Sweet Coppelia at New York City Ballet

Image taken from Explore Dance, photo by Paul Kolnick; dancers: Yvonne Borree and Robert La Fosse.

New York City Ballet doesn’t often put on full-length story ballets, but when they do, they do very well with them. Coppelia was very entertaining. The leads were danced charmingly by Joaquin De Luz, probably the most actorly of the male dancers, and the doll-faced Megan Fairchild.

(photos of De Luz and Fairchild by Paul Kolnick, from NYCBallet website)

This is kind of a sad comedy that takes place in 19th Century Galicia. It’s the story of toymaker Dr. Coppelius (played by La Fosse, also in top pic) who creates a life-sized doll whom he rather sadly comes to love as his own daughter. Frantz (De Luz) is a country bumpkin in love with Swanilda (Fairchild) but also can’t help flirting madly with the doll (yeah, he is not too bright).

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Join Claudia's Performance Club!

If you’re in New York, please do join the performance club dance writer (and my friend) Claudia La Rocco has set up over at the WNYC blog!

I had to miss out on last month’s performances, but this month the group is seeing Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (which I went to last week and will post about very shortly) and Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment, a new dance by a Korean-American woman about black identity politics, which looks fascinating and which I can’t wait to see.

I think she has it set up so that you can either go to these performances with the group, or go see them at another time more convenient to you, and then everyone will discuss them online at the club’s WNYC forum.

In the meantime, or if you’re not in NY, watch the video and interview she posted. This is from Cedar Lake’s performance of the Didy Veldman dance that I’d gone on about earlier. I love the slow motion fight scene!

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I’m re-posting the post. I don’t know how to retrieve comments from Disqus so I’m re-posting the comments in the body of the post.

Parsons: An Evening of Classics, Some of Which I Love, Some of Which I Still Have Issues With

January 8, 2009

Tuesday evening I went to the opening night of Parsons Dance at the Joyce Chelsea. The season opened with Program B, all classics by founder David Parsons; later in the week the company will premiere Program A, a new rock opera.

I like this modern / contemporary company and always find them to be a lot of fun. They’re smallish but have a diverse repertoire (some dances are more lyrical and set to more classical music, others more jazzy and disco-y, set to light rock or soul music, some focused more on lighting effects), and a kind of cult following.

Actually, my favorite dance of the night was a short duet called Ebben, which is going to be part of the larger work premiering later in the week. It was just oozing with sexiness and passion, and I can’t wait to see the whole! Abby Silva, probably the most stand-out dancer in the troupe stood on high releve and kind of tip toed around Kevin Ferguson, standing with his back toward the audience, as if she was just kind of discovering him, then searching, maybe trying to understand him, to breathe in his essence.

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Post Gone

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of days you’ll notice I took down a post. Yes. As a Twitter friend just DM’d me, “When will dance companies learn that any publicity is good publicity?” I agree. When will they? Most of the things I said in that post were quite positive.

It’s not easy to make me this mad. It’s really not.

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When Is My Beloved Alvin Ailey Going to Start Live-Streaming?

Kristin Sloan just wrote this excellent post on The Winger. Apparently, the Berliner Philharmoniker is doing like Misnomer did and is live-streaming their performances. Except they’ve set theirs up so that they have a permanent website and they charge people for viewing. You can buy either single or season tickets. And then you watch live on the internet.

I think this would be such an excellent idea for dance companies. Nothing can take the place of a live performance but there are so many people who don’t get a chance to see those because of where they live, because of finances, etc. Why not live-stream so everyone can see? Then I wouldn’t be having so many of these discussions about my favorites with myself :) or with very few fortunate others who happen to live in New York or another big city.

