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Dance: Farewell & Greetings

By Francine L. Trevens
ART TIMES January/ February 2013

Cast of the Colonial Nutcracker at Brooklyn Center
The cast of The Colonial Nutcracker at Brooklyn Center.
Photo by Rob Reynolds

Bid adieu to 2012 and happily embrace 2013!

In the world of dance, the final month of the year always presents a selection of Nutcracker performances throughout the world. Ever wonder how Tchaikovsky would have felt that this should be his most performed composition? I suspect it would rather astonish and disappoint him. But so often creators’ favorite works are not the favorites of the public at large.

This December also presented a number of dance retrospectives – such as Alpha Omega’s works from 1972, 1987 and 1989 as well as twenty-first century dances at their 40th Anniversary Dance Program at Ailey Citigroup Theater.

Most of the numbers were joyously danced and visually delightful. One, the oldest of them all, Essence “a rainbow portrayal of different realities of the Black American woman” was beautiful and potent. The four dancers, Donna Clark, Shauntée Henry, Elise King and Jinah Parker were stellar. The evening featured works by many choreographers connected with Alpha Omega over the years – Martial Roumain for Essence, company artistic director Enrique Cruz DeJesus, Eleo Pomare, Andy Torres and Angel Garcia.

Eve Ensler’s “Emotional Creature” had a number of appropriate dances for its six female cast choreographed by Luam. They caught the spirit of each woman’s monologue.

Lauren Lovette
Lauren Lovette (New York City Ballet), winner of
Clive Barnes Foundation Dance Award, performing
in Polyphonia by Christopher Wheeldon
Photo: Paul Kolnik.

December was also the month of awards – such as the third annual CLIVE BARNES FOUNDATION AWARDS held December 10 at Walter Reade Theater/Lincoln Center. These Awards were established by Barnes' widow Valerie Taylor-Barnes, to honor outstanding young talents from the worlds of Theater and Dance. The 2012 nominees for dance were -Lauren Lovette (New York City Ballet), Steven Melendez (New York Theater Ballet), Ashley Murphy (Dance Theater of Harlem). Winner, chosen by the Selection Committee: Edward Albee, Alexandra Ansanelli, Gwin Joh Chin, Barbara Hoffman, Jacques le Sourd, Arthur Mitchell, Patrick Pacheco, Valerie Taylor-Barnes, Damian Woetzel, Craig Wright, was Lauren Lovette (New York City Ballet).

December offered other dance viewing opportunities as well. The rousing dance number from Les Miserables on stage musical, “Master of the House”, was even more engrossing and amusing in the new film version. Here you could more readily see the knavery and filching by the pair of hostlers and hustlers – portrayed on screen by Helene Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

One number especially stood out for me in the Broadway version of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” – choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Dickens’ unfinished story was presented as if in a music hall of the 1890’s. The dances were strenuous, provocative and very in-your-face blowsy at times. The audience, surrounded by the cast, was enthralled.

But the number that captivated me was the nightmare ballet in the opium den. In addition to being sensuous and somewhat off center in its athleticism, it was beautifully done and a quiet, mood changing bit of theatrical creativity.

This past year, this column spotlighted several new dance companies. May they all make it to the landmark anniversaries of the following dance troupes, because in 2012 and 2013 many dance companies throughout the country celebrate major anniversaries.

Many young companies were spotlighted over the years in these dance columns, such as the Amy Marshall Dance Company, which turns 13 this coming year…fully of age in the Yiddish religion. Also celebrating its 13 anniversary is Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre, which will hold a gala on February 23rd .

Alpha Omega dancers
Alpha Omega dancers Shauntée Henry and men are (left to right) Juan Michael Porter II and Jude Perry-Evans. It’s as if they fly without wings! Photo. by Quincy Scott

FOCUS 2013, the National Platform to promote American dance both abroad and nationally has a week-long platform presenting performances of U.S.-based dance companies during the annual Arts Presenters Conference in New York City, one of the largest gatherings of artists, dancers and dance professionals in the U.S. During the second week in January, four venues partner with Gotham Arts Exchange to present the artistic visions of five curators gathered to shape this year's edition: FOCUS 2013

DANCE GOTHAM at NYU/Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, curator Martin Wechsler
FOCUS DANCE at The Joyce Theater, curator Jodee Nimerichter
FOCAL POINT (new this year), with curators David Parker, Robert Moses and Trajal Harrell, and artistic advisor Robert Battle.
DANCE MEET and SHOW CASE at New York City Center

The 20th Anniversary of Buglisi Dance Theatre will be celebrated February 5­10 at The Joyce. The Company started as Buglisi/Foreman Dance, founded by Jacqulyn Buglisi, Donlin Foreman, Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin, all previously principal dancers with the Martha Graham Dance Company. For several years it has been known as Buglisi Dance theatre. Martine van Hamel will return as guest on a program that features three of Buglisi's major works: “Suspended Women," "Rain," and "Songs of Experience." There will also be the premiere of "Migration Meditations" to a commissioned score by Daniel Bernard Roumain.

Martha Graham Company will be in its 77th year in 2013 – and probably spend most of this year fighting the total devastation caused to its sets, costumes and props, which Sandy held as watery hostages for 6 days in 2012.

Alvin Ailey marks 55 years since the first Ailey dance performance at New York’s 92 Street Y.

Limon Dance Co celebrated its 65th anniversary Nov 16, 2012.

The remarkable Pilobolus which for some unknown reason I continue to think of as a new comer is actually now 42 years old!

Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theatre celebrates through 2012-2013 its 40th anniversary.

Paul Taylor Dance will probably spend a good part of 2013 readying its 60th gala year in 2014. In 2012, it celebrated

American Dance Festival’s 50th Anniversary performing with them in July 2012.

Undoubtedly I have missed several major anniversary landmarks – but the point was to illustrate how long lived many dance companies are, continuing active and creative many years after their founders have departed life’s stage. Just the sort of immortality probably dreamed about by these dancer/choreographers when their first works took to the stage.

In these uncertain economic times, this longevity speaks to the value and love of many types if dance which is felt by so many Americans. Long may they soar!

Check out Ms. Trevens’ other writings at www.writerfrancinetrevens.co.