It's good to see the Independent covering the Carolina Ballet, but this review seems mostly concerned with seeming clever, and doesn't at all do justice to the extraordinary performers bringing to life these great works. Proposing that what Balanchine needs is a good updating suggests a profound lack of understanding of the art.
"What Balanchine needs is someone to do for him what he did for his great forebear Petipa: clear out the dross and polish up the jewels. But the Balanchine Trust, which licenses his choreography, likely would not allow that, and at any rate, Weiss does not seem inclined to take the job."
Why should works of dance art be subject to change over time rather than being preserved as they were created by the artist? Would you suggest it's also time for musical compositions, paintings or novels of his contemporaries or earlier artists to be "polished?" When I listen to an orchestra play Beethoven's 7th Symphony, I don't want to hear their cool updated take on Beethoven, I want to hear Beethoven. And I would have been very upset if when I read The Great Gatsby for the 3rd time I found that someone had decided to "update" it. I like to know that the Balanchine Trust is there to lift ballet to a level of artistic respect and integrity that other art forms have always had.
Wow, I have to say that the hip-hop dance was my favorite of the evening by far. I have attended dozens of evenings with the Carolina Ballet over the years and very few dances follow any sort of story except for the pantomimes. The Rite of Spring was good. The middle dance, Asylum, was my least favorite though it was good. I obviously don't understand dance like the expert reviewer.
I am very happy that Weiss is mentoring younger choreographers. I'm also happy that Zalman Raffael decided to avoid the unnecessary gymnastic moves that some of the other young choreographers include in their creations.
Readers: As always, we had a lot more to say about the ADF than we could ever hope to fit into print. If you thought our findings here were interesting, we're posting "extended dance mixes" of sections of our season wrap, which delve more in depth into some of the issues that came up at the ADF this season, on Artery, the Independent's arts blog. Check 'em out! http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2011/07/29/adf-2011-season-wrap-ii-extended-dance-remixwhen-the-music-takes-control-and-then-doesnt-give-it-back
The buzz is out there on this company. Can't wait for Sunday!
Thank you for writing this story about the African American Dance Ensemble. It is a Durham treasure along with its founder Chuck Davis. He is simply wonderful. My life and the lives of others I know who have been touched by his warmth, caring and passion for dance have been made better.
I will always remember the child who wrote to AADE after a performance at the childs elementary school, and said that now he wanted to go to Africa, not Disney Land. Chuck and his company make the world a wonderland.
I wish them much luck in this home season. I enjoyed reading this article and look forward to some marvelous dance and music this weekend.
Correcting an omission from my review of Makeda Thomas' dance work: Its title was Freshwater.
An update: This morning The New York Times has reported that Merce Cunningham had been working on new material for an upcoming performance, a site-specific "Event" created for Rockefeller Park in New York City. It will be performed this Saturday, August 1 at 6pm, and Sunday, August 2, at 2 and 6pm, as part of the River to River Festival. Admission is free.
Throughout his career, Cunningham's troupe has staged over 800 of these self-styled Events -- performances created for specific (and frequently non-theatrical) locations, combining new movement sequences with sections from the company repertoire.
"It's like a game," Cunningham said in a recent video interview. "I like to use as much of the possibilities of movement as we can."
Merce Cunningham Dance Company website:
the Swan Lake of Hyde County "Lake Mattamuskeet" - thanx for the perfect comparison.
Local audiences should not be so disappointed that ADF booked Faye Driscoll instead of Cunningham. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to see the carefully curated, and also risk-taking, programming this year. NC is so culturally rich in dance. The Durham-Herald and its readers needn't be provincial, dance tourists.
As one of the S.F.Ballet's devoted followers, I found the choreography in Taylor's Changes more than generic.
Esther Briner, MaryLake FL
A critic who loves their art form writes to either start a conversation or add something useful to a conversation already in progress. Looks like my review of the NC Dance Festival did just that.
Though the comments thus far have been critical, I want to thank everyone who already has for joining in the conversation -- and encourage dance lovers, audience members, critics and practitioners who havent spoken up yet to do so.
Why? A conversation on professional standards and practices in curation, presentation and, yes, criticism should be a public one. Thats particularly true when it concerns an institution like the NC Dance Festival, which is widely read as defining, on a yearly basis, the highest level of accomplishment and professionalism our art form has achieved in this region and in the state. Can my responders truly say that what we saw last Friday night did this?
Judging from last weekends showcases in Raleigh and the nature of the responses here so far a public conversation on these issues is clearly overdue.
