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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dance Review: Stephanie Leathers and Company Deconstruct Durham Development in Home: the metamorphosis

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 4:53 PM

Stephanie Leathers: Home: the metamorphosis★★★ Saturday, Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m. Downtown Durham On the map on the wall, the usual “You are here” marker is absent. In its place are multicolored circular stickers, plotting scalloped pathways through downtown Durham. Some of these stickers presumably answer the question, “Where do you fall?” The ticket-taker encourages us to interpret the question broadly. Stephanie Leathers’s Home: the metamorphosis is friendly to queries of spatial orientation. The second offering from Durham Independent Dance Artists in its current season, Home is a traveling performance in the truest sense. Nearly every moment is locomotive. Leathers...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dance Review: Fake It Till You Make It is a Delirious Fantasia with Trump and Travolta

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Fake It Till You Make It★★★★ Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. Living Arts Collective at the Trotter Building, Durham When the lights went down on Tommy Noonan’s new solo, John, which formed half of DIDA’s season opener, Fake It Till You Make It, the man sitting next to me shared that he never wanted to hear the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” again. It’s a reasonable sentiment, whether it comes from a passenger resigned to a companion’s fondness for KIX 102.9 or from someone who had just watched Noonan perform John Travolta’s disco solo from Saturday Night Fever...

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Friday, October 14, 2016

In Fake It Till You Make It, Tommy Noonan and Compagnie Marie Lenfant Find Unstable Common Ground in the Masks of Politicians

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Tommy Noonan & Cie. Marie Lenfant: Fake It Till You Make It Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. & Sunday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m., $15 Living Arts Collective, Durham It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is saying what in my conversation with Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon of Saxapahaw’s Culture Mill and three members of France’s Compagnie Marie Lenfant. A reply might begin in English and then gradually transform into French as it travels around the table, only to be translated back for me by someone other than the original speaker. Ideas and roles dissolve into a fluid welter. That’s much...

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dance Review: Gaspard&Dancers Stir Up Basquiat, the Garden of Eden, and Hip-Hop in a Memorable Fall Showcase

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Gaspard&Dancers ★★★ 1/2 Friday, September 30 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham It’s fitting that choreographer Gaspard Louis struggles with the issue of representation in Portrait (★★★), his homage to neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, which premiered during his company’s annual concert at Reynolds Industries Theater. Basquiat himself grappled with varying representations of black lives and heritage, including his own, throughout a career cut tragically short at age twenty-seven. The rawness, vibrancy, and violence of Basquiat’s unquiet, layered images challenged racial constructs depicted in motion pictures, classical, jazz, modern music, and contemporary culture. His deliberately coarse, chaotic, and distorted human forms and faces captured...

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dance Review: Ashley McCullough's Conscious Oblivion Leaps Out at Emergence

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Emergence Saturday, October 1, 2016 PSI Theatre, Durham What’s the appropriate context of a dance showcase? Is it a gallery where we view (and, inevitably, compare) art works placed alongside one another? A hothouse where different specimens at different stages of development can be observed? Can it provide a preview or forecast of changing times in a creative ecosystem? Over its three-year run, the Emergence series at PSI Theatre has served these as well as other functions. Kristi Vincent Johnson’s well-named initiative, an outgrowth of her Triangle Dance Project, has provided a place for developing choreographers to emerge in...

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Rooftop Performance Quadrants, Stephanie Leathers Summons Humanity in the Face of Development

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 2:31 PM

Stephanie Leathers Monday, September 26, 6:30 p.m. The Durham Hotel/The Viget building, Durham There’s the city that you live in, with its buildings and roads, neighborhoods and commercial zones, power lines and signage. And then there’s the city in your mind and body: the feeling of your favorite café’s door handle in your hand, the park you loved that they dug up for a high-rise, the sounds that put you to sleep when you leave the bedroom windows open all night. Durham-based choreographer, dancer, photographer, and artist Stephanie Leathers has been exploring the tension between those two cities—especially as rapid...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Performers, New Personnel, and New Venues Enliven Durham Independent Dance Artists' 2016–17 Season [Updated]

