George Balanchine’s fun romp set to the music of George Gershwin performed by Het Nationale Ballet. Continue reading
New York City is the dance capital of the world! This week we have modern masters in Manhattan, Hip- Hop Downtown, and Burlesque in Brooklyn. Here are a few events guaranteed to keep you Out and About. Continue reading
Spring Break is here! And the city is abounding with activity “24- 7- 365”. We have art celebrating popular culture in Harlem. Ballet, modern and more throughout the city. Blockbuster and Indie film share the silver screen, jazz to Motown grooves Midtown and the world’s most exotic cars hit the westside. 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 Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) begins their New York City season April 4th through 7th at New York City Center. The company will present a varied and diverse program including three New York premieres: George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie, Harlem on My Mind by Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Christopher Wheeldon’s duet This Bitter Earth. The season highlight will be the much-anticipated return of Dougla by choreographer/Renaissance man Geoffrey Holder. Continue reading
Agon– the complete ballet with the original cast featuring Diana Adams, Todd Bolender, Jillana, Arthur Mitchell, Richard Rapp, Francia Russell, Roy Tobias, and Violette Verdy. Continue reading
By Walter Rutledge
Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer will open at Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, 615 W 129th St, on Saturday January 13, 2018. The exhibit is presented in collaboration with Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where Mitchell donated his archive in 2015. This is the first major exhibition devoted to celebrating the life and accomplishments of New York City Ballet’s first African American principal dancer and the co-founder and longtime director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Curated by Lynn Garafola, Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College the collection will be on view through March 11, 2018
“This exhibition pays homage both to Mitchell’s creative magic and to his visionary achievements, revealing to those who never saw him dance his charismatic stage presence and the full scope of his career as an artist,” said Garafola. “At the same time, it places the Dance Theatre of Harlem, which he co-founded and directed for more than 40 years, at the crossroads of political, artistic and racial change in the United States and beyond.”
Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer will feature objects from Mitchell’s archive, including the telegram from Lincoln Kirstein to Mitchell inviting him to join the New York City Ballet, an Al Hirschfeld drawing of Suzanne Farrell and Mitchell in Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Mitchell’s 1952 Four Saints in Three Acts souvenir program and posters from the 1961 Spoleto Festival, where Mitchell both choreographed and performed.
Other highlights are photographs of Mitchell and fellow dancers by Anthony Crickmay, Peter Basch, Martha Swope and Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon), and an eight-foot-long Dance Theatre of Harlem puzzle, created by Frank Bara in 1991, that chronicles the first two decades of the company’s history with illustrative detail of its artists, heroes and friends. Dancer Charmaine Hunter’s costume and headpiece designed by Geoffrey Holder for Firebird (1982), one of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s signature works, will be on view, as well as performance footage from a number of sources including the New York Public Library’s Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
Dance Pioneer Arthur Mitchell
“I am a political activist through dance,” said Mitchell, who received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Columbia in May of 2016. “I believe that dance, and the arts more broadly, can be used as a catalyst for social change—this is why I started the Dance Theatre of Harlem. With my archive at Columbia, artifacts of American dance history and African American history are accessible to young scholars, academics and the general public. The exhibition at the Wallach Gallery will further this push for change.”
The Wallach Art Gallery advances Columbia’s historical, critical and creative engagement with the visual arts. Serving as both a laboratory and a forum, the Wallach offers opportunities for curatorial practice and discourse, while bridging the diverse approaches to the arts at the University with a welcome broader public. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon until 8pm and Saturday and Sunday, noon until 6 pm. The Wallach Art Gallery is free and open to the public.
“Our grand re-opening year at the Lenfest Center for the Arts is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Mitchell’s artistic genius, through the holdings of Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Wallach is proud to collaborate on this presentation, offering a glimpse of these treasures to the public, while also appealing to those interested in the history of ballet, the history of Harlem and, more broadly, modern American race relations,” said Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator of the Wallach Art Gallery.
For more information about the Wallach Art Gallery and the Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Ballet Trailblazer exhibition and related events including: An Afternoon with Arthur Mitchell (January 20, 2018, 1pm) and Panel Discussion with former dancers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem (February 24, 2018, 1pm) visit wallach.columbia.edu.
To watch the complete Agon featuring the original cast click below
The Nutcracker, also known as George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, is a 1993 American Christmas musical film based on Peter Martin’s stage production and directed by Emile Ardolino. The film stars Darci Kistler, Damain Woetzel, Kyra Nichols, Bart Robinson Cook, Macaulay Culkin, Jessica Lynn Cohen, Wendy Whelan, Margaret Tracey, Gen Horiuchi, Tom Gold and the New York City Ballet. Continue reading
Diana Vishneva performs the Rubies section from George Balanchine’s Jewels. 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
Arthur Mitchell, pioneering ballet dancer, artistic director and choreographer has recently secured his achieves with Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Continue reading