Merce Cunningham Centennial Celebration

Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) April 16 marked the centennial of choreographer Merce Cunningham's birth.  His artistic legacy is that his modern dances, many set to music by his creative and life partner John Cage, will forever be modern. Following Cunningham's directive, his company disbanded after his death at 90 - but not the teaching, training, archiving and performing spanning 70+ years.  The Merce Cunningham Trust's world-wide celebration included a definitive program April 17-21 at the Joyce of three classics performed by three companies.   The Merce Cunningham Trust defines the Cunningham Technique as "a rigorous form of training designed to create strength and flexibility of both the body and

‘The Cradle Will Rock’ at Classic Stage Company

l-r: Sally Ann Triplett, Ian Lowe, Lara Pulver, Kara Mikula. Photo: Joan Marcus

And some of the best people in town. Now I know what the dirty foreigners feel like. What is this, Russia? We don’t have to listen to talk like that. You’ve only got to hint whatever’s fit to print; If something’s wrong with it, why then we’ll print to fit. For whichever side will pay the best. The above vitriol is not from the president's Twitter account, Fox News or sticky bitter corners of the Internet and AM radio.  They were written in 1937 by Marc Blitzstein for The Cradle Will Rock.  His 90-minutes of persuasive theatre in protest as musical wearing a big red heart on

Ballet Hispánico at the Joyce

Sombrerísimo. Photo: (c) Susan Bestul

"We did it!" was heard behind the curtain following Ballet Hispánico's world premiere of Edwaard Liang's El Viaje (The Journey).  And yes, they sure did in a creatively diverse program at The Joyce through Sunday, March 31. All three ballets explored community.  Notes accompanying El Viaje describe it as an "exploration of identity and the ghosts of a former life."  The ghost is a woman (Melissa Verdicia) in red - the great dance color signifying uniqueness, magic or sensuality.  Here, she is an exile from China and/or Cuba (hence red).  She moves away and occasionally joins male and female dancers dressed in pale colors.  It's apparent she

‘Chimpanzee’ at HERE

Photo_Richard Termine

  Our primate friends and relatives have been taking it on their pronounced chins lately.  The orange orangutan resemblance to the president was raucously noted in Adam McKay's brilliantly biting Vice, and Bubbles the chimp's BFF Michael Jackson was openly accused of being a predator in HBO's documentary Leaving Neverland.  Then there is the nameless solitary female chimpanzee caged in her own show at HERE.  Directed, created and designed by Nick Lehane, Chimpanzee is on exhibit through May 5 at the Dorothy B. Williams Theater. For those who are familiar with or new to HERE's Dream Music Puppetry program, Chimpanzee personifies what they do best: use the inanimate

BalletNext at New York Live Arts

If New York City is considered "The Dance Capital of the World," than Utah is "The United State of Dance".  For 50+ years it's been home to Ballet West, who made a very strong impression on their last Fall 2016 visit to the Joyce.  December 2018 saw the premiere at New York Live Arts of Bears Ears, a thoughtful collaboration between NYC's ZviDance and Repertory Dance Theater of Utah.  From February 19-23, New York Live Arts hosted sold-out performances by BalletNext, a dynamic chamber company comprised of University of Utah School of Dance students led by former ABT Principal Michelle Wiles. 

Samieva Theater’s ‘Medusa Volution’ at happylucky no.1

  To borrow an Amazonian sales tactic, If you liked Madeline Miller's bestseller Circe, you should really catch the last four performances February 21-24 of Sophie Amieva and Suzanne Bagert's Medusa Volution at happylucky no.1.  Just as Miller allows the nymph to describe in her own words her special skill set (turning men into pigs), the playwrights and their all-female Samvia Theatre group directed by Amiva create a strong collective voice untangling Greek/Roman mythology's if looks could kill eternal bad hair day. Taking their cue from a throwaway line Ovid's Metamorphosis, Medusa not always sprouted a head of snakes.  The priestess's good looks attracted unwanted

Yaël Farber’s ‘Mies Julie’ at Classic Stage Company

Not that loyal Classic Stage Company attendees need convincing, but updates are one way of attracting an audience.  Through March 10,  CSC is running two new adaptations of August Strindberg classics.  One is Yaël Farber's  Mies Julie, a harrowing reinterpretation of the Swedish playwright's most famous work.  The darkness within nineteenth century Expressionism invite exploration, and Faber, along with director Shariffa Ali smash every crevice of the contemporary South African farmhouse kitchen where the fatal encounter between Julie (Elise Kibler) and John (James Udom) takes place. Like Strindberg's 1888 original, the 75-minute play focuses on the class war between the bored rich young

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker / Rosas ‘Verklärte Nacht’ at Baryshnikov Arts Center

  About a year from now, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will reach a mainstream audience when she stages the dances for Ivo van Hove's Broadway production of West Side Story.  Both she and her company Rosas frequent BAM, various Lincoln Center festivals and Baryshnikov Arts Center, which over this long weekend presented the New York premiere of the Belgian modernist's stunning Verklärte Nacht in the Jerome Robbins Theater.  There's no irony intended here.  It's BAC's largest performing space and the two choreographers are generationally, aesthetically and fundamentally different from each other. Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), originally choreographed in 1995 and reconstructed in 2014, is based

Remote Theater Project debuts at LaMama with Amir Nizar Zuabi’s ‘Grey Rock’

The single set across LaMama's The Downstairs is the Wall.  Not a mock-up of the geographically impossible one threatened for the U.S./Mexico borders, but the equally controversial Israel−Gaza security barrier.  A lightning rod in U.S-Middle Eastern diplomacy, in Amir Nizar Zuabi's Grey Rock, it cannot block creativity or dignity. Zuabi, who also directed his play for the newly-formed Remote Theater, provides a blast-off point for The Occupation.  Part of the wall opens revealing Yusuf (Khalifa Natou), a retired TV repairman and former political prisoner, studying blueprints in his shed.  Without telling his daughter Lila (Fida Zaidan) or young friend Sheik (Motaz Malhis), Yusuf is

Dancing When Everyone’s Looking: Two Dance Celebrations

With Nutcrackers, Rockettes and Viennese waltzers, Thanksgiving to New Year's is the solitary time of the year when the general public shows an interest in dance.  Before the holiday rush there were two dance celebrations - one marking an anniversary and the other a look into the beginnings of extraordinary career - with varying success.   Balanchine: The City Center Years Starting on Halloween and ending on November 4, 2018, New York City Center jointly commemorated their 75th Anniversary and the prolific 15 years (1948-1963) George Balanchine and New York City Ballet were there.  In 1943, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia created the New

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