Every season at Alvin Ailey they put out a souvenir book that includes pics of the dancers and info about the history of the company, which I always get. This year, in honor of their 50th anniversary, they had a section where the dancers were quoted saying something about what being in the company, dancing, etc. means to them. Kirven Boyd, one of my favorites, said how amazing it was to perform under the Parthenon in Greece, “to be on stage under the stars.” Of course initially I felt a pang of jealousy. But then I thought, how great that would be for all their home-based fans to see as well. And others who’ve never had the chance to see them. This is a company that travels widely, all over the world. How cool would it be for them to live-stream their international performances?

And how cool to live-stream as well performances by other intriguing and provocative dance companies — Morphoses, William Forsythe, Tere O’Connor, Jerome Bel, to name a few? Then we could all have these discussions about choreography, about how meaning is made through movement, about what constitutes art, etc., that the people who make these annoying TV shows are so insistent on not having!

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Superstars Night 2

Okay, so I made sure I saw it tonight. Eh, yeah agree with people saying it’s rather boring (see comments on first post, below). Something about the television just kills some forms of dance, unfortunately.

I loved Maria Kochetkova (who is currently with San Francisco Ballet) dancing the Kitri solo from Don Quixote, but it was so disappointingly short! And somehow ballet doesn’t always translate so well to the screen. But I loved that the judges recognized what a great technician she is and all gave her high scores. I thinks she was second of the solosists.

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Masekela Langage and the Brilliance of Revelations

(photo of Alvin Ailey cast in Masekela Langage by Steve Vaccariello from Alvin Ailey website)

I managed to be sick for the last two weeks of December, so, horribly, I wasn’t able to go to as many Alvin Ailey performances as I usually do. Now, I’m depressed and feeling like I really missed out. Especially since I was just told how excellent the season finale was last night. Sob sob.

I did get to see all the major things though: the revivals (Blues Suite and Masekela Langage); the two premieres (Go in Grace and Festa Barocca), which I wrote about here and here and here; Suite Otis, a fun piece set to Otis Redding and comprised of jazzy all-male and all-female ensemble numbers and cute vignettes of couples in various stages of a relationship; and of course several Revelations.

(Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims in Suite Otis, photo by Paul Kolnick)

(Suite Otis, photo by Steve Vaccariello)

(Suite Otis, Paul Kolnick photo)

Blues Suite was Mr. Ailey’s first major dance, made in 1958, when the company began. It’s a bluesy piece that takes place in a nightclub, based on The Dew Drop Inn, an African American hangout in his Texan hometown, and consists of a set of female cabaret dancers and jazzy dancing men, who mostly perform in groups for the audience but sometimes dance together as if we, the audience, are getting not a “performance” but are eavesdropping on what goes on in a real club. The latter were my favorite parts.

With Masekela Langage, my overall favorite of the season besides Revelations, we get just that: a glimpse into another world, a troubling world.

(Steve Vaccariello photo, Masekela Langage)

And that’s what I liked about it so much. It was described to me as a “political” work (a totally loaded term!) portraying racial violence and oppression both in the era of South African apartheid (it’s set to music by the South African trumpeteer Hugh Masekela) and in 1960s Chicago. So, I expected to see all these scenes of white farmers burning black farms, of bands of white police attacking black men on the streets, etc. But it wasn’t.

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Superstars of Dance

Okay, I’m a dumbass and missed it last night. I thought it was premiering tonight. Did any of you guys catch it? What did you think? I just learned that San Francisco Ballet’s Maria Kochetkova will be on tonight, dancing as the ballet soloist for Russia! According to her blog, she’ll be dancing a Kitri solo from Don Quixote. Will definitely be taping and / or watching!

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Favorites of 2008

Okay, here’s my (late) list of favorites from 2008: (click on highlights to read what I wrote about each dance)

Favorite overall dance of the year:

Revelations by Alvin Ailey. Because the movement language — a unique blend of American Modern with African — is highly evocative, richly varied, and, because it’s set in a specific time and place recognizable to most if not all of us, it’s imbued with meaning and feeling accessible to everyone. And because it speaks to the human condition like no other dance I’ve ever seen. I’m still looking for something to top this and don’t know if I’ll ever find it.

