Archive for ‘reviews’

April 26, 2013

“One…” last chance

by lovedancemoreintern

“One…” presented by the Ririe Woodbury Dance Company runs from April 25-27 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.  This year the company’s season has acted as a countdown towards their 50th anniversary.  It has also been the last season for Artistic Director Charlotte Boye-Christensen as well as veteran member Jo Blake.  Included in the program were two pieces from 2005, Alicia Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” as well as Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge”.  Also included and premiered on Thursday evening was German native Johannes Wieland’s “one hundred thousand” which was created on the company last Fall.

The show was a marathon for the dancers with the entire company utilized in each piece.  Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” demonstrated the company’s physicality in a way they have become known for.  The piece was comprised of seemingly unrelated vignettes each ending unresolved and paving the way for a new story.  The material was at once quite personal and then uncomfortably distant.  As the relationships between the dancers were formed and destroyed, I had a difficult time understanding my own relationship to the dancers as an audience.  Sanchez made occasional use of breaking the fourth wall, but this decision seemed to leave me less involved than expected.  The work certainly had a story to tell; I just could not understand it given the language the dancers were speaking.

Following this was Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge” set to a fast past and engaging score by John Adams.  To be quite frank, I have never been the biggest fan of Boye-Christensen’s style and normally find her material vague and tedious.  “Bridge” however was anything but.  It acted as less of a bridge into the future and more of a cannon ball.  While it certainly had her signature, I found the piece to be thoroughly engaging and surprising.  There were moments that were private and ones that were quite explosive.  It was a seamless homage to the past with an urgency and expectancy of the future.  I felt that this was a successful farewell from both Charlotte to us and the dancers to her.

Following intermission the dancers completed the daunting task of performing Wieland’s “one hundred thousand”.  Though the format of the piece itself was not pleasing to me, I must commend the dancers on their accomplishment of such a production.  This company has never been said to be lacking in guts and gusto, and this was more evident than ever in Wieland’s work.  The piece itself utilized many theatrical elements that in my mind are becoming quite kitsch.  This along with a confusing array of music left me feeling quite alienated as an audience though the work itself was compelling, making me want more.  I felt no resolution, and perhaps not even a clear message from the work, but what was evident was that it was courageously inhabited by the dancers and ferociously honest.  With little room for error, the movement was raw and one could sense a real camaraderie between the dancers.

The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company has launched itself headfirst into the next phase of its life.  Presenting such an energetic and dynamic program leaves me wondering what the new face of the company will look like.  There are two more chances to see “One…” at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center tonight and tomorrow both at 7:30.

 

Katherine Adler is an intern with loveDANCEmore. She will graduate from the University of Utah with a BFA in Modern Dance next week.

