Archive for February, 2012

February 27, 2012

Master Class, the next journal and more

by ashleyandersondances

This week Stevan is teaching for Master Class so get on over to RW on Wednesday evening or Saturday morning. Remember they have public transit discounts, regularly update facebook with new teacher bios/event details and are one of few options for regular, professional level class in the city.

Also count down the days until SPRING MUDSON and the NEXT PERFORMANCE JOURNAL ISSUE. March is the time it all begins. This journal features writing by a lot of people but one of my favorite things right now is a piece by Margaret Paek reflecting on this project at Danspace…


It is alongside photos from the event and a great article by Brenda Daniels (interim dean at UNCSA on dancing and motherhood in major American companies).

If that wasn’t enough the Whitney Biennial is giving dance some of the love it deserves. In an era where it’s sometimes cooler to say things like “I’m a contemporary movement artist” or something else that really means “I make dances” they are highlighting choreography in the 2012 Biennial and saying things like this in the NYTimes:
“It seems like performance art had stolen the limelight away from all the really exciting things that were going on in dance itself,” Ms. Sussman said. “We’re recognizing that.”

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February 26, 2012

UDEO conference coming up

by ashleyandersondances

Next Saturday is the annual UDEO conference — held at Weber State University from 8-3:30.
Charlotte from RW is delivering a keynote address and breakout session leaders include: Karin Fenn, Ashley Anderson/Stephen Brown, Erik Stern, Holy Woodridge and Pearl Wagstaff-Garff.
Mary Ann Lee will also be receiving a lifetime achievement award for her work with Tanner Dance.

February 25, 2012

Rambling

by ashleyandersondances

I want to call Doris Humphrey up and let her know that not all dances are too long. In fact, The Rambler, presented this evening at Kingsbury Hall, was just the right length. Keeping me engaged with the thoughtful performance for one hour and then setting me free into the night before the predicted snowfall.

It’s perhaps foolish to write a critical review in total earnest since the show only ran one night. Additionally it’s toured all over the country so it’s not as though the Joe Goode Performance Group is desperately searching for a critical opinion on the record.

But I would be remiss not to reflect on the experience as a unique imprint on the Salt Lake dance scene which can be rich but often incestuous. Having a national guest reminds me where Salt Lake exists in relationship to other ways of making and seeing dance.

The performance centered around simple logic — vertical and horizontal traveling curtains would frame  small portals where vignettes emerged. The curtain might expand to further reveal the scene or it might stay confined around small happenings.

The vignettes ranged from theatrical monologues & sculptural interactions to more traditional movement composition alongside live singing. Each developed different ideas about the concept of rambling but left the audience with the comfort that the curtain would take us to the next scene.

Simple logic allowed for more complex experiences to emerge. Because each scene was freshly framed there was the freedom to go along for the ride without anxiety or expectation. This feeling extended to the very beginning of the piece where Joe strolls out in a cowboy hat, identifies that the day before he’d fallen off the stage in front of school children, and the dancing begins as he reads poems (more or less) about  “felt movement”, something he’s known for teaching.

This casual approach, I have to point out, is also employed in Salt Lake at the Mudson performance series I run as part of loveDANCEmore. And the same way I find it demystifies art-making in that venue, it certainly demystified the evening’s performance for me. In a form where so much is unclear (where our paychecks will come from, how we will find resources to make work and how we persuade digital-age audiences to sit with us) it is nice to have a person walk before you and simply invite you to partake in what they’ve made.

There is a lot of freedom in rambling and this means the dancing, singing and acting are also free to be unapologetically intermingled. While his website refers to dance-theater and blurring boundaries the dance is really more an expression what dance can include rather than what dance is not. It deals with the limitless potential of the body to express ideas and identities whether with traditional partnering or the strain of a song.