(photo by Paul Kolnick)

Favorite new dances:

1) Nimrod Freed’s PeepDance in Central Park;

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Still Here

I know you’re not ever supposed to start posts saying ‘I’m sorry for not posting in forever.’ But I normally write once or more per day, so, really, I’m sorry for not posting in forever! I’m just working on this ridiculously hard short story that really should be a novel (it’s 20,000 words right now and I’ve already cut out a bunch of stuff)– and hopefully it will be someday. Well, it will be, but I don’t know if it will ever be a published novel. The industry isn’t looking too good these days and I don’t know if I have the nerve to self-publish…

Anyway, I went to see Alvin Ailey on Sunday night (Blues Suite — my first time seeing it– liked but didn’t love it; Flowers, about Janis Joplin, which grew on me, especially the dream sequence with all the hilarious but uber sexy ’60′s  era bootie shorts and leg fringe; and Revelations, which I could honestly see about 30 times per season — basically every night they do it — and never tire of it). I still have to blog about the two Ailey works that were new to me this season — Blues Suite and Masekela Langage, the second of which I loved. More about that later.

I always get very depressed around this time of year and I think it has a lot to do with Alvin Ailey ending their City Center season. I always get depressed when dance company seasons end but more so with this group than any other.

I also need to write my end-of-the-year favorites list (probably going to go with Nimrod Freed’s PeepDance as my overall favorite and Craig Salstein’s Time for ABT for new choreography, ABT’s Tudor Centennial and Alvin Ailey’s 50th anniversary celebrations for events), but I want to do links, and I don’t have time to do that now. Also desperately trying to make myself well. I somehow caught a nasty cold, which I want to be gone by tomorrow night so I can go out with friends and have a reasonably good time.

So, will blog soon! In the meantime, please check out dance tweeters and their tweets (see previous post). And have a most festive New Year’s eve!

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Anyone Want to Sponsor a Dance Category in Shorty (Twitter) Awards?

So, the first ever “Shorty Awards”, for the best Twitter microbloggers, is underway. This competition has actually received a bit of attention — in NYTimes, BBC, and MediaBistro, as well as a bunch of techie mags. According to Shorty stats, more than 23,000 nominations have taken place in the past two weeks, since the competition was launched.

The competition is broken down into several categories. Of course there wasn’t a Dance category (or a Performing Arts category, or an Arts category), but, unlike with the Bloggies and other big blog awards, the Shorties allows users to create their own. So a few of us (and there really aren’t many; most dance people are still on Facebook only and don’t use Twitter) created a dance category and then nominated each other within it. According to Shorty rules, if there aren’t enough nominees, the category will be eliminated. But they don’t define “enough.” Not that it’s an enormous deal, but it’s always nice to put dance on the map, and Twitter does seem to be the next big thing.

Anyway, according to an email I just received from the Shorty people, Epicurious is sponsoring a food category. They asked if anyone out there was interested in sponsoring any other categories, to let them know. I have no idea what all is involved in sponsoring a category, but if any big, Epicurious-style magazine (Dance, Dance Spirit, Pointe, Ballroom Dance Channel, etc. etc.) is interested, you can email them at: info at shortyawards dot com. Just thought I’d put it out there. Nominations close at midnight on December 31st. Noms are followed by a round of voting and then an awards ceremony in NYC.

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Merry Christmas!


Hope everyone had / is having a happy holiday. I went to my friend Alyssa’s last night for Christmas Eve dinner. She made these delicious orange-peel-infused Manhattans.

And a duck with chestnut stuffing, which Alison is carving.



Alison’s salad of endive, pomegranate seeds, apples, and bleu cheese. And Kathy’s coquitos (Caribbean drink that tastes deceptively non-alcoholic!) in the background.

I think I’m the only one who brought something store-made (wine)! Oh well… food is not my forte.


From night before, Alyssa’s holiday party at Bowery Wine Company. She made these delic gingerbread cupcakes with peppermint-marshmallow frosting and candy cane bits sprinkled on top.


