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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Durham Independent Dance Artists Will Use Winter to Center Before a Streamlined 2019 Season

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 12:01 PM

Since Durham Independent Dance Artists began curating, promoting, and supporting an annual performance season in 2014, participation in independent dance in Durham has grown by leaps and bounds, on both sides of the ticket stand—a feat in which DIDA, though far from alone among emerging support organizations, played an undeniably large role. Though DIDA does not fully fund or traditionally present the works in its season, bundling short-run, off-map, self- or crowd-funded dance shows into a season that tracks with the academic presenters has consolidated disparate local dance artists while lending their work a sense of legibility and legitimacy....

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

ADF Review: Abby Zbikowski’s Tectonic Erupts from a High-Energy, Low-Stakes Footprints, Ending the ADF Season on a Joyful Note

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 12:14 PM

Footprints ★★★½ Jul. 20 & 21 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Every year, I’m reminded why I love the American Dance Festivals’s Footprints show. Usually concluding the season, it features the work of the festival’s commissioned choreographers and stars its students. A few choreographers have the luxury of spending six weeks focused on creating wholly new works, using dancers who are, for all intents and purposes, talented professionals. Almost invariably, the results are intriguing. Are the finished pieces Great Art? Not necessarily. But in this setting, it doesn’t matter. The stakes are relatively low, allowing the dancemakers to take risks...

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dance Review: Justin Tornow and COMPANY's Maze of Dance-Tech Dioramas Illuminates Compelling Questions About Autonomy and Art

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 11:39 AM

COMPANY: SHOW ★★★ ½ Jul. 11–15 The Fruit, Durham For a show that consists of things happening inside boxes, SHOW is awfully hard to put in a box. Premiering at The Fruit last week, the virtually un-googleable performance installation by Justin Tornow and COMPANY is a maze of dance-tech dioramas in which enticements for free-range viewers lead not to resolutions, but to further enticements. You may come to feel you could drift through it forever on a Möbius path of your own choosing, yet always with a hint of FOMO. After all, the entire multilevel venue teems with simultaneous...

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Friday, July 20, 2018

ADF Review: Dancer Tamisha Guy Steals the Show in Kyle Abraham's Almost Unbearably Intimate Dearest Home

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 11:45 AM

Kyle Abraham’s “A.I.M.” ★★★★ Jul. 17–19 Von der Heyden Studio Theater, Durham I’ve heard it said that marriage is ultimately little more than two naked people together in an empty room. That is, you bring to the partnership nothing more than yourself, with all the concomitant baggage. That concept came to mind while I was watching Kyle Abraham’s piece, Dearest Home. Not only because the dancers progressively strip down to their underwear and, in one case, get naked. And not just because the space, a wide white expanse of floor, resembles an empty room. The show is about intimacy,...

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ADF Review: Heady Deconstructionist Tere O'Connor's Long Run Is More Engaging in Theory than Practice

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 8:22 AM

Tere O’Connor ★★ Jul. 10 & 11 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Something is amiss when a choreographer’s theories prove more engaging than the work that embodies them. This was the case with Long Run, Tere O’Connor’s newest work, commissioned by the American Dance Festival. Critics and audiences have long celebrated the specificity of the choreographer’s explorations. O'Connor breaks down the grammar and syntax of human movements, gestures, and poses into individual visual phonemes that immediately telegraph information about personality, mood, power dynamics, relationships, and sexuality. O’Connor then re-sequences these glyphs into prismatic, quicksilver patterns that elude direct translation, a...

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Performance Review: In Parcours, JoRose Explores the Spiritual Experience of Growth in a Limiting Physical World

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 11:37 AM

Johanna Rose Burwell: Parcours ★★★ July 5–7 The Fruit, Durham Parcours, the new performance piece that Johanna Rose Burwell (aka JoRose) premiered at The Fruit last week, is an exploration of the spiritual experience of growth in a physical world and the limits placed on it by the body, the mind, and society. “This is a party, so enjoy yourself,” JoRose exclaimed as we took our seats. Indeed, the atmosphere felt like a party, and the venue was partly the reason. JoRose transformed an old loading dock in what used to be the Durham Fruit and Produce Company into...

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Monday, July 9, 2018

ADF Review: In an Era of Tested Faith, the Buoyancy of Rosie Herrera's Belief Might Just See Us Through

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 1:51 PM

Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre: Make Believe ★★★★ Friday, Jul. 6 & Saturday, Jul. 7 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Choreographer Rosie Herrera still has the power to astonish us. If she retains her usual ability to effectively edit her own work, then Make Believe, which had its world premiere Friday night at the American Dance Festival, will become one of her most notable achievements. In a post-performance conversation, Herrera candidly admitted that the company had still been at work on the piece just before its premiere, and that significant edits remained in store before its second iteration Saturday night. That...

