and vocalization brought a different world onto the stage. Sometime lower in pace, Zendora was always focused asking the audience to join her on an inward exploration.

In a suite of drastic mood changes, Molissa Fenley’s Sargasso Sea appeared next on the bill. Danced by herself and Holley Farmer, the two removed emotion from the picture as they cut lines across their bodies and the stage. The last piece before intermission was a stand-out by Julian Nichols. Figment of Imagination was performed by young dancers of color trying to discover an identity. Holding each other in place, or acting as puppet masters, the dancers struggled against gravity and stereotype fighting their way to create something powerful and moving.

After a short intermission came Tobi Roppo courtesy of Rioult Dance NYC. Fwo movements the powerhouse dancers filled the stage with their bodies and presence, capturing audience attention. Septa by Lucas Melfi had the hard task of following. What was clearly a personal and emotional piece for Melfi had smart moment, but the clear desire to elicit emotion was the downfall of the piece. Though Melfi was personally invested and affected by the work, the movements didn’t quite translate that emotion set against the other works of the night.

Concluding the dancing portion of the evening was No Evidence of Failure by Garth Fagan danced by his longtime colleague Natalie Rodgers. Fagan’s use of stillness and percussion was a strong reminder that sometimes the most powerful emotional on stage is joy. From moving across the space to holding an arabesque for minutes, it was always clear that Rodgers and the second dancer Vitolio Jeune were happy to be dancing and it made me thankful for dance as an artform.

Awards were presented at the end of the night after introductions by creator and producer of Eye on Dance Celia Ipiotis. Showing clips from her show that are an important record in the collecting of dance history, she provided a glimpse into how important and instructional each of these honorees were to creating dance as it is today.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

June 22, 2017
Parsons Dance’s Joyce season was supposed to include a premiere entitled Hello World, featuring a technological collaboration. Somehow, the piece did not make it to the stage. The resulting last-minute program changes left an exquisitely danced disjointed flow of events.

Curiously, the choppiness derived from too many similarities. David Parsons enjoys opening a piece with music in the dark, raising the curtain, and shining a spotlight before giving way to uptempo group numbers, as in Parsons’s Swing Shift and Omar Roman de Jesus’ Daniel.

Musical selections were homogenized as well. Hand Dance felt like a gestural epilogue to Swing Shift, both employing high-energy chamber music. While one can always depend on Caught to be performed, the electric Robert Fripp score was instrumental in breaking up the regularity, just shy of the evening’s conclusion.

The pieces themselves tend to fall into two categories: movement-focused, and gimmicky. The former bunch shares a vocabulary of flash. Legs go high, as do jumps and women in men’s arms. De Jesus’s Daniel shifts things with a man on the floor having a jittery episode across from a tapper repeating a timestep, accelerating from a glacial tempo. There is additionally hip-hop infusion thanks to Parsons partnering with Ephrat Asherie on Upend. While Parsons seems to recognize collaboration as key to diversifying his work, it comes at the discomfort of seeing a largely white company hip-hopping, and an incredibly able-bodied company appropriating physicalities associated with autism.

The gimmicky pieces charm, but fail to go beyond immediately established novelty. Hand Dance could go on for an hour with its disembodied floating hands, but not in the existing structure of continuous unison sections that each last about two eights. Once Caught gets caught up in strobe light sequences, it loses form and defaults to self-congratulation.

There are occasional bouts of compositional intrigue. Swing Shift gains momentum when the ensemble trickles in, unison against the opening soloist’s subtly altered spatial orientations. To conclude, all the motifs are restated in rapid succession; all that is missing is development between it and the preceding exposition. Despite little variation, Hand Dance employs keen timing of visual composition, every so often breaking up horizontality for diagonal forms, incredibly and pleasurably disorienting.

Partnering and literal musicality are givens. Lifts are often somewhere between athletic and romantic. Daniel breaks from heteronormativity, save its duet for two males clearly denoting who is the “boy” and the “girl.” Musically, there is no movement without a note. This obsession disallows any dance phraseology for sequences of moves that, in their attempt to keep up with melodies, are executed with a pedantic sharpness as though to say “gotchya!” to every significant musical moment.

Caught begs the question – when we clap mid-piece as the soloist executes exhausting jumps, meticulously timed for the sheer purpose of looking like a flipbook in the strobe light’s flash, are we clapping for the light operator, the performer’s actual action, or the achieved illusion? It is important to break apart work intended to entertain. What is easy to watch is far from easy to craft, most especially when engineering the light-hearted.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

November 29, 2016
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” presents
Featuring EOD Video Guests: Marlies Yearby and Laurie Carlos
Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6pm – 7:00pm FREE
*Space is limited. Please RSVP here
Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 at 6:00pm FREE
Gibney Dance Center (280 Broadway) Enter 53A Chambers
TV Episode #315 (recorded in 1991)
Seeking African-American Values by Embracing Racial and Cultural Identities
Celia Ipiotis
EOD Episode Guests: MARLIES YEARBY, choreographer of Rent
Laurie Carlos, performance artist, writer, director
How artists maintain and develop a racial identity in the face of institutionalized racism and integrate voice, drumming, and movement in African art versus the separation of similar elements in Eurocentric art.
Dance Excerpts:
Urban Bush Women’s “Praise House” (from a film by Julie Dash), Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “Monkey Dances,” and Yearby’s “Pushing Through a Tight Place.”
Post Video Screening Conversation Moderated by Celia Ipiotis
Mariles Yearby
Cynthia Oliver, choreographer and Graduate Program Director, University of Illinois

June 21, 2016
Eye on Dance Named America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasure Monday, July 13, marked the celebration of the newest additions to Dance Heritage Coalition’s esteemed collective of American’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures, among them Eye on Dance.

It was back in the fall of 1999 when the Dance Heritage Coalition first solicited nominations for the first 100 America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures to recognize the rich heritage of American dance and heighten public awareness; over 900 nominations flooded in. Selections were made through a three-stage committee process.

Those honored had made a significant impact on dance as an art form, demonstrated artistic excellence, enriched the nation's cultural heritage, demonstrated the potential to enhance the lives of future generations, and shown itself/themselves as worthy of national and international recognition.

From 2003 to 2009, the first 100 Treasures were celebrated in a national, collaborative touring exhibition, which opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Following the acclaim surrounding the exhibition, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Dance Heritage Coalition support to create an Online Exhibition of the Dance Treasures, and soon after,13 new legendary American Treasures were named.

The recent celebratory evening evening honored these newly named Treasures, including Josephine Baker, Ann Barzel, Joan Myers Brown, Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Eye on Dance, Michio Ito,La Meri, Lar Lubovitch, Isamu Noguchi, Pilobolus, Ginger Rogers, and Urban Bush Women. The special guest honoreesof the event featured Joan Myers Brown (of Philadanco), Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush (of Eye on the Arts), Chanon Judson (of Urban Bush Women), Lar Lubovitch (of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company), and Jill Williams (of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts).

Each was recognized in a speech made by an affiliate and short video/imagery segments highlighting the work, history, and impact they had made on the dance field. Following, a lively panel discussion among the honorees ensued. Most profound was the interconnectedness among all of the honorees and their organizations, highlighting the true sense of community that grounds the dance world. To learn more about the Treasures and view the Online Exhibition, visit
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

June 13, 2016
Dance Heritage Coalition and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will present a public program honoring artists and organization named to the Dance Treasures list in 2015. The distinguished guests, who will participate in an evening of conversation, videos, and celebration, are: Joan Myers Brown, founder of PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, and an internationally recognized advocate for expanding opportunities in the arts.

Celia Ipiotis, co-founder and host of Eye on Dance, an influential television program launched in 1981 to help propel dance literacy and explore a wide variety of contemporary topics through the lens of dance.

Chanon Judson, Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, a Brooklyn-based company with the mission of revealing stories of the disenfranchised through dance, exploring women-centered and African-diaspora perspectives, and seeking social justice.

Lar Lubovitch, contemporary dance choreographer and company director who has demonstrated remarkable versatility in creating works for major ballet companies, ice dance shows, Broadway, and film.

Jill Williams, founder of Clark Center NYC, preserving and sharing the legacy of Clark Center for the Performing Arts, a diverse arts community that incubated many significant dance artists and works.

The program will include a panel discussion, video excerpts, tributes from dance scholars, and audience Q&A. The event honors a diverse and outstanding group of individuals and organizations who have made enduring contributions to America’s dance heritage, and whose achievements have been recognized by their peers in the dance community through their nomination and election as “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.” Join us to celebrate their legacy! Imogen Smith Acting Executive
Bruno Walter Theater

June 13, 2016
Dance Heritage Coalition and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will present a public program honoring artists and organization named to the Dance Treasures list in 2015. The distinguished guests, who will participate in an evening of conversation, videos, and celebration, are: Joan Myers Brown, founder of PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, and an internationally recognized advocate for expanding opportunities in the arts.

Celia Ipiotis, co-founder and host of Eye on Dance, an influential television program launched in 1981 to help propel dance literacy and explore a wide variety of contemporary topics through the lens of dance.

Chanon Judson, Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, a Brooklyn-based company with the mission of revealing stories of the disenfranchised through dance, exploring women-centered and African-diaspora perspectives, and seeking social justice.

Lar Lubovitch, contemporary dance choreographer and company director who has demonstrated remarkable versatility in creating works for major ballet companies, ice dance shows, Broadway, and film.

