Today, because of her experience in such an extensive repertory, Berman is in demand as a regisseur, assisting choreographers in bringing their existing ballets to new audiences. This past month, she has been working with Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet, setting Christopher Wheeldon’s Mercurial Manoeuvres, which is part of the Inside the Dancer’s Studio program to be presented Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.
Her duet with Giles, in which both dancers use stilts to place themselves on the same locus, invites us to meet a pair of post-Nijinsky characters, two women who move like languid praying mantises, fluid, deliberate, yet delicate, as they explore a sensuality between women, untested by the choreographers of Nijinsky’s time.
For once the Mouse King is a genuinely compelling villain: his mask is a giant rodent’s skull with red eyes, his costume is murkily tatty and his dancing has a blend of exuberance and creepiness which makes him a joy to watch. James Streeter is the first Mouse King I’ve seen that Clara should be afraid of.
The ballet consists of two parts. The first half, “The Classical Christmas,” is devoted to traditional ballet with classical Christmas music, including liturgical works. In the second half, “The Cool Christmas,” pointe shoes are out, stilettos and tap shoes are in, and the music shifts from Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic to Lou Rawls, Eartha Kitt, and Leon Redbone.
In “The Classical Christmas,” the big standout for me this year was the simplest. There is something timeless and charming about the minimalist line dance by the company women to “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.” It reminds us that dance does not always need to be tricky and complicated to be wonderful. Oh, there were masses of tricky solos and partner work, to be sure, but the sheer loveliness of this dance will linger in memory far longer than fancy footwork.
A great thing about living in the Bay Area is that the local dance world is full of surprises. One day you think you’ve seen pretty much everything there is on offer, and the next you discover something that’s been there for a while but is new to you. It’s kind of like being one of those white cats, some of which tend to be a bit slow on the uptake.
Val Caniparoli is a busy guy these days. In San Francisco alone, he is rehearsing Smuin Ballet’s company premiere of his edgy and challenging Swipe for the company’s spring program and preparing the Diablo Ballet world premiere of Tears from Above. In addition, he is Principal Character Dancer at San […]
The spotlight for this season opener is the world premiere of Dear Miss Cline by Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert, which she has described as her most “Smuin-esque” piece to date. Set to ten classic Patsy Cline recordings, it is a sometimes comic, often touching, exploration of interpersonal relationships. The company has a real winner with this ballet. A big plus were the cheerful costumes by Jo Ellen Arntz (with Amy Seiwert). They captured the period of the late 1950s/early 1960s without descending into cliché-ridden “Hee Haw” country kitsch.
It is wonderful to be dancing in an ensemble again. The company is tremendously talented, and we all feed off each other’s energy and abilities. The familial atmosphere works. All the dancers seek to make their fellow company members look their best. There is a sense of common good — a sense of community.
Pittsburgh’s In The Basement Theater Company offers one of this year’s most erotically charged entries. CHIEN DE MOI contains no nudity and very little spoken language. But the primal pounding and sensuous swirling of Marquis Wood and Sophia Schrank’s bold choreography is hauntingly seductive.
In many cities and towns across the U.S., once the local ballet company completes its schedule, local fans have to pretty much wait until next season to get their dance fix. Not so in the San Francisco Bay Area. This dance-rich corner of the country fields a large number of companies that populate the regular fall/spring seasons and encompass everything from classical ballet to contact improvisation. Additionally, during the off-season, while some take a well-deserved break, other dancers and choreographers reconfigure, creating fascinating new companies.
The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, a popular company scheduled to perform the weekend of July 29/30 at the College of Southern Nevada’s annual Dance in the Desert Festival, is relatively new to the Las Vegas dance scene. Founded in 2007 by Bernard H. Gaddis and Charmaine Hunter, LVCDT is Las Vegas’ first professional contemporary dance company. Best known for its passionate and relatable repertoire, the company blends classical and modern styles with a high degree of athleticism.
In between their annual festival appearances, the Brodie company, like most of the other Festival participants, presents its own season, conducts classes, and explores new choreographic approaches. However, this past spring, Company Director Nannette Brodie was presented with a new challenge — to choreograph dance material for the Long Beach Opera production of the Philip Glass opera, Akhnaten. In addition to the singing, acting, and orchestral components, the production also included cutting-edge video work.