Our second night at Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center. This time the pre-show program was a tap dance lesson in the Grand Tier Lobby. Our teacher was Benjamin Ryan Nathan, who is also a filmmaker. His latest is I Can Dance!, a feature documentary about the power of dance to transform children’s lives in American public schools. Later rtb spotted him at the end of our row. The night before Peter and I saw the panelists and moderator of the pre-show sitting around us. We seem to be getting pretty good seats.
I was the only one of the three of us brave enough to try to tap. There was one very old geezer in tap shoes – I was hoping he’d bust a move and show everyone how it was done but he moved as slowly tapping as he did walking. There was another woman with tap shoes on who caught on to (or already knew) the steps. I can dance but need the repetition of practice for the moves to become part of me. I don’t think I totally embarrassed myself. I did work up a sweat and there was no question I am out of shape. And now I find myself, when I’m waiting for the bus or the subway, saying the steps in my head and doing them quietly with my body.
Our seats were in the middle section of the grand tier and they were great seats. The programs with the Martha Graham Dance Company are the first to sell out and every year I haven’t gotten them in time. This time I was lucky but the only orchestra seats available were in the first row and that was not good. But in the grand tier we could see the entire stage and slightly above it giving us an alternate view.
Artistic Director, Michelle Dorrance
(adapted for Fall for Dance)
Choreography by Michelle Dorrance
with solo improvisation by the dancers
Costumes by Mishay Petronelli
Lighting Design by Kathy Kaufman
Production Manager: Tony Mayes
Premiere: NYC – January 17, 2013
Dancers: Megan Bartula, Elizabeth Burke, Warren Craft, Michelle Dorrance, Karida Griffith, Logan Miller, Claudia Rahardjanoto, Demi Remick, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Jumaane Taylor, Caleb Teicher, and Nicholas Van Young
This piece is a site-specific work for St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. I would have loved to have seen the performance there to experience the sounds of the tap dancing in the acoustics of the church. At City Center there were three mic’d platforms and one long mic’d wooden floor. It opens with three dancers on the platforms dancing in unison. Then each takes a solo. After that, part of the company comes out onto the wooden floor all dancing in unison. Sumbry-Edwards did a magnificent solo that literally made several people in the audience gasp. Various dancers come out and improv or battle with another dancer. The dancing is fast and smoove. Their clothing looks like street clothes but everyone is wearing white tap shoes. There was screaming and wild applause when they finished.
doug elkins choreography, etc.
Artistic Director, Doug Elkins
(adapted for Fall for Dance)
Choreography by Doug Elkins in collaboration with the dancers
Musical Soundscape by Justin Levine and Matt Stine
Dramaturgy by Anne Davison
Costumes by Naoko Nagata
Lighting by Heather Smaha
Production Stage Manager: Amanda K. Ringger
Premiere: Rockville, MD – May 5, 2012
Dancers: Alexander Dones, Cori Marquis, Kyle Marshall, and Donnell Oakley
The music for this piece is Motown-inspired. The dance itself is inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello and José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane, which we had just seen the evening before. There were definitely hints of Limón’s work. The pre-show panel on Thursday was about Elkin’s piece and I wanted to attend but it was for ticket-holders only.
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” blasts through the speakers as the Othello character (Marshall) (dressed in a sharp brown three-piece suit and sneakers) dances solo with an vintage Shure mic on a stand. Soon the Desdemona character (Oakley) enters (in a white dress and barefoot) and dances sexily and seductively with Othello. The Iago character (Dones) is in jeans, sneakers and vest over a dark shirt and he high fives his buddy. The Emilia character (Marquis) (in a grey dress and barefoot) dances with Iago. All four dance and roll around to a foreign language version of “(I Can’t Help Myself) Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.” Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” is playing while Iago seduces Emilia and takes the handkerchief. When Othello confronts Desdemona the song is “Try a Little Tenderness,” which I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to again. She keeps trying to appease him as he accuses her and then he beats and strangles her as the song speeds up at the end and then it all ends as the needle reaches the end of the record and just scratches as Emilia stops and looks on in horror and Iago victoriously picks up the handkerchief. Different ending then Limón’s – there Othello held tightly to Iago and Emilia over Desdemona’s lifeless body.
This dance was extremely sexy (until the end obviously) and although the music was sometimes a little obvious, it still worked for me. The clothing and mid-20th century music help make this a universal and contemporary story.
The Royal Ballet
Director, Kevin O’Hare
Choreograpy by Liam Scarlett
Music by Arvo Pärt (arr. Dietmar Schwalke)
Staged by Ricardo Cervera
Lighting by Brad Fields
World Premiere: Fall for Dance commission
Dancers: Zenaida Yanowsky and Rupert Pennefather
Piano: Kate Shipway
Cello: Peter Adams
At the panel discussion the night before, Scarlett said that the loneliest time for the choreographer was just before the performance. There was nothing he could do but stand around and watch the dancers practice and the stagehands do their work. So I was wondering what Scarlett was doing and how he was feeling.
Listening to Pärt’s music it is obvious how the music had to come first and then you get dancers that you trust. Their bodies were one with the music as they swayed and danced beautifully, sexily, and slowly. Pennefather was shirtless wearing tights and Yanowsky had on a tank top and tights.
This was another dance where the audience exploded. Two instruments playing a seemingly simple piece and two dancers just moving around the stage. But it was all so much more than that – so complex and gorgeous.
Scarlett was invited onstage for the bow.
Martha Graham Dance Company
Artistic Director, Janet Eilber
The Rite of Spring
Choreography by Martha Graham
Music by Igor Stravinsky
Costumes by Pilar Limosner after Martha Graham and Halston
Lighting by Solomon Weisbard
Scenery by Edward T. Morris
Projection by Paul Lieber
Production Design Associates: Erik Pearson and Olivia Sebesky
Premiere: February 28, 1984 – NYC
The Chosen One: Blakeley White-McGuire
The Shaman: Ben Schultz
Dancers: Peiju Chien-Pott, Mariya Dashkina Maddux, Natasha Diamond-Walker, Iris Florentiny, Lucy Postell, Xiaochuan Xie, Ying Xin, Tadej Brdnik, Abdiel Jacobsen, Lloyd Knight, Gildas Lemonnier, Lloyd Manor, Maurizio Nardi, Lorenzo Pagano, and Oliver Tobin
What an absolutely glorious dance. It is a modern dance classic and no one who sees it has to ask why.
Male dancers dressed in nothing but dark underwear march around the stage. Upstage standing on steps in the center is the Shaman with his back to the audience and wrapped in a grey and black robe. The women dancers enter as nymphs in short grey chiffon dresses. The men and women dance together until the Shaman grabs the Chosen One. They change her into a white dress and she runs in terror and fear until she finally gives in/is sacrificed.
With the Russian roots in the music and the men marching around straight-legged and bare-chested, I kept getting the image of those old Soviet Union posters in my head. The Grahamesque movements owe a lot to Asian dance with the flexed feet and hands.
Schultz is heavily tattooed and, for me, it took me a little out of the dance. I found it distracting (and I like tattooed men) because I wanted the tattoos to be part of the dance. Every movement and any part of the costume (including your body) have to mean something; otherwise why are they there?
But it didn’t bother me enough to make me dislike the dance. The audience jumped up and applauded loudly and for quite some time. All types of people – those seeing dance for the first time to regulars, young people and old people – everyone loved it.
By Carene Lydia Lopez