This is another lesson that some Salt Lakers could learn — using elements of theater in a work is not an act that requires explanation and justification. It’s also not something that’s revelatory but rather, is a natural extension for the potential of the form. Living here I often I see work where the “more theatrical” elements don’t seem quite right and it’s because their inclusion isn’t always as organic as the Rambler might make it appear. They seem hesitant and careful but this evening suggests that hesitance is not the course.

I know this because even in this production there are things I’m not super keen on. A lit cyc has never been something I love, monologues that incite uncomfortable laughter give me nausea, old stand-by partnering lifts give me even more nausea and the list goes on. But The Rambler creates and sticks to it’s own convoluted pathway, no apologies. I don’t find myself making a catalogue of my likes and dislikes as I might normally. I’m noticing instead the nuance of physicalized floundering in romantic or interpersonal relationships, the ways to seek adventure among a field of abstract cacti, a luscious disappearance and re-emergence into a field of hokey smoke.

This dance wasn’t too long but this writing is. I could go on and on, which in the case of a one-time show is probably a good thing.

February 25, 2012

Body Logic- One More Night Only!

by sofiastrempek//loveDANCEmore//intern

For companies and artists like those in Body Logic Dance, who perform “Words Unspoken” February 24th & 25th, Sugar Space is an irreplaceable performance venue. Sugar Space can be transformed from studio to black box when the clock strikes 7:30 pm. The stage is bare bones, a place where choreographers can showcase professional level work but the pressure to fill seats is minimized since family and friends of performers often fill the 90 seats available. Sugar Space supports artists almost without discretion. It is available for anyone with a mind to choreograph, with a will to put on a show (although Sugar Space employees will help with that part). The Sugar Space black box should be utilized more than it is, it could also be utilized more deftly.

Body Logic Dance presented an hour and a half program with seven pieces, all of which were pleasant or interesting to watch, some of which approached hilarity, none of which felt fully realized. Which is fine. As I said, the low-stakes of Sugar Space means that dances that feel like works in progress (admittedly for Body Logic Dance, very well rehearsed works in progress) are welcome. For most of the dances, ideas progressed either too quickly or were too quick to revert back to their original form. It was as though the format A-B-A was an ingrained mainstay of how to create a dance, and the choreographers were eager to appeal to that format. “Per Aspera de Astra (Through Difficulties To The Stars)” choreographed by Serena Webb jettisoned through uplifted bourres to dancers crashing to the floor. Before we have a moment to appreciate the tiptoed cashew* feet of Krista Di Lello she has fallen off releve to a crumpled form on the ground.

Webb’s work and most others suffered from a music identity crisis. Possibly I missed a clear progression in some of the dances if only because the music pairing was unfortunate. Amy Markgraf –Jacobson’s “Where Light is Made to Travel” was one of the smartest pieces in the show but music by Thomas Newman was a consistent drone and detracted from the dynamics that the piece did contain. The decisions Markgraf-Jacobson made to counterpoint duets seemed effortless and unplanned. She also used the stage space very well. Very well, that is, if the venue had been anything but Sugar Space. Here is where my comment that the black box should be “utilized more deftly” applies.

In a venue where as I sit in the first row my relatively short legs are a safety hazard for the dancers, my eyes are similarly a handicap, unable to take in the full width of the stage. The audience is up so close and so personal that what might have been a graceful develope a la seconde in rehearsal turns into an almost brazen spreading of legs. Claire Valene Bagley Hayes’ “Settle Down” used two equally petite dancers and only half of the stage but the piece felt large. If only because the focus was clearly directed at all times, “Settle Down” was one of the shortest and one of the least explosive pieces, broaching humor with subtle gestural work, but it felt best suited for Sugar Space. All of the other pieces, some of which fit nine dancers on the stage, would have benefited from consolidating choreography to specific places onstage and rotating some of the lifts to new angles.

I would have loved to have been able to focus on the performers more, to not have them disappear into the multitudes or fly by in a flock of traveling dancers. Again, De Lillo along with Shanna Weight and many of the guest dancers were committed performers. Mistakes are more obvious when the stage is so close to the audience. So is insecurity. Downcast eyes and slightly retreating movement marked the weaker performers. However in a show with more pirouettes and leaps than I have seen in a while, their confidence in technique was evident.

