Heatwave! New York City is getting ready to become steamy, hot, and sticky- yeah summer in NYC is the best! We have great events indoors and out. There is interactive art on Randall’s Island, Dance in Central Park and on Fire Island, and a jazz brunch in Harlem. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading
Mid- July Heatwave, NYC beach and barbecue continues! New York City is hot. We have modernist sculpture off Fifth Avenue. Beautiful bodies dancing on Fire Island and the Upper Westside. Jokes in Harlem and Hawaii comes to the Bronx. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading
By Walter Rutledge
Bobby Vinton’s end of summer ode Sealed With A Kiss begins with the line “So we have to say goodbye to the summer”; but we would be remiss to leave the season without acknowledging the Fire Island Dance Festival. The Dancers Responding To AIDS annual fundraiser is one Fire Island’s most anticipated dance events. This year did not disappoint, the event showcased 10 stellar emerging, established and renowned choreographers and a gaggle of outstanding performers. This 10-course dance buffet, hosted by Tony Award winning actress Cady Huffman, offered a diverse menu with something for every dance palette ranging from neo-classical ballet to West African inspired dance.
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company opened the performance with Dia-Mono-Logues choreographed by company artistic director Igal Perry. The work’s prevalent theme was inspired by Perry’s own experiences as a 1970’s Israeli immigrant. The ensemble work for eight dancers captured Perry’s sojourn from community to separation to rediscovery in this well crafted abstract narrative.
Wisely using a restricted movement vocabulary Perry was able to construct multiple conversations performed simultaneously by three groups of dancers. This provided a strong dancing counterpoint that slipped into focused and well-directed canons; culminating in spirited unison. The work ended with a crescendo of music and movement climaxing with the dancers lying spent on the stage; one solo performer moved slowly exiting stage left.
Miami City Ballet presented two programs Justin Peck’s Chutes and Ladders (performed by Jeanette Delegado and Kleber Rebello) for the two Saturday July 15 performances, and My One Any Only variation from George Balanchine’s Who Cares (Delegado) on Sunday, July 16. Choreographed in 1970 Who Cares is one of Balanchine’s “Americana” ballets; which joins Stars and Stripes and Western Symphony as a salute to his adopted homeland. Delegado danced with the appropriate amount of verve; displaying effortless technique and an unencumbered port de bra (signature Balanchine). The perky, and upbeat work remains a visual delight.
Pontus Lidberg Dance presented A Different Passion performed by Barton Cowperthwaite and the choreographer. Lidberg’s use of weight and momentum in the partnering and effortless floor work established an aura of honesty and emotional completeness between the dancers. To his credit this love letter cleverly introduced strong sculptural imagery without slipping into predictable posse’.
Keon Thoulouis performed New Conversations: Oshosi Is Here with reserved nobility, embodying choreographer Ronald K. Brown’s mix of explosive power and assured coolness. An excerpt from Brown and Evidence: A Dance Company’s latest work, the solo showcased Brown’s trademark seamless melding West African and Eurocentric contemporary dance styles and choreographic cannons. The Auturo O’Farrill Afro-Cubian score, featuring West African drum laced jazz, complemented Brown’s movement and choreographic intent.
Clad in red and blue sleeveless coveralls choreographers and performers Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener’s Desire Liar opened with Mitchell initiating sporadic upper body movement juxeposed by Riener’s stillness. The ensuing tete-a-tete quickly established a dialog the dancers easily communicated beyond the footlights. The work evolved into a courting ritual with primal undertones. Mitchell and Silas did not mimic or borrow from any one ethnicity; instead the duo defined their own indigeneity. By combining strong sculptural elements, grounded rhythmic contemporary inspired movement, and the simple and subtle balance of symmetric and asymmetrical imagery Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener’s created a work with a visually pleasing Calder-que lightness.
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore choreographed by Al Blackstone with Billy Griffin and featuring James Whiteside combined two favorite themes sex and murder. This fun fantasy (a cross between Looking for Mr. Goodbar and American Pyscho) was actual a duet with an ensemble of five male dancers, in this case suitors.
Throughout the work James Whiteside encountered his hunky object of desire in what is best described as a mix of ambivalence and lust. Between encounters Whiteside systematic and violently incapacitates the ensemble with black widow veracity. The dance gave a new meaning to Prince’s falsetto manifesto.
