Friday, April 10th, 2015 12:00 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Next to such milestones as 25 and 50, one's 60th anniversary often pales. Not so in the case of DanceCleveland.
On the occasion of its sixth decade next season, the distinguished presenter of dance has announced its most expansive and arguably brilliant lineup to date. At the same time, in a festive mood, the group also plans to reach out and take risks like never before.
"This is our more › chance to celebrate big," said Pamela Young, executive director, noting that some of the group's founders are still living. "We want to invite back companies people have loved for a long time, and reconnect with companies we've only presented once or twice, but that people enjoyed."
As Young suggests, it's the calendar that stands out. Larger than any season in DanceCleveland history, next year's slate contains no fewer than eight companies, organized into three smaller series labeled "Connoisseur," "Celebration," and "New Moves."
Beyond that, it's also heavily star-studded, and loaded with groups planning to perform with live music. Included in the lineup are such luminaries as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Momix, Parsons Dance, and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal.
By way of the less familiar, the series also entails such up-and-comers as Camille A. Brown & Dancers, the tap team Dorrance Dance, and MalPaso, a newly founded troupe from Cuba. Longtime dance fans in Northeast Ohio also will be gratified to revisit Oberlin Dance Company, a San Francisco-based group founded here in 1972.
"We saw that if we were going to go big, we ought to go small, too," Young said.
They're also going out further into the community. Beyond its usual homes at Playhouse Square and the University of Akron, the presenter also will stage at Cain Park, Cleveland Public Theatre and the Hanna Theatre. The July show by Parsons Dance at Cain Park will even include audience participation, in honor of the National Day of Dance.
Check back here throughout the year for detailed coverage of DanceCleveland, including breaking news as well as features and reviews of each regularly scheduled program.
A variety of subscription packages go on sale Monday, April 13. Individual tickets go on sale Aug. 18. Go to dancecleveland.org or call 216-991-9000 for tickets and information.
DANCECLEVELAND'S 2015-16 SEASON
8 p.m. Saturday, July 25
3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4
E.J. Thomas Hall, Akron
Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7
Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square
Oberlin Dance Company
8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14
Camille A. Brown & Dancers
8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23
Connor Palace Theatre
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27
MalPaso: A Cuban Dance Project
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 7-9
Cleveland Public Theatre
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The Plain Dealer, Zachary Lewis
Monday, March 9th, 2015 12:00 PM
We've been waiting for a long time for hip-hop dancing - formerly known as break dance, b-boy, and street dance - to take the next step. "Why can't hip-hop dance mean more?" we asked ourselves. When we saw Compagnie Kafig last Saturday, we realized that we'd asked the wrong question.
Compagnie Kafig presents an unlikely international hybrid. Artistic Director Mourad Merzouki was born in Lyon, France of North African parents. He more › began studying circus arts and martial arts as a child. At the age of 15 he discovered hip-hop and soon began directing a number of artistic projects that blended hip-hop with other forms.
In 2006, age 33, he saw the all-male Brazilian group Companhia Urbana de Danca at a festival in Lyon and apparently recruited them on the spot. Since then, Compagnie Kafig has been touring internationally including a prestigious stop at Kennedy Center and many, many one night stands at colleges and universities in the US.
Compagnie Kafig's concert at the Ohio Theater was divided into two 30-minute works, Correria - Running - and Agwa - Water.
So, picture us as the stage lights slowly came up on Correria. Did we insert our earplugs against over-amplified percussion? Tense our muscles and curl our lips against vitriolic raps?
No, dear reader. As the stage lights slowly came up on Correria we gradually discerned two guys lying on their backs, bicycling their legs in the air. Soon they were joined by two more guys running around them in a circle. There was soft, rhythmic chanting, rhythmic percussion of hands slapping the floor, chimes and other recorded sounds. Soon we were watching two guys center stage performing some fairly conventional breaking and capoeira moves, slightly enlivened by the rhythmic counterpoint of two more guys running around them.
Subsequent scenes were characterized by alternating, contrasting tempos. Run fast / pause. Dance fast / run in slow motion. From time to time there's some fairly spectacular breaking or acrobatics but it's an accent or punctuation in contrast to a steady background hum of fast / slow. An eclectic musical play list, thankfully including little synthetic drum machine and no rap vocals, provided accompaniment. If you didn't like one musical accompaniment, a different one was just around the bend.
So as Correria ended we looked at each other and agreed that Compagnie Kafig was so much more inventive and good-humored than we expected; the dance plays with the announced theme, running, but it's not about "meaning" so much as it is an interesting and entertaining succession of scenes. Rather than try to tell a story, it is a thorough exploration of the theme in a variety of moods and paces. There's some break dancing but Compagnie Kafig wisely refrains from trying to be continuously spectacular.
Agwa takes a similar approach by mixing fairly spectacular stunts with whimsical interludes. A spectacular series of back handsprings and a finale including head spins is punctuated by interludes where the dancers pour water from plastic cup to plastic cup. One dancer pours water and we hear the sound of water amplified; he drinks, smacks his lips, and exits yammering happily in Portuguese. Various arrangements of the plastic cups are lit in surprising and beautiful ways achieving magical effects with such ingenious economy of means. Ordinary plastic cups transformed!
