ZviDance’s Surveillance

One of the more ingenious choreographers to embed technology into his work is Zvi Gotheiner. In Zoom (2010) he chanced having audience members snap photos with their iPhones and email them to be posted on a large screen. As I reported in this review, one of the dancers “invited a shared stream of consciousness via texting.” That delightful encounter with techno-improv will no doubt turn darker in the new work at New York Live Arts.

Surveillance, photo by

Surveillance, photo by Hertog Nadler

Gotheiner is not one to shy away from trouble. When he premiered Dabke (2012), although he intended to make a dance about the melding of Arab and Israeli cultures, he was accused of “appropriating” a traditional Arabic form of dance. (Click here for the strong statement of New York Dabke dancers who felt exploited by Gotheiner’s use of the form. “Our cultural heritage is not your natural resource.”) Now, with Surveillance, he plans to delve into issues of privacy infringement that’s such a hot topic today. How do we consent, he asks in this work, to the technological invasion of our private lives?

ZviDance’s excellent dancers will no doubt perform his athletic, inventive choreography with their usual gusto. June 11–14 at New York Live Arts. Click here for more info.

Surveillance, photo by Hertog Nadler

Surveillance, photo by Hertog Nadler

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Danielle Agami has the gift of turning awkwardness into something beautiful. After her terrific hour-long mouth to mouth, you feel you know something slightly crazy about each of the eight dancers in her new Los Angeles–based company, Ate9. In the manner of Ohad Naharin and his Batsheva Dance Company, with whom Agami danced and served as rehearsal director, the dancers are exposed, vulnerable, not quite pulled together but celebrating their own eccentricities. They performed last weekend and have one more performance coming up on May 31.

Genna Moroni, David Maurice, Ariana Daub, Sarah Butler, photo by by Scott Simock

Genna Moroni, David Maurice, Ariana Daub, Sarah Butler, photo by by Scott Simock

Although the piece is not overtly narrative dance, there are many little stories within it. David Maurice gently touches Sarah Butler, manipulating parts of her body into twisty positions. He is not caressing her but the way his hands move toward and away from her body speaks of warmth and caring. And then he gently bops her on the head and walks away. She runs after him, tackles him to the ground, and drags him offstage.

Rebecah Goldstone on floor, Scott McAcabe at right, photo by Scott Simock

Rebecah Goldstone on floor, photo by Scott Simock

Although a portion of Agami’s choreographic ability comes from her work with Basheva, another portion is totally her own voice. There are references to bourrées and classic port de bras that are neither mockery nor wannabe but just make use of a sudden lightness. There’s a humor throughout and a pleasure in the music choices. While Nina Simone sings “That Ain’t Good,” David Maurice dances an astonishing body-disruptive solo. Since the piece is called mouth to mouth, you pay attention to the kisses, which start off as clumsy, mis-aimed attempts and end up being softer, nurturing mouth-to mouth-contact.

May 31, Salvatore Capezio Theater, Peridance, NYC. Click here for info.

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PLATFORM: DD Dorvillier

When one downtown choreographer’s work is spread over a whole month, there is time to contemplate that artist’s work. I dropped by the Danspace Project for the first “A catalogue of steps,” part of  PLATFORM 2014 on/by DD Dorvillier last Wednesday (five more to go) for half an hour of the three-hour stint, and found a quiet and concentrated space. An oasis in the middle of my week. The intensity of the dancers, especially Katerina Andreou, pulled me in immediately—and that’s hard to do without music, lights, and a crowd watching. I felt the sanctuary of St. Mark’s Church was really a sanctuary at that moment, with light streaming through the stained glass windows and the carillon chiming every half hour.

NIbia Pastrana and Oren Barnoy, photo by Ian Douglas

Katerina Andreou and Oren Barnoy, photo by Ian Douglas

When she dances, Dorvillier has an uncanny knack for interrupting her own flow of movement with bluntly honest radical changes. A soft caving in of the chest might make way for a carefree skip. It’s like she suddenly empties her body of all intention and quickly replaces it with a completely different intention. That kind of restlessness is hard to transfer to other dancers, but the three who are devoting themselves to these long days of “Catalogue of Steps” are doing a terrific job. They allow us to see Dorvillier’s choreographic mind at work.

When I entered the sanctuary Katerina Andreou was plowing through a physically wild solo with utmost precision while Oren Barnoy and Nibia Pastrana, sitting on the floor, were slowly leaning in toward each other in a kiss that never happened. (At a certain point the dancers changed places in this and other sequences.) The juxtaposition gave food for thought during several repetitions. Only about 15 audience members were there, free to walk around the periphery and peruse note cards used in the choreographic process.

