New video preview of the dance company Evidence performing a section of Ronald K. Brown's new suite to Stevie Wonder, ON EARTH TOGETHER, at the 2011 American Dance Festival. The company appears with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company through June 25 at Durham Performing Arts Center.
Exclusive video preview of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company performing a section of Donald McKayle's RAINBOW 'ROUND MY SHOULDER at the 2011 American Dance Festival. The company appears with Evidence through June 25 at Durham Performing Arts Center.
Exclusive video footage of TAO DANCE THEATER at the 2011 American Dance Festival. The company performs June 20-22 at Reynolds Theater at Duke University.
Produced and narrated by Byron Woods.
A busy year for Bill T. Jones? You decide.
His incandescent musical on the life of Nigerian Afropop composer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, FELA!, closed this January after 13 months on Broadway and a no-brainer Tony Award for choreography. By then, the musical’s world tour had already opened at London’s National Theater, before dates in Fela’s native Nigeria this spring. The tour continues: FELA! opens tonight (June 15) in Amsterdam, before just-announced dates in Washington, DC in September.
Jones was named a Kennedy Center Honoree last December. And he’s been at the center of perhaps the biggest story in the New York dance world this year, overseeing the merger of his 29-year-old company with DANCE THEATER WORKSHOP, that longtime downtown cradle and crucible for contemporary dance. The name of the new organization: NEW YORK LIVE ARTS.
In recent weeks, his company has been reconstructing the three repertory works we’ll see during residencies up the road in Charlottesville and at Bard College in upstate New York.
And in between them was that little tete-a-tete between Jones and SITI director Anne Bogart at UNC on April 7, where they announced an upcoming collaboration on Stravinsky’s RITE OF SPRING, scheduled for Carolina Performing Arts’ 2012-2013 season.
More after the jump.
You understand, this just doesn’t happen. After a certain point in their careers, two dance headliners just don’t share the same stage on the same night.
But the occasion isn’t just the opening evening of the 2011 AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL. It’s something of an early retirement bash honoring director Charles Reinhart, whose long and storied career draws to a close this season. The night’s also a benefit for a new scholarship and commissioning fund established in his name and the name of late co-director Stephanie Reinhart.
That’s why we’ll see performance artist JOHN KELLY give modern dance a distinctly commedia dell’arte turn in a staging of MARTHA CLARKE’s PAGLIACCIO, and SCOTTISH DANCE THEATER get down and dirty to A Perfect Circle and Nine Inch Nails in the combative/collaborative duet, DRIFT.
HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO’s large ensemble will confront us with the emphatic iterative bodies seen in a half-hour, five-sequence excerpt from OHAD NAHARIN’s THREE TO MAX, set to music by Brian Eno, Lucky Ali, Rayon and Seefeel. Our own AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE will honor Reinhart’s legacy with a high-octane dance and drumming section from their work, HONORING THE LEGACY. And dancer, actor—and uncanny impressionist—MARK DENDY will convince no less a legacy than MARTHA GRAHAM to say a few words appropriate to the occasion.
And after all that, we’ll drink a toast to the guest of honor at a post-show reception in DPAC’s Star Terrace Lobby and Skyline Lounge.
The $125 ticket is pricey, but it includes the show, an exclusive meet-the-dancers dance party afterward with live music, free drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres—plus a documented $60 tax deduction back your way.
More after the jump.
So, for that matter, might the festival’s choice for the 2011 Samuel H. Scripps Award: choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Despite an internationally celebrated career that has spanned 30 years and inspired festivals itself, the 2011 season marks the choreographer’s first performance—ever—at ADF. A check for $50,000 accompanying the award for a lifetime’s achievement sweetens the deal when her 27-year-old company, Rosas, debuts—at least, at ADF—with that group’s first work from 1983, Rosas dannst Rosas, June 10-12.
