Monday, November 20th, 2017 12:00 PM
Was the Ohio Theatre sold out? Yes. Did the men look like burly CrossFit athletes? Yes. Were we dazzled by the outpouring of energy and physicality from the first few moments of the first dance? Yes. Otherwise it would not have been the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company. Yes, we love Paul Taylor - but now we dip a toe into the deep question of, why do we love more ›
The concert began with Arden Court (1981), a dance for six men and three women set to excerpts from symphonies by an English Baroque composer William Boyce. The first musical selection plays while the curtain is down but for the second musical selection, a kind of fanfare in ¾ time, the curtain comes up and we see an explosive, proscenium-filling, diagonal-crossing display of big jumps by the six men.
These are not the apparently effortless jumps of male ballet dancers with impeccably pointed feet, slender elongated limbs in immaculate lines and nearly inaudible landings. For the Taylor dancers, especially the men, musicality and physicality run neck and neck for first importance. Power trumps line. Thudding landings are practically de rigueur.
As the fanfare ends, a woman runs out and is lifted onto a man's shoulder. (She and the other two women who appear in Arden Court are notably smaller than the men. That and the men's costumes by Gene Moore - bare chests and light-colored tights - emphasize the men's size.) The other five men exit and the couple stays on stage for an unusual pas de deux in which she dances around, over and - humorously - under him. He appears not to notice her until the final moment of their dance when she jumps into his arms and they look at each other face to face.
In the following pas de deux the man again appears oblivious to the woman's presence. But in the next pas de deux, she is oblivious to him as he dances around, over and under her until at the very end he touches her shoulders from behind and she turns to face him with a start.
In those first three duets, Arden Court provides strong examples of what critic Alastair Macaulay calls "drastic contrasts;" Taylor creates duets in drastic contrast to our expectation that dancers in a duet will be attentive to each other. And consider the next duet, which ends with an ultra-fast coda in which the two men repeat what looks like their entire duet - which critic Anna Kisselgoff aptly described as "two gentlemen outdoing each other in the arts of deportment" - in fast forward. We weren't expecting that either.
Or perhaps "upending of expectations" would be a better description of what happens later in Arden Court. The six men are again onstage, standing in big X poses rather than jumping when suddenly one of the men is in a big X-shaped handstand. Upending! Then the men exit with slow-motion, assisted cartwheels. More upending! This is one of those many moments in Taylor choreography that you don't have to be a dance geek to appreciate. Those cartwheels were a hit in the Ohio Theatre but they also would have brought the house down for stunt night at sleepaway camp.
Arden Court contains other, more familiar Taylor devices. For instance, for several of its dances two or more of the other dancers are onstage just watching, a framing device we enjoy. The dancers watch each other. We watch the dancers. People like to watch other people. There is a lot about this dance that is just plain likeable.
Other dance companies have performed Arden Court, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Joffrey Ballet and Taylor 2 . Arden Court is a difficult dance. Every opportunity for dance virtuosity threatens to expose a dancer's shortcomings. Watch the video and read the reviews to better appreciate some of the challenges the Taylor dancers overcame at the Ohio Theatre.
Formerly known as Paul Taylor Dance Company, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company recently changed its name and its mission. No longer performing only the choreography of Paul Taylor, the company now performs the work of other choreographers as well as presenting other dance companies as guest artists. The next dance on the concert, Continuum(2017), by Lila York, a Paul Taylor alumna, is the company's first ever commissioned piece.
Does York have a strong track record as a choreographer? Yes. Was York prepared when she came to set Continuum on the Taylor dancers? Yes, according to the dancers in the post-concert Q&A, York had the entire dance choreographed in advance. Is Paul Taylor a hard act to follow? Yes. Was York intimidated? Yes, according to Bettie De Jong, longtime rehearsal director, "I think she was intimidated but she got what she wanted."
In Continuum, set to Recomposed: The Four Seasons by Max Richter, York has deployed an ensemble of five women and five men in light-colored costumes by Santo Loquasto against one small woman in orange who, over the course of the dance, leads them to the light. Continuum is a very beautiful dance, clearly conceived. If it suffers by comparison, sandwiched between two Taylor masterworks, remember that even some of Taylor's own work meets a similar fate. Paul Taylor is a hard act to follow, sometimes even for Taylor himself.
