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“Exit Stage Right:” Ciara Pressler’s Career Guidebook for Performers

“Exit Stage Right:” Ciara Pressler’s Career Guidebook for Performers

Jan 31st, 2013

How many career advice books are there in publication? You could spend hours in the Personal Development section learning about the health and growth of your personal financial portfolio, how to hone your interview skills, tips on networking in “the field,” not to mention ways to innovate in your office.

But how many are there on those of us who don’t have an office? How many manuals have been written about getting home at 2 AM from a bar shift and auditioning the next morning at 9 AM and how to make the coffee strong enough to stomach it? How about the roller coaster of successful performance tours and the confusion when tours end? Or advice for musicians who have worked tirelessly to build a band through the nights, but still sit at a service desk in the day? We performers are strange creatures who have a hard time squeezing our carefully quirky lifestyle into the paradigm of 9 to 5. This is old news. We are used to thumbing through career books to find the one chapter that might truly apply. The one about time management.

Ciara Pressler just put something new on the shelves, and it’s for us.

Looking Back: A Dance Icon Video Tour

Looking Back: A Dance Icon Video Tour

Sep 24th, 2012

Dance like any language is alive and morphing. We continue to add ideas and flair; to create new dialects altogether. Even so, we seem to embody many nuances of those who came first.

Here are three iconic dancers and one choreographer who have set the stage for much of what you see today. The links below will show each of their distinctive influences, threading from one era into the next. So when you find yourself in that blissful place, trying on a dance that fits just so, perhaps you’ll think of those who sewed the seams.

Hanging on to NYC Dance Space: Dance New Amsterdam’s Lease

Hanging on to NYC Dance Space: Dance New Amsterdam’s Lease

Jun 2nd, 2012

Dancers struggle to make their New York rents.

They also struggle to make their $18.00 fee for dance class, and often skip class because they can’t afford it.

These two conditions combined to create quite the conundrum for Dance New Amsterdam, one dance studio in Manhattan committed to keeping prices low for dancers, but accumulating massive rent debt because of it. If, as suggested by local government, dance studios take a “more entrepreneurial” approach then what follows are higher class prices, lower teacher payments, higher studio costs, higher ticket prices and ultimately loss of the original goal: to train and nurture artists. For sustainability, a studio requires a combination of revenue from the services they offer and strong fiscal support from the community. Even an organization that seems to be thriving may be in danger of losing its home…

FILM PREVIEW: First Position

FILM PREVIEW: First Position

May 3rd, 2012

Outsiders of the dance world often marvel at the discipline, commitment and sheer tenacity of those trying to be professionals in the business.

Dancers however, never think twice about what it takes to make it. Raised on the mantra “no pain, no gain,” they often thrive under high pressure and high expectations. To them, all this effort is common sense. If you really want it, you are singularly-focused on the pursuit of a career in dance. If you lack the passion, you quit early. It is simple.

Pontus Lidberg’s Labyrinth Within at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Pontus Lidberg’s Labyrinth Within at Baryshnikov Arts Center

Mar 5th, 2012

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.

Keigwin + Company at the Joyce 2012

Keigwin + Company at the Joyce 2012

by Jun 14th, 2012No Comments

Larry Keigwin, known for his wit and electricity, returned to the Joyce this week for the company’s fifth home season. The mix of old and brand new works presented expected pizzazz but perhaps also a more studious side of the hip choreographer.

The evening opens with 12 Chairs. They (the chairs and the dancers that filled them) are set in a grid pattern through the stage space. Dancers, dressed in pedestrian chic, are in “human” mode. Sitting slightly slouched, they sometimes scratch their heads, look out inquisitively or lean to a side. All shifts occur on beat to the driving electronic score of Jonathan Pratt. At first the dancers confine their movement to their chair only. But soon the dancers are shifting spots, carefully calculating their next chair move as if pieces of a chess match. An attitude of nervous possession of a seat is very reminiscent of a panicked round of grade school musical chairs. Keigwin showcases his knack for efficiency. No step is too drawn out. Dancers step up on the base of chairs and spin as if it is as simple as sitting down. They are snappy when they need to be, they freeze in stillness, they are economical with changes in space. I am struck by the ripple effect of motion down the line of chairs when I zoom out to see the whole picture. The piece culminates in a straight line across the stage where we get a slowed down version of the earlier shifts, but this time we can examine each dancer. Although the choreography is quirky, the mood is serious. I feel as if perhaps I am missing an underlying turmoil.