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Friday, July 6, 2018

ADF Review: L-E-V's OCD Love Purports to Be About Missed Connections, but We Saw Something Else Entirely

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 2:15 PM

L-E-V: OCD Love ★★★ Tuesday, July 3 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Program notes can be a lifesaver. The short text explaining a show’s inspiration or meaning often serves as a map lighting up an otherwise inscrutable performance. Sometimes, though, they lead to a dead end. That’s how I felt watching OCD Love, a work by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar's company L-E-V. The program notes explained that the show is about lovers failing to connect, but that’s not what I saw. Not even close. Rather, OCD Love appears to be about five people at a club, gyrating to techno...

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 4, 2018 at 9:48 AM

The Bipeds: 54 Strange Words ★★★½ Thursday, Jun. 21–Sunday, Jun. 24 The Fruit, Durham Perhaps halfway through local dance-music company The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words, which premiered as the closer in the DIDA season near the end of June, I saw something I'll never forget. Dana Marks, whom you likely know as an actor and director with Little Green Pig, emerged into the performance space at The Fruit, joining dancer and choreographer Stacy Wolfson, banjoist and singer Curtis Eller, and their ensemble of dancers and movers among the smoldering shadows. Wearing stilts beneath a long robe that had a...

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Monday, July 2, 2018

ADF Review: Anne Plamondon Portrays Her Childhood Experience of Her Father's Schizophrenia with Skill, Intelligence, and Genuine Vulnerability

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 8:33 AM

Anne Plamondon ★★★★ Saturday, Jun. 30 & Sunday, Jul. 1 Von der Heyden Studio Theater, Durham “I was scared,” Anne Plamondon says during her solo show, The Same Eyes as Yours, about visiting her father in a mental hospital when she was a small child. And that’s all I could think about during the piece: how afraid and angry she must’ve been to have had a father with schizophrenia who never recovered. This is a testament to her skill as a choreographer and performer. Plamondon was able to create that world for the audience, displaying a sense of the...

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ADF Review: A Concert of Dance by Returning Alumni Reminds Us That Sometimes, You Can't Go Home Again

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 8:14 AM

Coming Home: ADF Alumni Return ★★ Saturday, Jun. 23 & Sunday, Jun. 24 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Homecomings can be bittersweet affairs, and ADF’s alumni showcase was a particularly dispiriting one. It’s hard to imagine that more than a hundred other submitted dance works were less accomplished than the mostly unfortunate quintet selected by a blue-chip panel of professionals: ADF alumni themselves, including Elaine Bayless, Nicholas Leichter, and Larry Keigwin. Even harder to swallow: Apparently, no work by female alumnae met the problematic curatorial standards here. Two of the five works we saw were largely exercises in form without...

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Monday, June 25, 2018

ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Pilobolus ★½ Thursday, Jun. 21 & Friday, Jun. 22 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Pilobolus exempts itself from politics. The dance company wants you to escape the real world and have a good time for a couple of hours. It wants to give you a handful of chuckles and elicit some oohs and aahs in return. It operates in two distinct modes: hamming it up—exaggeratedly acting like animals, pantomiming to sound effects—or smoothing it out, showing off physical strength and skill at counterbalancing human bodies in muscular poses, lifts, and spins. That’s enough to send most people home impressed...

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Friday, June 22, 2018

ADF Review: Shen Wei, Samuel Beckett, and Morton Feldman Meet in the Bardo in Neither

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Shen Wei Dance Arts: Neither★★★★½ Saturday, June 16 & Sunday, June 17 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham In retrospect, it was obvious. If grim Samuel Beckett, indeterminate composer Morton Feldman, and choreographer Shen Wei were going to meet anywhere, it was going to be in the bardo, that liminal space between lives contemplated in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Shen’s interpretation of Neither, the disquieting 1977 “opera” Feldman composed to Beckett’s skeletal eighty-seven-word libretto, seems to document transactions in that Buddhist analog of purgatory, a disorienting place of reckoning and transformation where souls work out their next incarnation....

