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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dance review: Nrityagram Dance Ensemble's Songs of Love & Longing

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 9:34 AM

Nrityagram Dance Ensemble: Songs of Love & Longing Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Thursday, Jan. 22, 8 p.m. At Reynolds Theater, courtesy of Duke Performances, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble’s Songs of Love & Longing enticed a sold-out house with alluring movement and arresting facial expressions from the Indian classical dance style Odissi. The 85-minute production by the world-class company consisted of five sections, all based on verses from the Gita Govinda. A well-known work by the 12th-century poet Jayadeva, it depicts the various moods of a lovelorn heroine. Specifically, the verses focus on the mercurial feelings of the milkmaid Radha towards her...

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Dance review: A brutal, moving Brother Brother in its U.S. premiere

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM

Tommy Noonan and Clint Lutes Brother BrotherThe Carrack Modern Art, Dec. 20, 8 p.m. Tommy Noonan and Clint Lutes emerged from a closet wearing white terrycloth bathrobes, then stripped down to black briefs and tennis shoes. They stood side by side, an arm’s length away from the audience, staring at us. Their almost affectless expressions held a subtle challenge, which slackened into what has to be described as malevolent stupidity. Then they started cracking up. Their doltish laughter kept resurfacing during Brother Brother, their 50-minute duet of brutality and tenderness, and gradually gave way to screams of raw animal...

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Dance review: Justin Tornow's COMPANY gets territorial in The Weights

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM

COMPANY: The Weights The Carrack Modern Art, Durham Sunday, Dec. 14 “Site-specific” is a watered-down term. Plenty of choreographers and installation artists pay it lip service, dragging a hand along a wall or hauling a bunch of stuff into a room and claiming to be engaging with the space. But when I sit on my couch to watch TV, I’m engaging with the space of my living room. Can I have my MFA now? But Justin Tornow’s evening-length dance work The Weights offered a terrific example of site-specificity in its DIDA premiere the weekend before last. Tornow and four dancers...

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Dance review: Did the first show from Durham Independent Dance Artists fulfill its promise?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 12:15 PM

real.live.people.durham it’s not me it’s you Motorco Music Hall, Nov. 8–9 Durham Independent Dance Artists is a new organization designed to consolidate the energies and the audiences of local indie dancemakers, who have been an increasingly strong presence in Triangle nightclubs as of late. Its first season, comprising nine performances, kicked off the weekend before last with real.live.people.durham’s Kickstarter-funded it’s not me it’s you at Motorco. A duet between company founder Anna Barker and the ubiquitous Leah Wilks, the deceptively anarchic but carefully scripted program of linked vignettes set a high standard of quality and vibrancy for the remainder of the...

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dance preview: Lucky Plush Productions’ The Queue

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Lucky Plush Productions: The Queue Titmus Theatre at N.C. State Friday, Oct. 24–Saturday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m. $28 In its new dance theater work The Queue, Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions creates a poignant farce where private lives spill over into the uniquely public and transitory space of an airport. As this funny, novel production heads for a two-night stand at N.C. State, with live music by neo-Vaudeville group The Claudettes, we spoke with Lucky Plush Artistic Director Julia Rhoads to learn about the origins, underpinnings and themes of the piece. INDY: Could you tell me about Lucky Plush Productions? JULIA...

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Dance review: Science, anatomy and comedy merge in Namely, Muscles at Duke

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Namely, Muscles The Ark at Duke University Saturday, Oct. 4 “Muscles are not much different than poems. They both move you,” recited Dr. Kate Trammell, a dance professor at James Madison University and an anatomy faculty member at Cedar Stone School of Massage, as she performed Claire Porter's Namely, Muscles at Duke. Having learned under Porter herself, Trammell ensured that her adaptation stuck to the script but found freedom in small choreographic changes. In a piece that employed just the right amount of slapstick humor to tickle one’s “punny bones,” Trammell deftly turned an anatomy lesson into an entertaining dance demonstration. Namely, Muscles...

