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Movie Poster for Documentary Film "First Position" Movie Poster for Documentary Film "First Position"

FILM PREVIEW: First Position

First Position is a documentary tracking young ballet dancers in competition for the the annual Youth America Grand Prix. 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…


Ballet Hispanico | Photo Eduardo Patino Ballet Hispanico | Photo Eduardo Patino

REVIEW: Ballet Hispanico Program A at the Joyce Theater

Ballet Hispanico holds a great luxury in their diverse and vibrant company members. Known for a colorful blending of classical and contemporary vocabularies with the grounded and passionate traditions of Latin dance, the company moves to further stretch boundaries with the works presented in their current season. The key to success for the evolving company lies in presenting their dancers as the athletic movers they are without losing the subtlety that draws audiences in. This balance was achieved to various degrees in program A of their current Joyce season.

Angel Corella stars in Barcelona Ballet | Photo Erin Baiano Angel Corella stars in Barcelona Ballet | Photo Erin Baiano

REVIEW: Barcelona Ballet at New York City Center

In 2008, American Ballet Theater star, Ángel Corella , stepped beyond the role of dancer and added Artistic Director to his resume. Now four years later, Barcelona Ballet (formerly Corella Ballet) will gain Corella’s full-time devotion when he retires from his principal role at ABT at the end of this season.

In its second visit to New York City Center, the newly renamed company looked to merge the worlds of classical ballet and traditional Spanish dance in the world premiere of Pálpito (Spanish for “hunch”). A lengthy program note tells us of “a main character who is trying to free himself from the strings that have bound him to his former role of a dancer,” naturally played by Corella who will say goodbye to American Ballet Theatre this June. But before the ballet begins, I can’t help but to worry how the dramatically written synopsis will unfurl onstage.

Last Touch First | Photo Robert Benschop Last Touch First | Photo Robert Benschop

REVIEW: Jiří Kylián and Michael Schumacher’s “Last Touch First” at the Joyce Theater

In the world of film, slow motion is a no-brainer for building tension. Where slowing footage with a mouse click is simple, real people performing slow motion rarely reads as realistic and is difficult to sustain. These considerations do not strike fear but rather interest for choreographers Jiří Kylián and Michael…


Sylvie Guillem in "Bye" | Photo Bill Cooper Sylvie Guillem in "Bye" | Photo Bill Cooper

REVIEW: Sylvie Guillem’s “6000 Miles Away” at Lincoln Center

Sylvie Guillem presents something of a conundrum for dance criticism. Typically, it’s possible to separate the dancer from the dance — to distinguish the merits of the choreography itself, from how the dancer executes it and brings it to life.

The 47-year-old Guillem has performed so many roles and styles over her long career that this would seem to be an easy task. And yet, watching her inhabit tailor-made works in “6000 Miles Away,” it was hard to imagine anyone else performing them — for she is one of those rare artists whose instrument alone expands the boundaries of what dance can express.

In the program recently staged by The Joyce at Lincoln Center, Sylvie’s instrument was in the hands of William Forsythe and Mats Ek, from whom the ballerina commissioned two original works to flank an excerpt from Jiří Kylián’s explosive “27’52”.”

For both Forsythe and Ek, classical ballet provides as much a foundation as a subject for artistic commentary. That is about where the similarities between the two choreographers end, however. Whereas Forsythe’s steely “Rearray” puts Guillem’s exceptional technique under a microscope, Ek gives it a back seat in “Bye” — a work that, best it can, portrays Sylvie as a normal human being.

zoe|juniper in A Crack In Everything | Photo Christopher Duggan zoe|juniper in A Crack In Everything | Photo Christopher Duggan

REVIEW: zoe|juniper’s “A Crack in Everything” At New York Live Arts

A projected wall of leaves ripples in the wind on stage and I can already sense the visual mastery at work in zoe | juniper’s New York Premiere of A Crack in Everything at New York Live Arts. The house lights dim and we are welcomed to a peculiar new realm, where dancers in patches of gold perform behind a giant glass wall on the front of the stage. Zoe Scofield’s powerful movement vocabulary owns the stage behind the protective layer in front of us. It’s an interesting new angle to see the fourth wall constructed physically. As the show continues, it becomes increasingly clear that the audience’s perspective will remain in constant flux and rarely visit the comfort zone.

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.

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.