In Agwa the head spins were the first of many finales. "Bravo!" shouted the audience but there was more. Then "Yaay!" and another standing ovation but it still wasn't over. Finally, the dancers were all lying collected in a row downstage, light focused on their hands as they each danced with 2 fingers around their plastic glasses of water. They click their glasses together and drink ("Mmmm!") with a laugh.
So what's next in hip-hop? Hip-hop began as an urban, contemporary manifestation of African-American culture and struggled to make the transition from the street to the stage. Then, like jazz music in the 1920s, hip-hop became international and transcended its African-American origins. Now hip-hop can include virtually everything and everyone; a French citizen with North African roots, a bunch of Brazilians who've perhaps never been in an American ghetto.
Compagnie Kafig has its share of critics, purists who want their hip-hop to remain old school, but we're relieved to find a hip-hop show without male braggadocio, without misogyny, without ear-splitting volume levels, and without ill-considered resentment. Here's to hip-hop performed with great good-humored choreographic invention and fun. Bring back Compagnie Kafig, DanceCleveland! We'll bet they can rock Playhouse Square on an annual basis.
Compagnie Kafig was presented by DanceCleveland at the Ohio Theatre on Saturday, March 7, 2015 with support from Nordson, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council.
Victor Lucas, Cool Cleveland
RELATED COMPANY: Compagnie Kafig- Correria Agwa
Monday, March 9th, 2015 12:00 PM
When award-winning French choreographer Mourad Merzouki was introduced to a group of street dancers from the Rio de Janeiro shanty towns known as favelas in 2006, he couldn't have foreseen how their raw talent paired with his choreographic vision would have struck such a positive chord with audiences worldwide.
The all-male Compagnie Käfig's current touring show which has met with rave reviews the past few years pulled into Playhouse Square's Ohio more › Theatre Saturday night and here too the program wowed with a mixture of enthusiastic dancing, humor and clever choreography.
Presented by DANCECleveland, the program opened with the first of Merzouki's two 30-minute works, "Correria" (running). Created in 2010 and set to a music mix arranged by French hip-hop music artist AS'N, the work, which blended hip-hop, capoeira and samba dance styles, symbolized the frantic speed of modern-day life.
In it, Merzouki's inventive choreography played to its theme with the dancers moving at a hectic pace. One early scene featured a pair of dancers center stage in spotlight flowing through a lively and cheeky dance sequence mugging to the audience while several of their fellow dancers ran in a circle around them.
Merzouki juxtaposed scenes like that with several thoughtful and dramatic ones. None more powerful and captivating than a section set to haunting Middle Eastern music that began with a solo by dancer Diego Alves Dos Santos (a.k.a. Dieguinho).
The shirtless Dos Santos exuded skill and machismo in an adroit sequence of hip hop dance moves infused with articulated hand and finger gestures, whirling arms, and succinct head bobs. During the solo, several of the work's remaining ten dancers advanced on him in slow motion runs creating a visually mesmerizing set of images.
Dos Santos was then joined by dancer Alexsandro Soares Campanha Da Silva (a.k.a. Pitt) creating a duet of equally striking silky, acrobatic dancing that included a show-stopping, no-arm layout front flip performed by Dos Santos that had the top of his head kiss the stage floor as he flipped before landing straight-up, arms to his sides, as the audience went into an approving uproar.
With "Correria," Merzouki showed his in-depth skills as a choreographer creating a delightful and thoughtful theatrical/street dance hybrid that utilized the raw and uneven technical abilities of the company's dancers while playing to their individual strengths. That winning formula continued in the program's second work, 2008's "Agwa" (water), which explored universal themes surrounding the importance of water.
Also set to a music collage by AS'N, the prop-driven work utilized rows of clear plastic cups, the dancers stacked, filled with water, tossed around and drank from. Merzouki's light-hearted choreography for it had the dancers, moving through, jumping over and executing tumbling runs in-between rows of cups, without spilling any.
Merzouki then offset those scenes of athletic dancer prowess with more playful sequences such as the work's ten dancers lying on the stage floor in a horizontal line across the front of the stage where a band of light illuminated only their hands and the cup of water each had. Using two fingers like tiny legs, their hands walked around each cup and then jumped atop it looking like miniature gymnasts and sending chuckles through the audience.
A smashing success, Compagnie Käfig's program entertained, moved and dazzled.
