Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dance is co-existent with life

DANCE. Every age has had its dance, and the fact that dance has not perished is evidence of its value to mankind. The fact that there has always been dance compels it to be accepted as an old and deeply rooted human activity whose foundations reside in the nature of man himself. The universal interest in dance rests upon the fact that it carries on and systematizes an activity that is operative in everyone's experience: it is co-existent with life.

Margaret N. H'Doubler, University of Wisconsin.

From a 1946 Encyclopedia of the Arts (Philosophical Library, New York)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Live webcast of Hofesh Shechter's double bill - Friday 8pm

And dance house Sadler's Wells makes the dance headlines again (see previous post already) with its live webcast of In Your Room/Uprising, tomorrow from 8pm UK time.
The double bill is performed at another venue, the Roundhouse, in association with Sadler's Wells.

It will be interesting to see how it shows on screen - do watch it and let me know what you thought!

Eonnagata press in full force

We've had a glut of press articles on the new show by Sylvie Guillem, Russell Maliphant and Robert Lepage here in the UK, with all the newspapers interested in the story of the dancer, the choreographer and the theatre maker making a new show together on an 18th -century, sexually-adventurous prince, with Alexander McQueen designing the costumes and a bit of kabuki theatre thrown in.

I'll let you know what the reviews are like when they come out!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Video - Binary form

Binary Form from shiftwork on Vimeo.

From Shiftwork.

Triple bill @ Royal Opera House - review

Seven Deadly Sins/Carmen/Danse a Grande Vitesse

I can't believe the Financial Times' Clement Crisp gave such a bad review to this triple bill - ' it has all the attractions of Ebola fever' he said (he likes his random references, the Clement)

Seven Deadly Sins is more a show that ballet, with a big multi-level set, great lighting and the singing of Martha Wainwright. The dancing was ok, if nothing much, and I thought all the sins blended into one - lust (there was a lot of groping). It wasn't that bad.

Ek's Carmen was really interesting. I enjoyed the music, adapted from Bizet of course - lots of percussions and weird sounds, and the cast shouted a lot too, in an invented language as far as I could tell (think Spanish meets Russian meets Japanese) There was some really cool movement, very modern and angular, with lots of humourous bits thrown in.

I was worried I had idealised DGV in my head - maybe I remembered it as a better ballet than it was. Thankfully I was proved wrong. Some amazing lifts, fantastic group work, and this almost relentless music from Michael Nyman, marching and taking you on with it. It really works.

This couple was sat behind me and they had come in to see Martha Wainwright. 'Oh', she said before it started, 'there are 2 intervals, so many we can leave after the second, unless we want to see some real dance.' I turned around and told them they should stay 'the third piece is very good!'. At the end, she thanked me for my advice 'It was fantastic! Magical! Some pure dancing... I felt like a little girl... beautiful. It was also nice that there was no story to follow and you could just lose yourself into it.' Horray, a new convert?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mondays with Merce

It's Monday! Why not spend with Merce Cunnigham?

Every week, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is putting a video up and goes behind the scene at the company's studios. Interviews, classes etc, it looks like there will be lots of rich and interesting content to look at and enjoy, even if, like me, you're not too sure about the man's choreography.

Can we get more websites like these please?

Originally read on Article 19.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Arvo Pärt

There was an opinion piece in The Guardian blog last year about the overuse of Arvo Pärt's music in film soundtracks. "This is music that drops jaws in any context", said the journalist. "Lest Pärt's sound begin to work in the opposite direction, jolting us from our involvement with a film as we recognise what a cliché its use has become, it is I think time to give it a rest."

I think the same could be said about its use for dance. There was even a special event held the Guggenheim in New York where only dance pieces set to Pärt where performed (plus a piece by installation artist and photographer Sophie Calle). Here is a random list of dance pieces set to Pärt's music I was able to find within one hour of internet searching:

Miguel Robles to Tabula Rasa
Wheeldon's Misericordes to Symphony No3 for the Bolshoi
Wheeldon's Liturgy to Fratres for New York City Ballet
Wheeldon's After the Rain to Tabula Rasa and Spiegel im Spiegel
Alonzo King's MAP for Lines Ballet
John Neumeier's Othello (Spiegel im Spiegel and Tabula Rasa)
Ulysses Dove's Dancing in the front porch of Heaven for Royal Swedish Ballet (to Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten)
Susan's Marshall's Kiss for Pacific Northwest Ballet
Jessica Lang's De Profundis for Colorado Ballet
Matjash Mrozewski's Castle Nowhere for Royal Ballet (3rd Symphony)
Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Code of Silence for Carolina Ballet
Andrew Simmons' Through to you for Royal New Zealand Ballet (Spiegel im Spiegel)
Inbal Pinto Dance Company's Shaker
Mui Cheuk-Yin’s Season N for City Contemporary Dance Company in Hong Kong
Paula Conduit for her own company Vortex Dance Theatre - the piece Es Sang Vor Langen Jahren is used in her dance work Conduit
Leipzig Ballet's The Great Mass, by Uwe Scholz
Araiz's Numen for Group Motion Dance Company
In the Middle of the Moment - Uri Ivgi and Johan Greben for Scottish Dance Theatre
Three Pieces for Het -Van Manen for Dutch National Ballet (Psalom)
Johan Inger's Walking Mad
Mats Ek - Smoke for Sylvie Guillem
Mary Anthony Dance Theatre - Lady Macbeth

