Category — Dance
Inside the Focus 2013 Dance Festival
To kick off 2013, New York City will once again turn its full attention to the performing arts. The annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference joins hundreds of performing artists with presenters from all over the world in hopes of forging connections and fostering plans for future engagements. It’s like a giant shopping expo of performances, peppered with seminars, meetings, and parties.
But you don’t have to be a professional artist to enjoy what’s happening at APAP. Anyone can buy a ticket to the theatre and dance pieces on display.
Dance takes center stage from January 8-14. That’s when the Focus 2013 dance festival will appear at the Joyce Theater, Ailey Citigroup Theater, the NYU Skirball Center, and New York City Center.
The mission of this multi-part, multi-venue showcase is to highlight American dance with an eye toward international touring. With 30 dance companies performing on three stages over one week, both casual and passionate dance fans can find something satisfying.
For its part of the festival, the Joyce will feature eight companies, including NYC-based Camille Brown and Dancers. Ms. Brown has been nurtured and featured by the Gotham Arts Exchange, the founding body of Focus, so the relationship here between presenter and artist is one of longstanding partnership and growth.
December 27, 2012 No Comments
If you’re looking to buy gifts for theatre lovers, then you can’t go wrong with a great theatre book. Whether they’re behind-the-scenes photo collections or collections of beloved scripts, theatre books can be permanent mementos of the performing arts.
Here are ten books about theatre and dance that could make an excellent gift this year.
December 14, 2012 1 Comment
In Broadway’s “Scandalous,” dance is both religious and entertaining
From the fierce undulations of a tribal circle to the constant swaying of men praying in a synagogue, the link between movement and religion is undeniable. In Scandalous: The Musical, now on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, this connection is on passionate display.
The story of Aimee Semple McPherson (Carolee Carmelo), a famous 1920s evangelist with a twisting journey and an affinity for celebrity, the show highlights the intersection of entertainment and religion, as well as spiritual fervor of many stripes. The dances, from backbreaking showstoppers to subtler gestural pieces, are essential in reflecting that specific human ability to use the body when words just aren’t enough.
For choreographer Lorin Latarro, this was the main thrust when she began creating. “Music creates a spiritual place, whether you’re dancing to it or praying with it,” she explains. “And since both music/religion and rhythm/a trance-like state go hand in hand, movement and prayer become intertwined. Anything rhythmic creates a sense of ceremony and physical mantra. That can easily morph into a ‘step touch.’
“Plus, the idea of allowing something to speak through you—that you’re a vessel—is intrinsic to religion and dance alike. They’re both about letting go, having faith in something beyond comprehension, and a sense that’s there’s something larger than us.”
November 9, 2012 No Comments
A top choreographer uses rookies for her BAM show
Perhaps the most common reason your Average Joe hesitates to get up and dance is a lack of training. But for Jake Shakleton and Michael Dunbar, two ordinary Australian men, this is not an excuse. In fact, choreographer Lucy Guerin chose them specifically because they have no formal experience with dance. As far as she’s concerned, the rookie factor is their biggest asset.
In “Untrained,” which premieres at BAM on November 27th, Guerin pairs two classically trained dancers (Alisdair Macindoe and Ross McCormack) with two inexperienced movers and gives them one task: follow a set of instructions. The choreographer explains, “In the very first development week of ‘Untrained,’ the performers and I wrote out hundreds of instructions and tested them. [There were] simple, physical ones like ‘do a turn,’ [there were] elaborate, creative ones like ‘choreograph a short piece,’ [and there were] more personal ones like ‘tell us about a physical defect.’ Some were quite ridiculous, like ‘be an electrocuted cat’.”
The final list of instructions is taped to the stage floor and is the guide for the piece’s composition.
Guerin’s interest in the untrained mover stems from her own carefully analyzed physical actions in everyday life. She was curious about a human body that is not necessarily as conscious of its motion.
November 6, 2012 No Comments
How beatboxers, actors, dancers, choreographers, and composers are collaborating on an ambitious new hip hop play
How do seven people collaborate on a play and end up with a cohesive story? For the creators of the How To Break—playwright Aaron Jafferis, director Christopher V. Edwards, beatboxers Adam Matta and Yako 440, choreographers Kwikstep and Rokafella, and composer Rebecca Hart—the answer was in the common thread of hip hop.
For Jafferis, hip hop was the natural way to tell the story about two teenagers who use art to connect and to make sense of their illness. Ana (Amber Williams), is a “popper” and writer with leukemia, and Joel (Pedro Morillo) is a rapper and b-boy, or breakdancer, with sickle cell anemia.
“It’s important that this story is told and I think it’s important that the hip hop generation hear it because it’s a story about being hard, being soft, what those things mean. Being healthy, being ill, what those things mean,” Jafferis says. He adds that those dichotomies are often heard in hip hop, which is a form of art very centered on the body. “The dancing of hip hop—b- boying—is so physically expressive and demanding. Even the visual art of hip hop, graffiti writing, is also physically demanding. And beat boxing is literally turning the body into an instrument. In all these ways, the body-centricity of hip hop speaks to the body-centricity of being in a hospital, of living with chronic illness, of how that changes one’s body and the demands that that puts on one’s body.”
October 26, 2012 No Comments