Steve Sucato, Cleveland.com
RELATED COMPANY: Compagnie Kafig- Correria Agwa
Monday, February 16th, 2015 12:00 PM
French/Brazilian Compagnie Käfig Performs at PlayhouseSquare on March 7 DANCECleveland Presents Genre-Defying Company in Ohio Debut
"This is raw energy . . . this is what dance is all about." – The Daily Telegraph
"Mourad Merzouki weaves street dance, hip-hop, acrobatics, and
martial arts into elegant compositions." – The New Yorker
French/Brazilian Compagnie Käfig Performs at PlayhouseSquare on March 7
DANCECleveland Presents Genre-Defying Company in Ohio Debut
CLEVELAND (February 16, 2015) – Get ready for the energy and rhythm of South American samba with an urban Gallic twist when international more › phenomenon Compagnie Käfig, a French-based company featuring Brazilian dancers, makes its Ohio debut on Saturday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre. Presented by DANCECleveland, the innovative hip-hop ensemble has been selling out performances and garnering rave reviews worldwide since its first U.S. performance in 2002.
Tickets, starting at $25, can be purchased at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office, 216-241-6000 or online at www.dancecleveland.org.
The all-male Compagnie Käfig, founded in 1996 by French-Algerian choreographer Mourad Merzouki, is praised for its irresistible personality, theatrical intelligence and astonishing dancing that bursts with fun, humor and vitality.
The Ohio Theatre repertoire features two works: Correria (Running), from 2010, a frantic, hectic race that governs our daily lives; and Agua (Water), from 2008, a vital component of our bodies, a precious natural resource to be economized and preserved, and a symbol of renewal.
Merzouki was inspired to create both works after an encounter with eleven young dancers from the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, attempting to bring a true artistic dimension to hip-hop and expand the form. The result mixes the complexity of hip-hop with capoeira, samba, electronic music and bossa nova to showcase the Brazilians' astonishing acrobatic skills, dazzling virtuosity and passion for dance.
Born in Lyon in 1973, Merzouki began practicing martial arts and circus arts in his youth and, after encountering hip-hop in his teens, discovered dance. He developed his variety of street art while experimenting with other choreographic styles, particularly those of Maryse Delente, Jean-Francois Duroure and Josef Nadj. Merzouki has created 17 works and his company gives an average of 120 performances a year around the world.
For information on Compagnie Käfig, visit:
ELECTRONIC PHOTOS AVAILABLE FROM PAM BARR AT 216-932-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DANCECleveland, a Cleveland, Ohio based non-profit, is one of a handful of presenters nationally that is dedicated solely to the presentation of modern and contemporary dance. The centerpiece of the organization's programming is its annual performance series. The performances are surrounded by an array of educational outreach events including artist-run master classes, residency programs, student matinees, pre-performance lectures and post-performance Q&A sessions, designed both to break artistic boundaries and provide community access to the dance aesthetic and dance luminaries that DANCECleveland brings to Northeast Ohio.
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 12:00 PM
PILOBOLUS is noted for adding both physical and theatrical elements to dance presentations. They have been credited, in their 44 years of performances, to have added a new way for audiences to look at dance.
Nothing cements the company's unique style more then what was on display before the start of their recent State Theatre nearly-sold out concert.
Upon entering the auditorium, the audience found the proscenium curtain open and the dancers more › warming up. It was a preparation not usually seen. No barre work, stretching, or practicing of couple-lifts here.
Instead, the performers were doing jumping jacks, handstands, tossing each other around, running in undisciplined patterns, doing frog leaps, executing cartwheels, and doing pushups. Just before curtain went up, they formed a football huddle, arms entwined behind each other's backs, swayed, talked, laughed, broke the togetherness, and wandered off stage. They were ready! So was the keyed up audience.
The program featured five numbers, each of which varied in technique and effect. Incorporating gymnastics, power strength movements, balancing on circular mini-platforms, combining sensual actions with whimsy and whirlwind with exquisite calm, the dancers created compelling art.
PILOBOLUS's dances aren't meant to convey a clear message. They are often abstract visions of actions which allow for personal interpretation. Yet, they represent well-disciplined and choreographed displays.
The choreographers avoid gender roles. Males and females share the heavy lifting and often are dressed in the same costumes. The company's performances integrate graphics, films, impressive lighting and special effects.
Whether doing dance versions of the famous Tim Conway old man from his days on the Carol Burnett Variety Show, or taking on such serious topics as young love and it's issues, they seamlessly weave together attention-sustaining actions.
As part of the program, the company challenged the audience to name their newest piece, presently entitled, UNTITLED 2015. After viewing the door-slamming, body endangering number, my suggestion is ANGST!
There is no way to clearly recreate PILOBOLUS in words. This is performance that must be seen.
Capsule judgement: It can only be wished that Pam Young and her Dance Cleveland staff do not wait too long before they bring PILOBOLUS back to the area, so that those who missed their recent performance get a chance to experience the creativity and joy the company shared.
Side note: Cudos to Donald Rosenberg for an excellent "Dance Matters" column in the program, which gave a wonderful preview of what was to be experienced by the audience.
Next up for Dance Cleveland, on, is, COMPAGNIE KÄFIG on March 7, 2015, 8 PM, Ohio Theatre, which combines Brazilian acrobatics and hip-hop dance.
Victor Lucas, Cool Cleveland
RELATED COMPANY: Pilobolus