Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 12:00 PM
Momix Comes to E.J. Thomas Hall
Time for modern-dance fans to get their freak on: Momix - the internationally renowned troupe of dancer-illusionists operating under the direction of founder-choreographer Moses Pendleton - comes to Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall tonight for one 8 p.m. performance. On the bill: Botanica, a visually stunning mix of puppetry, strobe lights, and fantastic costumes set to an eclectic score that borrows from Vivaldi and bird more › songs alike. Known for its athleticism and physicality, the 30-year-old troupe grew out of Pendleton's early involvement with Pilobolus Dance Theater; Momix has since gone on to performances on stages worldwide, along with appearances on television, in movies, and an IMAX film. Tonight's performance is presented by Dance Cleveland, one of the nation's few organizations dedicated solely to presenting modern dance. Tickets range from $10 to $50, and can be had online or by phone. - Cicora
198 Hill St., Akron, 330-972-7570,
RELATED COMPANY: MOMIX
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 12:00 PM
DOWNTOWN AKRON - The dance company MOMIX has been mesmerizing audiences since 1981, and DANCECleveland will present the dancer-illusionists Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. at The University of Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall.
When MOMIX Artistic Director Moses Pendleton was asked in a telephone interview recently what the audience can anticipate during the performance, he said, "Tell them to expect the unexpected." His productions tend to conjure just that response, for Pendleton more › mixes dancers seamlessly with puppets, supplies from hardware stores and elaborate and overdone costumes. He then turns the performance into a highly visual and mesmerizing experience.
Pendleton gives his dancers a great deal of credit and praise. He bought CVC pipes for the work "Botanica," which will be performed in Akron, and stuck the dancers' arms in them and then told them to learn how to move around and make them work. One headdress for the production weighs 20 pounds and is huge, he said. A dancer has to be both strong enough and agile enough to whirl with the contraption on and make it look right to the audience, he said.
Part of the fun of watching MOMIX is figuring out where the dancer leaves off and the costume or scenery begins, Pendleton said. Some pieces are done on a completely darkened stage with dancers in glowing costumes.
In "Botanica," the audience will see a dancer hidden in the belly of a dinosaur skeleton from where he makes the beast lumber along, but also interact with another dancer in a little pas de deux (duet). Some of the creations the audience will see on stage are women dressed as oversized marigolds and men as jittery hornets, as well as both dressed as night crawlers.
Pendleton said the work follows the pattern of the four seasons, beginning in the dead of winter and flowing through autumn leaves, thereby completing the cycle. In the choreographer's world view, however, nature has its living out, its unfolding, to do and therefore can be as alarming as it can be charming to see. Through Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" score mixed with some off-the-wall techno music, MOMIX will create lots of "atmosphere" and "tone" of nature having its full-flowing way in the world, he said.
"Botanica" is divided into 24 scenes, each of which has its own arc of meaning (since there really is no narrative value in the piece). Notes from a verse that Pendleton likes is in the playbill to set up the mood and brief outline for what the audience will see. It'll probably be helpful to follow along in order to "get it" during the performance, he said.
Pendleton said it took a year and a half to put "Botanica" together via a series of workshops in various places around the country. The choreographer said he would generally "build pictures" in his head of what he wanted to accomplish and present, and then set about figuring out the rest. Many things he tried ended up being discarded, he said. Pendleton said at the moment he is going through his "discard" file and looking for things to use in upcoming productions.
Ticket prices start at $10 and are available through TicketMaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000 or at the Thomas Hall Box Office or by calling 330-972-7570.
Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email email@example.com
RELATED COMPANY: MOMIX
Sunday, September 18th, 2011 12:00 PM
E.J. Thomas Hall will be mixing things up this fall with a performance by MOMIX, a company of dancer-illusionists who will kick off DANCE
Cleveland's 55th season Oct. 1 in Akron.
The performance will mark the start of a sixth year of collaboration among the University of Akron, E.J. Thomas and the Cleveland dance presenter, which began in 2006 when the Parsons Dance Company performed here on the heels of UA opening more › its new high-tech dance center. That relationship was a springboard for bringing nationally known dance ensembles to Akron each year.
This year, UA's Neil Sapienza was interested in presenting nontraditional partnering. That would be a big understatement for MOMIX, which will perform Moses Pendleton's latest creation, the evening-length Botanica. The piece incorporates costumes, projections and props to create a mythical landscape that follows the rhythms of the seasons, evolution of the world and passing of a day.
Audiences will see everything from dancers who look like they're emerging from giant flowers to a performer transformed by a huge dinosaur skeleton puppet. The costumes, projections and props were created by Tony Award-winner Michael Curry, who created the puppets and masks for The Lion King. The vision, which has been described as an IMAX version of dance theater, is tied together by Pendleton's interest in photography and multimedia.