Piazzola Caldera (1997), set to the tango music of Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky with set and costumes by Santo Loquasto, was shown as a work in progress in the documentary film, Paul Taylor: Dancemaker. But we believe that this was our first time to see it live. When the curtain went up on the dancers - six women and six men arrayed against each other with hanging light fixtures and a red velvet backdrop - the audience emitted a soft "Ahh!" At first the two groups stayed largely separate, but then formed couples.
As the first musical selection ended, all the couples except one exited. We expected a duet but immediately five men and one woman entered, and the couple left. She approaches each of the men but they all turn away from her until she is left alone onstage, dancing solo to spare music in ¾ time, another iteration of Taylor's lonely girl/lonely guy motif.
Later in Piazzolla Caldera we see two of the men in a drunk dance, staggering against each other as if unable to stand unsupported. There's a blackout - pun intended - and when the lights come back up, the hanging light fixtures are slowly spinning around our two drunks. Again, you don't need to know much about dance to appreciate that moment, though one suspects good drunk dancing isn't really all that easy to pull off.
Piazzolla Caldera ended with an ensemble dance and the audience burst into sustained applause, a standing ovation.
So yes we love Paul Taylor but if you've read this far you have material to begin to explain why. He doesn't always give us what we expect. He knows and loves dance but his work often touches on the human and the universal. He has a deft sense of humor yet doesn't overdo it. He attracts and keeps amazing dancers who grow as he challenges them.
Coming next from DanceCleveland, Grupo Corpo from Brazil Sat 1/20/18@ 7:30pm and Sun 1/21/18 @3pm. Go to PlayhouseSquare.org or phone 216-241-6000 for tickets.
Victor Lucas, CoolCleveland
RELATED COMPANY: Paul Taylor Dance Company
Monday, November 6th, 2017 12:00 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio - There's a reason dancer Michael Trusnovec has been a with the Paul Taylor Dance Company his entire career, almost 22 years.
It's the same reason the company itself has lasted 63 years, and remains in demand just about everywhere, including here in Cleveland: Taylor's work simply never gets old.
"There's always something new to discover, even in dances we've done hundreds of times," Trusnovec said, by phone from Philadelphia, more › a few days ahead of an appearance on the DanceCleveland series at Playhouse Square Nov. 11. "It's been so easy to stay and do them for a lifetime."
They're easy to watch for a lifetime, too. Among modern dance companies, Taylor's is almost unique in its ability to make and retain converts, to hook even the staunchest of dance holdouts.
Pressed to pinpoint what it is that makes Taylor's work so appealing, so long-lasting, Trusnovec said it's a combination of its physicality and use of space, born out of Taylor's background as a swimmer, and the sheer joy the dancers exude performing it.
"There's a sense that we're not moving through empty air," Trusnovec said. "It's as if we're moving the air around us, moving through some palpable energy.
"It really does feel as good as it looks, and the exuberance from that is always great. We're always drawing them in."
Exuberance. Physicality. Depth. Those have been constants since 1954, when Taylor founded his troupe in New York. But the company, last here in 2013, has not been immune to change or to growth over the years.
The company's Cleveland program is a case in point. Not all that long ago, the company performed Taylor's work exclusively. Now, it's in the habit of commissioning and presenting work by others, including Lily York's "Continuum," a setting of Max Richter's take on Vivalid's "The Four Seasons."
Also on the program here: Taylor's "Arden Court" (which York herself premiered in 1981) and the tango-inspired "Piazzolla Caldera," from 1997.
"I never thought I'd dance anyone else's work, but right now, I'm getting the best of both worlds," Trusnovec said.
He almost got neither. Despite his self-described "voracious" consumption of Taylor's work as a student and laser-like focus on joining the company, his audition for Paul Taylor was not a success. Not initially, anyway.
Then came the call that changed his life, that kept Trusnovec from pursuing a career in film or musical theater. He and a close friend, a fellow Taylor fan, had in fact landed spots in Taylor 2, the company's expansion troupe.
Two years later, he was a member of the main company, performing all over the world and delving deeper into works he'd already known and loved for years.