Now why is this music so popular with choreographer? I have looked for interviews where choreographers would explain their choice of music, but haven't found anything.

Critic Susan Yung said 'Pärt’s compositions invite collaborators into a shared space, a helium-filled elysium' and, Bjork, when she interviewed him for a BBC documentary, said 'I like your music very very much because you give space to the listener, he can go inside and live there'. Is it this 'space' that Pärt creates that attracts choreographers? It is easier to choreograph a piece to his music?

Arvo Pärt's works also have this power, universality and beauty - they create a special atmosphere. Does that make it easier to choreograph as well? But then, are choreographers choosing the easy option by letting the music take such an important role? Or is it actually more difficult to create movement that matches the resonance of the music?

I don't have answers to any of those questions, but I do wonder if it is not time, like in movies, to give Pärt a bit of a rest before we get bored of it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

World Press Photo 2008 winners

I always really enjoy looking at the winning pictures of the World Press Photo Contest - nature, sport, current affairs, portraits, stories, they cover such a huge range of topics, and are always outstanding images.

The winner of the 2nd prize in the Arts and Entertainment category - singles, is photographer Jerome Bonnet for his portrait of a student at Paris Opera Ballet School. You can view the image here.

The winners' gallery can be seen here. Enjoy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rafael Bonachela - 62C

As mentioned earlier on this blog, choreographer Rafael Bonachela picked 6 choreographers he liked and invited them to perform at Southbank Centre. It was free so I went to check it out.

Due to the snow and stuff, I only made it on the Saturday (3 other choreographers were performing on the Sunday) but still it was pretty good. A few pics below.

Quite a lot of people turned up, which is cool! Go dance!

Rafael Bonachela wasn't there himself but did record something on video.

Adam Linder. Yes, he wanked off a gun - the 10-year-old girl next to me looked a bit horrified. His solo, set to Ravel's bolero, was interesting, but maybe with an undertone that was too violent or sexual for an afternoon audience (even a contemporary dance one). The hilarious thing was this middle-aged man who went at the front of the stage and started putting his legs up in the air and do weird things - we all thought he was part of the piece, but realised he wasn't when security came to take him out.
Credits to Adam Linder for carrying on with his performance though.

I can't really remember anything Blanca Arrieta did (sorry!), but I am quite happy with this picture.

If you went on the Sunday, feel free to let us know what it was like!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Olivier Awards

Barely mentioned in all the articles on the recent Olivier Awards nominations announcement, the dance nominees are:

Best new dance production -

Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal's Cafe Muller / The Rite of Spring at Sadler's Wells

The Royal Ballet of Flanders' Impressing the Czar at Sadler's Wells

The Royal Ballet's Infra at the Royal Opera House

DV8's To Be Straight With You at the Lyttelton

Outstanding achievement in dance

The company of the Royal Ballet of Flanders for their performances in Impressing the Czar at Sadler's Wells

The company of the Royal Ballet for their performances in Infra

Savion Glover, Marshall Davis Jr and Maurice Chestnut for their performances in Savion Glover's Bare Soundz at Sadler's Wells

I am going for the Royal Ballet of Flanders' Impressing the Czar in both categories. It totally blew my mind, it was so good!

Full list of nominees. Results on 8 March.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tanja Liedtke - Twelfth Floor - UK Tour

The production Twelfth Floor, created by Tanja Liedtke, is touring the UK this Spring starting on the 10th of Feb in Warwick, and ending on the 27th of March in Oxford.

Tanja Liedtke was a German dancer and choreographer based in Australia. Her dynamic and highly physical choreography won her awards and in 2007 she was selected to be the Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company. However she died tragically before taking the post.

You can find more info on the tour website.

The tour is brought by Dance Touring Partnership, a network of theatres working together to bring exciting dance to new audiences around the UK. It must be tough, but credits to them!

There is something that reminds me of Jasmin Vardimon in there.

Update 16/2: A review of Twelfth Floor in The Observer ' If this is what she was capable of at 29, what might the future have held?'