Alissa Horowitz, the spawn of a dancer–artist duo, was raised free–spirited and surrounded by art. As a modern dancer living in NYC, she teaches dance to the kiddies, and in the past has worked in arts publicity. Alissa lived in Madurai,... [more]
Alissa Horowitz, the spawn of a dancer–artist duo, was raised free–spirited and surrounded by art. As a modern dancer living in NYC, she teaches dance to the kiddies, and in the past has worked in arts publicity. Alissa lived in Madurai, India for four months, where she studied the Classical Indian dance form Bharata Natyam in the pandanallur style under the tutelage of Harsha Vardhini (whom she misses...a LOT). She performed a solo at the Sarveswarar Temple, Madurai, India, and thus became “the talk of the town” since it was unheard of, and thus a great honor, for a foreigner to perform in a temple.
[Above: COCo Dance Theatre, Photo by Julieta Cervantes]
Lewiston, Maine. It may seem an unlikely place to go to see some of the best performances of the year, but indeed every summer it becomes a hotspot for contemporary dance. At the Bates Dance Festival, the usually snow-capped Bates College quad melts to green, becoming fertile ground for dancers from all over the country and abroad to get together to learn, exchange, create, see great dance and have fun.
Headlining at Schaeffer Theater are performances by Monica Bill Barnes & Company (7/10), Doug Varone and Dancers (7/15, 7/17), COCo Dance Theatre (7/23-24) and AXIS Dance Company (7/30-31). It is quite a fabulous line-up. Monica Bill Barnes & Company, known for her quick-witted comicality, will perform "Another Parade," featuring music by James Brown, Tina Turner, Back and Elvis! Doug Varone and Dancers will grace the stage with "Lux" (my favorite!), "Castles" and excerpts from "Chapters from a Broken Novel," currently a work in progress. This summer will also be Varone's sixth creative residency at Bates since 1992. Cynthia Oliver's COCo Dance Theatre will present their newest multidisciplinary work, "Rigidigidim di Bamba: Ruptured Calypso," which explores Caribbean identities and has received a National Dance Project touring grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. AXIS Dance Company, unparalleled in its groundbreaking work in physically integrated dance, will bring award-winning works by David Dorfman, Alex Ketley and Sonya Delwaide to Maine. There will also be a pre- and post-performance lecture series, "Inside Dance: Understanding Contemporary Dance," led by Boston dance writer Debra Cash.
Also at Schaeffer Theater, the "Different Voices" concerts showcase choreography by established and emerging artists from around the globe. This year's artists include Claudia Lavista and Omar Carrum (of Delfos Danza Contemporanea, Mexico), Paniabra Gabriel Canda (Mozambique), Shiferaw Tarikou (Ethiopia), Deborah Goffe (Hartford, Conn) and Helen Simoneau (Quebec).
Besides performances at Schaeffer Theater, the festival also offers a number of events at various venues around campus. The "Musician's Concert" features 10 incredible composers and musicians (and happens to be one of my favorite events year after year). To end the season, the "Festival Finale" comprises work by Foley, Young, Mejia and Lavista set on festival dancers, as well as a performance by participants of the festival's Youth Arts Program, a unique program for local children of all ages.
Also on the agenda are a number of free events, including lecture demonstrations by Barnes, Varone and AXIS, a panel discussion with visiting international artists titled "Global Exchange: Sharing Across Cultures," "Moving in the Moment," and a Dance and Media Video Talk. "Moving in the Moment," (another personal favorite of mine), features a night of improvised dancing organized by Chris Aiken and the festival faculty on August 3rd.
For more details and ticket information, please visit the festival's website at www.batesdancefestival.org
Special News! Having hosted choreographers from South Africa for sixteen years, Laura Faure, festival director, travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa this March for the FNB Dance Umbrella Festival. She shares some amazing insights on the festival's blog at http://bdfblog.org/
[Above: AXIS Dance Company, Photo by Margot Hartford]
I was able to attend two films as part of the New York City Dance on Camera Festival last week at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center.
Two nights, two documentaries on contemporary dance, two very different, yet equally effective, approaches to the genre.
[above: "Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde!," Dave St. Pierre]
The first, "Urban Ballet" (Brigitte Kramer and Jorg Jashel), was quite beautiful and was shot in Germany at the Tanz im August Berlin International Dance Festival. Perfectly edited with just the right amount of footage from interviews with the artists, the film focused on these artists works - whether it was in the streets, a train station, a warehouse studio, a lawn or the stage - thus allowing us to feel the spirit of this dance festival through viewing the dances created, workshopped and performed there. With dancing by the Dresden Semper Oper Ballett, Dave St. Pierre, Membros Cia de Danca, Akram Khan Company, Tecktonick, Hiroaki Umeda, Boris Charmatz, Meg Stuart & Jeremy Wade, Nasser Martin-Gousset, Les Slovaks Dance Collective, Olivier Dubois, Jefta van Dinter & Mette Ingvartsen, I was completely enthralled in the action. I was also happy to leave the theater with new dance artists to research on the web; I love discovering new artists and their work! Check out Dave St. Pierre - his naked frolicking men with blonde wigs (shot outdoors) and his interpretation of Afternoon of a Faun (on the stage) both made me laugh harder than I have in awhile. Well executed humor can only come from brilliance. I also really enjoyed the interviews with the members of Les Slovaks Dance Collective, as well as their novel way of interacting and navigating space. Their site-specific work shown in the film looked like five dancers in individual improvisations and also like a completely organized and architectural work for five dancers both at the same time - I didn't know that was possible! I also loved... ok, I must stop myself here, I liked almost everything I saw... [I've included some videos below for your viewing pleasure. They are not clips from "Urban Ballet" but work by the artists shown in the film.]