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Friday, June 15, 2018

ADF Review: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company Offers a Muscular, Political, Restless Evening of Virtuosic Dance

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 4:49 PM

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company ★★★★½ Through Saturday, June 16 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham We are watching. We have been preparing. And we are ready for whatever you can throw at us. That’s the message that Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, which is devoted to the work and performance of artists of color, delivered with an inspiring program to open the 2018 American Dance Festival. Muscular, political, and restless, the evening (which repeats tonight and also has a children's matinee tomorrow) combines old and new work and features the world premiere of Indestructible, choreographed by Abby Zbikowski. The program opens with...

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dance Review: Anna Barker Burns Toxic Masculinity and Self-Doubt as Fuel for a Work Full of Humor and Beauty

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 10:12 AM

real.live.people: Again, but this time with feeling ★★★★ Thursday, Jun. 7–Sunday, Jun. 10 Living Arts Collective, Durham One way to respond to oppression is to make fists and fight back. That kind of conflict draws attention to a revolutionary cause, but one risks everything in the fight—not just losing it, but also losing oneself in it. In Again, but this time with feeling, Durham-based dancer and choreographer Anna Barker’s new evening-length work with her company, real.live.people, and other local artists, the fists are unclenched. Instead, hands proffer vulnerability and reflection in a work about preserving one’s being amid struggle, which turns...

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dance Review: Burnished Movement, Striking Set Design, and a Certain Superb Style in Nederlands Dans Theater's Dreamy Show at UNC

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 10:56 AM

Nederlands Dans Theater ★★★★½ Thursday, March 29 UNC’s Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill It’s not even close to fair. Dancers around the U.S. work on shoestrings to create modest performances with minimal sets, and even some of the country’s most renowned modern dance companies struggle to make ends meet. And then in waltzes some European company, basking in the glow of respect traditionally accorded to the arts in Europe and fat with state funding that attracts some of the best dancers in the world and affords gorgeous, imaginative staging. It’s not right. What it can be, however, is inspiring, reminding...

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Dance Review: Though It Offers Few Answers, Frivolous Artist Carefully Leads Us Toward Questions About Art and Participation

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 11:59 AM

Frivolous Artist ★★★★ Through Saturday, March 31 The Fruit, Durham At sunset we stood amid construction cones. On the roof of The Fruit, a trumpeter serenaded the fading light and the silhouette of downtown. Ginger Wagg, bulbous in a suit of crumpled blue paper and netting, waddled into the crowd, fishing out tiny multicolored slips and handing them to us. Mine read, “To free from difficulties.” I’m expecting at some point to not know what’s going on, I heard one audience member admit to another about the show to come. It reminded me of some promotional text I’d read about...

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Dance Review: A Witty Boléro at Carolina Ballet Blends Darker Elements with a Day at the Beach

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 2:34 PM

Boléro ★★★½ Through Sunday, March 25 Fletcher Opera Theater, Raleigh Warmer weather must be in the offing; Carolina Ballet’s principal dancers, Lara O’Brien and Yevgeny Shlapko, have already packed their bags for the seashore. A quick inventory: Sunscreen? Check. Shades? Got ‘em. Pointe shoes for her, ballet slippers for him? Those would be mandatory. For this pair, guest choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s witty new adaptation of Maurice Ravel’s Boléro ultimately proves (despite the subtitle in the playbill) to be anything but a proverbial "day at the beach." The choreographer’s levity is visible even during the straight-faced opening moments, as a...

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Celebrating its Eighty-Fifth Anniversary, American Dance Festival Presents More Than Fifty Performances this Season

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 8:38 AM

The American Dance Festival recently unveiled the schedule for its eighty-fifth anniversary, which features fifty-three performances across seven Durham venues from June 14 through July 21. This year, women choreographers take center stage in two featured programs: Wondrous Women, with solo performances by Michelle Dorrance and Rhapsody James, and Footprints, a concert featuring work by Dafi Altabeb, Jillian Pena, and Abby Zbikowski. Another highlight of the festival: ADF and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University will cohost Places Please!, a show that takes the audience behind the scenes to experience the frenetic and turbulent moments before a performance....

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Dance Review: Proto-Oversharer Samuel Pepys Goes to Pieces in Big Dance Theater's 17c

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:47 PM

Big Dance Theater: 17c ★★★½ Thursday, Nov. 9 & Friday, Nov. 10 UNC's Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill 17c, Big Dance Theater’s newest production, begins before the house lights go down. A woman in a curly seventeenth-century wig stands before the audience and gives a little background on what’s coming up. She explains that the protagonist and main subject of the show is Samuel Pepys, that meticulous English diarist who, between 1660 and 1669, recorded just about everything that happened to him for his own private use. “I enjoyed my wife; my yard was stiff,” the performer reads from one of...