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Dance review: Meghadootam: The Cloud Messenger finds contemporary resonance in an ancient Indian poem

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

You may associate the feeling of being "on cloud nine" with thinking of your love interest. It evokes the flamboyant gesture of skywriting a proclamation of love. This association between the endless sky and the depths of love goes back a long way. Kālidāsa, often referred to as “The Shakespeare of India,” was a Sanskrit scriptwriter in the 5th century A.D. who made such connections between clouds and love. One of his most famous lyric poems, Meghadootam (literally translated: Cloud Messenger), has been adapted into a touring dance-drama by the prestigious Cleveland Cultural Alliance. The performance on Aug. 30 at...

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

American Dance Festival 2014: The Takeaway

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 4:27 PM

AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL June 12-July 26 americandancefestival.org In a good year, the American Dance Festival changes at least some part of our thinking about modern and contemporary dance. That’s a tall—and standing—order, each season: to find and present artists whose works are exploring and redefining the boundaries of the art form, as well as the masters who have brought us to this point. The takeaway from 2014? Mission largely accomplished. After Emanuel Gat’s recent work seemed a sociological experiment in overcrowding set to specific protocols, the choreographer announced a potentially significant divorce following the perplexing world premiere of Ida? with...

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dance reviews: Tere O’Connor at the American Dance Festival

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 10:34 AM

As the lights came up at the American Dance Festival on July 16, we encountered a slight woman in a green dress. She fluidly walked subtle floor patterns, her hips punctuating spatial shifts. This was the opening statement of Tere O’Connor’s BLEED. For those who’d attended ADF performances that week of the choreographer’s other three works, Sister, Secret Mary and poem, this woman’s presence was infused with a spark of recognition. Every cast member of BLEED had performed in at least one of the prior programs, so that with each new arrival on stage, there was a ping of familiarity. This sense of...

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Elizabeth Streb: the INDY interview

Posted By on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:39 AM

STREB Extreme Action’s company name is truth in advertising: a group of seven superbly-trained athletes who propel themselves into harm’s way, repeatedly—against walls and floors, off of trampolines and multi-story trapeze-like platforms, into and out of close encounters with a spinning industrial I-beam as it careens across stage, and much, much more. In our Feb 17, 2010 story on the CHAT Festival at UNC-Chapel Hill, I described their edge-of-your-seat maneuvers, set to a pulsing techno soundtrack and accompanied by live and digitized video, as “a highly caffeinated remix of death-defying circus acts, gymnastics, motion-picture stunt work and modern dance." I...

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Relevance, and a cloud of dust

Posted By on Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 7:39 AM

In order for a dance company to keep moving forward after 30 years, it has to balance tromping on the accelerator with checking its mirrors. Urban Bush Women, opening its 30th season with Duke Performances at Reynolds Industries Theater Friday night, might not be hurtling into new territory anymore, but it keeps its mission of racial and gender activism, as well as its straightforward storytelling method, firmly in view in its rear-view mirror. And, after a two-week residency at Duke, this might be more important. Courtesy of Urban Bush WomenUrban Bush Women perform at Duke's Reynolds Industries Theater, Feb. 7...

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Emerging artist Christiana Barnett-Murphy transforms trauma into dance

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Christiana Barnett-Murphy's Burning Durham Arts Council Oct. 12 I arrived at Christiana Barnett-Murphy’s Burning to find myself in an “installation”: a scatter of seating areas each adorned with a cluster of balloons bearing questions I was to discuss with a stranger, another dance-goer. I was late; my newfound partner had “to pee”; so we rushed through the questions. “What keeps you hopeful?” one balloon asked. “That assumes something,” my partner said. I judged I didn’t have time to tell her my life story, so we skipped it. Take that starry-eyed question as an index to the sort of viewer Barnett-Murphy...

