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March 2012

Faces from Gardenia | Photo Luk Moonsaert Faces from Gardenia | Photo Luk Moonsaert

Montclair State University’s Peak Performances

Many loyal dance-goers often focus their attention on performances within Manhattan and Brooklyn. But Montclair State University’s unique series Peak Performances gives us more than one reason to consider a short bus or train ride to Jersey.

This past weekend, I traveled to the Alexander Kasser Theater to see the US Premiere of Gardenia, a collaboration between Alain Platel, the artistic director of Les Ballets C de la B, theater director Frank van Laecke–both influenced by renowned Belgian playwright Vanessa Van Durme. Gardenia is more abstract theater piece than dance. But a close look reveals that movement is certainly at the core of this tale of transgender performers and their closing cabaret club. Platel’s trained eye for space, gesture and physicality brings a richness to a story that would be quite difficult to convey only in dialogue.

VIDEO: Sidra Bell

The Creative Approach Season 3: Episode 4 | 5:17 Choreographer, dancer, teacher, and director Sidra Bell discusses her perspective on the artistry of dance and her creative approach to it. She also speaks about the advice she would give to her younger self. See our other Sidra Bell video (Intellect…

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VIDEO: Sidra Bell

Intellect and Physicality Season 3: Episode 3 | 6:35 For Sidra Bell, all roads led to dance. But the path was anything but direct. From a journey that began at the age of eight at the Dance Theater of Harlem and included an unlikely, yet critical diversion at Yale University,…

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Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin's "Hora" | Photo Gadi Dagon Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin's "Hora" | Photo Gadi Dagon

REVIEW: Batsheva Dance Company’s “Hora” at BAM

It is tempting to be led headfirst into the implied meanings of a work entitled Hora.

But from the instant lights rise on an arresting neon green backdrop, I am thrown from any image of ancient circle dances I had conjured from the title. The voluminous space of the Howard Gilman Opera House at BAM is cut low by the dense color and a wooden bench spanning the back wall. The Batsheva Dance Company seems transported to a space altogther other-worldly. With deadpan but deadly focused faces, the dancers slowly walk forward in a straight line. When the army of eleven retreats again to the bench, short spurts of solos begin. We indulge in very “gaga” postures, walks, quirks and balances that are signature of the company. But before long they are all dancing in a flurry of unrelated chaos.

We cannot possibly watch them all. Just when the action seems overwhelming, choreographer Ohad Naharin gathers it in stillness.

Sidra Bell Dance New York in "STELLA" Sidra Bell Dance New York in "STELLA"

PREVIEW: Sidra Bell Dance New York at Baruch Performing Arts Center

Sidra Bell Dance New York is thick in preparation for the opening of their New York Season next week at Baruch Performing Arts Center. The season’s works together are entitled, Duel, consisting of two evening length works to be presented for two consecutive weeks between March 22 and April 1.
When I visited the company’s New York Live Arts rehearsal, there was a clear collaborative atmosphere as the dancers fiddled with costumes and discussed them with Bell and costume designer Erin Schultz. Collaboration plays a role in Bell’s work from start to finish with both dancers and designers. “I enjoy creating worlds onstage. The lighting, the costuming, all play in from the beginning of the process,” Bell explained.

Wendy Whelan in Labyrinth Within directed by Pontus Lidberg Wendy Whelan in Labyrinth Within directed by Pontus Lidberg

Pontus Lidberg’s Labyrinth Within at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Swedish choreographer and dancer Pontus Lindberg’s Labyrinth Within is a series of pas de deux on film that explores the lines between reality and perception. The majority of the 28 minute film, with a score created by David Lang (and recorded in 2009 by The Symphony Orchestra of Sweden’s Norrlands Operan) takes place in Giovanni Bucchieri and Wendy Whelan’s apartment. The two main characters are in the later years of a now stale marriage.