Jill Williams, founder of Clark Center NYC, preserving and sharing the legacy of Clark Center for the Performing Arts, a diverse arts community that incubated many significant dance artists and works.

The program will include a panel discussion, video excerpts, tributes from dance scholars, and audience Q&A. The event honors a diverse and outstanding group of individuals and organizations who have made enduring contributions to America’s dance heritage, and whose achievements have been recognized by their peers in the dance community through their nomination and election as “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.”

February 18, 2016
When asked by Celia Ipiotis in 1991 when he first realized he was black, David Roussève recounted his adolescence, at which point socializing with white girls was suddenly forbidden. Twenty-five years after that episode of Eye On Dance, Ipiotis posed the same question to Chafin Seymour, the mixed-race choreographer commissioned by Gallatin’s Interdisciplinary Arts Program to create a work inspired by the issues the episode raised. He summoned the memory of an incredulous classmate asking what he actually was if he was two races. The young Seymour replied simply, “Yes.”

African-American Footprints Leading to the Future uses the relationship between two time periods of black dance-making to measure progress. The Eye on Dance interview pairs distinct African-American choreographers, David Roussève and Pat Hall-Smith, who force us to dig deeper into America’s pluralism. Their specialties, albeit sharing skin color, are highly individual: Roussève’s Louisiana Creole lineage and Smith’s scholarship of Haitian lore. Sensitization to African-America’s subculture spectrum facilitates understanding how such themes fuel the creative process.

After the screen lifted, Seymour began his physical reply. Facing away proved motivic, yet was utterly inviting. Establishing a standard contemporary vocabulary of articulate ripples and slides, Seymour establishes a familiar language from which to trace its evolution through hip-hop’s pops and locks to the popular dances of Roussève and Hall’s upbringings. We are invited to an investigation of identity formation and presentation. Avoiding a museum tour’s lull, he periodically jolts back to the present, referencing present violence to a soundtrack including Langston Hughes, Kanye West, and Jack Kerouac woven amongst ironically chipper musical impressions. By the end, Seymour has abandoned his formal movement for the basic groove driving it all.

One of Eye on Dance’s invaluable features is its embedding of footage, allowing us to see Seymour’s work not only as a response to ideas, but as a continuing of form. Roussève’s “total theatre” uses text, song, and movement, often incorporating childhood songs and games against more urgent imagery to offset the innocence. While Hall sticks true to Haitian customs, she draws other sources into the aesthetic, reworking the Spinners’ hit, “Sadie,” into a traditional orchestration. Seymour flows in and out of dancing in time with his music and is not so presentational with his folk references, donning a smoother style that is less obviously disruptive and can pull mainstream audiences into his not-so-mainstream dialogue. In all three we see the inherent postmodernism in African American dance forms that relies not on the esoteric, but the times in our lives when dance is not something we sit politely and watch.

An Ipiotis-moderated talkback brought together Roussève and Seymour along with playwright Michael Dinwiddie and Gallatin professor/dance historian Julie Malnig. We are at a point, noted Seymour, at which eclectic hodgepodge is taken for granted in art. Roussève illustrated this in his personal identity, discussing retiring his Creole label for an African-American one. Such transculturalism reframes progress as a nonlinear process and unbinds identity politics from time as loosely as the universal struggle to form a sense of self.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews

January 30, 2016
In a novel twist, EYE ON DANCE (EOD), the television series that captured the stories of thousands of artists and was recently named an “Irreplaceable National Dance Treasure,” becomes the touchstone of new piece by choreographer Chafin Seymour. Program curators Celia Ipiotis and Julie Malnigdesigned the evening “African American Footprints Leading to the Future” to include the EOD screening, live dance performance and panel discussion.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the EOD episode (shot in 1991) features David Roussseve and Pat Hall Smith discussing an artist’s understanding of cultural and racial identity through family narratives and how the creative process re-routes lifelong confrontations with racism. Moderated by EYE ON DANCE creator and producer, Celia Ipiotis, the program is peppered with performance excerpts by Rousseve and Smith.

NYU Gallatin Interdisciplinary Arts Program commissioned Chafin Seymour to create a new work inspired by the issues raised in the EYE ON DANCE episode. Founder of seymour//dancecollective, modern dancer Seymour mines material from music, literature, and pop culture.

The evening will conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Celia Ipiotis featuring Chafin Seymour, David Roussève, and NYU professors Julie Malnig, and Michael Dinwiddie.

Date: February 11 at 6:30pm
Location: The Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts theater, 1 Washington Place, NY 10003
Tickets: Free

December 18, 2015
“DO IT!,” insisted Bessie Schonberg.

That advice still rings in the ears of choreographer Jessica Lang who encountered the formidable mentor/composition teacher at The Juilliard School. Schonberg was adamant that her students be courageous and try to create whatever was most important to them. Creator, producer and moderator of the award-winning TV series EYE ON DANCE (EOD), Celia Ipiotis, brought together Lang, Director of Clark Center NYC, Jill Williams and choreographer Jawole Will Jo Zollar to talk after a screening at The Gibney Center. The EOD Episode #201, produced in 1986, featured Schonberg and Louise Roberts, mentor/director of the Clark Dance Center. The panelists all agreed that these two ladies were tough, but essential to “Nurturing A New Generation of Dancers,” as this EOD episode was titled.

We also hear Schonberg stating that modern dancers are trained to discover their movement, while ballet dancers simply do whatever is asked of them. Affirming this statement, Lang bragged that she has made 90 dances since 1999, but chose to start her own company because most of the ballet dancers she was commissioned to choreograph for, were unfamiliar with a collaborative, creative process.

Customary in this series--recently designated one of the nation’s “Irreplaceable Dance Treasures” -- Ipiotis’ chat was surrounded by dance performance excerpts: Zollar’s Anarchy, Wild Women and Dinah; Paul Andrew Thompson’s Frantic Romanticism and Valda Setterfield’s introduction of Schonberg at the first Bessie Awards presentation in 1984. On screen, Ipiotis asked Schonberg and Roberts provocative questions about how race and class affect the dance community. This questions led into the lively discussion that followed, prompting Zollar and Williams to share stories of black women choreographers’ struggles. Zollar, who founded her Urban Bush Women in 1984 and just celebrated her thirtieth anniversary season at Brooklyn Academy of Music, is humble yet, proud to be an example of success and a role model.

This talk was the second of two presented at The Gibney Center this fall, the first having been on October 26th featuring Carla Maxwell who had just finished an anniversary season for The Jose Limon Dance Company at The Joyce Theatre.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers

February 11, 2015
In a novel twist, EYE ON DANCE (EOD), the television series that captured the stories of thousands of artists and was recently named an “Irreplaceable National Dance Treasure,” becomes the touchstone of new piece by choreographer Chafin Seymour. Program curators Celia Ipiotis and Julie Malnig designed the evening “African American Footprints Leading to the Future” to include the EOD screening, live dance performance and panel discussion.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the EOD episode (shot in 1991) features David Roussseve and Pat Hall Smith discussing an artist’s understanding of cultural and racial identity through family narratives and how the creative process re-routes lifelong confrontations with racism. Moderated by EYE ON DANCE creator and producer, Celia Ipiotis, the program is peppered with performance excerpts by Rousseve and Smith.

NYU Gallatin Interdisciplinary Arts Program commissioned Chafin Seymour. The evening concludes with a panel discussion moderated by Celia Ipiotis featuring Chafin Seymour, David Roussève, and NYU professors Julie Malnig, and Michael Dinwiddie.
> The Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts theater, 1 Washington Place

December 9, 2014
EYE ON DANCE Public Screening: The Politics of Dance in Israel
Gibney Dance Center’s recent “Sorry I Missed Your Show” event delved into the Israeli dance scene -from its slow start to today’s success and international appreciation. The free, public screening featured a one-of-a-kind EYE ON DANCE episode that originally aired in New York in 1991. In the episode, Producer and host, Celia Ipiotis discusses the politics of dance in Israel with Jeannette Ordman, the well-known director of the country’s (now-defunct) Bat Dor Dance Company. “Dance has taken longer,” Ordman noted, alluding to the Israeli culture’s affinity for music.

A focal point within the discussion is the dynamic between the arts and the government. Plagued by war and unrest, the Israeli dancers were quite used to rehearsing with their masks lined before the studio mirrors. In addition, the country’s mandatory service meant excellently trained dancers diverted to army during their prime years of 18-21. Luckily, some accommodations were possible for artists; many were stationed close to the theater and rehearsal studios in Tel Aviv to continue participation in dance classes with at least some consistency.

As Ipiotis brings up the work of Martha Graham, Ordman fondly remembers attending a performance of hers in London, and “the fullness of her movement, the depth of it.” Differing from the American modern dance icon who is crediting with influencing countless choreographers however, Ordman viewed dancers and choreographers as very distinct artists. “What would you say if I wanted to write a book in Hebrew?” she once told a dancer expressing interest in choreography. “You must learn your language before you can talk with it.” In the same vein she discusses the significance of teaching dance, describing it as an incredible responsibility, and one over someone else’s body. It is clear that her systematic dance training and high standard of professional etiquette are certainly remaining legacies.

Following the screening, Ipiotis moderated a panel discussion with the Israeli dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers Ze’eva Cohen and Dana Katz. As Ipiotis noted in her opening remarks, “EYE ON DANCE was meant to be timeless, to connect the world of dance with much broader social, cultural, historical and political themes.” This proved true in the rich experiences, memories, and opinions shared by the panel guests, bringing the issues of two decades past into a contemporary light.

