writers on dancing

The DanceView Times, New York edition

      Volume 1, Number 12     December 15, 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

Letter from New York

15 December 2003.
Copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

Mansaku Nomura, the John Gielgud of classical Japanese theater, performed with his son Mansai and his four or five year-old grandson Yuuki at Japan Society this week in what, for me, was the finest example of the actor’s art to be seen in New York since January 1982, when I last saw Nomura at Asia House. Mansaku Nomura is a master of kyogen (“crazy word”) drama: a six century-old, dialogue-based theater, comic in nature, that developed contemporaneously with noh and is often performed as an interlude between tragic or mystical noh plays. In this little season presented by the Nomura family, the nightly programs of two 45-minute plays were kyogen all the way—although, the night I attended, one of the two, Kawakami (translated as Kawakami Headwaters), evoked smiles through tears, and the other, Utsubozaru (The Monkey Skin Quiver), evoked laughter through horror. Kawakami is about an elderly blind man (Mansaku Nomura), who, to regain his sight, must promise to divorce his beloved wife (played by Yukio Ishida, a former student of Mansaku’s and now the head of his own noh/kyogen company). Utsubozaru concerns a samurai (Mansai Nomura) who, about to go hunting, insists on wresting a trained baby monkey from its trainer in order to skin it for its fur to cover the quiver for his arrows. The baby monkey, played by Yuuki Nomura, thinks that the stick being raised to brain it is actually a cue for it to dance. The samurai, astonished at the monkey’s skill, relents and keeps his quiver as it was.
read article

past Letters from New York

Ailey's Feast of Dancing and Premieres

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
City Center
New York, NY
December 13, 2003

By Susan Reiter
Copyright © 2003 by Susan Reiter

The premieres just keep on coming each year during the Ailey season, and certainly choreographers must be lining up to get a chance to work with these gorgeous, tireless, dedicated dancers. Many of the choreographers seem to cram as many of the company's A-list dancers into their works as possible—there's no official hierarchy, and artistic director Judith Jamison really spreads the roles around, but certain members are clearly the unofficial soloists—as though they've been presented with a feast and want to sample everything available.

The new works tend to come and go; among the recent ones, Ronald K. Brown's are among the few to find an ongoing place in the Ailey repertory. Too many of the premieres are in suite form, consisting of assembled musical selections and offering a rich display of dancing that does not cohere or add up to much. Some tend toward the harsh and edgy; other are more showbiz and display-oriented.
read review

A celebration of George Balanchine:
Selected Television Work

Let’s Take a Trip and Playhouse 90: The Nutcracker
The Museum of Television & Radio
New York and Los Angeles
December 5-28

By Dale Brauner
copyright © 2003 by Dale Brauner

George Balanchine, born in the early years of the 20th century, was one of the great forward-thinking artists. As new technology emerged, he was quick to incorporate or use it. His works, such as Episodes and Agon, reflected an influence of the mechanical age. In the early years of the information age, Balanchine though originally skeptical saw the New York City Ballet perform his works regularly on television during the 1950s through the 1960s on the variety shows popular at the time.

Although invaluable as lasting records, the performances on The Bell Telephone Hour, The Ed Sullivan Show and the Voice of Firestone were often filmed in less than ideal circumstances—cement floors, limited space, and last minute casting changes. In addition, the early recording equipment made the dancers’ noses appear long and their legs look short.

Balanchine, who advanced the art of ballet in films in the 1930s, developed a strong relationship with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and was pleased with the results produced and aired between 1956 and 1979. His decision to have a large amount of his ballets filmed in Germany soured him to the filming experience. Director Hugo Niebeling made strange camera angle and editing choices. Balanchine derided the 1978 Live at Lincoln Center broadcast of Coppèlia, which featured too many long-range shots, for making his ballet look like “dancing matchsticks." It was only after he worked with the Dance in America crew for the “Choreography by Balanchine” series that Balanchine truly felt comfortable to re-envision his work on television.

Balanchine’s work on television and film is the subject of a series held by the Museum of Television & Radio in New York and Los Angeles in honor of the great choreographer’s centennial. Nine sets of screenings are scheduled from December to March, as well as a seminar in January featuring Suzanne Farrell, Edward Villella, Live at Lincoln Center executive producer John Goberman.
read review

What's On This Week?

December 15
Movement Research at the Judson Church

This week's forum for experimentation and works-in-progress features the work of Paul Benney and Gabrielle Lansner.
55 Washington Square South

December 16-January 4 (opened December 3)
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The company takes up residence in New York for a month to celebrate its 45 years of existence. The season features new productions of Judith Jamison's tribute to Alvin Ailey, Hymn, and Donald McKayle's Rainbow Round My Shoulder. Four new ballets will be added to the company's repertory: Bounty Verses by Dwight Rhoden, Footprints by Jennifer Muller, Heart Song by Alonzo King, and Juba by Robert Battle. Ailey's masterpiece, Revelations, also will be programmed, along with other repertory favorites.
City Center
55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues

December 16
Dance Conversations @ the Flea Theater

Pat Catterson, Ellen Cornfield, Jan Gabriel, Chase Granoff and Heather Kravas take part in this month's performance series of new works in a lab-like setting. Performances are followed by a discussion between the artists and audience moderated by choreographer Neta Pulvermacher.
The Flea Theater
41 White Street between Broadway and Churt Street

December 16
Trajal Harrell Dance Style

Tickle the Sleeping Giant, a mix of contemporary runway fashion, voguing dance tradition, and contemporary dance performance.
Choreographer Trajal Harrell works with with Meshell N’degeocello, the multiple Grammy Award-nominated jazz musician, and Joseph Carter, design director at Marc Jacobs. The performance will take place before and after a panel on dance with choreographers, dance critics, and art historians. CUNY Graduate Center 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street 212-817-8215

