the danceview times
writers on dancing


   Volume 1, Number 1      September 29, 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

Eve of Destruction

Akram Khan
Yerba Buena Theater
San Francisco, Calilfornia

September 18, 2003

By Paul Parish
copyright Paul Parish

Akram Khan's brilliant Kaash began before I was aware of it. The house lights were still up; I was turned around talking to the person behind me when I realized I'd lost her attention—a look of alarm had come into her eyes, and I turned to see there was a knife-blade slender youth onstage, with his back to us, dressed in black, gazing motionless into the huge black rectangle suspended, floating on the horizon in silence like a monstrous new planet or a black sun up in the sky. The scene looked like a Rothko—and the image on the back wall did not change throughout the disturbing, rattling contemporary dance that took place in front of it for the next ninety minutes or so. The black hopeless object held focus amidst peripheral washes of color, sometimes pearly white, sometimes blood-red. The entire dance seemed to be the image of an unquiet train of thought that began with "If..." (Khaash means "if," or alternatively "what if," in Hindi, according to a program note) and went to a lot of dark places...... One of those dark meditations that leads you in an apparent circle but in fact is spiraling downwards. When we reached a bleak place after about an hour, and were overtaken by an overwhelming roar that shook me to the bones, it turned out that the dance had returned to the opening configuration, and the opening section began all over again.

Letter from New York

29 September 2003
Mindy Aloff
copyright Mindy Aloff

Psychologically probing, physically exacting, unpredictably conjoined with their musical scores, frequently dependent for full effect on sets and costumes that are constructed with consummate delicacy—the ballets of Antony Tudor can be as challenging to revive and produce as the classical dance spectacles of Asia. Since Tudor’s death, in 1987, one rarely finds them on the boards, even at American Ballet Theatre, the choreographer’s home company in the U.S. for nearly a half century. For a while, the principal curator of Tudor’s work was Sallie Wilson, one of his most trusted dancers at A.B.T. Wilson is no longer working with that company; instead, her revivals, along with one or two by Diana Byer, can be found at the little, impecunious yet high-minded New York Theatre Ballet, which Byer directs and which, last spring, put on a fascinating all-Tudor program at the Florence Gould Hall of the Alliance-Française. Its performance detail—especially in Tudor’s signature work, Jardin aux Lilas—stopped the breath. No other current American production I’ve seen of this plangent hommage to the Edwardian era of Tudor’s parents even remotely approaches the richness and exactitude of the characterizations by the N.Y.T.B. Still, as Tobi Tobias observed in the Village Voice, a Tudor ballet requires not only great coaching but also great dancers to unfold its full wonders; and despite the loveliness of their performances, the artists of N.Y.T.B. were not freed as theatrical presences by their accuracy: they simply do not offer the Olympian stamina and virtuosity of their colleagues at A.B.T. or, historically, at the New York City Ballet. (Tudor brought several works to N.Y.C.B. in the 1950s and early ‘60s, including Jardin aux Lilas, restaged there as Lilac Garden. However, N.Y.C.B. has not revived them in decades and seems unlikely to try.)

Women Solo
Dance Place Season Opener

"Together By Ourselves"
The first of "Two evenings of works by leading Washington women choreographers and performers"
Program 1
Dance Place
Washington, D.C.
Saturday, September 20, 2003

By George Jackson
copyright George Jackson

On the program were 8 solos (one a doubled solo). Sometimes I've wondered whether the dance solo is really choreography. Is it truly a work of art the way even a duo can be? Solos certainly need not lack form. Yet it's not the objective sequences of these dances—their patterns, their structures—that are foremost in the audience's perception. Or in memory. When thinking of the great solos, it is impossible to ignore or forget them as manifestations of emotion, or will power, or character or enigma that the dancer and/or maker generates. Pavlova's Fokine swan was about sadness, Wigman's witch about meanness, Rudy Perez's Countdown about solitude. Because there's no one else on stage to limit expression, or respond to it, the solo doesn't provide the audience with built-in navigating tools. One reacts to the solo's totality as if dance plus dancer equals one entity, a being larger than life. Several of the Washington women didn't disappoint in that respect, and the program as a whole showed diverse ways of achieving results.