[above: "what it looks like, what it feels like," Beth Gill]
My next night at Walter Reade I saw another documentary, "New York Dance: States of Performance," in which Michael Blackwood used a very different approach than Kramer and Jashel. The film shifted from interview to interview with current contemporary choreographers living in New York. Footage from performances and rehearsals seemed almost secondary, the main goal being to have the artists followed - Christopher Wheeldon, Jennifer Monson, Sara Michelson, John Jasperse, Ralph Lemon, Beth Gill and Ann Liv Young - communicate their views on dance, dance making and performance. The film, curated by dance critic Gia Kourlas, portrayed a wide range of aesthetic preference, from Jennifer Monson's site-specific improvisations, to Beth Gill's discussion on stripping down movement, to clips of Ann Liv Young dancing pregnant (and naked) in rehearsal for her fantastically absurd Snow White. I won't say any more, you have to find a way to see it for yourself (although in the post-show Q&A it seemed sketchy as to when and how such future viewings will be possible). This was not Michael Blackwood's first foray into the New York dance scene, but was actually his third film about post (or post post) modern dance. Although I have not seen the other two films yet (I certainly plan on it), I have a feeling they would compose a wonderful trilogy. [Check out videos of some of the works shown in "New York Dance" at the bottom of this post.]
[above: "Rapture," Noemie Lafrance]
Back now to my first night at Walter Reade. In the same program as "Urban Ballet," four short dance films were also shown, and I must confess, they were actually what drew me into the theater in the first place. I have become very much obsessed with dances made specifically for the purpose of being filmed. The idea of dancing for no one but instead for a camera, where the "performance" up in front of people comes later, may seem alien to a dancer used to connecting with a live audience. Yet it opens up a whole new range of possibilities, a plethora of ways to convey a specific point of view filtered through yourlens. It is purely your vision. What the viewer sees at any given time is a controlled substance, even more controlled than what you may choose to put up on the stage. On film, you can show the viewer the little things - a close-up on the dancer's ankle, or the movements of her eye - at just the right times. You choose the angle, and it is this power of vantage point that has become so appealing.
But I digress.
So, after "Urban Dance" I saw four short dance films. Each, in less than 10 minutes, gave us a peek into a world with a life all its own. In "Chamame" (Silvina Szperling, Argentina, 2008), a spoken narrative reminiscent of Marquez's magical realism took us on a visual, and visceral, bedtime fantasy story-like adventure...with dance...and a lot of water...and a fisherman. Very Imaginative. Like a free-write, but for film. On the other hand, the second film, "Rapture" (Noemie Lafrance, USA 2009), had no narrative. To me, not only did it capture a ground-breaking work on film, but also served to show that dance really has no limits. Shot in black and white, the film consisted of footage from a site-specific work of the same name that was performed on the top of the metallic and uneven landscape of the Fisher Center's rooftop at Bard College. Dancers in harnesses and only sky -a dance for thrill seekers. Then "Chloes" (Lea Fulton and Greg King, USA 2009), portrayed two white-clad sirens at a bus stop in Brooklyn. The close-ups were gorgeous, showing the dancers' alternate feelings of inhabiting and un-inhabiting this place. They are there and they are elsewhere. The film was set to an emotion-packed musical track, but I have to say, I would love to see the same video played again in silence. To me, the images hold more weight. Last but not least was "Three's A Crowd" (Andy Wood, UK 2007), a duet shot in one continuous take - an interesting challenge. With only the sound of the gravel under the dancers' feet, their breathing, the sunlight coming through the buildings, we are transported to this place. It was a moving snapshot of a playful afternoon and I dug it. Sign me up.
This coming week, I am excited to check out the Dance On Camera Festival 2010.
Starting this week there are some free events at various venues, including a night of shorts at Judson Memorial Church presented by Movement Research tonight, January 26th, at 7pm. Also tonight, "The Haitian Footage: Maya Deren Unedited" will be shown at the Anthology Film Archives on 2nd Avenue at 7:30pm. All proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross in light of the recent crisis in Haiti. Read more about the program by clicking HERE.
The main thrust of the festival will run from January 29-February 2, when there will be a series of films presented at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center. From documentaries honoring monumental artists such as Nikolais, to dance shorts from America and abroad, there is something for everyone, so come get your fill of dance on the screen. Look out for the World Premiere of Michael Blackwood's "NEW YORK DANCE: States of Performance" (February 2 at 8:30pm), which looks at new trends in modern dance. Curated by dance critic Gia Kourlas, the film features choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Jennifer Monson, Sara Michelson, John Jasperse, Ralph Lemon, Beth Gill and Ann Liv Young.
See the full schedule for the Walter Reade Theatre and view preview clips by clicking HERE.
A few words about the festival: "Co-sponsored by The Film Society of Lincoln Center since 1996, Movement Research since 2008, TenduTv and Mark Morris Dance Center since 2010, Dance On Camera Festival (DOCF) celebrates the immediacy, energy, and mystery of dance as combined with the intimacy of film. Festival 2010 will include a tribute to Alwin Nikolais as part of a year long centennial celebration across the country in his honor."
Applications for the 2010 Bates Dance Festival are now online!
The Professional Training Program runs from July 17th-August 8th, and offers a great line-up of classes taught by great artists and accompanied by amazing live musicians! There are also fabulous performances throughout the 3-week program.
I've been to the festival twice already. It is so much fun to "go on vacation" to dance heaven. Unlike other large summer dance festivals, Bates is a smaller program focused on collaboration and community without sacrificing high quality instruction.
There are also scholarships and internships available!!
Also, check out their youtube page for more videos!