Body Logic can be so much more, with their fluid movers and developing choreographers. First, they should learn to do a little less, to not overburden the stage, to not pick music that is more epic than the movement. Sugar Space will be there, 90 seats and all, when they perform again.

*Writers note: I read this metaphor in a piece written by Dance Magazine’s Lauren Kay, and I had to use it, just once! What a sumptuous image!

February 24, 2012

a new group, a new event

by ashleyandersondances

There is a new group in town. “The Art Haus” is dedicated to presenting multidisciplinary projects in the city and they are starting with a “psychophysical theatre workshop”

Art Haus says of the class:
The workshop will draw from exercises in The Michael Chekhov technique, yoga, Jerzy Grotowski based exercises, and a uniquely developed psychophysical training from the research of the workshop facilitator, Sara Moncivais. Participants will be asked to come prepared with a short text.

Facilitator Sara Moncivais holds a master’s degree from Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England and has led workshops, taught at universities, and worked with professional theatre companies in the United Kingdom and New York, NY.

Details:
Saturday, March 24th, 1-5pm
The Sugar Space, 616 Wilmington Avenue, SLC
Registration is $50
For Information and to sign up email
thearthausslc@gmail.com or call 917-446-6938
Space is Limited

February 24, 2012

a message from Betsy at RW

by ashleyandersondances

If you are in the Salt Lake dance community it’s likely you’ve been receiving e-mails from Betsy at RW about a Career Transitions event for dancers. She sent one recently about important changes to the event time.

There has been a few changes for the Career Transitions for Dancers Workshop this Saturday, February 25, 2012. The workshop will now take place at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center downstairs in Studio B WITH A TIME CHANGE from 2:00-3:00. If you would like to sign-up to speak with a career counselor let me know and we can schedule a time to meet from 5:00-7:30 (30 min. each) at the Capitol Theatre in the Ballet West offices! Please sign-up and take advantage of this great resource coming to our area. Make it a dance themed Saturday by taking Master Class with Lilly Picts from 10:00-11:30 get some lunch and then come back to the workshop at the Rose! Go here to register: http://saltlakecitynop.eventbrite.com/

While lots of the people I know in the community are still looking to cultivate their dance career rather than transition out of it, it’s without question this field often requires a lot of supplementary jobs, a lot of creative problem solving and a little help never hurts when it comes to complex issues of financial planning. So check out the event and get in touch with Betsy if you have questions.

February 22, 2012

loveDANCE more visits Holland

by ashleyandersondances

Zdravo Salt Lake! Juan Aldape writing from Belgrade, Serbia. In a globally interconnected world, I think it’s important to recognize and promote local artists who demonstrate stimulating methodologies for producing work. I want to share this review of a recent work I saw at Holland Dance Festival in Den Haag, Netherlands. I spent five days at the festival primarily with an interest in looking at the work of two Nederlands-based choreographers. One of these is Samir Calixto. — Juan

Samir Calixto’s Winterreise Tetralogy is superb, excellently chilling, a decelerated mass of beauty and grace. This two-section, four part, multidisciplinary production integrating art installation, live music and dance moves along like a glacier to reveal the stone cold isolation in Franz Schubert’s epic score. The various components of the premiere production hold their own splendor. The scenography is spell binding. The voices glorious. The movement chiseled and cool.

This piece is the first performance of the complete Winterreise Tretatology. According to the programme notes, this has been “a long term investigation on Franz Schubert’s masterpiece.” This performance rendition is a beautiful display of the diverse sounds, and as a result thematic tones, found in the pièce de résistance. Virtually every aspect of the production augments and reveals the metamorphic subtlety of the sound score. While Calixto was working with a historically essential sound piece, the craft of the piece somehow appears as if Schubert composed this piece especially for this production. Calixto does not commit destruction of the sublime piece, as is the often the case when one takes on a musical canon. It is difficult to summarize the entirety of this decadent piece, as leaving anything out would neglect small details that comprise this gem.