Oren Barnoy at window, photo by Ian Douglas

Oren Barnoy at window, photo by Ian Douglas

Throughout the month there will also be a series of solo performances by dance artists who have collaborated with Dorvillier like Jennifer Monson, Jennifer Lacey, and Walter Dundervill. And then, as culmination (or not) in June there will be four performances of Diary of an Image, a new work by Dorvillier with music by Zeena Parkins, lighting by the extraordinary Thomas Dunn, and Dorvillier herself dancing.

Assorted conversations in the flesh and on paper accompany this series, whose full title is PLATFORM 2014: Diary of an Image by DD Dorvillier. For full information, click here. 

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John Jasperse

Known for formal rigor spiked with moments of surreal humor, John Jasperse premieres a new work called Within between. Curiosity is what drives his choreography, for example, What happens (as in Canyon) if someone inside a traveling box lays town masking tape across the floor and walls for the whole performance? Or, what happens (as in Fort Blossom) if two male dancers are nude and two women are covered up?

Photo of early version of "Within between" by Lauren Burke, courtesy of American Dance Institute

Photo of early version of “Within between” by Lauren Burke, courtesy of American Dance Institute

Don’t expect lovely dance phrases or muscular effort that whips up a visceral momentum. Don’t even expect the patterns of minimalist choreography. Do expect some sort of paradox. This new dance plays with states of “belonging versus exclusion.” According to the press release, Jasperse is creating a work that is “both mine and not mine.” In my “Quick Q&A” with John last year, he talked about how his perceptions of his own choreography slide around from, say, sexual to medical. He definitely works on that edge of ambiguity where the same action can seem serious one moment and absurd the next. Sometimes the most mundane actions take on an unexpected beauty. In Misuse liable to prosecution, when a prone dancer who held a bottle of water between her knees raised her legs, the light shimmered through the bottle in the most beautiful way.

May 28–31 at New York Live Arts. Click here for more info.

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All Robbins at NYCB

You will never see a ballet as funny as Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. Made in 1956, it captures the daydreams of a group of appealing neurotics during a Chopin concert played live on the piano. We see their flights of fancy: the young lady who tries on different ridiculous hats, the hilarious Mistake Waltz, the cigar-chomping guy who dreams of stabbing his wife, and the umbrella scene. The umbrella scene—so whimsical about the state of uncertainty and the state of loneliness. (Brian Reeder told me in this Choreography in Focus how touched he is by the hint of melancholy in that scene.) One could say the ballet looks dated, but it’s choreographed with such brilliant craft that you may be noticing how each scene builds as you are giggling uncontrollably.

The Concert

The Concert. Homepage photo of by John Ross.

The Concert is paired with Glass Pieces, which always blows me away with its kinetic subtlety and power. Starting with what looks like random sidewalk traffic, the choreography gets swept up in Philip Glass’ momentum. Sandwiched in between these two masterworks is Op. 19/The Dreamer, which, I have to admit, I have not yet unlocked. But hey, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild are dancing it together on two nights, so that’s all I need to know. May 9–10 and 18–19. Click here for tickets.

Glass PIeces, photo by Paul Kolnik. Homepage photo by John Ross

Glass Pieces, photo by Paul Kolnik. Homepage photo by John Ross

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Yoshiko Chuma & LaMama Moves

After choreographic projects in Sarajevo, Ramallah, Fukushima, Kabul, and other strife-torn cities, Yoshiko Chuma brings her anarchic brew to the LaMama Moves festival May 16–18. The new work, How to Deliver an Afghan Hat, has her signature blend of impulsive movement, disembodied script, and bold images. The dialogues carry hints of people living in war-torn areas without any literal depiction of war. Yoshiko herself is still a spitfire of a dancer, and watching her wrangle with a musician—does she want to destroy his guitar?—is a hoot. With striking video images by Kit Fitzgerald and sound score by Christopher McIntyre.

PHoto by Hugh Burckhardt. Illustration on Homepage by Hidetomo

Photo by Hugh Burckhardt. Illustration on Homepage by Hidetomo Mita.

Other dance artists in the wide-ranging, cheap—tickets are only $15 for students!— LaMama Moves festival include Rebecca Lazier, Miki Orihara of Graham fame, Cedric Andrieux, Ashley Chen, Dylan Crossman, and Chase Brock. A cabaret-style evening entitled Particular Mysteries brings a whole other cornucopia of dance artists. Click here for the full schedule.

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Alain Buffard

Nadia Beugré in Baron Samedi, photo by MarcDomage2

Nadia Beugré in Baron Samedi, photos by Marc Domage

Alain Buffard’s work can be disturbing to watch, especially in the way the human body is presented. Take, for instance, this photo of Nadia Beugré, who happens to have an amazingly expressive face. She blew me away last year in her own work, partly because of the urgency, joy, and sheer fierceness in her face. So I am getting ready to be hugely frustrated, just on the basis of this photo from Baron Samedi, the work that comes to New York Live Arts today through Saturday. Why cover her face?