After her Pity Party and Various Stages of Drowning moved audiences last summer, we want to see the world premieres of Rosie Herrera’s Dining Alone (6/27-29), and a new work Martha Clarke will create on ADF dance students (7/18-20). Shen Wei is slated to present a world premiere that will display, according to press advances, “a new…side of [his] artistic skill” (7/14-16). The apparently immortal Paul Taylor debuts a new work, The Uncommitted (7/21-23), after Pilobolus presents the world premieres of three team-ups: with Butoh artist Takuya Muramatsu from Dairakudakan, the "engineers, programmers and pilots" at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)—and the Grammy-winning band OK Go (6/30-7/2).
Among notable reconstructions: Bill T. Jones remounts D-Man in the Waters, his 1989 work in honor of deceased company member Damien Acquavella, to live accompaniment by the Durham Symphony (6/16-18), before Dayton Contemporary Dance Company restages Donald McKayle’s 1959 masterpiece, Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder. (The company shows that work on a shared bill in which Ronald K. Brown and EVIDENCE presents their newest work, On Earth Together, to a Stevie Wonder soundtrack, June 23-25). Eiko & Koma continues their multi-year 40th anniversary celebration with a recreation of 1995’s River in Duke Gardens (7/5-6), and two associates of Twyla Tharp reconstruct Sweet Fields on ADF students (7/18-20), three years after Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s performance of it here in 2008.
Standouts among the other dates this summer include a performance of the complete Chapters from a Broken Novel, Doug Varone’s new work that audiences in Raleigh and Asheville saw tantalizing excerpts from in February (July 11-13). And after the austere dynamics of his 2009 mainstage duets, Emanuel Gat returns with his full company for the U.S. premiere of Brilliant Colors, July 7—9.
The season begins with a one-night benefit gala featuring African American Dance Ensemble, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performing Ohad Naharin, performance artist John Kelly performing Martha Clarke’s Pagliaccio—and Mark Dendy reprising his memorable solo performance as Martha Graham, June 9.
The full schedule appears after the break.
Two stories from the archives, before this weekend's performances by the MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY on its farewell "Legacy Tour," for those seeking further background on his work: a revealing interview from last summer with Cunningham dancer and dance reconstructor JEAN FREEBURY, followed by an earlier critical review from his company's last appearance at the American Dance Festival.July 2010 interview, she gave a revealing look into what his work looks and feels like from the inside; one woman’s personal, guided tour through his art.
Nine years before that, the ADF presented Cunningham’s company, for the last time, in 2001. I was there. My critical response to WAY STATION was published in the local press, on the international dance website, DANCEINSIDER.COM—and, ultimately, in the book Who’s Not Afraid of Martha Graham?, the final work of dance history by ADF’s beloved, long-time philosopher-in-residence, Dr. Gerald Myers.
Here's what I saw on the night of July 12, 2001, in Page Auditorium:
DURHAM, North Carolina — You can't miss her: in the middle of "Way Station," Merce Cunningham's latest creation, seen Thursday at the American Dance Festival, a woman enters slowly from off-stage left; walking, not quite tip-toe, on the balls of her feet. Less than a fourth of the way across stage, she stops. Still extended, she proceeds to take in the world around her with no small degree of fascination; head erect, slowly turning.
The inventory doesn't stop when she gets to her own form. As she looks at her arms, legs and torso the same rare air of discovery intensifies. At points she seems to be measuring gravity itself, and its effects on the body she is in. She deliberately articulates and extends each extremity individually, observing its responses, with what appears to be predominantly an intellectual interest — but one mixed with more than a glimmer of deep delight.
It's an unalloyed sense of wonder, at both the possibilities of physical form and the world it inhabits. In these insufficiently post-postmodern days, it's as rare as it is refreshing within the realm of modern dance. Cunningham had it when he started choreographing a little over fifty years ago. Obviously, miraculously, he still has it. We saw it clearly fund three separate — and quite rigorous — explorations over the space of thirty-three years in Thursday's concert.
When Burchfield announced last month that she would leave ADF and Hollins at the end of the summer, the news sent shockwaves through the dance world.
On the afternoon of July 19, and briefly on July 24 and 25, we talked for a couple of hours about what she’s leaving, where she’s going—and why.
Thanks to head librarian Kelly Lawson and the staff of Lilly Library at Duke University for hosting our conversation.
INDEPENDENT: At this point almost everybody knows what you are leaving—your positions as Dean of the American Dance Festival and as Director of the Dance Program at Hollins University.