Both Cohen and Katz served two years in the army while training as often as possible. In fact, Cohen recalls being stationed in the dessert and hitchhiking hours to Tel Aviv and back in order to take classes at night, until she was caught and asked to be relocated. Katz, who trained under Ordman during the final years of her life, remembers her powerful presence in the studio even following two hip surgeries (after which she returned to stage) and a difficult bout of breast cancer.

Funded almost entirely privately, as no government funding was readily available, Bat Dor marked one of the leading contemporary dance companies of the country at the time. Today, many more are flourishing, even traveling abroad, and Israel is now home to some great dance festivals. Cohen asserts, “Dance used to be very isolated [in Israel] during my time. Now it is very porous.” This January, New Yorkers will have can experience the benefits of this cultural shift at the 92nd Street Y’s “Out of Israel Festival,” curated by Katz. It will feature the work of her company, DanaKa Dance, along with other Israeli-influenced choreographers.

And for those who want to share in the continuation of an unmatched resource chronicling America's dance heritage, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the EYE ON DANCE Legacy Archive Campaign HERE
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

December 3, 2014
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” presents
EYE ON DANCE (EOD) video screening: Episode #326 (produced 1991)
Topic: “Dance in Israel”
DATE: Dec. 3, 2014 at 6:30pm
Location: Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway, 5th Floor
Tickets: FREE
Guest: Jeanette Ordman, Director of Bat-Dor Dance Company
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis, EOD creator, producer, moderator
Performance Excerpts: Oscar Araíz' Cantares, Gene Hill Sagan's And after, Nils Christe's Luminescences, Domy Reiter-Soffer's Notturni ed Alba, and Rodney Griffin's Piaf vaudeville.

Celia Ipiotis invites Jeannette Ordman to describe the riveting path forged by artists to establish contemporary dance in Israel. Produced in 1991, the conversation covers the rise of a dance company in a land of constant upheaval, and Ms. Odrmdan’s own battle with a life-threatening disease. Ms. Ordman underscores the many obstacles facing dance like mandatory army service as well as the company’s audition process, selection of choreographers, Martha Graham’s influence and dancers’ health issues. Copyright 1991, Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc.

Post-Screening Panel:
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis, Curator of the EOD Legacy Archive
Guests: Ze’eva Cohen, Israeli dancer, choreographer and filmmaker
Dana Katz, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and co-curator of the Out of Israel festival of The 92nd Street Y.
Discussion: Similarities and developments within the Israeli dance community since the 1991 EOD interview, and the upcoming 2015 Israeli Dance festival at the 92 Street Y.

December 6, 2013
There is no denying that Anna Sokolow was quite the dynamo. The current From the Horse's Mouth program certainly attests to this. Rare video clips, live dance performance, and numerous personal anecdotes paint a picture of the dynamic, dauntless choreographer and her multifaceted influence - particularly in the fields of modern dance, music, and theater.

From the Horse's Mouth, currently in its fifteenth year, is a commemorative performance series conceived by James Cunningham and Tina Croll that has honored countless dancers and choreographers to date. As the title suggests, spoken word serves as the driving force, offering rare insight into the profound creative, professional, and personal impact one artist has on others throughout their life.

Sokolow was a dancer turned choreographer who began training with Martha Graham and went on to form her own company, the Players' Project. She traveled through Mexico and Israel teaching and choreographing and became a longtime faculty member at the Julliard School. All the while, her abrasively honest ways and remarkable skill at making dancers emote and acknowledge their individuality left a notable impact.

Jennifer Muller comments on Sokolow's uncompromising belief that the truth to be paramount in dance. "She would put you in a position and say, ' Do what you have to do next.' Then, as you moved she'd say, 'I don't believe you." Deborah Zall remembers tireless and demanding rehearsals that led to her ask Sokolow, "What do you want?!" Her response: "I don't want to see Martha [Graham]. I don't want to see Anna. I want to see Deborah." Close to 25 individuals took part in the multimedia performance, passing the microphone and weaving in and out of structured improvisation on stage. The performers' surrounding abstract movements - a hop with arms raised, a bend at the waist, a slow lunge - color the various live testimonials taking place center stage. Intermittently, this format is replaced by a slow procession across the stage including colorful costumes, silly props, and a sense of drama.

Other shared tales vary from the hilarious to the surprising, moving, and powerful. Celia Ipiotis recalls Sokolow's "passionate voice" and the time she appeared on an Eye on Dance television program focused on social commentary in dance in 1984. Kevin Conroy tells of the day he refused to let Sokolow kick him out of her Julliard dance class, which earned him a slap followed by a kiss on the cheek at the class' end. Deborah Jowitt will never forget when she asked the dancers to run as fast as they could to the end of the stage and stop suddenly. When they failed to do this to Sokolow's liking, she threw a chair towards them; they sure stopped suddenly then. Most touching are Joel Thome's memories about his time working with her through the Lyric Theatre in Israel. "You understood music better than almost everybody and I will love you forever, Anna," he notes.

From the Horse's Mouth and Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble (the successor to Sokolow's Players' Project, founded by Jim May) have partnered to present this collaborative program, which continues through December 8 at the 14th Street Y.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY - Jennifer Thompson

September 30, 2013

Gibney Dance Center
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” Presents
EYE ON DANCE on “The Rite of Spring”
Date: Friday, Oct. 18 at 6:30pm
Location: Gibney Dance Center (890 Broadway)
EOD: TV Episode #234 (recorded in 1987)
Topic: The Unearthing of The Rite of Spring
EOD Guests:*Millicent Hodson (Dance Historian), *Kenneth Archer (Art Historian)
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987.
Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring.”
Post EYE ON DANCE DVD Screening Conversation
Guests: Beatriz Rodriguez and Carole Valleskey (Former Joffrey Ballet principals cast as “The Chosen One” in “Rite.”
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Topic: Experiencing the reconstruction of a groundbreaking piece and assessing the results.
Q & A followed by Reception
**Please note: Ms. Hodson and Mr. Archer only appear on the recorded EYE ON DANCE video.
SUMMARY: Dance historian Millicent Hodson and art historian Kenneth Archer discuss their reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The rite of spring) for the Joffrey Ballet. They describe various aspects of the original production by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1913, including the interaction of the collaborators Nikolai Roerich, Nijinsky, and Igor Stravinsky. Hodson talks about Nijinsky's transformation of the academic ballet technique, and the role played by his assistant Marie Rambert. Archer displays a costume re-created from Roerich's designs, and discusses Roerich's use of symbolism in its decorative motifs. The guests also describe their experiences in working with the Joffrey dancers, seen in several recorded excerpts from the reconstructed ballet. The program also includes a recorded interview with Rambert, in which she discusses the creation of the ballet.
For more information contact: [email protected]

September 30, 2013
“Sorry I Missed Your Show” Presents
EYE ON DANCE on “The Rite of Spring”
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 at 6:30pm, Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway

Date: Friday, Oct. 18 at 6:30pm
Location Gibney Dance Center (890 Broadway)
EOD: TV Episode #234 (recorded in 1987)
Topic: The Unearthing of The Rite of Spring
EOD Guests: *Millicent Hodson (Dance Historian), *Kenneth Archer (Art Historian)
Host: Celia Ipiotis
Talk: The intense process involved in reconstructing the 1913 “Rite of Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet in 1987.
Excerpts: Joffrey Ballet performing “The Rite of Spring.”

Post EYE ON DANCE DVD Screening Conversation
Guests: Beatriz Rodriguez and Carole Valleskey (Former Joffrey Ballet principals cast as “The Chosen One” in “Rite.”
Moderator: Celia Ipiotis
Topic: Experiencing the reconstruction of a groundbreaking piece and assessing the results.

Q & A followed by Reception
**Please note: Ms. Hodson and Mr. Archer only appear on the recorded EYE ON DANCE video.

SUMMARY: Dance historian Millicent Hodson and art historian Kenneth Archer discuss their reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The rite of spring) for the Joffrey Ballet. They describe various aspects of the original production by Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1913, including the interaction of the collaborators Nikolai Roerich, Nijinsky, and Igor Stravinsky. Hodson talks about Nijinsky's transformation of the academic ballet technique, and the role played by his assistant Marie Rambert. Archer displays a costume re-created from Roerich's designs, and discusses Roerich's use of symbolism in its decorative motifs. The guests also describe their experiences in working with the Joffrey dancers, seen in several recorded excerpts from the reconstructed ballet. The program also includes a recorded interview with Rambert, in which she discusses the creation of the ballet.
For more information contact: [email protected]

Carole Valleskey, a former principal dance with the Joffrey Ballet appeared in numerous acclaimed roles including “The Chosen One” in the recreation of the 1913 Nijinsky-Stravinsky “Le Sacre du Printemps.” Currently the Founder and Artistic Director of the California Dance Institute which is affiliated with Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute—Valleskey merges her Broadway musical theater, ballet and teaching background into an arts education focus. She completed a BA from California State University.
Beatriz Rodriguez, a former principal dance with the Joffrey Ballet appeared in numerous acclaimed roles including “The Chosen One” in the recreation of the 1913 Nijinsky-Stravinsky “Le Sacre du Printemps.” a Dance Magazine Award recipient, she is a practitioner of Iyengar yoga, a dance and ballet, teacher and coach. As a role mode for young Hispanic dancers, New Jersey Network Youth Showcase Organization presents a scholarship award in her name.
The creator, producer and moderator of the award-winning TV series EYE ON DANCE (EOD), Celia Ipiotis directs the nonprofit arts organization Arts Resources in Collaboration (ARC) that is responsible for the fundraising drive to safeguard the EOD Humanities Archive. A former dancer, choreographer, company director and videographer, Ms. Ipiotis produces the Internet cultural journal, EYE ON THE ARTS. She also lectures at universities, advises dance media projects and curates EOD and holds a BFA degree from OSU and MA from New School for Social Research.

