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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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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ADF Review: Life in a Perpetual State of War in Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre’s Come Jump with Me

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 1:10 PM

Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre: Come Jump with Me ★★★ Monday, July 10–Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m. Nasher Museum of Art, Durham By the end of Yossi Berg and Oded Graf’s Come Jump with Me, the performance space at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art is littered with spent props, giving it the air of a site where some kind of hard living—an acid trip, a raging party, or maybe a war—has recently taken place. And in a way, it has. Over the course of an hour, performers Berg and Olivia Court Mesa have moved through an incredible range...

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Friday, July 7, 2017

ADF Review: Pilobolus's Enigmatic Echo in the Valley Portrays a Murder Mystery in Reverse in a Kentucky Cave—Maybe

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 12:42 PM

Pilobolus★★★ Friday, June 30 & Saturday, July 1 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Pilobolus Dance Theater has visited many worlds in forty-six years of producing some of the most accessible works in modern dance. In its latest collaborative work, Echo in the Valley, which premiered at the American Dance Festival last Friday, the veritable first family of the banjo, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, guided choreographers Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent into the Appalachian dark. Choreographers have visited these hills before. Decades after Martha Graham’s improbably bucolic Appalachian Spring, Doug Varone choreographed The Bottomland to a suite of Patty Loveless...

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

ADF Review: In Beth Gill's Brand New Sidewalk, Clothes Become Otherworldly Architecture

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 5:26 PM

Beth Gill: Brand New Sidewalk ★★★ Wednesday, June 28 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Beth Gill creates choreographic moments that slip away from easy categorization. She’s known for minimalist structures that foreground form; her dances resemble moving sculptures. She won a prestigious Bessie Award for her 2011 work, Electric Midwife, a piece performed by two trios of women who mirror one another’s movements, creating a symmetrical image. Gill's ADF-commissioned Brand New Sidewalk also plays with threes. The triptych begins with Danielle Goldman, alone onstage and seriously bundled. The dance proceeds as Goldman gradually removes layers of wintry clothing. (Frequent collaborator Baille...

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ADF Preview: An Oral History of the Early AIDS Crisis Becomes Dance in Sean Dorsey's The Missing Generation

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 11:54 AM

Sean Dorsey Dance: The Missing Generation Wednesday, July 5 & Thursday, July 6, 8 p.m., $10–$27 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham What drives someone to devote well over a thousand hours of research, editing, and rehearsal to a single dance? For trans choreographer Sean Dorsey, who makes his American Dance Festival debut this week with The Missing Generation, part of it was the realization of how much even he, a longtime activist and a self-avowed “history nerd”, didn’t know about the time when the LGBTQ community faced its most existential threat. Dorsey had based an earlier dance, Lou, on the diaries...

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Friday, June 30, 2017

ADF Review: Queering Objects and Decoding the Body in Cherdonna's Clock that Mug or Dusted

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Cherdonna: Clock that Mug or Dusted ★★★ Monday, June 26 Living Arts Collective, Durham One statement recurred throughout Cherdonna Shinatra’s Clock that Mug or Dusted: “I’m not trying to be mean.” Early on, Cherdonna, the femme drag alias of Seattle-based performer Jody Kuehner, sweetly plied the audience with it. At the end, she was screaming it, having violently smashed a larger-than-life-size doll and bashed its face with the spike of a high heel. What happened in between? You could interpret the piece along a rough narrative arc. But Cherdonna’s world, presented within a bounded square in the Living Arts Collective, gets...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

ADF Review: Bill Young and Colleen Thomas & Co.'s Interleaving Is a Book We Want to Read Again and Again

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 2:21 PM

Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co.: Interleaving | ★★★★ Natalie Marrone & The Dance Cure: Thresh | ★★ ½ Saturday, June 24 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham A dance can look like a book, but it doesn’t have to. Dances proceed from their own artistic logics and create their own forms. To “read” a dance like a written text—to equate their material forms in a single interpretive approach—risks flattening embodied gestures to glyphs. But some of the most interesting movement-based work borrows from neighboring genres, incorporating other idioms in its technical foundation and playing with disciplinary categories. Bill Young’s Interleaving is one...

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Friday, June 23, 2017

ADF Review: Claire Porter and Sara Juli's The Lectern Made Us Check Our Stubs to See If We'd Accidentally Gone to a Comedy Festival

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 8:07 PM

Claire Porter and Sara Juli: The Lectern ★★ ½ Tuesday, June 20 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham As to what can be “dance,” I’m super permissive. As long as bodies in space are at the core somehow, I’m on board, no matter how much interdisciplinary stuff—video, text, visual art, theater, whatever—gets piled on top. Of course, there’s the risk of a dance piece accidentally turning into something else entirely if the foundation isn’t strong enough to bear the load. But even then, if it works as what it is, I’m down, because the rewards in this high-stakes game are subspecies of...

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Friday, June 16, 2017

ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 4:48 PM

Hillel Kogan: We Love Arabs ★★★ ½ Through Saturday, June 17 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Perhaps it’s a matter of timing, but it’s hard not to consider Hillel Kogan’s dance-theater farce, We Love Arabs, as something of a step backward in the region’s performing-arts conversation about the presence of Arab people, their cultures, and their concerns. The American Dance Festival presented the work earlier this week at the Cary Theater before tonight and Saturday’s performances in Reynolds Industries Theater. It appears here at the conclusion of Carolina Performing Arts’ probing "Sacred/Secular," a yearlong exploration of Arab cultures around the world, which...

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Dispatch from African Dance Master Baba Chuck Davis's Moving Memorial Services in Durham

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 1:25 PM

One memorial service wasn’t enough to honor Baba Chuck Davis. Ultimately, three separate commemorative events, hundreds of miles apart, were necessary to properly celebrate the life and achievements of the founder of the African American Dance Ensemble, a world-famous producer, choreographer, and dancer widely regarded, according to The New York Times, as “America’s foremost master of African dance.” The first service occurred in New York during DanceAfrica, the annual festival of African diaspora dance and music that Davis founded forty years ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. On the festival’s penultimate night, companies including Illstyle and Peace Productions celebrated...

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dance Review: Renay Aumiller Dances' boneGlow Was Full of Compelling Ideas That Were Hard to See

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 3:26 PM

Renay Aumiller Dances: boneGlow ★★★ Friday, June 2 Living Arts Collective, Durham Renay Aumiller’s dances are tethered to the celestial. As a choreographer, she works to make visible the line that connects us to what’s beyond. I mean this literally: in 2015’s Blood Moon, performers took turns in a harness system, levitating in a sprawling posture one second, with a grounded dancer supporting the flyer’s body weight, and spinning in release the next. In boneGlow, which had its premiere recently as the penultimate performance of Durham Independent Dance Artists’ third season, the four dancers matched up with four metal, gemlike...

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Lucinda Childs's Dance, with Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt, Is Literally a Motion Picture

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 4:22 PM

Lucinda Childs Dance Company: Dance Tuesday, Feb. 7 UNC's Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill The Glass at 80 festival (ongoing at Carolina Performing Arts through this weekend), a ten-day celebration of composer Philip Glass’s eightieth birthday, displays the composer's cross-genre influence as well as his concert music. The festival brings to light Glass’s respect for the creative interpretation of others. He has collaborated with theater artists, opera directors, and film directors. Choreographers often came with a production, but after working with Lucinda Childs on Einstein on the Beach, Glass joined her to create something directly for the dance world in 1979....

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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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Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

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