"We both pushed each other, and then we both got our dream jobs together," Trusnovec said. "I've been a lucky guy."
What: Paul Taylor Dance Company
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.
Where: Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
Tickets: $25-$70. Go to dancecleveland.org or call 216-241-6000.
Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
RELATED COMPANY: Paul Taylor Dance Company
Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 12:00 PM
Three Koresh Dance Company members came in advance of the rest of the troupe Friday to get started on creating three dances that are new, site-specific works inspired by artwork at the Akron Art Museum.
Dancers Joe Cotler, Micah Geyer and Melissa Rector toured the galleries Friday and all came away inspired by sculptures featured in the Haslinger Galleries, which displays late 20th century pop art. They next went to a more › Guzzetta Hall dance studio and quickly began choreographing dances in response to the artwork and gallery spaces that spoke to each of them.
On Thursday, Koresh will offer two free performances of the new works, whose working title is Negotiating Corners, at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. in several of the museum galleries. For each showing, a maximum of 40 guests will carry chairs from a short solo by Andrea Romesser in the lobby to more dance movements upstairs in different gallery rooms.
Thursday's event is the first time that DanceCleveland has partnered with the museum to present a site-specific dance.
Koresh, a contemporary dance company based in Philadelphia, performed a full program at E.J. Thomas Hall on Sunday afternoon to kick off DanceCleveland's mainstage season. The professional dancers are spending the week in residency with the University of Akron dance program.
The goal of the site-specific work is to blend the influence of visual art and contemporary dance movement. Geyer said it wasn't surprising that all three of the choreographers chose sculptures as their inspiration: "It's almost like a real moment in time,'' he said of the human figures that inspired each of them.
Geyer created his dance in response to a colorful, headless Gentleman Walking a Tightrope in the corner of one of the galleries, an imbalanced-looking 2006 work by Yinka Shonibare. He worked on a duet with Cotler that starts out with them doing crawling, hunched movement as well as some mirrored movements to the song The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack.
Geyer was looking forward to having audiences sit in a semicircle around a wood sculpture called rzeski at the opposite side of the gallery from the tightrope piece, with his duet being performed in between.
He and Cotler, who have worked together for nine years, were building the dance quickly as Rector, who was creating a trio, worked on her plans next to a piano in the studio. Rector, an original member of the company founded in 1991, was inspired by the 1970 sculpture Girl Sitting Against a Wall II, which sculptor George Segal made from wrapping plaster-soaked bandages around a living model.
Finally, Cotler demonstrated a solo phrase from his dance, which will be a trio inspired by the statue The World and the Woman, a 1992 glazed ceramic piece by Viola Frey. Cotler called the dance "improvish,'' inspired by the museum setting he had just seen.
In another fun partnership this week, Chill Ice Cream has created a flavor in honor of the company's founder and artistic director, Ronen "Roni" Koresh, called Rocky Roni, made with chocolate ice cream, honey roasted almonds, marshmallows and caramel. The Akron shop is at 30 N. High St. downtown.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or email@example.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or http://www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.
Kerry Clawson, The Akron Beacon Journal
RELATED COMPANY: Koresh Dance Company
Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 12:00 PM
For one performance only at 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at The University of Akron's EJ Thomas Hall, the Koresh Dance Company will present a mixed repertoire program filled with the best of founder and artistic director Ronan (Roni) Koresh's contemporary choreography.
Koresh, an Israeli-born choreographer, founded the company 1991. Known for its engaging performance and technically superb dancers, the Koresh Dance Company performs critically acclaimed works at its biannual Philadelphia more › seasons, as well as in touring performances.
The Akron performance, presented by DANCECleveland in collaboration with The University of Akron's Dance Program, will feature works that infuse modern Israeli dance with striking physicality and lush modern dance aesthetic. A pre-performance discussion with Koresh will take place at 2:15 p.m. and a question-and-answer session will immediately follow the performance.
The afternoon will lead off with "Deconstructing Mozart," a collaborative initiative that dares to deconstruct Mozart's 23rd piano concerto. It is driven by Koresh's choreography, multimedia artist Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, and Stephen Levitin aka Apple-Juice Kid, who is a music producer and eight-time beat battle champion.