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April 26, 2013

“One…” last chance

by lovedancemoreintern

“One…” presented by the Ririe Woodbury Dance Company runs from April 25-27 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. This year the company’s season has acted as a countdown towards their 50th anniversary. It has also been the last season for Artistic Director Charlotte Boye-Christensen as well as veteran member Jo Blake. Included in the program were two pieces from 2005, Alicia Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” as well as Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge”. Also included and premiered on Thursday evening was German native Johannes Wieland’s “one hundred thousand” which was created on the company last Fall.
The show was a marathon for the dancers with the entire company utilized in each piece. Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” demonstrated the company’s physicality in a way they have become known for. The piece was comprised of seemingly unrelated vignettes each ending unresolved and paving the way for a new story. The material was at once quite personal and then uncomfortably distant. As the relationships between the dancers were formed and destroyed, I had a difficult time understanding my own relationship to the dancers as an audience. Sanchez made occasional use of breaking the fourth wall, but this decision seemed to leave me less involved than expected. The work certainly had a story to tell; I just could not understand it given the language the dancers were speaking.
Following this was Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge” set to a fast past and engaging score by John Adams. To be quite frank, I have never been the biggest fan of Boye-Christensen’s style and normally find her material vague and tedious. “Bridge” however was anything but. It acted as less of a bridge into the future and more of a cannon ball. While it certainly had her signature, I found the piece to be thoroughly engaging and surprising. There were moments that were private and ones that were quite explosive. It was a seamless homage to the past with an urgency and expectancy of the future. I felt that this was a successful farewell from both Charlotte to us and the dancers to her.
Following intermission the dancers completed the daunting task of performing Wieland’s “one hundred thousand”. Though the format of the piece itself was not pleasing to me, I must commend the dancers on their accomplishment of such a production. This company has never been said to be lacking in guts and gusto, and this was more evident than ever in Wieland’s work. The piece itself utilized many theatrical elements that in my mind are becoming quite kitsch. This along with a confusing array of music left me feeling quite alienated as an audience though the work itself was compelling, making me want more. I felt no resolution, and perhaps not even a clear message from the work, but what was evident was that it was courageously inhabited by the dancers and ferociously honest. With little room for error, the movement was raw and one could sense a real camaraderie between the dancers.
The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company has launched itself headfirst into the next phase of its life. Presenting such an energetic and dynamic program leaves me wondering what the new face of the company will look like. There are two more chances to see “One…” at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center tonight and tomorrow both at 7:30.

Katherine Adler is an intern for loveDANCEmore. She will be graduating from the University of Utah next week. Yay!

March 10, 2013

Bowfire in Park City

by lovedancemoreguest

Bowfire, which came to the George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Center for Performing Arts on March 8, is advertised as Flying Fiddles, Stepping Feet, Glorious Voices.  The fiddles were definitely flying, but the stepping feet and glorious voices were few and far between.

While there might not have been many numbers with step dancing in them, the little dancing there was was quite good.  The two step dancers were Linsey Beckett and Stephanie Cadman and each danced in two numbers by themselves and two numbers together.  Their styles were a bit different; Beckett seemed to be a more traditional step dancer while Cadman had hints of rhythm tap dance in her style.

Cadman stood out a bit more to me than Beckett.  She had a nice “call and response” section with the drummer.  The drummer would drum out a beat and Cadman responded with the same rhythms on her feet.  They would keep trying to one up another, making their rhythms harder and harder.  And in true tap dance fashion, Cadman performed some fun steps that I am going to try to “steal”.  But arguably the most impressive thing that both dancers did was when they fiddled and danced at the same time.  They were traveling about the stage, turning and jumping around, and yet they never missed a single beat.

Overall, both dancers were energetic and caught the audience’s attention.  The most unfortunate thing was that many of their sounds were lost because the stage was not equipped well to capture tap sounds.  Sitting in the front row it was sometimes hard to hear their sounds.  I can’t imagine their sounds traveled well to the back of the theater.

So, if you are looking to go to a dance show, Bowfire is not it.  If you are looking to go hear some good, sometimes cheesy, fiddle music with a bit of good dancing thrown in, then look no further.

Carly Anderson is a longtime tap dancer who teaches classes for Janet Gray Studios. She also works at the Marriott Library. 

February 8, 2013

co.da’s Romance Novel

by ashleyandersondances

Last night co.da confirmed what I noticed at their first concert last year; they are a collective of strong women who know that if you want to be a dancer in this cultural climate you may just have to make the dances yourself. The cooperative company is made up of adept movers who are genuinely invested in the choreographic processes of their peers. But you do get the impression that on the whole, they just want to be dancing, a lot.

This comes across most in the guest work of Camille Litalien, assistant professor from Utah State. The dancers come alive, divergent approaches to performance presence notwithstanding, and show us that their primary focus is navigating the work of others.