The first section is opaque, with a myriad of parallel pessimistic expressions. An inverted tree suspends upstage-left. Just above the entanglement of the branches, a clear rectangular water tank cube is filled with water. The light highlights the moisture trickling down the trunk and branches, falling on a stainless-steel heated square. The droplets evaporate on contact. Emerging from this landscape are intimate moments of human beings struggling in frozen isolation.

As the audience returns to the second section, after a 25 minute set change, we see a completely different stage. We enter a white cube. The stage looks glassy and crystal-like. A dismal movement section follows. A suspending angular boulder, its imminent fall tangible, having replaced the upside down trunk, takes on various shades. At times, it is a jet-black hovering orb one moment and a detailed metamorphic boulder the next. Unexpectedly, hurling ice blocks fall from above and shattering ice debris bursts across the stage. The performers barely dodge crashing ice.The light slowly reveals what appears a shimmering and transparent polar ice glaze. Tiny ice crystals reflect light as the entire hall becomes frigid. Shivers run up my spine. The entire audience gasps for air.

Calixto returns to the frozen tundra to begin an abandoned solo over the ice. His body is subjected to fast movement, bodily heat is perceivable. The jagged movement produces unbearable pressure in the space. Calixto’s movement becomes disintegrated into fragments that then become consolidated into a sedimentary mass, unable to move. His bare skin rests of the frigid chunks of ice.  The physical weathering of the solo comes at the apex of Schubert’s score.  The overall feeling is a contradictory amalgam of loneliness and human warmth. Simultaneously, a bare-topped body rests up-stage right, slowly moving to standing. As is her body is heated to such an extent that it has melted, then cooled and recrystallized and formed into a new body.

It’s hard to say that at any point in time there are individual performers. Each component of the productions makes use of each discipline impressively. They become indistinguishable. No aspect of the production is left unpolished. The piece builds to a point where three bodies, perfectly lit with halos, become exhibited artifacts of existential emotional and physical exhaustion. The arrangement is pristine.

More information about Samir Calixto:
http://www.samircalixto.webs.com/

See an excerpt of this work:

February 20, 2012

some links for the week

by ashleyandersondances

Right now I am hard at work compiling the Spring 2012 issue of learning to loveDANCEmore. In the meantime here are some links to tide you over…

While I have never seen this ballet company and lack some context regarding company history I think it’s nice when anyone points out that living in an unusual place can be great. It’s nice that the director mentions that of course it would be nice to have “more recognition” but would it actually change anything? Probably not. No one is exempt from this feeling, even in SLC. I, for example, cling to the day I was called statuesque in the New York Times but also realize that audiences here are often as large (and sometimes as dedicated) as they are in NYC. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/arts/dance/desert-sun-no-shortage-of-inspiration.html?ref=dance

It’s not secret that I was not happy about a recent review by Brian Seibert. But reading one of his newest I see that he was able to provide somewhat more context for the works presented in a show at NYLA http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/arts/dance/jen-rosenblit-and-vanessa-anspaugh-perform-at-live-arts.html?ref=dance. I wasn’t there so I can’t say for sure, but it seems a more redeeming portrayal than what I last read.

Some people in L.A. got lots of money, which is maybe only interesting to read because it makes it seem possible that anyone here could acquire a similar sum at some point. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/02/body-traffic-joyce-theater-foundation.html

Also you can read a take on Pina and more on this Denver based blog http://livingartschronicle.wordpress.com/. I know about a million dancers in SLC have seen Pina. Anyone wanting to submit some words can do so by sending them to lovedancemore@gmail.com

Also coming up are some international reviews by former SLC’er Juan Aldape who is studying in Holland at the moment. So keep checking the blog, they’ll be posted soon.