And Bowery Wine Co. bartender made us Cookie Dough martinis. Cookie dough martini FYI = vanilla Vodka, Frangelico and some pink stuff in a bottle labeled 43, which I’d never heard of before. Very tasty!


And after party having some pizza in the Village. Above, Alyss with some random guy we picked up and dragged off with us :) No, he’s not a random guy; he’s a BWC regular and his name is Dan. Funny, but when I mentioned my blog he revealed he’s friends with the people who run Gaynor Minden pointe shoes.

Okay, happy long (hopefully, for everyone) weekend, you guys!

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Happy Holidays Everyone!

So, my new, upgraded blog is almost up. Well, I guess it is up but there are still some kinks to be worked out, such as the comments. I am told all comments transferred, but for some reason they are not all showing up yet. Hopefully, Disqus will work it out.

Anyway, I will write a longer post as soon as I become un-intimidated by this crazy new software! In the meantime, everyone have a wonderful holiday, and New Yorkers, do go see Alvin Ailey if you have a chance. They’re showing through January 4th but there are only two more performances of Blues Suite. (Omg, there are like 20,000 options for links; hopefully the Alvin Ailey highlight will actually link to City Center…)

Okay, talk soon :) Let me know if you guys have any problems with comments. My web guy wanted to set me up with Disqus because I was getting overrun by spam. It’s supposed to be a cool comment system. We shall see…

Again, very happy holiday everyone!

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New Single by Derek Hough and Mark Ballas

Listen here.

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Festa Barocca at Alvin Ailey

(photo, of Vernard J. Gilmore and Antonio Douthit, by Andrea Mohin from NYTimes)

So Sir Alastair called Festa Barocca “rubbish”!

I didn’t really know what to think of it, to be honest (which is why it’s taken me so long to write about). I found it oddly intriguing and very different from his (choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti’s) other work that I’ve seen, Oltremare. That piece made perfect sense and was clear in what it was trying to express: the fear, sadness, and longing of poor immigrants bound for the New World. This wasn’t so clear.

The whole piece is set to Handel’s classical Baroque music, but the movement is extremely varied, encompassing ballet, Argentine Tango, African — a hodge-podge, and with styling that looked at times Asian (like the beautifully flexed wrists), Egyptian (the iconic “King Tut”-esque Cleopatra arms), and even some styling that reminded me of the movie Pulp Fiction (with the bandit eyes — where Uma Thurman and John Travolta are dancing, extending elbows outward, arms turned down, circling their eyes with their fingers — remember that?)

There was definitely a lot of humor, and Hope Boykin, whose enchanting solos frame the piece, smiles out at the audience a lot, kind of indicating she is taking us on a wild ride. I couldn’t really tell, though, if Bigonzetti was making fun of Baroque music, or if he was trying to expand our assumptions about how it could be used for dance. Don’t think I’d ever have thought of putting African to Handel. Or, if Baroque music is defined as representing the “perfect order” of the universe, of “avoiding trivialities as well as willful eccentricities,” then maybe he is playing with the definition of Baroque music itself.

By the way, Antonio Douthit (right in pic above) and Jamar Roberts I thought were the best in the ensemble parts. Jamar really threw himself into it full out and made the most of every little movement detail. And Antonio is one of those unbelievable dancers who seems to be able to excel at both ballet and African. Have I said that before here? Sorry if I have; I honestly forget what I’ve tweeted and what I’ve blogged. He has these gorgeously high extensions that he holds so well and he’s graceful and feathery, but then he can be so rhythmic with those beautifully snaky full body-undulations as well.

The dance is comprised of several ensemble parts, a couple of solos, and a couple duets that seemed by turns sexy, mysterious, and kind of violent. At points, it seemed like the men were casting a spell on the women, at other places it seemed the women became the mens’ puppeteers, like when the women would raise their legs to their partners’ faces or necks, gripping with their toes, kind of teasing them as they circled their feet about, head or throat attached, round and round, and then harshly pushing them away.