Let’s open the conversation by focusing instead on what it is you are moving toward.
DONNA FAYE BURCHFIELD: Open space. (pause)
Tell me more.
I was talking to a friend late Saturday afternoon. It was after a long day, and she had called to talk through this news of me leaving. At one point in the conversation I said, “I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff.” Which is pretty true.
This is my 28th summer here. That’s more than half my life.
I don’t even know what my address will be in Philadelphia. I’m selling the home my children grew up in Roanoke. I’m leaving Hollins, which has been this cradle of—reassurance.
If you can imagine, when I went there my son wasn’t even potty trained, and my daughter had never been anywhere except a one-room schoolhouse and she was about to go into first grade.
[Burchfield worked in the region at Carolina Friends School and N.C. State, before her time at Hollins.]
So it was a big deal for me to leave here to move to Roanoke.
I can only say it really is a valley, and it really did reassure me and comfort me. Roanoke and Hollins became this reflective space. It just was.
Something happens in a place where you sleep there, you eat there, you watch your children grow up there, you walk down a hill behind your house and you teach your class. And you dance there, and all of these minds and bodies are working together and thinking, and bodies are moving between classrooms. It’s that idea of circulation—a circulation of knowledge and of hope.
I would say that the circulation of knowledge and feelings generates an ontology of hope, in a way.
Something happens in that kind of space.
So really, it was just ideal at that time in my life. (laughs) Also, just being in that women’s space; it was just essential.
The experience of shadowing dancer Kat Folckomer as she attended classes made me curious about the other classes offered during ADF. I chose three more classes to attend and observe. As ADF asks of its students, I chose two technique classes and one theory class.
I arrived at the Durham School of the Arts’ Upper Studio for the technique class called “Slosh and Fall: Moving with Weight, Clarity and Ease.”
Instructor Abby Yager addressed the intriguing title, telling me that the class "addresses the question of weight [and] how to use gravity to your advantage to move with ease and efficiency.”
“It allows us to access maximum movement potential within the body and through space,” she continued, adding that her class examines the mechanics, or the “how,” of dance, and not just the “what.”
Yager led her class in stretches, instructing students to “get a little bit more snake-y” in their movements. The dancers moved in spirals and arcs, while Yager told them to pay attention to the movements’ nuances.
Her students incorporated yoga moves as well. They bounced on the balls of their feet as they raised their hips upward, posed in the downward dog position.
“Real work comes from getting out of your body’s way,” Yager said, invoking a comparison to the task of childbirth.
After warm-ups, it was time for the choreography. Students performed the routine in groups while Yager issued instructions for perfecting deliberate movements.
“[Move] almost like you could slice the space and the room would fall apart,” Yager said.
The next technique class, on hip-hop, promised to be energetic. Back on Duke’s East Campus, it’s held in the Baldwin building’s auditorium—or, as one student referred to it, “Club Baldwin.” Dancers first warmed up stretching in a circle, swinging their arms and rolling their shoulders. Unlike the other classes I’ve visited, many dancers here wore street shoes to dance in.
After sitting in on Kat Folckomer’s two technique classes, I follow her to the Nelson Music Room. It’s here where she’ll attend her last class of the day, “Composition, Improvisation: the Practice of Performance.” This class is designated as Section B, meaning that it’s a class devoted to theory.
“We’re only allowed to take two technique classes a day, so the other one has to be theory,” Folckomer says.
“I wanted to take this class because I’m focusing more on technique [theory] and I wanted to think about dance in ways that were more than just movement,” she says. She says that she’s taken similar classes to this one at Hollins University, where she is a student.
When teachers Jesse Zarritt and Lindsay Clark arrive, Zarritt gives the class their prompt. “Where am I in the body of dance?” Dancers spread out across the room, notebooks in hand, to ponder the question and jot down thoughts.
Afterward, the students gather in a circle as Zarritt leads a discussion on the distinction between being interested in a performance as opposed to the actual performance being interesting, and how acting as an observer differs from beinga performer. This leads to discussion of using performance as an idea of practicing presence, and that there always needs to be a “why” attached to performing.