The footage you see here is of Beloved Renegade, as rehearsed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the 2009 American Dance Festival. Paul Taylor established his company in 1954 in Manhattan along with five other dancers. The dance company since then has performed in 520 cities and 62 countries. Among other accomplishments, Taylor has won an Emmy award for outstanding choreographer for 1992's Paul Taylor's Speaking in Tongues.
Beloved Renegade premiered in 2008 and is inspired by the works of the great American poet Walt Whitman, and set to Francis Poulenc's Gloria. Reviewing the work in February, The New York Times' Alastair Macauley called the piece "one of the great achievements of Mr. Taylor's long career and one of the most eloquently textured feats of his singular imagination."
The company will also perform two pieces in addition to Renegade. Mercuric Tidings (1982) uses excerpts from Franz Schubert's first and second symphonies while Scudorama, an ADF-commissioned-work created in 1963, is described by the festival as a "gem most Taylor devotees haven't seen, complete with a jazzy-classical score by Clarence Jackson."
Images of the world premiere of 2b by Pilobolus at the 2009 American Dance Festival. Commentary by Belem Destefani and Sarah Ewald.
A male dancer catapults himself onto a small table on center stage. He slowly moves into a handstand, then contorts himself to lay perpendicular to the stage, supported by one hand. The audience clapped and cheered. It could only be a Cirque trick.
But which Cirque?
Obviously, what comes first to mind is Cirque du Soleil. I’ve never seen Cirque du Soleil live, but I grew up devoted to it on TV. Back in Bravo’s pre-Project Runway days, they used to air a lot of Cirque du Soleil specials, thus providing one of my first introductions to what I considered avant-garde theater. However, after the movie Knocked Up associated Cirque du Soleil with a bad mushroom trip in Las Vegas, the company probably lost a little of its claim to hipness.
In the past three weeks, I’ve seen two different cirques. However, neither was a Soleil. One was a media sneak peek at an upcoming show at Durham Performing Arts Center, and one was a performance with symphony accompaniment at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre.
The sneak peek was for a Florida-based outfit called Cirque Dreams, which has a new production it’s calling Illumination. Naturally, light is a major portion: The video consisted of glow-in-the-dark objects that resembled flags and a line drawing of stair-steps reminiscent of a page from Harold and the Purple Crayon. A character called The Director features prominently, whose main characteristic is blowing a whistle with such frequency to rival the Grandmother in The Triplets of Belleville. As much as we could glean from the film, the show is devoted to acrobatics featuring one-handed balancing acts and aerial spinning with rings and scarves.
After the video screened, three performers came onstage to entertain the audience. Two of the dancers in red hounds-tooth suits performed a pantomime involving one being controlled by the other. The third, clad in a sparkly tank top and sailor pants, balanced on a small platform and did the ever-popular one-handed handstand, gaining applause from the assembled media.
Cirque Dreams takes the stage at DPAC from Sept. 15-20. Here’s video from Illumination:
“But…it looks really different when it’s placed on ballet dancers!”
That’s what ADF sources told us when we asked about the differences between the version of Decadance that festival goers saw here in 2004 and the version Cedar Lake Contemporary Dance performs this week at DPAC.
Though the company provided us with the 30-second clip above, you can view a 5½ -minute excerpt from the company’s website here.
The work constitutes a potent fast-forward through ten years of choreography Naharin created for his Batsheva Dance Company in Israel. Vivid sequences excerpted from works including Naharin’s Virus and Anaphaza pointedly critiqued the politics of coercion, surveillance, intimidation and religious extremism, while others probed the questionable ethics of erotica. Its original decanting at ADF gave audiences an example of artistic protest as bracing as Maguy Marin’s One Cannot Eat Applause—and possibly more entertaining.
We’ll let you judge the differences between the ballet dancers above, and the original version, below:
Collaboration with Sarah Ewald and Belem Destefani.
Welcome back to the Indy's ADF blog. This year, we've revamped our arts blogging as part of a site-wide redesign. We're not blogging full-time (yet) about the arts, so we decided to create a "seasonal" arts blog that could be activated on big cultural occasions, such as the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and ADF.
Byron Woods is returning to be our primary correspondent from the stages at Reynolds Industries Theater on the Duke University campus and, for the first time, the brand-new Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC).
Last night, Indy arts interns Belem Destefani and Sarah Ewald accompanied me to DPAC to see the technical rehearsal and photo call for RE-, a long-gestating piece by Shen Wei Dance Arts. Of particular interest is the first part, titled "III," which gets its world premiere this weekend in Durham. Here's the first of our preview videos.
The acid-tongued comedian has strep throat, according to her Web site, forcing the cancellation of three shows this week, including her gig Thursday, April 23, at Durham Performing Arts Center.
No confirmation yet from officials at DPAC.
UPDATE 3:59 p.m.: DPAC confirms the cancellation and says the show will be rescheduled.
UPDATE Thursday, April 23: Word comes from DPAC that Griffin's performance has been rescheduled for Friday, October 16, at 8 p.m.