June 14, 2013
DanceTeacher Magazine features EYE ON DANCE

November 19, 2012
On Saturday October 27th, Celia Ipiotis & EYE ON DANCE returned to Gibney Dance Center's "Sorry I Missed Your Show" in a free screening of a select EYE ON DANCE episode with an intimate, and entertaining panel discussion following.

The episode took us back to the 1988 New York City Ballet's (NYCB) American Music Festival - a festival celebrating choreographer-composer collaborations that has continued as an annual event. Featuring NYCB principal dancer Lourdes Lopez, along with choreographer William Forsythe and composer Charles Wuorinen, the historically significant dance talk show gave a glimpse of what this collaborative creative process is like from each angle.

Lopez recalls her rehearsals with Forsythe, and his non-NYCB style that she found both challenging and exciting. Wuorinen comments on working with different choreographers and his preference of some direction and structure, rather than an open-ended task of creating a new piece of music for dance. Forsythe thinks back to opening night performances and the anxiety of watching it all come together and the feeling the music is suddenly much slower than remembered. Most endearing is Forsythe's impromptu solo improvisation at the episode's end, showing the need for strong coordination in his angular, off-balance, balletic style.

Curated by Celia Ipiotis (Creator/Producer of Eye on Dance and the Arts), the panel discussion following the screening included former NYCB principal dancers Heléne Alexopoulos, Peter Frame, and Jeffrey Edwards, along with William Forsythe himself. It was a special treat to have Forsythe, currently Artistic Director of his Germany-based Forsythe Company, in town and in attendance for this event.

The experience had by the dancers in working with Forsythe was clearly a lasting one. Each had anecdotes about what it was like working with him in creating “Behind the China Dogs” (1988) – having to spell their name with their bodies at the first rehearsal, the sexy costumes they wore, how he gave each a Dr. Suess book at the process’ end. Furthermore, the discussion gave true insight into Forsythe’s career path, and how much he enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what ballet was at the time, which took him out of the brand-name companies that prevail in New York, to Europe where he found greater artistic freedom.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer Thompson

January 30, 2012
Eye on Dance, celebrating 30 years of fascinating interviews chronicling the world of dance in America, was part of the Dance on Camera series at Lincoln Center. Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush were heralded by Deirdre Towers, festival curator, for bringing awareness of the process of dance to a wide audience.

Eye on Dance, first aired in 1981 on PBS, was an opportunity for scholars, historians, dancers, choreographers and many other artists to discuss their work and philosophies. With the innovation of portable video equipment, a whole new generation of videographers was inspired to open up worlds usually closed to the public.

EYE ON DANCE dared to explore dance, from ballet to hip-hop, passing through an era identified by the "dance boom," "culture wars of the 80's," "gender politics," "multi-culturalism," ballet and modern mash-ups and so much more. These interviews were captured on film and are an incredible window to the kind of creativity that was so prevalent. Informative conversations were interspersed with performance footage and it was the only program of its kind at the time -- and to this day. Ms. Ipiotis and Mr. Bush are raising funds to preserve and process the complete EYE ON DANCE archive. This archive will be invaluable to anyone studying the history of dance or simply interested in the subject of these videos.

An interview from 1986 with Moses Pendleton and Jonathan Wolken had the audience of the Walter Reade Theater laughing at the hilarious interaction of these two founders of Pilobolus. Having not spoken since their public break-up in 1983, it was clear that they were conflicted over being reunited and definitely in "high spirits" as Ms. Ipiotis called it! The interaction of Mr. Pendleton and Mr. Wolken, with Ms. Ipiotis trying to stay in command, is a perfect example of the kind of innovative, thought provoking interviews that make up the Eye On Dance library.

Before this gem from Eye on Dance was a film by Philippe Baylaucq, called "ORA". Choreographed by Jose Navas and using high definition thermographic infrared cameras, the dancers were filmed so that one can view their heat producing bodies as they move trough the dance. It was like watching biological light. The form began like a cell and appeared to divide, then looked like pickles curving toward and away from one another.

Eventually the dancers forms became more visible, at times looking like they were moving against a rock wall or a reflective floor. Neither the choreography nor the music was very compelling, so the innovation in film making was the most interesting element.

Supposedly the cameras were only used previously for US military assignments, so this was definitely a much better application.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --Deborah Wingert