REVIEW: BODYTRAFFIC at Gotham Dance Festival 2012

REVIEW: BODYTRAFFIC at Gotham Dance Festival 2012

by Jun 8th, 2012No Comments

This Wednesday night the Gotham Dance Festival went cross-coastal with L.A. based BODYTRAFFIC, resulting in some serious fun. In the work of three international choreographers, Barak Marshall, Stjin Celis and Richard Siegel, BODYTRAFFIC displayed their strong capacity for technique, theatrics and overall exuberance.

First introduced to the culturally critical dances of Israeli choreographer Barak Marshall two summers ago at Jacob’s Pillow, I have been mesmerized by his gutsy approach ever since. BODYTRAFFIC opened with the world premiere of And At Midnight The Green Bride Floated Through The Village Square, Marshall’s latest glimpse of Yemenite life and tradition. Marshall dresses the dancers in traditional village fare which paired with distinctive Yiddish and Ladino songs immediately transports the piece. Movement consists almost entirely of intricate series of hard hitting gestures, performed in unison and fitting inseparably into musical rhythms. Look closer and you notice that staccato action is enhanced by subtle facial expressions: seduction, disgust, rage, suspicion. And, voila— with this Marshall has made a village of distinct characters.

The piece follows a strict non-fiction narrative. When she was growing up Marshall’s mother, renowned singer and performer Margalit Oved, lived near a family of eight sisters and one brother in what the town nicknamed “the burning house.” (You can imagine eight sisters out of adolescence and competing for male attention.)

REVIEW: Brian Brooks Moving Co. At Gotham Dance Festival 2012

REVIEW: Brian Brooks Moving Co. At Gotham Dance Festival 2012

by Jun 3rd, 2012No Comments

When it comes to Brian Brooks Moving Company, endurance is an understatement. In the opening of the Joyce’s Gotham Dance Festival, the company commanded attention with smooth, seamless movement and an ability to take and give weight with ease. In its New York premiere, the company’s most recent work Big City mirrored the constant motion of New York with a pounding score by Jonathan Pratt.

The work begins with one male walking precariously across the torso of another rolling below in the center of angular metal beams that frame the stage. Immediately the audience is on edge, holding their breath in hopes that the balance will remain a success. This feeling remains for the entirety of the piece and throughout much of the evening’s works.

Hanging on to NYC Dance Space: Dance New Amsterdam’s Lease

Hanging on to NYC Dance Space: Dance New Amsterdam’s Lease

by Jun 2nd, 20121 Comment

Dancers struggle to make their New York rents.

They also struggle to make their $18.00 fee for dance class, and often skip class because they can’t afford it.

These two conditions combined to create quite the conundrum for Dance New Amsterdam, one dance studio in Manhattan committed to keeping prices low for dancers, but accumulating massive rent debt because of it. If, as suggested by local government, dance studios take a “more entrepreneurial” approach then what follows are higher class prices, lower teacher payments, higher studio costs, higher ticket prices and ultimately loss of the original goal: to train and nurture artists. For sustainability, a studio requires a combination of revenue from the services they offer and strong fiscal support from the community. Even an organization that seems to be thriving may be in danger of losing its home…

REVIEW: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the Joyce

REVIEW: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the Joyce

by May 26th, 2012No Comments

Cedar Lake Contemporary Dance held court with a captive, hometown audience last week, like an impossibly hip and worldly friend that fascinates with tales from abroad.

For the past year and a half, Cedar Lake has been performing everywhere but the Big Apple, taking up with Europe’s presenters as often as its trendsetting choreographers, both established and emerging. In the first phase of the two-part program currently running at The Joyce, the company introduced New York to two recent works of foreign birth — Hofesh Schechter’s “Violet Kid” and Crystal Pite’s “Grace Engine” — and reprised “Annonciation,” a 1995 work by Angelin Preljocaj.

Tense, convulsive and apocalyptic in feel, “Violet Kid” and “Grace Engine” — both created in the last year — are clearly works of an uncertain present. Boundaries blur between group and individual, victim and aggressor, order and chaos. Gender is largely irrelevant, as reflected in both choreography and costuming (street clothes in the Schechter, drab suits in the Pite, stockinged feet in both). And while “Violet Kid” resembles an Occupy Wall Street protest and “Grace Engine,” a corporate prison, both resound equally with confusion and despair.

From an artistic perspective, however, both pieces paint a promising picture — of the company itself, and of contemporary dance in general.

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