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gaspard Louis unveils new work and old in two shows at Duke's Reynolds Theater

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Gaspard&Dancers Reynolds Industries Theater Oct. 18–19 A shaft of light breaks through darkness and smoke, illuminating a heap of bodies. Still for a moment, soon they shift and roll over each other, roiling like the vanishing smoke. They help each other up, weighted bodies rising smoothly as if on a film wound in reverse, and they start to dance. Muscular whirlwinds, they whip through space in swooping turns and athletic sprints, leaping only to fall, falling only to spring again. They touch and lift each other almost by instinct, colliding in quick ecstatic bursts, propelling each other up and then...

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Israeli dance company L-E-V, Eyal and Behar bring the Gaga to the House

Posted By on Sun, Oct 13, 2013 at 8:14 PM

L-E-V WITH SHARON EYAL AND GAI BEHAR – HOUSE Memorial Hall, UNC Campus Oct. 9, 2013 The curtain opens on a dusky cloud—one writhing figure showing only from the shimmer on her black leatherette body. Now liquid, now lurching, she winds through twilight towards us, clawing and morphing. With her oil-slick catsuit and her angular, broken gestures, she’s a vogue queen—or a drowning bird from the Exxon Valdez. More dim light blooms and she fades into a crowd in nude bodysuits, who flex in low second-position plie, their bony pelvises jutting, shifting in and out like pistons in a machine....

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Monday, September 16, 2013

North Carolina Dance Festival spotlights dancers rather than the dance

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM

The North Carolina Dance Festival opened its 23rd season this past Friday and Saturday at Meredith College. NCDF presents itself as a celebration of and introduction to the state’s companies and dance-makers, but this year, the festival highlighted dancers more than dances.  In particular, NCDF was awash in modern movers, dancers smooth and powerful as waves and rooted like trees, with whiplash extensions and zero-to-60 dynamics. So many accomplished dancers in this style shared the stage that it’s hard to single any one out. Natalie Morton’s tensile strength shone as she arced back from a deep lunge in Black...

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

ADF Critical Remix: Human Digital Editing with 605 Collective

Posted By on Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Grant Halverson605 Collective's AUDIBLEAUDIBLE605 COLLECTIVEAMERICAN DANCE FESTIVALREYNOLDS THEATRE Painter Robert Longo, motion picture special effects designer John Gaeta, UNC defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, martial arts choreographer 袁和平 (Yuán Hépíng) and cyberpunk novelist William Gibson got thrown out of a tec bar the other night... In its past, even among its most refined practitioners, hip hop choreography has been a signifier set that frequently has pointed back to little more than itself. Stipulate that such is an inevitable stage in the evolution of any human behavior that emerges from pastime to trick to technique to style to substance as an...

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Friday, June 28, 2013

ADF Critical Remix: COLLECTIVE MEASURES shows LIMITED progress

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

COLLECTIVE MEASURES SHEN WEI DANCE ARTS AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER As mentioned in our previous Critical Remix, Shen Wei regularly revises earlier works. Less regularly, however, does he change their titles while keeping much of their content the same. That gives us pause about the putative world premiere of COLLECTIVE MEASURES. By my reckoning, at least half of its contents were viewed, more or less verbatim, in a lengthier world premiere at the 2011 ADF called Limited States. Shen references the work in the playbill. No doubt he should. Sequences in which dyads made exaggerated fingertip...

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ADF Critical Remix: Shen Wei Returns to Forever in NEAR THE TERRACE

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 11:55 AM

NEAR THE TERRACESHEN WEI DANCE ARTSAMERICAN DANCE FESTIVALDURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER By now, we’ve come to expect choreographer Shen Wei to revise earlier works when he restages them, as the prerogative of an artistic intellect that is never still. Those changes have ranged from the subliminal tweaks we’ve witnessed in versions of Folding to the overt makeover which suggested that, in the first section of his famous trilogy, the incomplete title Re— actually stood for rewriting. (Or, possibly, redaction, when the shattered floor-length mandala which clearly symbolized the Tibetan Buddhist diaspora in the first version of that work was...

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Exclusive video preview: Shen Wei's "Collective Measures" world premiere at 2013 ADF (NSFW)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Video clip contains partial nudity and is not safe for work. Viewer discretion is advised. Exclusive video footage from the world premiere of choreographer Shen Wei's Collective Measures at the 2013 American Dance Festival. The company performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center, Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14, 2013. Video preview produced by Byron Woods....