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 9:56 AM

Durham Independent Dance Artists has just unveiled its third season. Eight performances across 2016–17 include a handful of artists new to DIDA—including one international choreographer, collaborating with Culture Mill's Tommy Noonan—in addition to local mainstays. The new season is also marked by key venue and personnel changes. Since its start, DIDA has positioned itself as an adaptive organization, shape-shifting to meet its original aim: to strategically bring together resources and promotional support in order to solidify the independent dance scene in Durham. This season, DIDA extends its emphasis on nontraditional performance spaces; none of the 2016–17 shows will take place...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dance Review: John Jasperse Somehow Stops Time While Moving It Forward in Remains

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 2:42 PM

John Jasperse Projects: Remains ★★★★ Wednesday, July 6, 2016 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham When the curtain rises—only slightly—on John Jasperse Projects’ Remains, dancer Maggie Cloud is prostrate on the stage, her limbs arranged like a classical Greek statue. Later she will return to a similar position, albeit shifted downstage, in an embrace with dancer Claire Westby. This reprisal of the work’s opening image seems, suddenly, like an ending, but it's a tease—the picture would be too perfectly circular. Cloud exits the scene, leaving Westby with her legs suspended in the air. Westby gets up and the dance goes on....

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Dance Review: Kate Weare Sculpts With Bodies in the Premiere of Marksman at ADF

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 3:35 PM

Kate Weare Company: Marksman ★★★ Wednesday, June 22, 2016 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Kate Weare’s Marksman, an American Dance Festival commission that premiered at Reynolds Theater last week, is a molded and folded dance. The six dancers act as architects: They build houses, live in them, and vacate. They sculpt their bodies into notches for others to push and pull through. A bent leg folds perfectly over a crouched back; an arm pierces the negative space between other limbs. The performers greet one another in undulations; they unfurl and then halt. Eventually they part, dissipating. Most often the sextet...

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Dance Review: Sara Juli Will Tickle You at Motorco. No, Actually Tickle You.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 11:54 AM

Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis ★★★★★ Wednesday, June 22–Friday, June 24, 7 & 9 p.m., $20  Motorco Music Hall, Durham You can read our interview this week to catch up on the background of Sara Juli’s Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis, which finishes its three-night stand in ADF at Motorco tonight. Basically, it’s a dance-theater-comedy show about postpartum urinary incontinence, pelvic floor rehabilitation, and the madder side of early motherhood. It’s OK if you need a moment to take that in. The first performance on Wednesday night left the whole audience tickled, and not always metaphorically. At several points...

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dance Review: Tap Genius Michelle Dorrance Brings It Home at the NC Rhythm Tap Festival

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 2:12 PM

NC Rhythm Tap Festival: “The Greatest Tap Show Ever” Saturday, June 11, 2016 The ArtsCenter, Carrboro Fans of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Gregory Hines, Eleanor Powell, and other hoofers might disagree that last Saturday's performances by the faculty artists of the 2016 NC Rhythm Tap Festival at The ArtsCenter deserved the title of “The Greatest Tap Show Ever," but it was indisputably among the best presentations of state-of-the-art tap anyone is likely to see anywhere. Sure, Savion Glover, America’s reigning king of tap, will appear later this month courtesy of Duke Performances and the American Dance Festival, and Michelle Dorrance, who was...

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dance Review: In Feature Presentation, Anna Barker and Leah Wilks Comedically Remind Us of a Harsh Fact: Art Hurts

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 4:04 PM

real.live.people.durham: Feature Presentation ★★★★ Friday, June 10, 2016 The Trotter Building, Durham A high school teacher of mine had many quotations painted in purplish blue on the cinderblocks outside her classroom, but the one I remember best is by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks: “Art hurts. Art urges voyages—and it is easier to stay at home.” I left real.live.people.durham’s Feature Presentation thinking of that quote. It’s not that the performance hurt or upset me—on the contrary, it was bitingly clever and gorgeously, generously executed—but that it placed me and, I suspect, others in unusually close proximity to difficult artistic labors...