Macaulay seemed peeved because such movement (which he amusingly calls “acrobatic foot fetishism”) didn’t seem to fit the Italian lyrics of the Handel songs. I didn’t know those lyrics, but, assuming the translation in his article is correct, it is rather interesting how a husband’s singing “Where are you? Come, beloved, to console my spirit” to his wife (who doesn’t yet know he’s dead) correlates with a dancer throttling her partner’s throat with her foot. Either an unusual reinterpretation, or Bigonzetti is trying to throw in some comedy with the duets as well (which generally seemed more serious), or else he, like many choreographers, is more interested in putting movement to rhythms than actual words.

In the end I’m not sure what to make of it. I loved the dancers, as always. I’m not sure I could ever be dissatisfied watching them do anything. I’m interested to hear what others make of this piece though. They don’t yet have any of it up on YouTube, but let me know if you see it live.

Oh, and costumes (by Marc Happel) were gorgeous. Men and women both wore long, brightly-colored flowing skirts in the ensemble pieces, donning more form-fitting garb for the intricate pas de deux.

(Hope Boykin in solo, above; below, Gwynenn Taylor Jones and Clifton Brown in first duet; photos by Steve Vaccariello)

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Dance Times Square Outing to Latin Quarter

Last night I went with Dance Times Square on their holiday party outing to the Latin Quarter, a salsa nightclub in midtown on the east side, near Grand Central.

It was fun — I haven’t social danced in a really long time! Do think I might have hurt my knee though. How, I have no idea. I’ve damaged my meniscus coming out of a fish dive weirdly, trying to force turnout on an arabesque in attitude (back leg up, bent knee), trying to force turnout on rhumba walks, trying to force turnout in samba walks, trying to force turnout in ballet, yadda yadda, but I didn’t know you could really hurt yourself doing basic salsa steps?! Hopefully it’s just a bruise…

Anyway party started at the studio, where we had an hour-lesson in open Salsa taught by Tony and Melanie (who are back from Canada’s So You Think You Can Dance). Picture above, student Elaine (my friend) is in foreground dancing with Tony. After the class, we had food (lots of good munchy things like pate and cheese and meat slices and this enormous cheesecake, and bottles and bottles of wine :) ), then walked several blocks to the club.

The club was nice, but small dance floor … although I have nothing to compare it to since I don’t go out to a lot of social dance clubs. They had a few bars (although, I find it a bit hard to dance drunk) and little areas for sitting around and chatting. We took an area on the second floor, and, when it got too crowded on the main floor, just danced up there. I danced mostly with my friend Steve, but then this guy who was not in with our group kept asking me to dance, which was nice at first, until I realized he was kind of a pelvis-grinder. Just too close for comfort. So, I told him I was tired the next couple times he asked, which of course made it hard to dance with others then. Steve told me I was fun to dance with because I unwind (out of a turn) like no one else, thanks to my “sinuous” body! :D

Salsa band was fun, but it’s kind of funny; I’ve mainly been to parties at dance studios where they play a variety of music. So, I kept getting ready for a samba or rhumba or swing or something, and it never happened. Also, I really kind of wish people danced more in groups here, like they do in this video (when you get to the salsa club part, around 4:50). How fun would that be? And would seem to cut down on someone’s hogging another person all night. But I guess that kind of group dancing necessitates sharing a culture where you all know the same words and funny little moves, which doesn’t really happen these days … I guess except for the Electric Slide.

Anyway, very fun to see old friends again. I really should start taking a group class again at some point because it’s good for socialization, and, I realized after the night was over what a real workout it had been.

More formal review coming soon on ExploreDance.com.

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Go in Grace Pix

I know I’m very behind on my Alvin Ailey posts (on all my posts actually). Promise to catch up!

Here are some pictures from Hope Boykin’s sweet Go in Grace, which premiered at Ailey last week and which I wrote about here.