But that’s not to say that Camille’s work has the most choreographic legitimacy. In fact, it’s the work of Ariane Audd and Shira Fagan that stand out for me as an audience member. Ariane fostered excellent performances by Jane Jackson & Emily Weaver who truly took risks within the expected structure of women dancing to Billie Holiday. Shira Fagan’s “The Breakup” also transformed the somewhat predictable dance where women act sad and find empowerment through a gestural phrase on a bench. But the choreography sticks to its idea really well and the dancers do too, so it doesn’t seem cheesy or one-off, “The Break-up” is both honest and interesting.

These two works suffered the least from an attempt to fit into the overall theme of the concert, Romance Novel. While a theme helped centralize audience expectations, and certainly elicited laughs as each co.da member narrated a passage from a particularly odd pirate romance between pieces, it also caused some dances to deviate from from their choreographic objectives.

Anne Marie Robson Smock shared her work in progress not too long ago and it began a really poetic system which challenged idioms found in backup-dancing and music videos. As the dance evolved the additions, including a cardboard fake boyfriend and lots of popular guilty pleasure music, began to take away from the bold spirit of the first iteration. She concluded on a high note with a sweet and sad dance to the Magnetic Fields where Temria Airmet is seen as simultaneously confident and vulnerable.

Annie’s work spoke to a larger concern I had about the program. There is an alternating pleasure I take in watching people joyously and humorously dance alongside a nagging feeling that maybe co.da could take themselves more seriously. That isn’t to say address deeper concepts or include more ambient music (please don’t! never!) but instead to follow their own instincts rather than try to create themes or jokes that they imagine the audience will respond to. Some of those instincts might be funny or include allusions to The Bachelor but I think others would not. I think that having a guest choreographer also downplays the exceptionally earnest efforts made by all co.da members to grow as choreographers and dancers.

Based on the enthusiasm of the audience for each work I would say my criticism may be an outlier, but it is something I look forward to investigating in the next iteration as the group comes even more into their own ways of making and doing.

Jane Jackson & Emily Jane Weaver perform Ariane Audd's "An Evolution of Things"

Jane Jackson & Emily Jane Weaver perform Ariane Audd’s “An Evolution of Things”

February 4, 2013

Dance as a Look at the Past and the Future for Recent Graduates

by lovedancemoreintern

Body Logic Dance Company’s Friday performance of Elemental at Sugar Space really drew from the title. From a student’s perspective upon seeing it, it seemed very elemental – that is, it really derived its movement and meanings from a collegiate level education. As a student in a university setting, I can see that the concert is driven from the artists’ post-collegiate experience. It’s not a stretch to trace the dancing from this concert to the programs at both Utah Valley University and the University of Utah – both in movement idioms and the vivacity of each performer. This does not mean that the show was not good, or that the movement was contrived or overdone. Instead, this idea allowed anyone coming from a university education in dance to really reflect on this idea of where we go as performers and choreographers once our educatory process is finished. As I watch it, I wonder about how my own approach to choreography and performance will change once I too graduate – and this idea proved to be one of the best ways, for me, and possibly for others, to approach such a show as this.

As the show began, the performers approached the audience’s attention in the intimate space with a piece entitled Lacuna (2010); a piece that fully makes use of the Sugar Space’s self-produced theatre feel. The piece is lit in beautiful blue lighting, and strings of plastic bottles hang from metal beams on the ceiling. The DIY sentiments make the movement come alive – something that the rest of the concert didn’t always achieve in the eyes of this audience member. The dancers spend most of the show throwing themselves all over the stage – hair whipping all over the place as the dramatic lighting changes and oscillates while fans and smoke fill the small space with noise and atmosphere – but the opening piece stood out in opposition to the others as it paused to take a breath for personal introspection. To me, this piece succeeded more than the others because it worked not only with the idea of stillness, but also with slow motion in opposition to quick throws of the head and torso that permeated the rest of the concert. The dancers’ alternating light and dark costumes added to the vulnerable feel Lacuna conveyed to the audience and allowed for more artistic exploration than the rest of the concert. The first piece is the seminal one of the concert, the main focus for the entire company – made up of six well-trained and quickly articulating dancers.