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Rites without seasons: Bill T. Jones and Anne Bogart's A Rite at Memorial Hall

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Paul B. GoodeListening, up: Will Bond as the infantryman in A RITEA RITEBill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance CompanySITI CompanyMemorial Hall, UNCClosed January 26 Some rites are seasonal. It's a fact those who've spent any part of their lives in close contact with the land know, intimately. Plant tomatoes in the spring under the sign of Scorpio; set potatoes in the dark of a Cancer moon. Feed a pig generously—until the last week of its life. Then, at the first hard frost, gather family members or neighbors. Shoot it in the head, hang it by its heels and slit its throat....

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

The minimalist, highly personal multimedia pioneer Meredith Monk at Duke; final performance tonight

Posted By on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Photo by K. Scott SchaferMEREDITH MONK Nov. 2-3Duke Performances, Reynolds Industries Theater Multimedia mama Meredith Monk has been at Duke on a residency for two weeks, and last night presented a show in Reynolds Theater that brought her past into the present. The show repeats tonight—who knows when you might have another opportunity to see and hear the woman so important to the beginnings of a strain of art that we take for granted today. Monk isn’t for everyone, and this work will appear dated in some ways—because it is. You will probably feel more satisfied by if you realize...

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

ADF 2012: Mark Morris offers fitting finale to this summer's festival, which closes Saturday

Posted By on Sat, Jul 28, 2012 at 11:19 AM

MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUPAmerican Dance Festival@ DPACJuly 27-28 The American Dance Festival closes its 2012 performance season this weekend at the Durham Performing Arts Center, with two nights of the Mark Morris Dance Group, accompanied by the fine trio of the MMDG Music Ensemble. Compared to some of the ferocious, rowdy and ridiculous programs preceding it, this one is a rather mild-mannered—but it is such a treat to have live music for the dancing that one simply revels in the pleasurable experience. The evening opens with the highly amusing 1982 dance, Canonic 3/4 Studies, set to “Piano Waltzes” by...

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

ADF 2012: Paul Taylor's flawed program

Posted By on Sat, Jul 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Photo by Paul B. GoodeBig BerthaPAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANYAmerican Dance Festival@ DPACThrough July 21 The Paul Taylor Dance Company took the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center last night for their annual visit to the American Dance Festival, which concludes this evening. The mainstay company brought out a crowd expecting to see virtuosic performances from the principal dancers, and Michael Trusnovec, Amy Young and Michelle Fleet didn’t disappoint them. The real star, however, was the flawed program. A bit long with four pieces and two intermissions—and lengthened more by a curtain mishap that required repairs—the program spanned a half-century...

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

ADF 2012: Shen Wei paints himself out of a corner

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Photo by Grant Halverson/ American Dance FestivalShen Wei Dance Arts' "Undivided Divided," as performed at the North Carolina Museum of Art UNDIVIDED DIVIDEDShen Wei Dance Arts@ North Carolina Museum of ArtThrough July 19 "In the end, you deliver some of your energy to another human being." —Shen Wei Our eyes met for half a moment. Smeared in pink from eyes to toenails, she turned her head aside. That panning motion continued into a casual tumble onto her back, sliding through the tempera paint that covered the floor of the Plexiglas box that contained her. Twirling upon shoulder blades and spine...

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

ADF 2012: Vertigo Dance and the clarification of presence

Posted By on Sun, Jul 15, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Vertigo Dance Company - Images by Independent WeeklyVERTIGO DANCEAmerican Dance Festival@ DPACJuly 13-14 You can tell it’s an election year because of the dualities in the air. “I’m for doing this, but that guy is for doing that.” It’s obvious why political discourse is so full of these statements of polar opposition. Opposites are simple. Even babies get “either/or.” This is why there are nearly as many “opposites” books in the toddler section of the bookstore as there are those listing colors or letters of the alphabet. Something is either in or out, black or white. It’s either day or...

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