The piece, performed to an eclectic score ranging from bird songs to Vivaldi, promises to astonish and mesmerize as it explores the world's flora and fauna.
"On the cool spectrum, it's at the top of the top," said Pam Young, executive director of DANCECleveland.
Pendleton, MOMIX's founder 30 years ago, was a co-founder of Pilobolus at Dartmouth College. His company is an offshoot of Pilobolus. Pendleton, who grew up on a farm in Vermont, named MOMIX after a brand of cow feed. The troupe last performed Lunar Sea to black lights in Cleveland four years ago.
Tickets range from $10 to $50. They can be purchased at the E.J. Thomas Hall box office, 330-972-7570, or at http://www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.
Subscriptions for the 2011-2012 DANCECleveland season start at $91.50 for three performances. Packages may be purchased at 216-992-9000 or http://www.dancecleveland.org. The remainder of the shows will be at the Ohio Theatre and State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.
Here's the rest of the season:
Aszure Barton and Artists, 8 p.m. Oct. 29, Ohio Theatre, Cleveland. Barton, a native of Canada and a Mikhail Baryshnikov protιgι, will have her troupe's Cleveland debut. The dancers will become street entertainers in her Busk, set to live gypsy music by Lev Ljova Zhurbin and recorded choral music. "She is clearly a choreographer to watch," Young said of Barton.
Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company, 8 p.m. Jan. 28 and 3 p.m. Jan. 29, Ohio Theatre. The Israeli troupe, founded by Pinto and Pollak in 1992, will present its masterwork Oyster, featuring 12 dancer/actors. They will create a circus world where performers alternately become puppets or puppeteers in a dance that combines ballet, contemporary dance, mime and acrobatics.
Ballet Memphis, 8 p.m. March 10 and 3 p.m. March 11, Ohio Theatre. The company of 19 dancers, celebrating its 25th anniversary, will perform a repertory program including Trey McIntyre's In Dreams, Jane Comfort's S'epaniour, Steve McMahon's Being Here and Julia Adams' Curtain of Green. The company, which emphasizes female choreographers, will make its Cleveland debut.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, 8 p.m. May 4 and 5, 3 p.m. May 6, State Theatre. Presented by PlayhouseSquare in partnership with DANCECleveland. Young expects these performances to drive subscription sales. Known as one of the world's greatest dance companies, the troupe incorporates popular music, gospel and jazz with a fusion of modern dance and ballet. The company, which was formed in 1958, is known for its explosive energy and athleticism. Robert Battle took the helm of the company in July, following the retirement of Judith Jamison.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, September 17th, 2011 12:00 PM
Many dance companies in Northeast Ohio work on such shoestring budgets that they aren't able to announce performance details far in advance.
But enough information is in hand for the dance lover to begin planning ahead, at least through the end of the year. As always, DanceCleveland's complete season is in place, with five varied programs featuring admired companies from the United States and Israel.
Verb Ballets, newly ensconced in its first more › permanent home in Shaker Heights, is ahead of the curve this year with the announcement of its full season, which abounds in enticing premieres and revivals.
As the season unfolds, more information will be available at the links below and in The Plain Dealer.
DanceCleveland The adventurous presenting organization celebrates its 55th season with a potpourri of visiting dance companies. The season opens with Momix performing "Botanica" Saturday, Oct. 1, at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron. Aszure Barton & Artists, from New York, makes its Cleveland debut Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Ohio Theatre with Barton's "Busk," set to live Gypsy music. Coming later in the season are Israel's Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company, Ballet Memphis and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
For more: dancecleveland.org or 216-991-9000.
Dancing Wheels Mary Verdi-Fletcher's Cleveland company for dancers with and without disabilities continues its busy tour schedule this fall before coming home to perform its holiday ballet, "The Snowman," in December at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts. Dancing Wheels presents a gala concert in the spring, with details to be announced.
For more: dancingwheels.org or 216-432-0306.
ailey.jpgAndrew EcclesThe Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to Cleveland in May, when it performs at the State Theatre under the auspices of DanceCleveland.
GroundWorks DanceTheater The Cleveland modern-dance company, led by David Shimotakahara, began its season this weekend at the Ice House in Akron. It presents the same program -- the world premieres of Amy Miller's "Running to Earth" and Shimotakahara's "Flag," as well as the latter's "Major to Minor" -- Thursday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Oct. 8, at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Cleveland.
For more: groundworksdance.org or 216-751-0088.
MorrisonDance Sarah Morrison's company dresses up as Greek goddesses to appear in the Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival at 2:30 p.m. today at Lincoln Park, 1208 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland. In May, MorrisonDance performs "Syzygy," based on the Greek concept of conjunction and using live brainwave projections, during a program with Travesty Dance Company at Cleveland Public Theatre's DanceWorks 2012.
