The 2011 American Dance Festival at a glance | Dance | Indy Week
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The 2011 American Dance Festival at a glance 

Rosie Herrera

Photo by Eric Madrid

Rosie Herrera

Notes: DPAC is Durham Performing Arts Center. Reynolds Industries Theater is located on the Duke campus. Unless noted, all shows are 8 p.m.


At: DPAC, June 9, 7 p.m.

Shows: African American Dance Ensemble; Mark Dendy as Martha Graham; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Martha Clarke/ John Kelly; Scottish Dance Theatre

Children? At these prices? Nothing here should offend—until Dame Martha goes a bit off-color.

Dance newcomers? Can you get them to pony up?

Dance snobs? Obviously.

The lowdown: How to honor retiring ADF director Charles Reinhart? Try wicked repartee from Dendy's uncanny Graham impersonation. Two Scots who collide and fall to Nine Inch Nails. An early commedia dell'arte solo of Clarke's. Hubbard Street in a half-hour of Ohad Naharin's emphatic, semaphore-like movements, before Baba Chuck and AADE invoke legacy and community to an expert drum orchestra.


At: Reynolds, June 10–12

Show: Rosas Danst Rosas (1983)

Children? Will have to sit through a 105-minute work without an intermission.

Dance newcomers? Ditto.

Dance snobs? Yes. It's her first regional performance—several decades overdue.

The lowdown: Her company's first work is something of an endurance piece for performers and audience, a labyrinth of variations on gestures suggesting the necessary and the everyday. In rising from rest or struggling to find it; perpetual transit, perpetual waiting; embodied sexuality and its unwilling display at times; and the facts of physical labor, tension and exhaustion—her resilient characters still express their indivuality.


At: Reynolds, June 14–15; June 15 matinee at 2 p.m.

Show: Animal Lost (2010)

Children? Sexual themes—and those grotesque animal masks.

Dance newcomers? Questionable: Significant ennui and angst leavens the jokes.

Dance snobs? New-school? Yes. Old-school? Hmm...

The lowdown: In this uneasy cabaret/dance inquiry into "bringing out the beast," dancers wearing latex animal masks populate a cheesy nightclub (with an equine MC) and the workaday world. Then further de-evolution plunges us into an extended orgy of floor-level angst. Point taken—well before the end.


At: DPAC, June 16–18

Shows: D-Man in the Waters (1989), Spent Days Out Yonder (2000), Continuous Replay (1978, revised 1991).

Children? Full-frontal nudity during Continuous Replay. The rest, fine.

Dance newcomers? Yes. Jones' work here is witty, optimistic, thoughtful.

Dance snobs? Will want to see the full D-Man, plus Zane's late work.

The lowdown: One of Jones' most exuberant, life-affirming works reconstructed, along with a thoughtful (but not belabored) meditation on time, mortality and dance. Note the late addition of a witty Arnie Zane duet placed on the full company. What's not to love?


At: Reynolds, June 20–22

Show: 2 (2011)

Children? No troubles anticipated.

Dance newcomers? Signs from the road say yes.

Dance snobs? U.S. premiere of a talked-about Chinese company: yes.

The lowdown: A program change after the new work's world premiere strongly suggests an upgrade. Fragmentary rehearsal videos we've seen depict the ricocheting energy that reminds us of the roaming dancers' bodies in Shen Wei's Connect Transfer. Hmm...


At: DPAC, June 23–25; June 25 children's matinee at 1 p.m.

Show: Evidence: Grace (1999), On Earth Together (2011); DCDC: Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1959), Vespers (1986)

Children? Should do well.

Dance newcomers? Very much so.

Dance snobs? Will be there for Rainbow, Vespers restagings, plus new Evidence.

The lowdown: Ron K. Brown's Evidence has fused African and modern styles with his optimistic spirituality for 25 years. Still, the critics are somewhat divided on his new Stevie Wonder suite, On Earth Together. DCDC experienced a major uptick this year; the company's restaging two masterpieces here.


At: Reynolds, June 27–29

Show: Dining Alone (world premiere), Pity Party (2010)

Children? No problems anticipated.

