Danny Tidwell and David Hallberg (and CounterCritic) in the Same Room(!): Cedar Lake Ballet Blogger Shindig

Fun fun night! Big understatement! I didn’t even need to get drunk :)

Please excuse the Gawkerish, 15-year-old voice of this post. I waited until this morning to blog in hopes that the euphoria would dissipate and Kristin Sloan might post the group photo her boyfriend, Doug Jaeger, took, but as of yet neither has happened.

I must begin by calling myself a big fat hypocrit. I’ve laughed and rolled my eyes at Philip whenever he’s nearly fainted in front of the New York City Ballet stage door upon receiving a smile and hello from Jock Soto or Albert Evans or Wendy Whelan. Last night Danny Tidwell smiled and said hi to me and I promptly choked on my wine. Of course he doesn’t know me; I was just standing there staring gape-mouthed at him when he walked by with … oh crap I’m so bad, I think it was Jamie??… He was there with a girl from SYTYCD, but I’m not exactly sure who. Since the pre-show party was for bloggers, I was half-expecting his boyfriend to come (whom I was very much hoping to meet!) but Benaym was a no-show. I didn’t expect Danny though!!! Oh he’s so cute, and his smile is so warm and charming and sweet, it really just melted me. I can easily see why he is such a star. I got there earlier than everyone else and was nearly alone inside when the earth-shattering hello happened; each time one of my friends walked in, they greeted me only to get in return, “Omigod, omigod, Danny Tidwell said hi to me, Danny Tidwell said hi to me!!!” He’s so much smaller than he looks on TV or onstage. I couldn’t believe it. He’s always appeared to me the size of Carlos Acosta, but he’s well under six feet. It’s just the proverbial larger than life stage and screen presence I guess… And I’m very very very sorry for any SYTYCD fan who’s reading, but I just couldn’t bring myself to snap pics of him. In New York there’s an ironclad rule against “starf***ing.” Everyone does it, but everyone pretends they don’t and to break the pretense is practically illegal, a violation of the NYC social contract. Taylor and Evan and Ariel all agreed with me that I would definitely be immediately kicked out and may even be executed if I so much as tried surreptitiously to get a cell phone pic. So sorry!!! But Mr. Jaeger had a humongoid camera and was shooting up the place, so I’ll keep checking his site and see if he got any.

When Caleb Custer from Cedar Lake sent out the email announcing the blogger party, I had no idea who all was going to show. I was still swooning over Danny when who should breeze up his hair billowing in the wind but the beautiful one himself! When I spotted him pass by the large garage window (Cedar Lake’s studio is actually housed in a big garage, according to Philip, once used by photographer Annie Liebowitz), I couldn’t help myself. I screamed uncontrollably, “Look, there’s David Hallberg!” Doug (Fox), Philip, Ariel and probably about 75 other people in the lobby followed my point. David looked in at us, horrified. He promptly pretended to get a call on his cell phone and spent the next 20 minutes outside pacing up and down the street affecting a phone conversation, every so often peeking in the window to see if all the commotion at his arrival had died down. Meanwhile Danny remained huddled in a back corner with Jamie. Dancers are weird the way they sometimes crave and are other times embarrassed by attention.

Finally David braved the storm and ventured in. He is soft-friggin-spoken to make a massive understatement! He extended his hand to me and said something I couldn’t hear, I said simply, “hi, I’m Tonya,” feeling like a total ass, and he again said something I couldn’t make out. Soft-spoken or not, he clearly either had no idea who I was or was terrified of me. Ariel thinks it’s the latter, because of things like this and this. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the former though; he and Marcelo have got to be two of the only dancers on the face of the earth who never Google themselves. Anyway, the awkwardness was soon quelled by his sighting of Philip, who is apparently a friend of his through Craig Salstein. Philip was standing beside me. David doesn’t need to act at all; his natural reactions to things are so sweetly touching. You could see his recognition of Philip visibly register as his face brightened and he went bouncing toward Philip like a dog when it sees a regular playmate, practically rubbing his pelvis up against him when embracing. He then saw Ariel, standing beside Philip, whom he met when he was guesting once in Mobile, Alabama, and hugged her as well. I was feeling like the consummate dog crap, being the only one who didn’t receive a hug. But I guess that’s what I get for posting naked pictures and yelling at him for not blogging often enough on the Winger :)

Another highlight for me was meeting CounterCritic, whose original blog (critiquing the critics) I love. He’s such a fantastic writer whether he’s wickedly taunting critics or writing performance reviews himself, which are always spot-on (almost always anyway!) And he’s the only dance blogger who’s on Alex Ross’s blogroll. Oh jealously uncontained… Anyway, he’s so nice in person; all that blog pissiness is a total cover! I can’t really rib David for his puppyish behavior toward Philip because I followed CC around all night like a little dog, sitting next to him even during the show.