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Video: Durham dance artists discuss the provocative Compagnie Marie Chouinard

Posted By and on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 7:37 AM

Compagnie Marie ChouinardUNC's Memorial Hall Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 Carolina Performing Arts has presented two provocative co-commissions from the French-Canadian dance ensemble Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Orpheus et Eurydice in 2009 and Gymnopédies this month. The INDY sent two dance artists, rather than dance critics, to the latter, on a bill that also included an older Chouinard piece, Henri Michaux: Mouvements. They came back with a lot to say. Anna Barker is the founder of the company real.live.people.durham, which had its local debut in 2014 with the sold-out Motorco performances, presented by Durham Independent Dance Artists, of it's not me it's you, a...

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dance review: What Doesn't Work sets an allegory of striving and failure on the brute fact of the body

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 1:03 PM

What Doesn’t Work★★★★ The Carrack Modern Art, Dec. 19, 2015 Often I go to see dance to lose myself in a beautiful or terrifying (ideally, both) fantasy world where sets, costumes and music are at least as prominent as movement. The dancers can shrink to mere moving parts in an intricate mechanism. But I was excited to go to the Carrack the weekend before Christmas because I knew I was going to see something else entirely—something raw, corporeal and purifying, all seething disgust and primitive slapstick.  No one who has followed the performances of Culture Mill directors Tommy Noonan and...

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Dance review: The Department of Improvised Dance puts props through the paces in Stations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 8:07 AM

The Department of Improvised Dance: Stations Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 Durable Durham Warehouse When the set is cluttered with props, you can expect the performance to be weighted toward the “theater” side of dance theater. That was the case in The Department of Improvised Dance’s new show, Stations, last weekend, which also kicked off Durham Independent Dance Artists’ second season. But almost all of the props were at the service of the movement, not the other way around. In a new, low-ceilinged warehouse space on Ramseur Street, the set included a wire-frame bathtub with a light-fixture showerhead, a jammed-full clothes...

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Durham Independent Dance Artists reveals its second season of local indie dance

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM

After an impressive 2014–15 debut season that significantly raised the profile of local independent dance, Durham Independent Dance Artists returns with an exciting lineup for 2015–16. Running from October to May, the nine shows include six premieres, seven artists not previously seen on DIDA stages and, for the first time, an international guest. DIDA bundles works by local independent artists into a season that tracks with the academic presenters' schedule, helping them build the surface area required to attract audiences. It paid off with many sold-out houses in the first season—no small feat in a region where indie dance more typically attracts...

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Performance review: Drowning, arson and other enchanting dangers in the debut Trust the Bus

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Trust the Bus Private residence of Mary Harwood and Lori Oshrain, Orange County 8:15, Saturday, Aug. 1 A cheer goes up on the Blue Bird bus as it pulls away from the Saxapahaw General Store. It’s almost dusk. Families with kids in dripping swimsuits wave from the roadside when the bus rolls by, as if it were embarking on a foreign voyage. And in fact, it is, if you measure the term by its quotient of mystery rather than distance. No one knows where the bus is going or what’s in store there. In boarding, they've accepted Culture Mill’s invitation—or is...

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dance review: This American Life meets dance-theater in a worthy experiment at ADF

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Saturday, July 18 As the lights dim at DPAC, the disembodied voices of radio host Ira Glass and choreographer Monica Bill Barnes ponder how to begin: with an idea or with movement? “Perhaps the idea is movement,” Glass suggests. The lights come back up on a miniature proscenium arch with a tiny red curtain and flashing lights. Barnes and dancer Anna Bass enter through the stage within a stage, beginning a jazzy dance routine to the sound of recorded applause. Though Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host...