Acosta Danza presented Nosotros; an impassioned duet choreographed by Beatriz Garcia and Raul Reinoso. Clad in provocative beige lace jumper and suspendered shorts respectively dancers Mario Sergio and Reinoso explored emotions of love and loss. The most overtly erotic work on the program combined a pleasing blend of strength and fragility cleverly avoided predictable clichés creating a sense of anticipation.
Dancer Michael Blake opened Lorin Latarro’s For Those Before with an expansive and welcoming arms open greeting, setting the tone for this inviting and holistic work. Dancers of varied ethnicities, body types, disciplines and ages co-existed onstage making a subtle yet thunderously profound statement. Latarro’s strong use of imagery cleverly explored taboo relationships with pathos, grace and good choreographic form.
Caleb Teicher & Company combined swing and jazz dance, partnering and a welcomed dash of 30’s/40’s movie musical razzle-dazzle to create a delightful homage to jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. With Fred and Ginger high-energy precision, and clean crisp partnering Names playfully disarmed the audience. The shared lead/follow responsibilities avoided roleplaying; and coincidently this was the only duet that ended with the couple still together. Who knew the two nerds from the Big Bang Theory had the right relationship formula.
Tatakai by choreographer Manuel Vignoulle for Makers Dance Company closed the program with a testosterone charged ensemble work for seven men. This dance narrative inspired by the Samurai battle of Sekigahara transported us to Japan’s tumultuous Sengoku era (1467- 1603). Vignoulle’s decision to create a “storytelling ballet” set very high artistic goals.
Ballet staples peppered the work. A la seconde turns pulling into multiple pirouettes en dehors, flurries of pristine batterie, and lots of boundless jetes exploding in mid air extracted well deserve applause. Unfortunately these elements also undercut Vignoulle’s choreographic intent.
His strong architectural design and imagery, Eric Winterling’s striking costumes, and an incredible cast (courtesy American Ballet Theatre) could not compensate for the under explored character develop. In excerpts and smaller works characters having to be quickly established then slowly revealed. This essential component allows the dance narrative to build empathy, camaraderie, and even distain for the characters; thus bonding performer and spectator. Fortunately developing this element is well within the scope of this talented emerging choreographer.
The present political rhetoric’s foul stench has not cast a cloud over basic human decency. This is an attempt by small minds (and small hands) to erase the hard fought gains toward a more inclusive and tolerant global society. Artists must continue to use their craft as a weapon to combat injustice. We must remain a voice for the silent, vulnerable and underserved.
For 23 years the Fire Island Dance Festival has championed inclusiveness, and healing through the arts. The Fire Island Dance Festival provides assistance with great artistry, compassion, and the occasional pirouette. Your support for Dancers Responding To AIDS is welcome year round. If you would like to make a donation and find out more about the services offered visit dradance.org.
Photos By: 1. Yuris Norido 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12. Daniel Roberts 3, 4, 6, 7, 8. Whitney Browne
Summer is here and the city is abounding with activity “24- 7- 365”. We have art celebrating popular culture in Brooklyn. Dance honoring dancers downtown. Blockbuster and Indie film share the silver screen, music blends with movement to reflect on Asian culture at Carnegie Hall, and the swashbuckling continues in Harlem. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading
By Walter Rutledge
The Fire Island Dance Festival held their 22nd annual fundraiser July 15 through 17, 2016. The three-day four-performance festival presented emerging and established choreographers and companies in a stunning outdoor setting framed by the Great South Bay. In the last few of years the festival has felt more like a traditional summer outdoor choreographers showcase. This year the well-curated and focused concert series returned to its roots offering 8 provocative, sensitive and thought-provoking works.
Many of the works revolved around the theme of love and relationship. Glenn Sims and Linda Celeste Sims opened the program with MATCH- The First Installment by Abdul Latif. The set, which resembled of an oversized two-tiered revolving “Lazy Susan”, provided a panoramic perspective of the top-tier duet. It also highlighted the artistic intensity of the two Ailey veterans and real life husband and wife. During the three sections the dance evolved from seated floor work to energetic, but cool jazz that framed the set. Dancers Eury German, Nik Owens, Jillian Roberts and Valentina Strokopytova assisted the couple on stage.