The more tragic part, of course, is that Buffard died last year at only 53. He was known to many American dancer/choreographers, and two of them—Will Rawls and David Thomson—also perform in Baron Samedi. I don’t usually quote from a press release, but this insight about Buffard comes from the brilliant Carla Peterson, who is leaving NYLA for her new life at MANCC (the choreography lab in Florida) next week: “As with Baron Samedi, his latest work, he often wrestled thematically with the underbelly of darkness that, in his hands, carried truths.”

Baron Samedi is part of the wide-ranging “Danse: A French American Festival of Performance & Ideas” that opens tonight and goes till May 18. Click here for more info.

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Dance Theatre of Harlem

The most radical new work that DTH has commissioned since it’s rebirth is Donald Byrd’s Contested Space. There’s a hard, gotta-have-it edge to it that plunges these young innocents into a darker, more obsessive side of themselves. They rise to the challenge beautifully—and it’s good to see the Byrd intelligence on this coast again. (Catch a glimpse of him being his devastatingly honest self in this “Choreography in Focus.”) 

Ashley Murphy and Sam Wilson in Contested Space, photo by Rachel Neville.

Sam Wilson and Alexandra Jacob in Contested Space. Photo on homepage is Ashley Murphy & Wilson. Photos by Rachel Neville.

We’ll also learn a bit of history, with past-carry-forward 
by Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman Davis. It’s based on the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the North, where they worked as porters, entertainers, and soldiers. One of the interesting things about this piece is that it lists a dramaturge, the scholar Thomas DeFrantz. American choreographers tend to shy away from dramaturges, while in Europe they are quite popular.

To honor the purely classical side of DTH, the company also performs Frederic Franklin’s version of the “Pas de Dix” from Petipa’s Raymonda. Franklin, who originally staged it for DTH in 1984, had served as a mentor to this company for years. (Read Sascha Radetsky’s wonderful memory of Franklin here.)

Completing the season are resident choreographer Robert Garland’s very nifty New Bach (1999), in which the dancers shuttle between ballet steps and the Harlem Shake; and Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993), possibly the least serene choreography you will ever see to Arvo Pärt.

April 23–27, Jazz at Lincoln Center, click here for tickets.



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Ballet Hispanico

Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro continues to expand what “Hispanic ballet” may mean. In his new Hogar (home), he explores the immigrant identity, using live music by Russian composer Ljova. His Asuka, the piece that celebrates Celia Cruz from 2011, appears on Program C. (In this “Choreography in Focus,”  he talks about how Celia Cruz embodied the Latino experience). Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s irrepressible Sombrerísimo appears on Program A, and her madcap Mad’moiselle is on Program B, along with Hogar. Also on the season are works by Edwaard Liang, Nacho Duato, Edgar Zendejas, and a world premiere by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. April 15–27 at the Joyce. Click here for tickets.

Rehearsal of Sombrerisimo, photo by Paula Lobo

Rehearsal of Sombrerisimo, photo by Paula Lobo

Rehearsal of Hogar, photo by Paula Lobo

Rehearsal of Hogar, photo by Paula Lobo


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Youth America Grand Prix

Larissa Saveliev has a special genius for combining new talent with hallowed artistry in a single program. This year the “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” gala on April 10 brings us Misty Copeland, Sara Lane, Lucia Lacarra, and Matthias Heymann as well as recent winners of this worldwide competition. (And I can tell you, as a YAGP judge in three cities this year, that there was plenty of extraordinary young talent.) It also brings the U.S. debut of Evan McKie, whom I’ve been hankering to see dance ever since he wrote this beautiful “Why I Dance” in 2008. He’ll be partnering Olga Smirnova, touted as the hottest, purest new principal at the Bolshoi.

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in Diamonds, photo by Marc Haegemon © Balanchine Trust

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in Diamonds, photo by Marc Haegemon © Balanchine Trust.

Also from the Bolshoi will be Segei Filin—yes, the artistic director who was nearly blinded when his face was splashed with acid in January 2013. He’ll be interviewed at the Koch Theater at 6:00 on Friday, April 11—by yours truly—right before the 15th-anniversary program. It will certainly be a moment of gravitas to hear him speak out.

The Friday gala presents another cascade of ballet stars including Sara Mearns, Herman Cornejo, Brooklyn Mack, and Daniel Ulbricht, plus two special events. The first is that Ailey’s Alicia Graf Mack and ABT’s Daniil Simkin team up to perform Pas de Duke (1976), the star vehicle that Alvin Ailey created for Baryshnikov and Judith Jamison soon after Baryshnikov defected. The second is a premiere by Justin Peck in which he cast dancers from NYCB as well as from ABT. For tickets click here or the YAGP site.

Daniil Simkin & Alicia Graf Mack in Pas de Duke, photo by Jade Young

Daniil Simkin & Alicia Graf Mack in Pas de Duke, photo by Jade Young. Homepage photo: Sara Lane & Joseph Phillips, photo by Gene Schiavone. 

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