The “family” — “daughter” Rosalyn Deshauteurs, “father” Amos J. Machanic (who blew me away, as always!), Renee Robinson as “mother”, Clifton Brown as the “son” (my “son” was Matthew Rushing), and Kirven J. Boyd and Antonio Douthit as the up to no good boys (spelled “Boyz” in the program)

(First two photos by Steve Vaccariello, taken from the Alvin Ailey website)

The dancers, with Sweet Honey in the Rock members, who provided live singing and acted as a kind of chorus, interacting with the dancers throughout, warning the daughter not to let herself be taken advantage of by boys, shaking their heads at the boyz for leading the son astray, comforting family members dealing with the pain of the father’s death, etc.)

(This photo and the next two are by Paul Kolnick)

Amos as the father, having his final, heartbreaking, dance.

Rosalyn as the daughter, being carried off by the crowd.

At the end she and her father dance side by side, doing the same steps, the father in a kind of shadow position behind her, a spirit guiding her.

Go in Grace is showing a few more times this season. Go here for the City Center schedule.

Here’s a picture (by Steve Vaccariello) of the Go in Grace choreographer, dancer Hope Boykin, in the company’s other big premiere this season, Mauro Bigonzetti’s Festa Barocca. I thought I’d moblogged about it, but I actually tweeted. (I sometimes get things I do with my cell phone a bit confused…) Anyway, I have to go to bed right now, but I will blog about Festa tomorrow.

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Shorty Awards Have Dance Category

thanks to us dance tweets :)

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My Son Can Dance!

Here’s a new support network for parents of male dancers. Via Dance Advantage.

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Nutcracker on PBS This Wednesday

If you don’t want to miss a Christmas classic, but don’t want to shell out the money in this crap economy, no worries. San Francisco Ballet‘s Nutcracker is going to be on PBS this Wednesday.

I viewed an advance copy and it’s really one of the better Nutz I’ve seen. San Francisco Ballet is one of the best ballet companies in the country, in the world really, and they’ve done a lovely production. Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic gold medalist in figure skating and Dancing With the Stars champion last season, introduces. She’s from the Bay area and talks about how this company, which her mother would take her to see as a child, really made her fall in love with the beauty of movement and the thrill of performing. This production is set in San Fran, during the 1915 World’s Fair, so it’s a bit updated in terms of the costuming and sets (both of which are gorgeous), and Yamaguchi gives a nice little half-time historical talk.

(photos of Karapetyan and Kochetkova by David Allen, from SFB website)

And the dancers are spectacular. Davit Karapetyan is probably the hunkiest Nutcracker / Cavalier I think I’ve ever seen (remember how I was going on about him when I saw the company here in September!), and Maria Kochetkova is radiant as the grown-up Clara. Yuan Yuan Tan is a lovely Snow Queen. And of course the music — Tchaikovsky is the greatest composer ever. Okay arguably…

So, PBS Wednesday, the 17th at 8pm in NY. Go here for local listings.

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Remember Misnomer Live Online Tonight

Tonight at 8pm, Deborah Friedes will livestream Misnomer Dance Company‘s Being Together on The Winger. You can watch and chat with other viewers. I wrote about the dance here. If you can watch, please tell me what you think!

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Tiny Tiny World

(photo by Katsuyoshi Tanaka, of Marcelo Gomes with Lua)

Last night I went to my lawyer friend’s holiday party and met one of her co-workers, a Brazilian lawyer named Beatrice. Our conversation naturally led to a discussion of dance, which of course led to a discussion of Samba, and eventually even ballet. She revealed that as a child and teen, she danced with Laura Alonzo’s student company of Ballet Nacional de Cuba!

She remembered Marcelo! Said she never danced with him because he was so “little”; much smaller than she. I was like, “Little?! No, he’s huge, much larger than life!” She said, not then! What’s he like, what’s he like, I asked?! She said, well, when he was 10 he was really sweet! Said his parents always went to the studio with him and seemed so supportive, which was so cute, and so unusual for the parents of a boy dancer in Brazil back then. She said he used to always get partnered with this really bitchy girl who thought she was god’s gift and she was such a prima, always demanding and blaming him for anything that went wrong. But he was so nice, he was always a sport about it.