Presently Im in Los Angeles on an NEA fellowship in arts journalism and criticism, in the middle of classes and unable to access my notes on this and previous years festivals. But whats really interesting is that were discussing some of the issues the responders have raised thus far.
Food for thought: Critics write in order to help an artistic community: to help them examine, clarify, raise and then celebrate their artistic standards and achievements.
Given the discourse thus far here and slipping standards, at NCDF and elsewhere parts of this community at this point are in serious need of the first three before the fourth can be conducted with legitimacy.
Over the past ten years I have frequently celebrated local dance. In that time I believe the written record clearly shows I have just as frequently been the only regional critic to have done so. Those concluding otherwise at this point are either unread in my work over the long term or extremely forgetful.
I do look forward to continuing and intensifying the public consideration of these issues when I return to North Carolina. Apparently its needed. See you shortly.
Likewise, the local selection of work for NCDF is based on the artist, not the work.
The stratum of regional, semi-professional dance is vast in this state, and necessary to move our art form forward. Not unlike regional theater companies. The choreographers and performers who belong to this stratum are working hard to create art that inspires, challenges, and entertains audiences at a reasonable ticket price. The NCDF touring artists and local artists come largely from this pool. they should not only be seen, but also celebrated, encouraged, and funded. If the local media wants the bar raised, encouraging art NOT to be made seems contraindicated.
To a large degree, community support comes from beyond the auditorium seat. The Triangle community knows plenty about regional theater companies though this and other local media. The result is that those who pay attention to theater ride out the good and the not so good throughout the season based on frequent coverage, continuing their support for the form in spite of a less than stellar performance here and there. Support does not hinge on a few paragraphs per year. What is the effect on local support for regional semi-professional dance to read about it only occasionally?
The NCDF, NC Dance Alliance, and other organizations struggle to support regional, semi-professional dance with meager funds. But recent initiatives prove their commitment. In the last year, changes in NCDF touring artist selection, the creation of the NCDA Choreographers Fellowship, the Meredith College Affiliate Artist Program, and other initiatives in the state have been established to support higher quality in regional dance. The NC Arts Council, local arts councils, and The Field NC continue to support regional artists as well. That tells us something: Regional choreographers and performers - you have support dare to make the work you want, and by all means perform it on stage!
Just for the record, the Festival maintains a policy of inviting the artist rather than the work, thus encouraging the creation of new dances and allowing the selected choreographers to choose the works they want to show.
I don't want to make a habit of commenting on my work but some things are worth clarifying and correcting. The title is, "Is As Does", a board never fell on Beth Wright, and yes, you were supposed to be worried. The audience was supposed to be concerned, sit at the edge of their seats, wonder if the dancers were going to fall. No, I'm not an irresponsible choreographer and the dancers are nothing short of intelligent, talented, risk-takers. I do find it amusing, though, that you were more concerned with the dancers' "health and well-being" than even their loved ones. Yes, Katie Baker's board almost threw her because she was totally invested in the work- a work that we accepted long ago would never be pretty. Life ain't pretty!
Thank you for voicing your opinion of the work because it confirms exactly what we talked about during the rehearsal process. Some people take risks, large and small. We, artists, take risks and others watch and write about it.
I look forward to the review of my next work.
"No choreographer, no matter how distinguished, should be allowed to present work sight unseen."
I wonder, sir, who you mean should see this work before it should be allowed to be performed. You? As the only dance critic (why is that anyway?) I am sure, based on your elitist and pretentious writings, you would elect yourself to that job. What a travesty that would truly be, if we audience members were only allowed to watch what you deem first, good enough.
Yours is not the only opinion.
As audience members of this past weekend's NCDF performance, we would appreciate it, Mr. Woods, if you would refrain from speaking for all of us regarding our interpretation of the evening's events.
We realize that you are the only dance critic for the Independent Weekly. We think that it is unfortunate that the dancers and choreographers in this area have only 1 critical voice to represent them. As avid modern dance fans, we attend numerous shows regardless of your often negative and limited opinion.
Instead of using language like 'we watched in concern and suspense', consider utilizing the journalistic process of interviewing. Why not ask audience members, choreographers, curators, technical crew, and the dancers what they thought and quote them responsibly and respectfully? In doing this, perhaps readers would get a more comprehensive view of the dance talent in this area, feel inspired to go to these performances, and seats would be full for these events.
Thank you in advance for posting this and giving audience members their due voice.
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