Shared Paths

"Together By Ourselves"
Program 2
Dance Place
Washington, D.C.
Sunday, September 21, 2003

By Lisa Traiger
copyright Lisa Traiger

It's impossible to deny Carla Perlo her due; she deserves applause and support for her visionary ideals that have over the past two-plus decades shaped the Washington, D.C. dance community. By sheer force of will in the face of increasingly parsimonious funding cuts and ever-rising production costs, Perlo has nurtured the nation's capital's most prolific dance presenter, Dance Place, which opened its 23rd season on Sept. 20 and 21. Presenting 48 weeks of performance each year, Dance Place remains the hub of the D.C. dance community, offering modern, African, percussive, non-Western dance and performance art week in, week out. But to kick off the season, Perlo looked to her peers: Uncommon women who have made dance their lives and made Washington the home in which they live and dance.


The Ballet Boyz

George Piper Dances
Sadler's Wells Theatre
London, England
September 23-27, 2003

By Jane Simpson
copyright Jane Simpson

The story so far: The Ballet Boyz are William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, who left the Royal Ballet in 1999 to join Tetsuya Kumakawa's K-Ballet in Japan. Disillusionment set in after a couple of years, and they returned to London to set up their own company. It's official name is George Piper Dances (George and Piper being their middle names), but most people still talk about 'the Ballet Boyz', which was the title of a series of television films they made about their last season with the Royal Ballet and their time in Japan. One of their trademarks is that they've continued to use video film of themselves— rehearsals, cities they've played in and so on as linkage for their programmes—this can be a bit blokey/jokey but they're getting better at it. The Kiev-trained Oxana Panchenko has danced with GPD almost from the beginning, and for the current tour they've increased the company to five for the first time.

The company's twin aims are to make interesting new work and to bring in a new audience—"normal people who've never been to a dance performance", according to a recent interview. I should think nine companies out of ten the world over would subscribe to these objectives, but at least so far as the first one is concerned, GPD is more successful than most: their show at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London opened with a world premiere by William Forsythe, followed by another one by Christopher Wheeldon. Not bad for a tiny company only two years old.

Past and Present

Du Passe Au Present
ODC Theater
San Francisco, California
Saturday, September 27, 2003

By Ann Murphy
copyright Ann Murphy

Forty-four year old Montreal native and Bay Area transplant Sonya Delwaide ended her career as a performer this weekend in San Francisco with one of the few dance quotes apt enough for the occasion: Odette's mournful seated bow, wings folded over one extended leg en face.

The lithe dancer's Gallic features had acquired a Pierrot-like sadness in this last dance of the evening, her signature Du Balcon, the only dance in which she appeared in the concert Du Passe Au Present (from the past to the present). But then that haunting wistfulness found a dignified and logical close when Delwaide linked herself to the famous swan, woman trapped between worlds who, in the end, chooses to put the dangerously enchanted realm behind her.

Unanswered questions

Nijinsky's Last Dance
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Washington, D.C.
Aug. 27-Sept. 14, 2003

By Lisa Traiger
copyright Lisa Traiger

"I am Nijinsky!" declares Jeremy Davidson in the opening moments of playwright Norman Allen's sketch of the great dancer and even greater choreographer. It's wishful and wistful thinking, to say the—least. Nijinsky, legendary for his boundless leaps, his tradition-defying choreography and his brief but historic career—just nine years—truncated by mental illness, was an artist and a personality of unrepeatable world-renowned. But Allen's 90-minute, intermissionless one-man show is more gloss on the star than either a biography or even psychological or artistic portrait. "Nijinsky's Last Dance," which received a Helen Hayes Washington Theater Award for outstanding new play four years ago, was revived by Arlington, Va.'s Signature Theater for the Kennedy Center's fall Prelude Festival, a fortnight sampling of performing arts from blue-grass to zydeco, ballet to "The Wizard of Oz," meant to entice audiences to Washington's largest and most prolific performing arts center.

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Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Clare Croft
Nancy Dalva
Rita Felciano
Marc Haegeman
Rachel Howard
George Jackson
Gia Kourlas
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Jean Battey Lewis
Alexander Meinertz
Tehreema Mitha
Gay Morris
Ann Murphy
Paul Parish
Susan Reiter
Jane Simpson
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Lisa Traiger
Meital Waibsnaider


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