Speaking of which, could I talk a bit about the actual performance? Artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer, who by the way is really good-looking and personable and used to dance with my beloved Alvin Ailey, held a little Q&A with the bloggers afterward. He said he loves blogs: existing in a sphere so apart from traditional media, they bring something fresh and original to the dance world; they bring balance and new voices, and, though you never know what take you’re going to get from each one, it’s always interesting to see… I’m sure he never thought he’d be getting a blog post all about the pre-show hysteria of meeting Danny Tidwell and David Hallberg.

I want to look more at the (extensive!) press materials and the DVD they included (always an immense plus from dance companies), but for now I want to say how much I love dancer Jon Bond. Everything he does is so full-out, his lines are so sharp and even intense if that makes sense. Just little things like flexing a hand or foot, when he does it, it’s so pronounced that it looks all the more edgy in its awkwardness.

We saw three ballets: “Symptoms of Development,” by choreographer Jacopo Godani, a harsh, unsettling piece which dealt with technology and how it works against human interaction (Evan remarked to me afterward that it was an interesting inclusion in the rep they showed us, since we’re bloggers); “Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue,” by Crystal Pite, my favorite duet being one in which Bond struggled to reach the female dancer in front of him, palm open and fingers extended to the max, running in place to catch up with her, but in vain, as she, running in place as well, was always too far ahead; and “Rite” by Stijn Celis, another take on a dance to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” nearly all of which — of the ones I’ve seen anyway — evoke in different ways the chaos bordering on horror of the rite of passage of boys and girls into men and women. If you’re interested, here’s a YouTube clip of Pina Bausch’s take on the theme, and here’s Maurice Bejart’s, which I’m partial to. Celis’s “Rite” was different in that all characters were androgynous, so there was no real distinction between male and female. All dancers — about four men and four women — were dressed in Asian-looking strapless mini-dresses and wore heavy, almost operatic facial makeup. It actually reminded me of Nacho Duato’s Castrati, which I wrote about here, except both sexes were included, though not both genders (that I saw anyway; others may have different interpretations). The dancers darted, leaped over, and ran atop these three long log-looking sets, covered with green material and meant, I think, to evoke a primitive landscape. The dancers almost looked like nymphs as they interacted: regarding each other quizzically, examining the powder and sweat left on the ‘log landscape’ by each other in a somewhat grotesquely sexual way; performing dangerous run-and-jump catches with each other; it was kind of “Afternoon of a Faun“ish (original Nijinsky version) as well. All pieces were abstract, and all unsettling, but I think this was my favorite because it seemed to have the most going on that I could latch onto and make something of, and, because of the other “Rite’s” I’d seen, I had something to compare it to.

This is a new company, only four years old, and this is the third time I’ve seen them. They tend to take on edgy, visually striking and thought-provoking work and their dancers are very unafraid and do everything full force. For more info on their season, go here. Thank you so much to Cedar Lake for organizing this most fun, and thus far original, event. I’ll post pictures taken by the pro photographers if Caleb sends any my way…

For now, here’s a picture of Ariel taken in The Half King around the corner, where we afterward went to discuss the performance. Okay, where we went to discuss David and Danny :)

20 Comments

  1. Jon Bond was super, and I loved Ebony Williams in SYMPTOMS. The dancers of course are so different from the ‘classical ballet’ bodies we NYCB/ABT groupies are used to seeing and which are more elongated. The Cedar Lake dancers are so muscular and powerful, yet all still very graceful.

    I found that the visual impressions of RITE are really sticking with me today (the day after) and I hope Caleb sends me a requested costume photo.

    One thing I wish Benoit had done is a “line-up” before the performance. David Parsons did this before his rehearsal on Monday: each of his dancers stepped forward and was introduced to the viewers. It really makes it easier to keep track of who is dancing what.

    Yes, I’ve sort of known Wendy for about a decade now but every time she says hi to me I feel like I’m going to pass out.

  2. Sorry Tonya, I was no show as you say because I am sending the new issue to print today. Obviously missed the event of the … week. Well at least your social review makes me regret the deadline pressure of movmnt 6.