December 16
Radical Low

Kuert Ralske and Chantal Yzermans perform RL.1 - a work for solo dancer, video and music. Dancer/choreographer Yzermans performs blindfolded, while video artist Ralske uses a camera to capture images of the dancer in real-time.
Location One
26 Greene Street between Canal and Grand Streets

December 16-21
New York City Ballet

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker continues its residence at the New York State Theater.
New York State Theater
Lincoln Center

December 15-March 7 (Opened December 6)
A Celebration of George Balanchine:

Selected Television Work George Balanchine took full advantage of the advent of television, and many of his greatest works - and performances of his dancers - have been captured on video. In this 100th-year anniversary of the great choreographer's birthday, The Museum of Television & Radio presents a series of showings of some incredible footage. First up, shown from December 5-28, is a program of Let's Take a Trip, a children's show hosted by Sonny Fox. Balanchine gives a tour of the School of American Ballet and choreographs Yankee Doodle for New York City Ballet members Patricia Wilde, Nicholas Magallanes, and Carolyn George. In addition, Tanaquil LeClercq and Jacques d'Amboise perform a pas de deux from The Nutcracker. The screening continues with Playhouse 90: The Nutcracker, the historic telecast that featured Diana Adams, Allegra Kent, Arthur Mitchell, Edward Villella, and Balanchine as Herr Drosselmeyer.
The Museum of Television & Radio
25 West 52 Street

December 15-April 24 (Opened December 10)
The Enduring Legacy of George Balanchine

A multi-media exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Balanchine. It features photographs, designs, manuscript music and correspondence, costumes, set pieces, and models, along with showings of videotaped performances and rehearsals. Lectures will begin in January.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery
40 Lincoln Center Plaza

December 16-January 4
Savion Glover
In an exhilarating evening, Tony Award winner Savion Glover and his group make their Joyce Theater debut. The tap dance great blends jazz, hip-hop, rock-n-roll, funk, thythm and blues into his own personal style.
The Joyce Theater 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.

December 17-December 21 (opened November 19)
Koosil-ja/Dance Kumikokimoto
The group presents a dance work with mix media that "tests a notion of dance and human presence vs. trained movement codes.
88 Front Street at Washington Street
Dumbo, Brooklyn

December 18-29
Dance in Progress:
Maria Hassabi, Adrienne Truscott, Chris Yon, Greg Zuccolo

The Kitchen's longest-running program features four emerging choreographers showcasing innovation in dance. The evening performances are the culmination of a two-month long laboratory of creating work while receiving feedback. The Kitchen 512 West 19th Street,
between 10th and 11th Avenues

December 18-20
Maria Elena Anaya

Anaya performs in the American of De Pasiones Sin Retorno, a work that blends modern dance and flamenco.
La MaMa E.T.C.
Annex Theatre
66 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue 212-475-7710

December 18-20
Maxine Steinman and Dancers

Steinman creates poetic dance interlaced with dreamlike quietness and tender sensuality. On the program: Underfrost , inspired by a red rose; two premieres, one on womanhood and the other a men's duet; Inside the Green Wall , to the music of the Brazilian Indians, and ...still we sit , a duet to the music of Henrik Górecki.
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street, between Houston and Prince

December 18-21
Chris Elam and Misnomer Dance Theater

Intimacy in Transition, a world premiere, uses quick-paced movements and improbable partnering to investagate interpersonal relationships.
P. S. 122
150 First Avenue at 9th Street
(212) 477-5288

December 18-21
Central Station/Global Exchange

Danspace Project
Performances of works by Daria Buzovkina of Russia and Estonia's United Dancers of ZUGA.
Danspace Project
St. Mark's Church
131 E. 10th St.
(212) 643-8888.

December 19 and 20
Cedar Lake Ensemble

A new group, led by Jen Ballard, gives preview performances.
Dance Theater Workshop
219 West 19th Street

December 20 and 21
New York Theatre Ballet
The Nutcracker
This chamber-sized company's one-hour production, choreographed by
Keith Michael, is designed especially for children and families. 11am, 1pm, 3:30 pm

Florence Gould Hall
55 E. 59th Street

December 19-20
Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago

The Spirit of Kwanzaa
This electrifying company presents an invigorating synthesis of dance, rhythm and song, inspired by the music and folklore of the African and African American worlds, from Senegal and South Africa to Brazil and Harlem.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
36 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey

— Dale Brauner




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This weeks' articles


Mindy  Aloff's Letter from New York

The Balanchine Celebration
New York City Ballet:
A Veteran and a Raw Recruit
by Mindy Aloff

Heart and Soul
by Mary Cargill

Kid Stuff
Cas Public's If You Go Down To the Woods Today
by Susan Reiter

San Francisco Ballet:
New Wheeldon (Rush)
by Rita Felciano

New Tomasson (7 For Eight)
by Paul Parish

Possokhov's New Firebird for OBT
by Rita Felciano

Moscow Festival Ballet and Scott Wells
by Paul Parish

Hamburg Ballet's Nijinsky:
Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos
by Clare Croft

NijinskyMadness and Metaphor
by Alexandra Tomalonis

Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes
by George Jackson

Batsheva: Breaking Down Walls
by Lisa Traiger

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
by Clare Croft

Choreographers Showcase
by Tehreema Mitha

Zoltan Nagy
by George Jackson






Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Nancy Dalva
Gia Kourlas
Gay Morris
Susan Reiter
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Meital Waibsnaider
Leigh Witchel
David Vaughan


The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

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