As the show continued, however, the tense action began to feel strained; running was a common motif, along with shoving and flinging the body to the ground. So the question that came to mind was why the rest of the concert felt as if I had seen it before. The moments that transcended in the concert weren’t in the well done lifts and quick frantic partnering, but instead was showcased better in the slower and more meditative movements of the choreography. There is a niche for stillness that I don’t see filled in what I’m watching both inside and outside of school. I personally believe that the stillness makes the quicker movement more relevant in opposition and yet, a lot of dance I’ve seen lately in Salt Lake, especially coming out of those choreographers from a University education, is only frantic. I will say that it is fun to watch dancers who can move quickly and adeptly articulate fast movement. – but it is not interesting to see the same quick movement over and over again. So what is happening with dance coming out of an educatory background, and is a university education really benefitting future choreographers? So many people are in support of the well rounded dance education that a university can provide, but does this hamper personal exploration? Lately, everything is appearing very collegiate when I am seeing smaller local company piece, but is that a good or a bad thing? I am in college. My work will probably be reflective of the work I’ve done at a university once I leave my education. But the question I will pose, whether for good or for bad, is whether or not dance from university dancers feels stale?

Elemental has moments that introspect that are truly interesting, but most of the choreography and performance largely suffers from the inherent need to fill the stage with egregious action. As I talked with the director of the show after it was over, she told me about how this company was formed and came together so that her group of university graduates could have a forum to continue their work. This, too me, is a wonderful collaborative idea and full of excitement and opportunity – as a good deal of Elemental contained. The dancers in Elemental are good, the choreographers are good, but the trying nature fell flat at times for this fellow dancer. I would recommend watching this company if not only to view the work of our peers and fellow graduates. As they progress, one can hope that they will find new approaches while continuing to search for ways to work together.

Charlie Hoffmeister graduates from the University of Utah this spring. He is an intern for loveDANCEmore

February 3, 2013

RW’s Kaleidoscope

by ashleyandersondances

My dad took me to see Kaleidoscope at Capitol Theater. We had a really great time! One dance was really funny! The dancers wore masks shaped like flowers. The music was happy, nice and quiet, and when it stopped, the dancers froze their shapes. I loved it!

In the first dance there was a boy dancer on a stool and two girl dancers below him. The girls did a really good job in their part. They had leotards with different colors that made different shapes. As they changed shapes the colors changed too. They were my favorite dancers.

In another dance the dancers dressed like ghosts, and the music was like Halloween. The dancers twisted and turned their bodies. The dancers made interesting shapes using stretchy pillow cases by pushing their arms and legs out. I was scared when the dancers brought their faces closer and closer to the audience. I had to cover my eyes!

In my favorite dance, the dancers used stretchy ribbons that were really colorful. They made a cool design stretching them hand to hand, and the music sounded like butterflies flapping their wings. It was really happy and lovely. Kaleidoscope was really different and interesting. The scary ghost dances are not for kids, but the funny and colorful dances are perfect for kids in kindergarten.

Lyla Kate Sylvia is a kindergarten student at Channing Hall. She dances with Miss Mary Martha at Tanner Dance. This is her second review for loveDANCEmore.IMG_1030

January 26, 2013

RDT, I mean, Stephen Brown!

by lovedancemoreguest

Stephen Brown’s SB Dance is presenting another of its “Beast” performances this weekend. I went tonight, and sat in a sold out house where everyone seemed eager to see the choreographer’s collaboration with local band Totem and Tattoo.

The piece opened with an energetic romp to the music of Art Blakey, which introduced the cast. This crew, some new faces, some old, flew through space to land on each other or on large tin foil cushions. They rushed to dress and change clothes amidst the chaos, as if to suggest that some of them had not been quite ready when the show started. It was dry, with a not-quite-slapstick clockwork. I found myself thinking an old RDT favorite many of us will have seen- Shapiro and Smith’s Dance with Army Blankets. These two works are similar in tone and matter-of-factness. They both offer opportunities for the dancers to reveal themselves in a simple, task oriented environment. The arc of the works comes from the increasing complexity of the tasks. Nothing more, nothing less.