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dance Review: In Pam Tanowitz and Simone Dinnerstein's New Work for Goldberg Variations, a Daunting Idea Works Just Right

Posted By on Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 5:24 PM

Pam Tanowitz Dance & Simone Dinnerstein: New Work for Goldberg Variations ★★★★½ Friday, Oct. 6 & Saturday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m. Duke's Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham In complete darkness, Simone Dinnerstein draws out the first few notes of the aria that begins Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Then, slowly, a stage light fills in the outline of the pianist and a group of figures scattered upstage, softly illuminated in periwinkle. When the aria returns after thirty variations, they gather in a similar formation, and the light closes in on Dinnerstein’s final gesture, levitating just above the keys. “What a pleasure it has...

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Durham Independent Dance Artists Announces New Season Balancing "Risk and Excellence"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 12:26 PM

The past three seasons from Durham Independent Dance Artists have exemplified creative experimentation. Some artists mounted multimedia collaborations in nontraditional venues; others prioritized work that passed the reins to audience members. In its next season, beginning in October, DIDA is particularly interested in highlighting the ways different artists leverage risk in performance—and, as DIDA organizer Justin Tornow says, “strive toward balancing risk and excellence.” So what will this look like? Among the 2017–18 artists, some names—Anna Barker, Ginger Wagg—are familiar from past seasons. Culture Mill’s Murielle Elizéon will present her first U.S. solo; Nicola Bullock, a DIDA founder based in...

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ADF Review: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company Complete Their Analogy Trilogy, a Total Work of Art, in Durham

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 3:24 PM

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant ★★★★½ Saturday, July 29 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham In the mid-1800s, European culture thought it had a fairly clear idea of what the ultimate synthesis of art forms looked and sounded like. Opera works like Wagner’s Ring Cycle combined music, literature, choreography, theater, and visual art in set and costume design, attempting to create a transcendent experience: a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. If the American Dance Festival performance of Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant didn’t fully illustrate director Bill T. Jones’s hunger for such an artistic fusion in the service of...

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dance Review: Justin Tornow and COMPANY Look at Dance From Every Angle in No. 19/Modulations

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 11:16 AM

COMPANY: No. 19/Modulations ★★★★ Wednesday, July 19–Monday, July 24 21c Museum Hotel, Durham "Modulation" can refer to controlled changes in a wide variety of signals, from musical pitch and vocal inflection to radio and television broadcast frequencies. In these examples, the changes either technically enable the coherent transmission of content or alter the meaning being conveyed. We can therefore attest to the truth in labeling of No. 19/Modulations, the latest evening-length work by the dance group COMPANY. Choreographer Justin Tornow and a design team including visual artist Heather Gordon, videographer Alex Maness, lighting designer Steve Tell, and four musicians significantly...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

ADF Review: Dance Is an Expression of Its Era in the ADF-Commissioned Footprints

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 4:19 PM

Footprints ★★★½ Tuesday, July 25 & Wednesday, July 26, 8 p.m. Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham In many ways, last night's Footprints program was classic ADF. Packed with an uber-stylish crowd consisting largely of young dancers, Reynolds Theater trilled with excitement when legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones stood up from his seat and gave an artsy wave to the crowd. And when Lucinda Childs, who received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award that night, mentioned that she’d once been a student at ADF, a hushed flurry ran through the hall. There was a feeling of community, of coming together in a timeless...

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Laura Jaramillo - I chose to read here to suss out what you do. The clean, spare style seems perfectly …

by growlybear on Movie Review: Sebastián Lelio's Hotly Anticipated Disobedience Is a Strangely Flat Look at Lesbian Love in a Hasidic Community (Arts)

Sounds like a great festival! I enjoyed hearing about it through your lens.

by Lisa Joy Tomey on “At the Festival, We’re All Family”: Reflections on the Ninth Annual African American Cultural Festival in Raleigh (Arts)

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

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Laura Jaramillo - I chose to read here to suss out what you do. The clean, spare style seems perfectly …

by growlybear on Movie Review: Sebastián Lelio's Hotly Anticipated Disobedience Is a Strangely Flat Look at Lesbian Love in a Hasidic Community (Arts)

Sounds like a great festival! I enjoyed hearing about it through your lens.

by Lisa Joy Tomey on “At the Festival, We’re All Family”: Reflections on the Ninth Annual African American Cultural Festival in Raleigh (Arts)

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