December 7, 2011
EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Abbott, Loretta (11) Adams, Carolyn and Olive (74) Ahearn, Charlie (128) Ahye, Molly (191) Aikens, Vanoye (239) Ailey, Alvin (290) Aldersberg, Dr. Jay (156) Aldrich, Elizabeth (157) Alexopoulos, Helen (Uncut 41) (Uncut 42) Allen, Leopold (100) Allen, Ralph (172) Allen, Rebecca (80) Allen, Sarita (245) Alonso, Alicia (229) Alper, Jud (46) Alum, Manuel (296) Anderson, Cynthia (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Anderson, David (6) Anderson, Jack (264) Anthony, Mary (78) Appels, Jonathon (297) Archer, Kenneth (234) (268) Arcomano, Nicholas (31) Armitage, Karole (219) Armour, Toby (164) Ashley, Merrill (13) (84) Astier, Regine (149) Atlas, Charles (45) (198) Atlas, Helen (230) (243) Avila, Nelson (306) Babb, Roger (248) Bachrach, Dr. Richard (16) Badolato, Dean (42) Bahiri, Madhi (212) (266) Baker-Scott, Shawneequa (30) Baker, Penny (313) Baldwin, Donna (62) Bambaataa, Afrika (128) Banes, Sally (128) Banker, Wendy (82) Barnett, Mary (97) Barr, Burt (279) Barsness, Eric (167) Battle, Hinton (114) Baudendistel, Daniel (246) Bauzo, Louis (191) Beals, Margaret (156) Bearden, Nanette (278) Beatty, Talley (126) Bechtold, Linda (124) Becker, Frances (183) (265) Beglarian, Eve (284) Belle, Anne (56) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Bello, Sant’gria (227) (228) Benford, Tigger (179) Benitez, Maria (189) Benjamin, Fred (254) Berge, Colette (286) Berky, Bob (169) Bernard, Karen (131) Bernd, John (70) Bernson, Kathryn (10) Besserer, Robert (248) Bettis, Valerie (43) Bianchi, Ed (203) Bird, Dorothy (141) Black, Phil (40) Black, Robin (40) Blackwood, Christian (280) Blankensop, Susan (305) Blunden, Jeraldyne (Uncut 1) Boal, Peter (Uncut 4) Bogart, Anne (116) Bolender, Todd (222) Bonneau, Megan (Uncut 18) Boothe, Power (218) Bornstein, Rachelle (299) Bossard, Andres (200) Boudon, Michel (286) Bower, Martha (118) Bowyer, Bob (55) Boyce, Johanna (70) Bracero, Efrain (227) (228) Bracken, Eddie (172) Bradley, Bill (102) Brayley-Bliss, Sally (35) Brazil, Tom (235) Brenner, Janis (186) Bressie, Annette (123) Brockway, Merrill (107) Brookes, Marie (286) Brooks, Virginia (280) Brophy, Sharon (306) Brown, Carolyn (226) Brown, Ethan (Uncut 5) Brown, Isabel (76) Brown, Joan Myers (308) Brown, Leslie (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Brown, Tom (61) Bruggeman, Joann (55) Bryant, Barbara (24) Brysac, Shareen Blair (23) Bufalino, Brenda (207) Bujones, Fernando (266) Bull, Richard (272) Burge, Gregg (204) Burnham, Rika (95) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Burns, Louise (111) Butler, John (195) Byer, Diana (142) Byrd, Donald (Uncut 36) (Uncut 37) Byrne, James (197) Calvo de Mora, Fermin (Uncut 25) (Uncut 26) Cameron, Sandra (152) Campbell, Joseph (174) (175) Cannon, Pat (151) Caplan, Elliot (282) Caranicas, Peter (25) Caras, Steven (235) Carlos, Laurie (315) Carlson, Ann (261) (265) Carmines, Rev. Al (88) Carothers, Leslie (245) Carr, Deborah (168) Cervetti, Sergio (179) Cesar, Kamala (202) Chadman, Christopher (125) Chalfant, Henry (128) Chang, Du-Yee (86) Chapman, Wes (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Charlip, Remy (130) Chaya, Masazumi (Uncut 3) Chenzira, Ayoka (30) Childs, Lucinda (Uncut 28) (Uncut 29) Ching, Chiang (86) Chong, Ping (66) (224) Chuma, Yoshiko (129) Cilento, Wayne (46) Clark, Larry (302) Clark, Leigh (267) Clarke, Martha (53) Clinton, Jim (232) Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi (39) Cohen, Selma Jeanne (165) Cohen, Ze’eva (154) Colahan, Nancy (Uncut 19) (Uncut 20) Coles, Charles “Honi” (206) Collin, Jeremey (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Colton, Richard (287) Comfort, Jane (153) Como, William (181) Conrad, Gail (205) Cook, Bart (213) Cook, Charles “Cookie” (171) Corkle, Francesca (232) Cornell, Heather (272) Corvino, Alfredo (194) Costas (235) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Cousins, Robin (136) Cratty, Bill (168) “Crazy Legs” Colon, Richie (128) Creach, Terry (188) Crease, Robert (251) Cummings, Blondell (71) Cunningham, James (52) Cunningham, Merce (44) (45) Curran, Sean (188) Currier, Ruth (257) D’Amboise, Family (Jacques, Christopher, Carolyn, Charlotte, and Kate) (75) D’Amico, Dr. Joseph (84) D’Antuono, Eleanor (113) “D-Incredible” Osakalumi, Adesola (319) D’Lugoszewski, Lucia (94) D’Orleans Juste, Roxane (298) Dakin, Christine (304) Daniele, Graciela (101) (311) Danilova, Alexandra (161) Darling, Ron (208) Daugherty, George (142) Daulton, Robert (267) Davis, Anthony (178) Davis, Chuck (260) De Angelo, Ann Marie (121) De Baets, Timothy (34) De la Pena, George (72) De Sola, Carla (88) Dean, Laura (77) Dehn, Mura (58) DeJong, Bettie (78) DeLavallade, Carmen (73) Deloatch, Gary (239) DeMann, Dr. Larry (83) DeMille, Agnes (256) Dendy, Mark (240) Dennis, Ronald (103) DeRibere, Lisa (244) Devi, Ritha (21) Dexter, John (158) Diamond, Dennis (282) Diamond, Matthew (196) Dinizulu, Nana Yao Opare (20) Dorfman, David (261) Douglas, Scott (Uncut 45) (Uncut 46) Dove, Ulysses (240) Dowd, Irene (16) (232) (263) (313) Driver, Senta (53) (264) Dube, Brian (100) Dudley, Jane (257) Duell, Daniel (231) Duell, Joseph (173) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Duffy, Kevin (267) Dulaine, Pierre (152) Dunleavy, Rosemary (97) Dunn, Douglas (66) Dunn, Robert (67) Duvall, Robert (306) Easter, Leonard (31) (182) Eiko and Koma (12) Eilber, Janet (47) Ellington, Mercedes (42) Elovich, Richard (301) Emmons, Beverly (98) Erdman, Jean (174) (175) Erickson, Peter (122) Ewing, William (236) “Fabel” Pabon, Jorge (319) Fagan, Garth (247) (316) Fairbank, Holly (295) Fairly, Gene (26) Faison, George (253) Falco, Louis (110) (203) Farber, Viola (302) Farrah, Ibrahim (28) Faust, Frey (225) Feldman, Anita (205) Feldman, Rachel (109) Fenley, Molissa (65) Field, Ron (253) Fischer, Lindsay (Uncut 30) (Uncut 31) Fitzgerald, Kit (198) Fleming, Donald (305) Fokine, Isabelle (62) Forster, Lutz (165) Forsythe, William (255) Forti, Simone (270) Fraad, Julie (70) Frame, Peter (213) Frankfurt, Wilhelmina (153) Franklin, Frederic (161) Frassetto, Floriana (200) French, Loretta (155) Friedman, Risa (49) Frohlich, Jean Pierre (122) Fugate, Judith (212) Gallman, Alfred (276) Gamson, Annabelle (60) Garafola, Lynn (157) (293) Garcia-Marquez, Vincente (285) Garrard, Mimi (131) Garretson, Sara (182) Gasteazoro, Eva (190) Gates, Jodie (Uncut 19) (Uncut 20) Gay, Philip (47) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Geboe, Ben (Uncut 32) (Uncut 33) Geva, Tamara (199) Gibson, Darren (227) (228) Gielgud, Maina (303) Gillespie, Ginger (225) Gillis, Christopher (135) (312) Gillis, Margie (312) Gladstein, Deborah (145) Goldberg, Jane (29) Gordh, Bill (88) Gordon, Beate (22) Gordon, Mel (162) Gordon, Peter (180) Goslar, Lotte (112) Goss, Wade (40) Gottfried, Richard / Assemblyman (90) Gottlieb, Elizabeth (6) Gottlieb, Gordon (297) Gottschild, Hellmut (309) Goya, Carola (Uncut 26) (Uncut 27) Graffin, Guillaume (Uncut 30) (Uncut 31) Grant, Kathy (125) Grauer, Rhoda (79) Gray, Robin (277) Greco, Jose (Uncut 25) (Uncut 26) (Uncut 27) Green, Ray (34) Greenberg, Mara (36) Greenberg, Neil (304) Greenfield, Amy (148) Greenfield, Louis (236) Gregory, Cynthia (266) Gribler, Jeffrey (308) Gross, Sally (296) Grzyb, Jo Ellen (36) Gutierrez-Solana, Carlos (317) Gutierrez, Juan (192) Hadad, Astrid (324) Hadley, Susan (246) Hall-Smith, Pat (318) Hamilton, Dr. William (14) Hammond, William (89) Harms, Rachel (31) Harper, Meg (71) Harris, Barry (321) Harris, Dale (93) Hart, Derek (109) Harvey, Cynthia (159) Harvey, Dyane (115) Hauptman, Barbara (32) Hawkins, Erick (94) Hayman-Chaffey, Susana (139) Heineman, Helen (35) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Henry, Sarah (158) Hering, Doris (222) Hess, Sally (186) Hill, Martha (223) Hills, Henry (281) Hilton, Wendy (149) Hindberg, Linda (262) Hines, Gregory (206) Hines, Maurice (42) Hinkson, Mary (92) (Uncut 6) Hodes, Linda (83) Hodes, Stuart (38) Hodson, Millicent (60) (234) (268) Holder, Christian (73) Holder, Geoffrey (73) Holm, Hanya (160) Horn, Nat (41) Horvath, Ernie (208) Horvath, Ian (263) Hounsell, Ginny (144) Houston-Jones, Ishmael (64) Howard, David (122) Howell, Damani (300) Hubbe, Nikolaj (262) Hughes, Holly (301) Hurt, Mary (96) Hutchins, Jeannie (248) Ide, Letitia (165) Indrani (76) Irving, Robert (173) Irwin, Bill (54) (265) Ito, Sachiyo (21) Jackson, Denise (200) Jacobowitz, Diane (137) Jacobs, Ellen (33) (36) Jacoby, Ann (59) (187) Jamrog, Sandra (51) Jeff, Kevin (277) Jhung, Finis (233) Job, John (79) Johnson, Bernice (127) Johnson, Howard (150) Johnson, Kate (111) (265) Johnson, Louis (320) Johnson, Virginia (278) Jones, Betty (233) Jones, Bill T. (54) (265) Jowitt, Deborah (35) (264) Judson, Tom (267) Justice, Peter (49) Kahan, Martin (110) Kanter, Sam (145) Kaye, Pooh (64) Kelly, John (217) (265) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Kerr, Catherine (245) Killian, Katrina (Uncut 41) (Uncut 42) Kinberg, Judy (107) King, Kenneth (67) Kirby, Michael (220) Kitzinger, Rachel (284) Kloth, Mark (95) Knighton, Bit (316) Kogan, Ellen (186) Kolpin, Alexander (262) Komer, Chris (45) Koner, Pauline (43) Koplowitz, Stephan (300) Kopperud, Jean (176) Kotoske, Tamar (261) Kozlova, Valentina (288) Kraus, Dr. Hans (51) Kraus, Lisa (147) Kresley, Ed (47) Krieckhaus, Steve (Uncut 16) (Uncut 17) Kriepe de Montano, Martie (Uncut 34) (Uncut 35) Kupersmith, Dr. Judith (69) LaFosse, Robert (244) Lamhut, Phyllis (9) (273) Landes, Francine (203) Lang, Pearl (257) Lapides, Beth (170) La Plante, Skip (Uncut 23) (Uncut 24) Lavery, Sean (13) Law, Alma (98) Le Tang, Henry (204) Lee, Phil (98) Lee, Ralph (94) (241) Lee, Sun Ock (21) Lemon, Ralph (166) Leroy, A. (179) Levey, Karen (302) Lewis, Allan (97) Lewis, Daniel (63) (223) Lewis, Julinda (18) Liebler, Dr. William (15) Liebowitz, Leonard (68) Liederbach, Marijeanne (123) Liepa, Andris (288) Lindgren, Robert (275) (Uncut 18) Lindqvist, Marie (Uncut 2) Linke, Susanne (184) Lockwood, Lisa (214) Lopez, Lourdes (255) Louis, Murray (106) (273) Lubovitch, Lar (216) Lucchese, John (151) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Lucier, Mary (279) Lumbly, Carl (247) Lynes, Alan (87) Lyon, Robert (227) (228) Mahdaviani, Miriam (242) Mahler, Donald (142) Maier, Eva (147) Malnig, Julie (283) Mancini, Linda (298) Manning, Frankie (251) Manning, Susan (184) Marceau, Yvonne (152) Mariano, Bobby (25) Marks, Morton (192) Marks, Victoria (295) Marshall, Peter (123) Marshall, Susan (215) Martel, Diane (167) Martin, Barry (276) Martin, Ethel (105) Martin, George (68) Martin, Judie and Stan (283) Martin, Nina (270) Maslow, Sophie (117) Mason, Francis (91) (291) Masters, Gary (210) Matthews, Fred (210) Maxwell, Carla (63) (310) May, Jim (164) Maynard, Parrish (Uncut 5) McBride, Patricia (291) McCall, Debra (162) McCauley, Robbie (271) McDonagh, Don (294) McDuffie, Alvin (40) McIntyre, Dianne (80) McKenzie, Kevin (258) McKenzie, Marlin (124) McLaughlin, John (115) McMahon, Jeff (281) McNaughton, David (121) Meier, Yvonne (269) Mercado, Hector (120) Metzger, Rebecca (227) (228) Meyers, Milton (63 Migdoll, Herbert (237) Migel-Ekstrom, Parmenia (93) Miller, Bebe (137) Miller, Buzz (39) Miller, Gayle (48) Miller, Joan (278) Miller, Norma (126) Miller, Tim (64) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Minns, Al (29) Mitchell, Arthur (229) Mittenthal, Richard (33) Mofsie, Louis (151) Molnar, Merike (14) Moncion, Francisco (163) Monk, Meredith (77) (224) Monson, Jennifer (269) Monte, Elisa (133) Montero, Luis (193) Montevecchi, Liliane (104) Montgomery, George (259) Moore, Carol Lynne (50) Moore, Charles (85) Moore, Kathleen (226) Moore, Paul (99) Morales, Hilda (138) Morris, Mark (216) Moschen, Michael (169) Moss, Dean (267) Msomi, Welcome (183) Mujica, Damelia (190) Muller, Jennifer (8) Mullis, Stormy (10) Musard, Yves (129) Mussman, Majorie (8) Nagrin, Lee (217) Naharin, Ohad (215) Nash, Joe (19) Nash, Matthew (52) Neal, Philip (Uncut 39) (Uncut 40) Nelson, Madeleine Yayodele (276) Neuwirth , Bebe (200) Neville, Phoebe (61) Newson, Lloyd (274) Nicholas, Harold (252) Nichols, Sally (76) Niesen, Jim (271) Nijinska, Irina (187) Nikolais, Alwin (108) (273) Nixon, Rob (183) Nolan, Sylvia (99) Novella, Tom (84) Nugent, Rodney (110) O’Connor, Tere (138) O’Donnell, May (34) Oleszko, Pat (170) Ordman, Jeannette (326) Orta, Carlos (310) Osato, Sono (199) Osorio, Pepon (Uncut 10) (Uncut 11) (Uncut 12) Osterman, George (267) Otte, Gerald (273) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Overlie, Mary (299) Panova, Galina (104) Parks, John (231) Parsons, David (292) (325) Partridge, Martha (155) Pearson, Jerry (12) (273) Pearson, Sara (12) Pendelton, Moses (211) Pennebaker, D.A. (146) Pennewell, Norwood (316) Pennison, Marleen (166) Perle, George (173) Perron, Wendy (145) Perryman, Alfred (11) Pessemier, Leslie-Jane (95) Peters, Delia (69) Peters, Michael (238) Peterson, Kirk (208) Petronio, Stephen (137) Pettiford, Valarie (42) Pfaff, Judy (218) Pforsich, Janis (176) Phifer, Cassandra (214) Pickett, Lenny (177) Pierpont, Margaret (18) Pinder, Islene (28) Pinnock, Thomas (277) Pivar, Amy (265) Plisetskaya, Maya (230) (243) Pomare, Eleo (119) Pontius, Geraldine (96) Proano, Luciana (324) Proia, Alexander (323) Raffa, Nancy (144) Rahman, Obara Wali (85) Rainer, Yvonne (307) Ramirez, Tina (311) Raven, Jackie (205) Redlich, Don (160) Reed, Peter (148) Reinhart, Charles (221) Reitman, Laura (37) Reitz, Dana (65) Renaud, Myrna (118) Ren-Lay, Judith (Uncut 37) (Uncut 38) Renzi, Marta (65) Rethorst, Susan (139) Reuling, Karl (181) Revene, Nadine (48) Reynolds, Nancy (37) (93) (288) Richardson, Desmond (Uncut 4) Rinker, Kenneth (34) Rizo, Marco (192) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Robbins, Ellen (300) Roberts, Linda (17) Roberts, Louise (201) Robins, Kenneth (146) Robinson, LaVaughn (309) Robinson, Mabel (41) Rockwell, John (178) Rodrigues, Beatriz (194) Rodriguez, Dr. Andre (83) Rose, Mitchell (55) Rose, Peter (166) Rosen, Amy Sue (267) Rosenthal, Gloria (102) Ross, Bertram (112) Rousseve, David (318) Rudko, Doris (141) Rudner, Sara (307) Ryom, Heidi (262) Salaam, Abdel (274) Salinger, Susan (131) Salle, David (219) Salz, Barbara (135) Sanborn, John (197) Sanchez, George Emilio (Uncut 32) (Uncut 33) Sandler, Kathe (30) Santana, Carlota (193) Sappington (101) Saslow, James (162) Schaefer, Hal (105) Schaufuss, Peter (289) Schnur, Jerome (195) Scholl, Tim (293) Schonberg, Bessie (201) (265) Schorer, Suki (233) (Uncut 18) Schorin, Marilyn (82) Schumacher, Gretchen (62) Schwartz, Michael (196) Selby, Margaret (Uncut 6) Seldes, Marian (141) Self, Jim (279) Serrano, Raymond (100) Setterfield, Valda (265) Sewell, James (323) Shah, Smita (202) Shang, Ruby (132) Sheingarten, Sheva (26) Sheppard, Harry (298) Sherman, Lee (168) Shick, Vicky (304) Shook, Karel (19) Shurr, Gertrude (57) Sibley, Antoinette (Uncut 7) (Uncut 8) (Uncut 9) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Siegel, Dr. Howard (50) (124) Siegel, Marcia (181) Silverman, Stephanie (267) Silvers, Sally (270) Simon, Joshua (154) Simonne, Julia (96) Simonson, Lynn (254) Skaggs, Sarah (242) Skipitares, Theodora (241) Skura, Stephanie (147) (265) Slyde, Jimmy (321) Small, Robert (139) Smith, Frank (68) Smith, Hank (171) Smith, Henry (85) Smith, Lowell (144) Smuin, Michael (Uncut 21) (Uncut 22) Snyder, Huck (217) Sokolow, Anna (117) Solomon, Dr. Joel (208) Solomons, Gus (20) Solomons, Gus Jr. (260) Solov, Zachary (92) Sommer, Sally (22) (58) (220) Sorell, Walter (184) Soto, Merian (Uncut 10) (Uncut 11) (Uncut 12) Sparling, Peter (7) Spizzo, Christine (68) (215) Spohr, Arnold (229) Stackhouse, Sarah (115) Stark-Smith, Nancy (135) Starrett, William (121) Steadman, Peter (284) Steinberg, Risa (125) (164) Stewart, Ellen (250) Streb, Elizabeth (71) (265) Strickler, Fred (207) Strom, Mary Ellen (281) Stroman, C. Scoby (150) Stuart, Michael (103) Stuart, Muriel (57) Suarni, Desak Ketut (86) Sullivan, Sugar (29) Summers, Elaine (130) Supree, Burt (91) Swados, Elizabeth (238) Sygoda, Ivan (32) Tablante, Priscilla (51) Taras, John (163) Tarr, Patsy (294) Taub-Darvash, Gabriela (81) Taylor-Corbett, Lynne (214) Taylor, Billy (325) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Taylor, Mark (314) Taylor, Paul (221) Taymor, Julie (Uncut 12) Tcherkassky, Marianna (Uncut 43) (Uncut 44) Tetley, Glen (322) Theodore, Lee (39) Thompson, Clive (185) Thompson, Liz (38) Tillmanns, Carl (109) Tippet, Clark (258) Tipton, Jennifer (259) Tolle, Roger (59) Tomasson, Helgi (143) Tomich, Branislav (188) Tomlinson, Mel (69) Topaz, Muriel (61) Towson, Toby (136) Turocy, Catherine (59) (134) Tyler, Edwina Lee (177) (265) Uthoff, Michael (194) Valenzuela, Luisa (306) Van Grona, Eugene (27) Van Hamel, Martine (120) Van Tieghem, David (180) Vanaver, Livia (272) Vance, Carol (317) Varone, Doug (317) Vartoogian, Jack (237) Vaughan, David (294) Vazquez, Viveca (190) Verdon, Gwen (114) Verdy, Violette (140) Vieira, Jelom (191) Villella, Edward (249) Vincent, Dr. Larry (15) Vislocky, Dorothy (81) Wachunas, Tom (179) Wagoner, Dan (9) (259) Wakashe, Philemon (183) Walker, Norman (275) Walsh, Thomme (103) Walton, Tony (Uncut 21) (Uncut 22) Wanner, Debra (167) Warshaw, Randy (240) Washington, Shelley (287) Waters, Jack (129) Watt, Nina (310) Way, Jennifer (111) Weiner, Nina (7) Weisberger, Barbara (Uncut 13) (Uncut 14) (Uncut 15) Weis, Cathy (145) Weiss, Ted / Congressman (90) EoD All Guests (program & uncut) Wendkos, Gina (116) Wengerd, Tim (138) West, Jean Claude (313) Westergard, Lance (226) White, David (32) (265) Whitener, William (246) “Wiggles” Clemente, Steve (319) Williams, Dudley (185) Williams, Lavinia (27) Williams, Richie (70) Williams, Sammy (102) Wilson, Billy (320) Wilson, Lester (127) Wilson, Sallie (159) Wilson, Sule Greg (58) Winer, Linda (91) Winter, Ethel (213) Wise, Howard (24) Wishy, Joseph (56) Wolf, Jessica (17) Wolken, Jonathan (211) Wong, Mel (132) Wood, Dawn (Uncut 1) Wood, Donna (143) Woodard, Leslie and Laurie (74) Woodard, Stephanie (209) Woods, Donald (267) Wright, Rebecca (72) Wright, Rose Marie (231) Wry, Brann (38) Wuorinen, Charles (255) Yarden, Guy (269) Yearby, Marlies (315) Yesselman, Robert (89) Young, Bill (314) Young, Gayle (Uncut 45) (Uncut 46) Young, Henry (33) Youskevitch, Igor (113) (285) Yuriko (189) Zaloom, Paul (292) Zane, Arnie (133) Zaraspe, Hector (193) Zieziulewicz, Angela (227) (228) Ziff, Charlie (263) Zinn-Krieger, Barbara (182) Zollar, Jawole Willa Jo (242) Zummo, Peter (209)