This piece will share the stage with Koresh's riveting signature work, "Bolero," fun moments from "The Heart," and a glimpse at his latest National Endowment for the Arts funded work, "Matters of the Heart."
The Koresh Dance Company will remain at The University of Akron for a weeklong residency designed to give dance students a chance to learn and work alongside the Koresh dancers.
There also will be educational outreach events for nonstudents ages 16 and older, including a free advanced-level master class at 11 a.m. Sept. 30, led by Koresh assistant artistic director Melissa Rector. A reservation is required by emailing Alison@dancecleveland.org.
While in Akron, the company will create and perform a site-specific dance piece Oct. 5 at the Akron Art Museum, 1 S. High St. in Akron. This event will be free and open to the public.
The Cleveland Jewish News
RELATED COMPANY: Koresh Dance Company
Thursday, July 20th, 2017 12:00 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Jeter for joy, dance fans. The dog days of summer are about to get a whole lot more interesting.
No longer does the term "off season" apply to dance in Northeast Ohio. After the launch this month of a new week-long Summer Dance Festival by DanceCleveland, late July and early August will boast the cultural bounty of October and November.
"Cleveland feels like a festival town, and we've been more › intrigued by this thought for a long time," said Pam Young, executive director of DanceCleveland.
"We don't always have a way of making dance more relevant. This lets us begin to broaden our perspective on what dancer-makers are doing. It's a way of building a different knowledge base."
As Young suggests, the new Summer Dance Festival, a collaboration with the prestigious, North Carolina-based American Dance Festival, isn't exclusively for dance insiders.
Certain elements, such as master-classes and workshops, cater to professionals and serious amateurs, but the highest-profile programming targets newcomers and the culturally curious.
"It's much smaller than what we do, but I don't think it's any less potent," said Jodee Nimerichter, executive director of the two-month-long ADF. "It's a delicious little flavor of what we do."
With three main-stage performances over the course of a week at Playhouse Square, DanceCleveland and its partners aim to attract a wider-than-usual range of viewers and participants, above and beyond their traditional audiences. In lieu of esoteric artists and work, the festival features popular forms including sculptural, hip-hop, and athletic dance.
Up first is the widely beloved Pilobolus, performing its signature multimedia experience "Shadowland," followed by "breaking" and hip-hop pioneer Raphael Xavier and contemporary choreographer Brian Brooks.
"[Our] goal is always to show the spectrum of what's going on in the field," Nimerichter said. "It's hard for anyone not to find something that they like. There are a lot of entry points."
And those are just the ticketed events. In addition to the concerts, the festival also includes private workshops with guest artists at Cleveland State University and a slew of free public activities in celebration of National Dance Day (Saturday, July 29).
Break out those dancing shoes. Time to get moving.
Only part of the National Dance Day party in Cleveland entails sitting: a free showcase of local dance schools and the performance by Pilobolus.
The rest requires active participation. Look for an outdoor barre exercise class, a rehearsal and performance of a routine for the show "So You Think You Can Dance," and an outdoor silent disco, in which participants dance to different music wearing headphones.
"Audiences love that participatory opportunity, instead of just sitting and watching," Nimerichter said, noting that when it comes to dance festivals and participatory events in particular, "Everyone has to pitch in."
So far, it seems, everyone is doing just that. Launching a six-day celebration of dance can be difficult, especially in smaller city at a time when arts funding is far from stable, but Young said the road to Cleveland's Summer Dance Festival was relatively smooth.
From her initial broaching of the subject with Nimerichter three years ago to her search for venues with Playhouse Square and assistance from Cleveland State University, Young said she encountered few, if any, real obstacles.
"We didn't run into any walls," Young said. "Everyone we approached made it feel like a better and better idea."
Now, with any luck, that momentum will carry over to the festival itself.
Young isn't prepared yet to declare the Summer Dance Festival a permanent addition to the scene. Only to say that her vision extends well beyond 2017.
"I'm sure we'll know something at the end of this festival, and maybe we'll have to fine-tune," she said. "But we've jumped into this like it's going to be an annual thing. We've put a lot of eggs into this one basket."
The Plain Dealer
RELATED COMPANY: American Dance Festival in CLE Pass