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ADF Journal: Searching for dance amid all the dance-theater

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 9:07 AM

As the American Dance Festival nears its end, you feel as though you’ve been running a marathon. But when you stop to catch your breath, you realize this year’s festival has been a substantial look at the current dance scene, with few disappointments. One exception was Dynamic Duos (Reynolds Theater, July 1). Its four duets seemed too academic, and dance took a secondary role to theater—something that has been true of much of the festival. It makes you wonder whether dance in its purest form can survive. The funkiest offering so far was Awkward Magic (June 30, Motorco Music Hall),...

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dance review: The articulate passion of Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca's Antigona

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 2:47 PM

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca Durham Performing Arts Center Saturday, June 27 The Spanish colloquialism tener duende means to have a certain magic; to have soul. But these are just words doing their best to capture what the body can say in a single step or look. Soledad Barrio, star of Noche Flamenca’s Antigona, has duende—so much of it that it’s difficult to tear your eyes from her. In front of an American Dance Festival crowd at DPAC, Barrio’s steps escaped uncensored from her heart—from the eye of the storm.  Barrio plays the title role in this production, directed by...

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ADF Journal: Worlds collide in shows by Pilobolus, BODYTRAFFIC, Heidi Latsky Dance and N.C. choreographers

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 11:18 AM

The American Dance Festival is in full swing, with performances across Durham, outdoor yoga on Duke’s East Campus, young students riding the psychedelic ADF bus and audience members showing the festival spirit. At the Pilobolus performance at DPAC on June 19, I spotted one man with a shaved head in a beautiful, flowing, flowered skirt and combat boots, and another dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with binoculars held to his eyes. You’d have thought it was a rock concert. This was appropriate, as an emerging theme of the festival is how other worlds, such as film, video and television—the virtual...

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ADF Journal: A look back at Shen Wei's "delicious" American Dance Festival opening

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 10:05 AM

Shen Wei Dance Arts Thursday, June 11 Durham Performing Arts Center In this case, we're not talking about food or sex when we say “delicious.” We're describing the dance works of Chinese-born choreographer Shen Wei. He presented Untitled No. 12-2 and the reconstructed Map for the kick-off of the American Dance Festival on Thursday, June 11, at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and both works were not only highly pleasing to the senses but also delightful. This deliciousness is why the choreographer and painter has risen to such heights: Shen Wei Dance Arts has garnered enough awards to impress even the...

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Carolina Ballet closes its 2014/15 season with a graceful, humor-laced Cinderella

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Cinderella Saturday, May 16 Carolina Ballet at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium “The shoes make the woman,” Carolina Ballet’s playbill boasted of Cinderella. Margaret Severin-Hansen, who played the title role, lived up to the statement with her bedazzled pointe slippers. To close its 2014/15 season (see the 2015/16 schedule), Carolina Ballet delivered its rendition of the well-known fairytale at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and it did not disappoint. The show adhered to the familiar storyline, albeit with a few embellishments in plot and character development. Starting with a prologue, the audience sees Cinderella mourning over her father’s tombstone. Following after her are the...

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

American Dance Festival's 2015 season: Familiar faces and a few big surprises (Ira Glass?)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Some new names, but mostly new combinations of familiar ones: That’s the quick take on the American Dance Festival’s 2015 season, which was announced Tuesday. The season is dedicated to African American Dance Ensemble founder Chuck Davis, an ADF institution, with a ceremony at the Durham Performing Arts Center June 11. At the same time, another ADF fixture goes missing this summer: For the first time since 2002, ADF will not confer its Samuel H. Scripps award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography (or its $50,000 honorarium, one of if not the largest in modern dance) to anyone, for reasons not...

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dance review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater still suspenseful and dynamic

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Carolina Performing Arts Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 Despite heavy snowfall, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was on fire at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall, performing LIFT, Bad Blood and Revelations. The performances were dynamic and bold, soulful and experimental. The high-contrast movement ranged from clustered to spread-out formations; from dancers acting light-footed to presenting the illusion of weight; from sustained to sudden motions. In duets and large groups, the choreography was equally vibrant. The late Alvin Ailey was a disciple of Lester Horton, and the Horton Technique’s emphasis of clean extensions and a holistic awareness of...

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