So, not much has changed for poor Marcelo then? :)

Beatrice also got to dance once with the great Jose. Said he was huge back then. She never talked to him, only danced one brief duet once. She still has the picture of him lifting her little body far above his head. How very lucky to have grown up in Latin America…

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Pina Bausch's Sensuous, Mysterious, Funny, Sexy, Playful, Violent "Bamboo Blues"

(photo taken from here).

Last night I went to see Pina Bausch’s Bamboo Blues at Brooklyn Academy of Music. This was my first time seeing something by Bausch live (I’d only ever seen her work in film and on YouTube, and of course in Almodovar’s Talk To Her), and I see why she is so popular. She really knows how to create a provocative spectacle. Performed by her Tanztheater Wuppertal, it, like I think all of Bausch’s work, is not pure dance but a combination of dance and theater with spoken word, little acted-out vignettes, and video installations.

Being so visual and composed of many sub–pieces, the work is hard to describe, but basically several women dressed in gorgeous, richly textured ballgowns danced, mostly alone or with one or two men, who were, in contrast, dressed in rather mundane white sheets wrapped around their waists like towels. Much of the music was Indian-based and -inspired, but with a Western beat, and at times with lyrics in English or French. The movement in the solos was Indian-inspired as well, with beautifully flexed wrists and feet, splayed fingers and toes. Not surprisingly, the dancer who had the most pronounced gestures in this regard was Shantala Shivalingappa, who is Indian and trained in classical Indian and modern dance. See NYTimes article on her here.

The women wore their hair (all of it long, long, long) down and repeatedly swung their heads about, creating generally a very sensuous effect, that turned a bit violent at times, when it became aggressive. The men were the same.

(photo by Ulli Weiss)

But then the duets and ensemble dancing was more comical, at times also violent. After one woman performed a solo, a sensual dance, in front of white, billowing curtains, her dress billowing along with them, several women took the stage, coming out one by one. Dressed in the exquisite gowns though they were, their gait was more an aggressive strut than a stylized walk, and they all seemed to be chomping on something — tobacco perhaps? They all took a position, and lay, making sexy poses, directed at the audience. But of course the sexiness was undermined by that exaggerated chomping.

(photos by Nelvin C. Cepeda)

Then the women left and the men came out in their towel-sheets, walking in a more sexy, more feminine manner, which caused the audience to laugh. I laughed too, but wondered if I was the only one who questioned why this, the gender juxtapositioning, was necessarily funny.

And there was a kind of battle of the sexes / battle of the self undercurrent, as women and men paired happily — for example in the picture at top where a woman and man rocked themselves to sleep in each others’ arms; but at times violently, when, for example, a man would repeatedly pick up a woman and throw her aggressively over his shoulder in a dangerous-looking lift, or when a man would grab a woman’s hand, run around the stage pulling her along, put a chair in her path, and rush her toward the chair, forcing her to run atop and jump off of it, falling — or crashing more like — into his arms. At times the women seemed to enjoy this aggression, at times their faces would show strain and unease.

Sometimes it was actually kind of confusing how much the women were willing participants in this, how much they controlled the men, or how much they were being controlled by them. At one point a woman took the straps of her gown down over her shoulders, as if she was going to do a strip tease. She didn’t. Instead she began rubbing, caressing her shoulders with her hands, criss-crossed over her chest. A man came up and angrily began smudging her chest with red paint, his strokes like slices of a knife. She didn’t see him, but moaned in pleasure as his hand sliced her chest. The more he “stabbed” the more she ecstatic she seemed to become.

Some of those images and vignettes with their contradictions and twists and turns from sexy, sensual, and playful, to manipulated and violent, won’t be leaving me for a while. The dance shows through December 20th; for info and to see a video go here.