For more: Go to morrisondance.com.
Moscow Ballet's 'Great Russian Nutcracker' The freelance company returns to Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, to perform its lavish production of the holiday classic.
For more: nutcracker.com/yourcity/cleveland-oh.
Ohio Dance Theatre The Oberlin-based company teams with the Cleveland Women's Orchestra in Eastlake on Sunday, Dec. 4, and follows up with performances of "The Nutcracker" Friday, Dec. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 18, at Lorain County Community College's Stocker Arts Center in Elyria. Later in the season, the company performs "Dracula and Other Love Stories" and the double bill of "Peter and the Wolf" and "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra."
For more: ohiodancetheatre.org or 440-774-6077.
Steven Hale.jpgSteven M. HaleKevin Murphy dances the title role in Ginger Thatcher's "Billy the Kid" when Verb Ballets opens its season Friday at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts.
Verb Ballets The Cleveland contemporary-dance company focuses on the theme "Dances Tell Our Stories" this season, which begins at 8 p.m. Friday at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts with "American Lore." The program comprises two works set to music by Aaron Copland - Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring" and the world premiere of Ginger Thatcher's "Billy the Kid" - as well as Hernando Cortez's "Chichester Psalms" (music by Leonard Bernstein). In February, Verb performs "Alternate Moves," a Breen program consisting of Doris Humphrey's "Dance of the Chosen" and a work by Chun-Fu Chang. Richard Dickinson's new version of "Carmen" debuts in April at Cleveland Public Theatre, where the company continues its "Fresh Inventions" series in May.
For more: verbballets.org or 216-397-3757.
Antaeus Dance: antaeusdance.com or 216-486-2874.
Case Western Reserve University Department of Dance: dance.case.edu or 216-368-2854.
Double-Edge Dance: double-edgedance.org or 440-429-5920.
Inlet Dance Theatre: inletdance.org or 216-721-8580.
RELATED COMPANY: MOMIX
Sunday, June 12th, 2011 1:00 PM
Parsons Dance sizzles in tale of tragic love set to rock versions of opera hits
By Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
David Parsons makes it extremely hard for a dance audience to forget "Remember Me," his hour-long tale of sex, jealousy, love and what else? death set to rock versions of immortal opera excerpts.
You can't take your eyes off the fever-pitched choreography or Parsons' marvelous dancers more › even when your ears need a rest from hyper-activated Puccini, Bizet and friends.
Parsons Dance brought "Remember Me" to the Ohio Theatre on Saturday as part of a program presented by DanceCleveland and Opera Cleveland. Like that apt collaboration, the New York dance company teamed with a Manhattan neighbor, East Village Opera Company, to devise this sizzling mix of sensuous physicality and hip musical arrangements.
The piece compels opera lovers to leave prejudices at the door, if possible, and give in to 21st-century transformation. Parsons knows a great opera tune when he hears one, and he also knows how to create striking images out of (mostly) foreign texts.
The slight narrative that propels "Remember Me" whose title is a line in Dido's beloved aria, "When I Am Laid in Earth," from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" was woven together by Parsons and the two lead singers from East Village Opera Company, Tyley Ross and AnnMarie Milazzo.
The work tells of two men (danced by Eric Bourne and Miguel Quinones) vying for the affection of a fetching woman (Sarah Braverman), who chooses the former, only to be imprisoned by the latter. It isn't betraying the gods of opera to reveal that all of the characters are dead at the end.
And then sent to heaven. Parsons tacks on a dreamy epilogue that finds the cast vibrating to a newfangled variation on the Act 1 love duet from "Madama Butterfly" while the onstage singers assure us that "love is everything."
Actually, the dance is virtually everything in "Remember Me." Parsons' movement language is a seamless blend of fluidity and angularity fueled by intricate arm patterns and arresting interactions.
Even when the meaning of the words is tweaked to suit the dramatic contexts, Parsons provides intense emotional underpinning through quicksilver nuances and surprising physical and visual twists. Inspired by the music, the projections accompanying each scene add colorful dabs of passion and atmosphere.
Braverman, Bourne and Quinones thrust themselves into their roles with tireless vigor and expressivity, and their colleagues were ultra-dynamic. Milazzo who wrote the vocal arrangements for "Next to Normal," the musical two theaters away in PlayhouseSquare and Michael K. Lee sang the opera arrangements with powerful and poetic panache.
Quinones opened the night with an early Parsons work, "Caught," a magical feat of dance and theatricality that uses strobe lights to give the impression the performer is suspended in air. It's a piece that requires perfect timing for the intended dazzlement to be achieved. Thanks to Quinones' buoyant virtuosity and bull's-eye lighting cues, the intended occurred.
RELATED COMPANY: Parsons Dance and East Village Opera Company