After the first black out, actor Dan Larringa appeared alone, dressed as a cast member from the last piece. He panted and unbuttoned his shirt, expressing exhaustion while taking credit for dancing in the work that had just unfolded without him. After this ice-breaker, he proceeded to explain to us our program notes, which had many empty spaces in them. This was another opportunity to parade the dancers and learn their names. He then pointed out that naming the dances was up to us. For me this was a turning point in the evening. It lead me to expect that the program -an evidently disorganized grab-bag of short work- might turn out to be more carefully put together than it at first would appear.

What the organizing principle was here I didn’t quite figure out. If I had to guess, I would say that Brown chose these pieces, early studies of possible dances really, to show us just how lucky he was to have dancers like Rosy Goodman, Jenny Larsen and all the rest at his finger tips. (We are also lucky to have them around to dance for us.)

In one section, Christine Hasegawa stood impressively on different surfaces of Nathan Shaw’s body, while Dan Larringa, dressed in a trench coast, recited a psuedo-noir text about “a once honest stripper” turned into a drug addled urban power monger. Hasegawa’s aggression lead her through a violently sexual encounter that included repeatedly performing erotiziced chest compressions on Shaw’s helpless frame. Again I was reminded of RDT, and seeing Daniel Nagrin’s Strange Hero again recently during their 100 Years show. I wished for a little more context for how these tropes might inform a large work, but the little study was dissolved almost before it began.

Ursula Perry’s solo also put me in a historical mood, causing me to reflect on my ambivilence about how the Nikolais tradition in Utah continues to play out in choreography. Perry trudged across the space on all fours while wearing an SB Dance anti-fashion statement- a pair of tulle pants, a sports bra and oversize boots. She stopped along the way to pass through positions that looked lifted from a yoga or pilates video. At the end, the big boots gave way to tiny pink heels that had been hidden within all along. The big reveal was accomplished without much fanfare and Perry exited as she had entered, a fit, technical, if largely silent body in space.

The end of the show, which featured live music from Totem and Taboo, drew heavily on the gurney and other props from previous SB evenings. Once a spectre of the physical absurdity of human death, here the gurney seemed drained of all metaphoric value, as the dancers manipulated it with similar affect to that seen in the opening. These vignettes were also peppered with some of the inexplicable sexual agression of the Christina and Shaw’s duet mentioned above. Some of the show’s more interesting vocabulary  can be found here, and James Eccs dances it with a naturalist charm and understatedness very rare in Utah dance. But the collaboration is not to a point yet where it would be appropriate to try to give it real critical feedback. The band’s music is promising, but I think they need a real drummer for their encroachment into the dance space to feel real. The dance itself reads as series of unmediated choreographic ideas and dance verbiage.

In fact, I wonder if it is even appropriate to review a show like this, which is really in someways just a very formal, if somewhat scattered, high-stakes rehearsal with great lighting. That said, it’s clear that Brown wants us to take it seriously, and whatever you can say about the work, it sold out tonight and will probably sell out on Saturday. I’ll be interested to see what my peers think. I wonder how it compares to memories others might share with me of the earlier iterations of Utah’s self-proclaimed choreographer of the fringe.

Samuel Hanson is a dancer and choreographer living in Salt Lake City. 

January 23, 2013

thanks SLUG

by ashleyandersondances

SLUG has recently started a lot more coverage of experimental dance (thanks in part to Alex Ortega) and 2013 is seeing a continuation as they covered Arrivals/Departures on the podcast this week as well as an online feature. 

Check out the links for a good description on the opening performance and mark your calendars for February 15th when new performances will take place alongside the video installations.