February 15, 2012

Ballet West’s “Don Quixote”

by sofiastrempek//loveDANCEmore//intern

Compared to Ballet West’s latest productions with their demanding visual scenery (“Dracula”’s gothic bedroom scenes, “The Sleeping Beauty”’s smoke-filled depths of a forest) “Don Quixote” relies heavily on storytelling, cross dressing men and bravado to awe the audience.

The simple humor and stomping matadors did not fully support the ballet. The production was extremely chaste and one-noted. Humor came almost completely from the performance of Easton Smith as Gamache. Playing the buffoon, Smith pranced through the ballet, his full pantaloons and pink cheeks a visual reminder that he was the clown of the show.

However, Ballet West company members transform muted staging into brilliance with their performance. No longer is it just Christiana Bennett who steals the show. Soloists and even corps members are moving with new clarity and depth.

What made “Don Quixote” a thoroughly enjoyable performance was the passionate and masterful dancing of soloists, notably Kuei-Hsein Chu (as Gypsy King), Beckanne Sisk, Christopher Ruud and Arolyn Williams (as Cupid).

Kuei-Hsein Chu immediately clinched the audience vote for ‘favorite dancer.’ Propelling his compact form off of the floor beautifully, he made his rapid ascent a precursor to dramatic turns and hyper-executed positions. Chu, dressed effeminately in a wrap belly shirt, moved with a leering sensuality and sinuousness. He boldly danced wildly where dancers in the same role might have danced less provocatively. It was amazing.

William’s performance of Cupid was perhaps the most character driven dancing in Holmes’ “Don Q.” Williams was as quick and flighty as a human attempting to be a cherub can be. The turned in stag leaps and stylized positions were distinctly a movement vocabulary of Cupid alone, a welcome separation from sometimes-monotonous corps work.

Interspersed between long sections of predictable choreography in which each lift required an accompanying trill of music, each trill of music duly (dully) benefiting from the movement, were pleasing moments of suspense. Perhaps choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes recognized her own patterns and broke them, such as when Beckanne Sisk as Kitri jumped into a partnered leap. Sisk does this twice, the first time landing on the ground quickly. Doubling back, she repeats this lift but soars higher via Christopher Ruud’s partnering. The audience is taken aback Sisk’s momentary reprieve from gravity. In a more pointed and coquettish display of teasing suspense, one of “Kitri’s friends,” demi-soloist Allison DeBona, completes the easiest ropes course ever created. She faces the audience, bourreing and piqueing around beer mugs that the men from the bar placed on the floor as obstacles. While suspense in the form of “will she fall?!” might not always be the most graceful way to initiate audience interest, the tactic was playful and the woman’s aptitude made the probability of an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” moment unlikely.

“Don Quixote” takes place in a land where swords are too long and windmills are too short. Exaggerated and over the top acting almost made the ballet kitsch, garnering audiences attention in spite of the dancing, rather than because of it. Scenery and costumes can eclipse the choreography. Ballet West’s performance of “Don Quixote” is successful because of its dancing. I enjoyed watching the show as I might enjoy watching a ballet class, ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over a balance en pointe. Again, Ballet West reminds us that they are a powerhouse of technique and strong performers.

February 11, 2012

twyla here twyla there

by ashleyandersondances

Maybe you’ll be seeing the “Sweet Fields” reconstruction at the University of Utah, if so check older posts for Sofia’s interview with Elaine Kudo but also read this review of Twyla’s newer projects: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/arts/dance/twyla-tharp-creates-the-princess-and-the-goblin-ballet.html?ref=dance

You can also read in the LATimes a little ditty about “Pina” and it’s 3D aspects. Maybe the sheer act of reading the article will magically transport the movie to Salt Lake. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-pina-commentary-20120129,0,6846913.story

If that wasn’t enough remember that SLC will soon be featured on Dances Made to Order (http://dancesmadetoorder.com/) and you get a discount by buying a season pass to other featured cities as well….check it out.

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