November 14, 2011
When the curtain goes up and audiences witness Desmond Richardson on stage--an audible gasp of pleasure barrels through theaters followed by rock-star squeals and rapturous applause for one of this generation’s most thrilling performers.

American born and grown, Richardson celebrates twenty-five years as a professional dancer. This milestone is marked by his final performances at the Joyce Theater (Nov. 16 - 30) as a touring member of Complexions, the company he co-directs with choreographer, Dwight Rhoden.

A rarity in the dance community, Richardson is a technical and stylistic chameleon. Endowed with extreme flexibility and joint articulation, Richardson's superbly muscled body rivals the power and speed of a Cheetah.

In a “4,5,6…” nutshell: Hip hop turned him on, the High School of the Performing Arts prepared him, Alvin Ailey shaped him, Billy Forsythe elevated him, American Ballet Theater refined him, Broadway enthralled him and Complexions drove the rest of Desmond Richardson’s dance career.

On the cusp of this major career shift, I spoke with Desmond Richardson about his dance legacy.

My most vivid memory as a dancer is when I was invited as a student to appear in "Memoria," Alvin Ailey’s tribute to Joyce Trisler. I just couldn’t wait to get on stage, and from that moment on, I decided to dance on as many world stages as possible!

Actually, when I was growing up, I thought of pursuing a singing career like my father who was part of a professional “Doo-Wop” group. But I was crazy about street dance until I turned on the TV and saw Rudolf Nureyev dance. My mother was shocked to see me sit still and watch a ballet for two hours, but he was stunning! His sculpted face and body, the rawness of his movement and technical prowess, was like nothing I’d ever seen or felt before. Suddenly I realized -- that’s what I wanted to do. Fortunately, I was accepted into the High School of Performing Arts. That’s where I learned all forms of dance and gained valuable information from teachers like Penny Frank who would tell me not to try and look like anyone but myself.

After I joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1987, I wanted to dance everything, but that was not how the company worked then. You had to come up the ranks; learn all the parts in all the dances you might one day solo in. I couldn’t wait to dance the “Wade in the Water” section of “Revelations,” but before that ever happened Ailey spent hours coaching me on how to ripple my hands or initiate movement in the spine to resemble flowing water. Each and every part of the body was important to Alvin who insisted I learn how to just stand and “be”—draw the audience in. It’s as much about the silent intensity as the technical prowess. And yea, by watching mesmerizing dancers like Judy Jamison, I saw how she could make a simple, very small movement resonate volumes.

At that time, the Ailey Company was based at 1515 Broadway, and Alvin was always walking the halls, and talking to dancers. He was so large, yet so quiet, and said things like—'young man, I want you to nurture your gift. Your time is coming, but you will have to work hard.' It took me years to understand what he was talking about—but finally, I got it.

Five years after Alvin died and Judy (Jamison) took over, I knew it was time to go. I gravitated to Europe to perform with Billy Forsythe and the Frankfurt Ballet. That was a magical time for me. You know, Billy was very dear friends with Pina Baush. Whenever she was in town, the company rehearsed in our studios plus she would watch our rehearsals and he would watch hers.

Like Ailey, Billy was a very nurturing artist. He based his technique on a combination of modalities based on Laban movement, kinesiology and Contact Improvisation—as well as Balanchine’s neo-classical technique (Balanchine was his idol). He wanted us to understand how to shift weight quickly, and listen carefully to other people on stage so you could catch their weight and find your own. Nothing was arbitrary to Billy--he was extremely specific about the body’s exact shape, effort, weight, and design in space.

Then one day in 1997 I got a call from American Ballet Theater inviting me to join the company as a Principal Dancer because Lar Lubovitch wanted me to star in his new ballet “Othello.” I thought it was a terrific challenge, so I packed up and went back to NYC. I loved dancing with ABT but I felt like there was a ballet ceiling I could never crack. Sure, I danced Othello and Tharp among other things, but I never got a chance to dance major classical ballet male roles that I learned like Romeo & Juliet, Giselle or Swan Lake.

Much of my time at ABT was spent twiddling my thumbs until I stumbled on a rehearsal for a Broadway show in ABT’s building at 890 Broadway. Gwen Verdon saw me in the hall and said, “Honey, what are dong here? Saw you at the Met, you were wonderful—but why don’t you come in and learn a few steps.” That’s how I was cast in the Broadway show Fosse.

The one place I really wanted to dance though was New York City Ballet. I even told Peter (Martins) how much I admired the Balanchine repertory and loved the company, but Peter didn’t think it was the right place for me. Maybe if I wanted to dance there today, it would be a different story, although it’s still shocking to see how few African American dancers are represented in either New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theater.

Overall, I was pretty lucky. I met Michael Jackson and danced in his music video "Bad" and even spoke with Nureyev after an Alvin Ailey Company performance at the Paris Opera Ballet. Already weakened from AIDS in 1992, Nureyev sat very pulled up, scarf wrapped around his neck, and chapeau tipped to the side. When I came over he said 'Mon dieu, formidable!'

Right now, Broadway has a special appeal for me because you apply singing, acting and dancing skills. That’s the direction I’m headed in now along with my duties as Co-Artistic Director of Complexions plus my coaching and teaching. I mean, Dwight Rhoden (Co-founder and choreographer of Complexions) and I felt an immediate kinship as dancers with Ailey. In 1994 when we pulled together dancers for a sold out program at Symphony Space, we knew then we had something. And indeed, we do.

CI The winner of this year’s Capezio Award, and many other honors, people in the dance community draw comparisons between Richardson and Baryhsnikov calling him “ the Black Baryshnikov.” No matter what you think about dance, you will be amazed by Desmond Richardson’s extraordinary on-stage generosity and artistry. Alvin would be proud to see how his master student learned to “pull the audience in.”

On November 17 at the Joyce Theater, “The CELEBRATE...DESMOND RICHARDSON” evening will honor Desmond's performing years with Complexions. It opens with a video celebrating his rich career followed by the work WHAT COME, TEHREAFTER and PLACES PLEASE. An after party will be held at MILLESIME.

Desmond Richardson will also dance every night of the season November 15 – 20, and November 22 – 27.
Season Information
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

October 18, 2011
Gibney Dance Center held a special afternoon "Sorry I Missed Your Show!" program honoring Celia Ipiotis and the EYE ON DANCE educational television series as EYE ON DANCE (EOD) celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Welcomed by Gina Gibney and Dance/NYC’s Executive Director, Lane Harwell, EOD founder and director, Celia Ipiotis, takes us back to her thought process in 1981 when she and co-founder Jeff Bush began to produce the weekly TV interview series “to excite interest in dance."

The screening of the 1990 EOD TV interview highlights Judson Dance Theater’s contributions to modern dance, through the discussion and opinions of some of its most significant figures – Yvonne Rainer and Sara Rudner. Throughout, we see clips of both performing segments from Rainer’s renowned “Trio A,” part of a larger work entitled The Mind is a Muscle. The movement appears to be task-oriented and is stripped of the dance conventions at that time – including a conscious lack of eye contact with the audience.

In the twenty-nine minute episode, Rainer describes her relationship to dance - how she was responding to exhibitionism in performance and challenging the posture, aesthetic and even uniform of ballet. She and Rudner both placed much value on their freedom to experiment with movement.

Rainer notes others who were involved in this re-thinking of dance such as the Grand Union dance group, nonchalantly stating, “They wanted to perform together, but didn’t want to rehearse together. So, they came together and improvised.” This matter-of- fact approach to dance carried over in their choreography, use of nudity, merging with other art forms, and the feeling that audience approval was unnecessary.

Rudner comments, “The body took over and the dance happened, and the references of your training were there to be your support, not what you were showing.” Their views were revolutionary at the time and would have an undeniable impact on what “dance” meant.

Following the screening, Ipiotis and Rainer joined together to engage in a discussion on where dance has since gone and how Rainer has evolved, bringing the program full circle. Rainer, who stopped dancing for years to pursue a career in film, is faced with the question, “Why?” She responds, “Aging, illness, feminism…film offered an area in which to explore the possibilities of text, editing, sound, movement and image – including dance – so it seemed like a much wider field.”

Along with anecdotes about her time working with Mikhail Baryshnikov for the White Oak Dance Project (1999), it is most refreshing to hear Rainer speak of her work with such practicality and honesty, even in retrospect. Unlike “Trio A,” not all her works were documented on film or otherwise. She says, “Some were simple, like in Three Seascapes: the first part you run around. The second part you do something not choreographed. The third part, well, you have a screaming fit.”