Lasting Embrace choreographed by Ballet Contemporaneo De Camaguey’s Associate Artistic Director Pedro Ruiz had a profound affect on the audience. The adagio demonstrated a good use of theme and development that created a movement based love letter. Armando Gomez Brydson and Jesus Arias Pagues danced the thoughtful and well-crafted duet with strong emotional and technical prowess. Masculine, yet tender the supported partnering switched between the two dancers establishing a feeling of equality and camaraderie.
Wendy Whelan performed the third duet First Fall with choreographer Brian Brooks. The work used momentum and shared body weight to develop a conversation with a distinct voice. Brooks’ designed a sophisticated work with visual innuendoes that clearly expressed his intent through subtlety and repetition than overt movement passages
Larry Keigwin’s fun romp Episodes was set to a lively version of Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town. Members of Keigwin + Company performed the sextet with a good sense of athleticism and solid theatricality. Dancers Kacie Boblitt, Brandon Cournay, Benjamin Freedman, Kile Hotchkiss, Emily Schoen and Jaclyn Walsh danced the upbeat work with the proper amount of verve and playfulness.
For Us by Madboots Dance, choreographed and performed by Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz became an immediate audience favorite. Choreographed in response to the Orlando Tragedy the work began with an eerily rendition of Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow and segued into a dialogue on love. Here the choreographer’s intent was so clear that the overall composition became more important than any isolated movement passages. The message of love and acceptance culminated with a protracted lip lock, titillating the audience and creating a theatrical crescendo.
Choreographer Andrea Miller, in collaboration with Gallim Dance, presented a personal elegy entitled Mike and Harvey. A loving tribute to Miller’s close friends and long time Fire Island residents Harvey Alter and Mike Young. Set to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings the trio reflected loss and separation. Shroud in a black cloche Gwyn Mackenzie seemed to mourn and reminisce Austin Tyson and Paul Vickers, who moved with a special tenderness. At the end the men simply sat on the upstage edge of the stage, legs dandling over, and looking out on the bay as if at home enjoying the sunset.
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Equillibrium (BROTHERHOOD) setto a contemporary jazz score by Kenji Bunch displayed a good use of counterpoint. The choreographer’s musicality could be seen through his use of cannon, and sculptural geometric and asymmetric groupings. Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Dylan Santos, Anthony Javier Savoy and Jorge Andres Villarini danced with a technical ease, effortlessly jumping, turning and kicking throughout the abstract work.
Gay Paree (inspired by Freddie Falls in Love) ended the evening with an uproarious vacation for two male travelers to Paris. Choreographed by Al Blackstone with Billy Griffin the ensemble dance narrative moved with the fast paced unexpectedness of a vacation gone awry. This jazzy theatrical excursion into movement mischief added a different take on Americans in Paris.
The Fire Island Dance Festival is the most prestigious cultural and charitable event on the Fire Island Pines. For the last six consecutive years the festival has surpassed the previous year’s fundraising efforts; this year the festival raised a record-breaking $560,133. The funds assist the efforts of Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA), a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. As a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, DRA supports more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states as well as the essential programs of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative and The Dancers’ Resource.
Fire Island Dance Festival 2016 Highlights
Over its 22 year history the Fire Island Dance Festival has raised more than 4.8 million dollars to help those in need living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, individuals with other debilitating illnesses in New York and across the country have access to lifesaving medications, counseling, healthy meals and emergency financial assistance. For more information, or to make a donation please visit Dancers Responding to AIDS at dradance.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/DRAdance, on Twitter at twitter.com/DRAdance, on YouTube at youtube.com/DRAdance and on Instagram at instagram.com/DRAdance.
Duet from Concerto Six Twenty-Two is set to Concerto in A for Clarinet and Orchestra, K. 622 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Choreographer Lar Lubovitch premiered this work on his company, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, at the Municipal Theatre in Angers, France on December 12th 1985 on dancers Sylvain Lafortune and Edward Hillyer. The work was performed at the first Fire Island Dance Festival, which has become the annual summer fundraising centerpiece for Dancers Responding To AIDS. Continue reading