    But we should definitely meet outside Cedar Lake, :-), and yes Danny knows who you are we actually were just talking about you. He calls you Samba though 😀

    Happy New Year,

    DAVID

  3. David!!! 😀 😀 😀
    I can’t wait to read the next issue!

  4. It was so great to meet you Tonya, and all the other bloggers! We need to have more blogger events, haha. Good times :) Thanks to Cedar Lake for hosting!

  5. Tonya, hilarious! I hope you were exaggerating when you said you screamed at the sight of David. Poor David. :) It sounds like a great crowd, I really love how the arts are really reaching out to the bloggers. And it’s great PR too!

  6. Ack I look so horrible in that photo!

  7. It was great meeting you too, Taylor! We should definitely have more blogger events. I was kind of hoping the Dance Critics Association would have an event in the future for bloggers who mainly review performances to talk about ethics of blogging, how-to’s of doing things, the difference between bloggers and journalists, the role of bloggers vs journalists, the future of journalism vs. blogging, etc. I’m not sure anyone knows the answers but just brainstorming is interesting, and I think it would be really informative. I hope more dance companies do this kind of thing too because Doug Fox is right (if you read his post today) in that a good many people do read blogs and they’re important.

    Jolene, okay, I was exaggerating just a bit :) Still, poor David indeed, though :)

    Ariel, shut up, you look so cute!

  8. Ok, so, let’s take the initiative then, and have movmnt host the first of hopefully many of these ‘brainstormeeting’. Would be great to meet all these people we read everyday. Hopefully even danciti will come too. So i can make a “pointe” joke for them. :-D.

    Let me gather myself after this week-end and I’ll come up with suggestion or something to gather, meet, think, socialise and of course have a good time.

    What do you think? Maybe all interested bloggers out there could send me an email at:
    movmnt [at] movmnt [dot] com,
    or to Tonya, or Taylor…
    Thanks to this post i’m discovering new blogs too! How many bloggers where present yesterday? Somebody knows?
    A bientot,
    David
    I know, movmnt is a magazine and not a blog, but the mentality and spirit is not there.

  9. That would be so cool, David! Obviously, count me in!

    I count 8 bloggers who were there: me, CounterCritic, Sloan, Philip, Taylor, Evan, Ariel and Doug Fox. I don’t think I forgot anyone… There were many more people, but those were the bloggers I know of. I don’t know who writes the Danciti blog, so I don’t know if they were there! CounterCritic and I were talking about that — they seem to want to remain anonymous…

  10. Hey Tonya-

    Thanks for your kind words. It’s true, the Counter Critic is a kind of alter ego, for sure, but a fun one.

    It was great to meet you and the other bloggers. Looking forward to another round table!

    Best,
    C.C.

  11. Tonya, you are too funny! I wonder if David will stick around for the reception after the Gugg event. If you scared him, maybe not 😉 And Ariel I was thinking how cute you were when I read your comment about looking horrible – you are definitely wrong!

  12. Same here, CC! I know, I know, I understand; I was just kidding about the ‘pissiness’ thing. Mine’s written in a persona as well. I think all writers write in a kind of persona / alter ego, which people don’t always understand. I think everyone, to an extent, kind of has an alter ego, though — or at least different ‘selves’ — some who gush incessantly and others who can be very serious… To be honest, I just erased a comment out of anger that basically said I should be ashamed of myself for acting like such a child and de-humanizing dancers by gushing over them, etc. For the record, I, Tonya Plank proper, am not obsessed with David Hallberg, Danny Tidwell, or Marcelo Gomes (or anyone else I regularly write about) though I do greatly appreciate their seemingly beyond human dancing skills, their immense artistry, and their stage personas that, for whatever reason, just attract me to them.

    Thank you Barbara :) Being funny was my aim! I also realized I left out that at the end of the performance David Hallberg turned around before leaving the theater (Ariel, Philip and I stayed seated for the discussion with the artistic director which David was not staying for), and looked at each one of of us one by one — including me — and nodded a “nice to meet you” nod (which was wordless but obvious in meaning). So, I was just joking that he shunned me; he seems like a very sweet guy and a sensitive artist who is just soft-spoken. I don’t remember seeing him at the after-cocktail party at the last Guggenheim event, but in any event I would have been WAY too shy to ever approach him :) Oh and I completely agree with your Ariel comment!

  13. Aw, thanks Barbra and Tonya for being so nice! :-)

  14. In response to David’s comment above about a movmnt / blogger meetup, we should definitely do it! Keep me posted :)

  15. Echoing what Taylor just said, keep me posted about a possible movmnt/blogger meet-up and brainstorming shindig. That would be fabulous!

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