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Happy Happy Night Tonight At Alvin Ailey

Okay, here is what I was writing last night when my internet crashed:

I’m always so happy when I come out of an AA performance; I could just dance home! Tonight was Maurice Bejart’s Firebird, which was more breathtaking than the first time I saw it last year; Clifton is beyond belief — just this huge guy who’s so amazingly graceful. Ditto for Jamar — the only person who I can imagine being able to lift him, and those lifts at the end when Jamar’s bringing Clifton back to life are so stunning.

(photo by Paul Kolnick).

Then, on second, was the new Hope Boykin piece, Go in Grace, which was kind of a play without words, utilizing the singers — Sweet Honey in the Rock — along with the dancers, the singers acting as a kind of chorus and interacting with the dancers throughout. It told, in expressionistic pieces, the story of a family, the father and mother good, upstanding people trying to keep their daughter and son from going astray. They’re successful with the daughter but the son kind of gets involved with the wrong crowd (namely, Antonio and Kirven!) Eventually he comes back, but only after the father dies, which is really heartbreaking. Amos J. Machanic danced the father and I noticed from last night (which I still have to write about!) and tonight that he is the most expressive, emotive dancer, and such a great actor, he really pulls you into the dance, and creates such sympathy for his characters. He broke my heart both last night as a junkie in Masekala Language, and tonight as the dying father who wanted nothing but the best for his children in Boykin’s ballet.

(photo of Machanic by Andrew Eccles)

And last on was Revelations, which I’ve written about here. Yannick LeBrun blew me away as the second Sinner Man!

(photo of Lebrun by Eduardo Patino)

He was, yes, even better than Clifton! He is definitely one to watch. And Antonio Douthit was mesmerizing tonight as well, as the guy getting baptized in Wade in the Water. Funny though, he had some kind of large tattoo — a cobra or some kind of winged creature perhaps — creeping out of the top of his pants in back, which was kind of funny given his character here :D But I love it — & am sure I’m the only one who noticed such a thing… Also, someone’s big church hat flew off and created a bit of a funny nuisance onstage in Rocka My Soul. Always very funny when something goofy happens with a prop :)

Anyway, I have to upload and post pictures from last night and write about the night before — Masekela Language and Suite Otis, but will have to do it when I get back from Pina Bausch at BAM.

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More Ballroom Stuff

Woo hoo, my cable is up. At least for these five seconds. Quickly, before it crashes again, here are my Explore Dance articles on Columbia’s Starry Night Winter Showcase and the Dance Times Square in-house comp.

Oooh, maybe I can even get my Ailey review up if I hurry…

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Time warner cable sucks

Time warner cable sucks

Originally uploaded by swan lake samba girl via mobile.


Internet service out for over 24 hours already. Just called and they said it may be another 48 hours. Do they realize how many people rely on internet for work?

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Happy night at ailey, bad night at home

Happy night at ailey, bad night at home

Originally uploaded by swan lake samba girl via mobile.


Dead modem. So sick of time warner. Wrote a big alvin ailey post and about to publish when connection bit the dust.

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Go in grace premiere

Go in grace premiere

Originally uploaded by swan lake samba girl via mobile.


Aw, it was sweet! And interesting – was just as much about the music – sung live onstage- as the dance if not more. Amos machanic is so good, breaks my heart. Think i saw will from so u think u can dance talking to choreographer hope boykin.

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New Dance Blog Directory

The awesome Deborah Friedes has set up a new dance blog directory here. So, you can find all participating dance blogs in one place. So much easier than going down blogrolls clicking on URLs one by one, and so much more aesthetically inviting than RSS feeds. Thanks Deborah! And, if you write a dance blog, be sure to add yours!

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Yet More Slavik & Hanna (& Katusha & Arunas!)

Here’s a lovely set of Flickr photos of Columbia U.’s Starry Night Winter Showcase, taken by someone with a much superior camera to my own! Enjoy!

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