Opened to questions and comments, Mindy Aloff (dance writer and faculty of Barnard College’s Dance Department) reflects on a master class taught by Rainer that she once brought her students to. She recalls, “You made us wear sneakers. And for an hour and a half we ran…It was unusual and completely different from any other class. And it was exciting. You completely changed my views and I’ve waited all these years to tell you that.”

Currently, Ipiotis’ nonprofit arts organization, Arts Resources in Collaboration (ARC) is working on the EYE ON DANCE ARCHIVE LEGACY PROJECT. The three-year fundraising campaign strives to process all the archived collections (everything from videotapes, rare interviews and performance footage, photos, promotional and print materials, books, dance periodicals, etc.), making them accessible to the greater public. Through donations, more materials can be identified, catalogued and restored, helping to create one of largest archives on dance. To get involved, please visit: EYE ON DANCEor contact EOD via 70 East 10th Street Suite 19D, NY NY 10003.

For future Sorry I Missed Your Show! programming, visit
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jennifer T. Thompson

October 4, 2011

EYE ON DANCE makes a return appearance as a presentation of Gibney Dance and Dance/NYC “Sorry I Missed Your Show” series
Saturday, October 15 at 4:30PM. FREE.

"No to spectacle, yes to truth in movement" -- these revolutionary ideas figure prominently in our screening of the award-winning EYE ON DANCE TV program on the contributions of the Judson Dance Theater.

Excerpts of "Trio A" pepper the invigorating conversation uniting Yvonne Rainer, Sara Rudner and host, Celia Ipiotis.

Join our post-screening dialogue featuring chreographer/filmmaker Yvonne Rainer and EYE ON DANCE creator/producer Celia Ipiotis. "EYE ON DANCE is one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs onthe arts..." Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times

RSVP at [email protected] or 212-677-8560 Gibney Dance Center 890 Broadway at 19th Street, 5th Floor

September 20, 2011
In celebration of EYE ON DANCE's 30th anniversary, there will be a series of public screenings. The first presentation appears as part of the Gina Gibney Studio "Sorry I Missed Your Show" series.

"No to spectacle, yes to truth in movement" -- these revolutionaryideas figure prominently in our screening of the award-winning EYE ON DANCE TV program on the contributions of the Judson Dance Theater.

Excerpts of "Trio A" pepper the invigorating conversation unitingYvonne Rainer, Sara Rudner and host, Celia Ipiotis. Join the post-screening dialogue featuring chreographer/filmmakerYvonne Rainer and EYE ON DANCE creator/producer Celia Ipiotis.

"EYE ON DANCE is one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs onthe arts..." Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times
EYE ON DANCE makes a return appearance as a presentation of Gibney Dance and Dance/NYC “Sorry I Missed Your Show” series Saturday, October 15 at 4:30PM. FREE. Click here for information or call 212-677-8560. FREE

April 19, 2011
Jeff Bush/Co-Director/ARC
Celia Ipiotis/Co-Director/ARC
Lynn Garafola/Dance Historian
Peter Caranicas/Editor/Publisher
Loreen Stevens/Casting Agent

April 19, 2011
CELIA IPIOTIS/Director is the creator, producer, moderator of the nationally recognized, EYE ON DANCE television series and archive. A former professional dancer and choreographer, Ipiotis’ career spans the academic, educational, media, television and video arts sectors.
JEFF BUSH/Co-Director is the creator, producer and technical director of EYE ON DANCE. Having studied astrophysics and the philosophy of religion, he became an early adopter of the new video technology in the 1970’s and an avid videographer of dance, creating videodance productions with numerous artists and with Ipiotis.

March 29, 2011

January 7, 2011
Dance companies are perpetually looking at ways to attract more audience members. In a morning-long session organized by Dance/USA, the dance community was invited to respond to a new report entitled: National Survey of Dance Audiences: Preview Presentation. The report, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation assessed the make-up of dance audiences and how they relate to dance activities.

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the audience members were “active” or “serious” dancers—as much as 1 in 5. I suspect that number is higher for modern dance than it is for ballet, but the report did not breakdown the findings by dance “specialty.”

Something ballet companies have known for a long time is the general interest in seeing what goes on “under the dashboard.” Ballet companies frequently open-up rehearsals to supporters and potential “friends” of the company. In addition, the notion of soliciting funds for commissioned works has been long established not to mention donors underwriting individual dancer’s salaries.

Interestingly, the relatively young dance audiences (compared to other arts disciplines) attend because they seek “inspiration,” experience “great works by masters” and to “discover new choreographers and companies.”

Program notes, pre-performance discussions and informal post-performance chat sessions figure into ways that audience members feel they get closer to the artistic experience. Some creative options were voiced including a presenter who turned a local radio show into a talkback session for audience members stuck in parking-lot traffic jams and eager to make their opinions public.

Naturally the new social networking technology figured into the new methods of connecting audiences to dancers. And that raises a question about the future experience of electronic dance. Will it overshadow the real-life event?

Although the presenter, Alan Brown of WolfBrown, summed up the report by suggesting everyone dedicate time to getting more people dancing (in reference to the large margin of dance practitioners a dance concerts), a colleague rightly pointed out that it might be more germane to find ways to convert the non-dance audience into followers.

For the full report go to
By Celia Ipiotis

November 18, 2009
EYE ON DANCE PUBLIC FUNDRAISING REQUEST Hard to believe over twenty five years have passed since EYE ON DANCE was launched --- against all odds—as an interview based program covering global dance issues on public television. A production of our nonprofit arts organization, Arts Resources in Collaboration, Inc. (ARC), Jeff Bush and I conceived of EOD to help propel dance literacy in 1981.

Because many of you are already familiar with EOD's contributions to our remembrance of dance, I know you will appreciate our deepening concern about safeguarding all the EOD elements for public consumption. As the archive’s value increases exponentially, so too does our responsibility as the archive’s stewards.

Our goal is to systematically assess, inventory and prepare the complete EOD Archive for public access within three years.

Each half-hour EOD program is built around extensive research yielding unduplicated source material including written notes, personal communications, clippings, press kits, programs, an assortment of videotapes, notated oral conversations, photographs, books, publications and organizational materials.

So you get an idea of the scope of the archive, a preliminary review conducted over that past year revealed the contents include: Over 1800 videotapes (of various formats from 1/2" reel-to-reel to DVD) documenting conversations with dance professionals, demonstrations, performances plus theater and music presentations; 7,000 photographic images; 75,000 sheets of production, research, promotional and educational print materials; 2000+ cultural books and publications. These numbers are rough and will likely increase after our in-depth appraisal of content stretching back to 1978.

Produced during the “dance boom,” EOD captured an era of enormous change: Institutionalization of the arts, gender politics, multi-culturalism, regional dance and the NEA “culture wars.” Our content unites dance and related arts issues with educational, historical and social themes, which makes it a provocative guide for educators and the public.

More than 40% of the EOD Video Archive includes African-American and Latino artists and themes not documented elsewhere. The strong concentration of programs focused on minority artists, dancers with AIDS and under-documented contributors no longer living, underscores its historical and educational appeal. Praised by The NY Times as “one of the liveliest and most intelligent programs on the arts,” there has been no comparable effort to record the viewpoints; achievements and creative approaches of dance related artists on video. This has resulted in a wealth of unexposed primary source information yet to be scrutinized by the public.

An enormously popular, easily consumable educational resource, EOD succeeded both as a broadcast series and educational archive because it is a scholarly resource with a populist’s heart. We are in “shovel-ready” mode, but here’s the rub: our limited resources could delay our process and result in the loss of an invaluable stream of dance information on decomposing videotapes and three-decades old unmatchable print and photographic materials.

We ask you to dip into your pockets of generosity and help us rescue this archive. The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation awarded EYE ON DANCE a $40,000 grant to launch the EOD Legacy Project and your support is crucial to this venture.

Please direct your tax-deductible contributions to: EYE ON DANCE, 123 W. 18 Street 7th Floor, NY NY 10011. PLEASE MAKE A DONATION

March 2, 2004
I was so sad to read today’s paper because it included an obit on Josephine Schwarz—she was a major influence in my life. I started as her student at the age of five and at the age of eleven joined the Dayton Ballet Company. An extraordinary woman, Miss Jo and her sister Miss Hermene(they lived together) put Dayton, Ohio on the dance map with their ballet school and one of the first professional regional dance companies in America.

Not only did the Schwartz sisters raise generations of dancers articulate in ballet, modern dance, dance history, music and choreography, they raised the cultural literacy of Dayton’s citizens, publishers, politicians and educators.

Occasionally, I would get a note from Ms. Jo applauding my work on EYE ON DANCE announcing that she always expected me "to do something important" (she subscribed to a clipping service in order to keep track of her former company members). On her occasional visits to New York, she would call me to have tea with her and her friend who lived in Chelsea.

During those command meetings, I would sit erect, hold in my stomach, and hope she would not mention my less than balletish looking body. Invariably, she would mention my figure, chide me for not taking classes, and insist I keep choreographing while producing EYE ON DANCE. She wanted her students to be passionate about their work and tenacious in their pursuit of life goals.

A tall, slim, sharp faced no nonsense woman, with a bun perpetually screwed into the lower back of her head, Josephine Schwarz was a true American original, a woman with vision who knew that you had to educate your community if you were to going to raise potent arts professionals.

I will always remember and honor Josephine Schwarz.

©2001 Eye and Dance and the Arts | All Rights Reserved