Archive for May, 2011

I intended to start this blog almost a year ago after returning from a fellowship at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C. With the 2011 ADF on the horizon, I’m finally getting it going. Check out my entries about the upcoming festival and the new TITAS season below and my mission statement by clicking on the “About” page above.

I also intend to use DFW Dance Blog as an archive of my dance writings since I became the main dance critic of The Dallas Morning News in 2008. So far, I’ve uploaded my unpublished reviews of 2010 ADF performances and pieces that fit into the “Other Archives” category. I should have everything else up, including an updated calendar, before heading to ADF at the end of next week.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

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Eiko & Koma to revive River (1995) at the American Dance Festival. Photo by Philip Trager

As Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, recently pointed out to me, modern dance is old enough now to have classics. The American Dance Festival is out to prove that this summer while also trying to push the form forward by commissioning new works.

Held at Duke University in Durham, N.C., since 1977 and with roots dating back to the 1930s, the festival opens next week with a gala starring North Carolina’s own Mark Dendy, Scottish Dance Theatre, Martha Clarke, African American Dance Ensemble (led by Chuck Davis, who hosts Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s annual DanceAfrica show) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Clarke returns to the festival July 18-20 for a commissioned world premiere on a bill with a revival of Twyla Tharp’s 1996 work, Sweet Fields.

ADF also is bringing back a pair of dance pieces that were key — along with Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs and The Catherine Wheel — to me becoming a dance lover in the 1980s and later a dance critic: Rosas danst Rosas (1983) by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (June 10-12), with its feminist take on modern angst using a vocabulary of intense everyday movement, and Bill T. Jones’ D-Man in the Waters (1989), dealing with death metaphorically in a gorgeously rendered swimming motif (June 16-18). (Jones’ 1990 The Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land is the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage.) Eiko & Koma (July 5-6) also bring their retrospective tour back to Durham with a site-specific performance of River (1995) at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Running for six weeks, through July 23, the festival is rounded out with Yossi Berg & Odef Graf (June 14-15), Tao Dance Theater (June 20-22), Evidence and Dayton Contemporary Dance (June 23-25), Rosie Herrera (June 27-29), Pilobolus (June 30-July 2), Emanuel Gat Dance (July 7-9), Doug Varone and Dancers (July 11-13), Shen Wei Dance Arts (July 14-16), Bulareyaung Pagarlava (July 18-20) and Paul Taylor Dance Company (July 21-23). Herrera, Pilobolus, Shen Wei, Pagarlava and Taylor each premiere ADF commissions.

My ADF stories from last year’s festival are here. Press release after the jump.

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Photo courtesy DanceBrazil

TITAS has put together an interesting lineup for next season, the best news that two dance companies will perform at the 600-seat Wyly Theatre instead of Winspear Opera House, which holds 2,000. Fans of Dallas Black Dance Theatre know the Wyly’s intimacy makes it a great venue for dance. TITAS already experimented successfully with an up-close show in April when Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet unleashed its dance “installation” four times in one night at tiny Hamon Hall, capacity 200. It was the dance event of the season.

To make this strategy economically feasible, TITAS is counting on a couple of crowd-pleasing troupes, American Ballet Theatre and Pilobolus, to be the money-making cornerstones of 2011-12 and pack the ‘spear. ABT performs Jan. 21 and 22, Pilobolus Nov. 19. The Winspear bill also includes Aspen Santa Fe Ballet on Sept. 10. Then next spring, DanceBrazil — a blend of traditional Afro-Brazilian forms and contemporary dance — and the multidisciplinary Diavolo from Los Angeles perform at the Wyly, respectively, April 13-14 and May 4-5.

The TITAS music season similarly splits shows among the two venues, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Los Lobos at the Winspear; Anoushka Shankar and Madeleine Peyroux at the Wyly. Press release from the AT&T Performing Arts Center after the jump. My previews and reviews of TITAS shows from the past two seasons will be posted here in the next few days.

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