Dance newcomers? Herrera's work is beguiling, amusing—and thought-provoking. Yes.

Dance snobs? Are wondering what Herrera will come up with next .

The lowdown: After 2009's thoughtful—and hilarious—"cabaret," Various Stages of Drowning put Herrera on the map, and 2010's Pity Party proved she wasn't a one-shot. Her unique humor leads us through some difficult subjects, a trait we'll likely see in her new work about aging.


At: DPAC, June 30–July 2; children's matinee July 2, 1 p.m.

Show: Seraph, All is Not Lost, and Korokoro (world premieres), Day Two, Untitled

Children? Nudity in the evening shows (Day Two and Untitled). Note children's matinee.

Dance newcomers? No-brainer: Pilobolus has got to be the most accessible company in modern dance.

Dance snobs? Will particularly be tempted by that collaboration with Muramatso.

The lowdown: Three intriguiging collaborations and world premieres: Seraph, with MIT's artificial intelligence lab; Korokoro, with Dairakudakan choreographer Muramatsu—and the rock band OK Go on All is Not Lost. Add two classics (one to Brian Eno and Talking Heads) for seasoning.


At: Duke Gardens, July 5–6, 9:15 p.m.

Show: River (1995)

Children? Yowling kids have sabotaged these quiet, meditative outdoor performances in the past. No.

Dance newcomers? Their slo-mo pace is an acquired taste, but River is certainly approachable.

Dance snobs? Will remember the past, and attend.

The lowdown: At twilight, a couple gradually drifts through a stream. Flood victims? Embodiments of consciousness? Or a living metaphor about our lives? We still recall their eerie lyricality from '96 and '99 dates in Duke Gardens, in a work that always puts us in another time zone.


At: DPAC, July 7–9

Show: Brilliant Corners (2011)

Children? No problems expected.

Dance newcomers? His large ensemble works have been his most engaging: yes.

Dance snobs? Are banking on exactly that. They're in.

The lowdown: His Winter Variations duet seemed thin soup compared to K626 and Rite of Spring, but we want to know what a "choreographic playground" for 10 dancers based on Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners"—but never using its music—looks and sounds like.


At: Reynolds, July 11–13

Show: Chapters From a Broken Novel (2011)

Children? No issues anticipated.

Dance newcomers? Frequently his work is kinetic, overtly narrative or funny: yes.

Dance snobs? Their desire to see the full work may hinge on what they saw in January.

The lowdown: His January interview fascinated: 22 "chapters" that can be shuffled to tell a number of tales. But with no video, there's only the critics' split decision. The Village Voice praised "a rich, ragged piece seething with the . . . forces that confound us." But The New York Times drubbed "stilted entertainment standing in as art," before the San Francisco Chronicle concluded, "what Varone does better than most choreographers of his generation . . . is sadly missing here."


At: DPAC, July 14–16

Show: Untitled world premiere

Children? No problems at press time.

Dance newcomers? Yes.

Dance snobs? Has lately divided the dance world, but most will be curious about new developments.

The lowdown: We're being promised a piece showing "a new side" of his artistic skill. Could this reference a performance that reportedly premiered in Monaco, using dance—and Shen's own film work?


At: Reynolds, July 18–20

Show: Tharp: Sweet Fields (1996) Clarke, Pagarlava: two untitled world premieres

Children? No problems at press time.

Dance newcomers? A variety of works, one already known and loved: yes.

Dance snobs? New work by Clarke—and a rising new talent? Yes.

The lowdown: Tharp's visualization of shaped-note singing refreshed two years ago. A new Clarke piece always arouses curiosity. And Pagarlava's latest work was for the Martha Graham Dance Company. We want to see.


At: DPAC, July 21–23

Show: The Uncommitted (world premiere), Promethean Fire (2002), Company B (1991)

Children? No problems at press time.

Dance newcomers? He's not the world's most popular dancemaker for nothing. Yes.

Dance snobs? World premiere? Say no more.

The lowdown: Trouble in paradise: This year The New York Times and The Washington Post finally noticed the uneven work we've seen in recent years. The two rep pieces are undeniable classics. But will The Uncommitted's premiere resemble them, or the very troubled works we've seen more recently?


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