January 22, 2013

Arrivals/Departures

by lovedancemoreguest

On January 18th loveDANCEmore, under the direction of Ashley Anderson, presented Arrivals/Departures at the Rio Gallery. The event was comprised of live performances choreographed by Emily Haygeman and Ashley Anderson with additional performance by  Cherie Mockli, Tara McArthur & Alex Bradshaw as well as video installations.

I have to say that I am constantly in awe of the work presented under the loveDANCEmore umbrella and most importantly of the laborious efforts put on by Ashley Anderson. Ms. Anderson continuously strives to embody, present and nurture the dance community in Salt Lake City without any personal recognition. It is refreshing not only that she strives to present work but that she does so often and in various formats. It’s refreshing when all you might see from other community leaders are fundraisers or events that may never come to fruition.

Arrivals/Departures was composed of performance and installation works set in the beautiful space of the Rio Gallery. As an educator this set up is ideal when asking students to experience art as a process of choice. They can arrive to witness a solo dance by Anderson or her duet for Alex and Tara and then depart to use their phones to watch Juan Aldape perform on land ranging from Salt Lake to Europe. Taking dance and putting it in this setting is refreshing and the more I attend events like this one, the more I realize that they expose the form in a way that is far more private and filled with personal choice for the audience. Most importantly, the set up of these galleries allow for immediate conversation on the subject of the performance. Unlike traditional theater showings, you can’t share the most immediate reactions to what is happening in front of you. I’m glad that someone is out there willing to do the work to present dance is such an accessible manner.

The only element of the show that I was not very pleased with was the presentation of Haygeman’s work. I have seen this work before and I found it unfortunate that it was presented in such a detached manner. The performance although looped, took place on the second level balcony. The work itself has a strong emotional resonance that was lost in this staging,  it needs a space where it can live in its own world, exploring its sensual nature.

The video projects will be on display through March 8th with another night of live performance on Feb. 15th.

Efren Corado is a choreographer and performer located in SLC. When not dancing or teaching you can find him snuggling his dog Jamie. 

January 21, 2013

(cutie and) the boxer

by ashleyandersondances

Tonight I had the great pleasure of seeing Ushio Shinohara perform at the new CUAC building near the corner of 2nd East and 2nd South. Recently re-located from Ephraim CUAC (pronounced Quack) is presenting Ushio’s work in conjunction with the screenings of Cutie and the Boxer at the Sundance Film Festival. While the exhibit of his work extends through March this was, to my knowledge, the only time he would be performing in Salt Lake City.

As the movie title suggests, Ushio boxes his paintings. Wearing gloves covered in foam pads, he dips them in paint and, always traveling from right to left, he aggressively maps out the terrain in flashes of color. While I’d seen online videos of his process, nothing could compare to the act of his live performance. Ushio, who turned 81 last week, is really boxing. He warms up, sharply shifting on his feet and forming attention at the canvas before him.  His translator tells me he is in a group of artists after WWII who each respond to their relationships with American culture. As he begins it’s like a comic book come to life. The POWs and BAMs are enacted through color and texture. I can make the connection to Jackson Pollock and also pop artists but it seems so much different because it’s designed for me to watch; it stems from (and embodies) the traditions of competition and violence inherent in boxing. I don’t only see the action taking place, I hear and feel the paint being arranged before him. Furthermore, I’m interested the whole way through.

I realize that this blog is about “dance”. But something about this performance awakened the audience. Everyone was hollering and noticeably gritting their teeth and his old hands connected with the wall. So many people were gathered in such a such space and with such energy that I was reminded of the vibrancy I so frequently lack at concert engagements. So often we, in modern dance, talk about the “visceral” relationship our work has with audiences; Ushio’s hands creating a landscape before me was the closest I’ve come to comprehending “visceral” in a long time. His performance was clear and expressive and singular in idea as well as form. It was repeated over and over without the expectation of change. It reminded me about what performance can be and how many people could be watching it, with bated breath and free expectation.

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