Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 12:00 PM
How many dance companies do you know that take their name from a fungus – and at that, a particular volatile breed that can propel itself and stick on the surface of whatever it aims at? Perhaps that kind of funny connection occurred to the Dartmouth College dancers who began the group Pilobolus back in the 1970s, making them known for their unusual, kinesthetic approach to dance-making.
Pilobolus has since gone more › on to become world famous, appearing in the greater Akron area in past years, but coming again for a one-performance concert on January 31 for DanceCleveland, a Knight Arts grantee.
As organizers have rightly pointed out, Pilobolus is deeply rooted in experimentation, dance improvisation and self-exploration, using the human body as a medium of expression to create form and movement with breathtaking effect. In other appearances, members have noted that they work collaboratively to explore through complicated physical movement and strain the central notion that they are trying to work out through highly lithe and limber movement.
Generally, the response to their work is a slack-jawed reaction along the lines of "How did they do that?" or, more likely, "How did they ever come up with the unique dance expression that they perform on stage?"
The company will perform four works reflecting the incredible variety of its repertory. One piece, "On the Nature of Things," is inspired by ancient sculptures. To get at that idea, the work is performed by dancers balanced on a two-foot wide column rising above the stage. It is set to music by Michelle DiBucci and Ed Bilous but inspired by the classical Baroque genre. One critic praised this work by saying, "There is a Sistine Chapel aesthetic here, in the fleshiness, the impressive musculatures and the dancers' magical floating quality."
Another piece, "All Is Not Lost," has been created by Grammy Award-winning OK Go, Pilobolus and Trish Sie. The performance piece is the live companion to Pilobolus' video collaboration with OK Go. For the stage, the dancers have a video showing them off to the side, dancing atop a clear flat surface, under which a camera is catching the various shapes and configurations that the dancers can create right in front of the audience's eyes. It can be amazing to watch the process that these dancers go through – and see in automatic feedback the beauty they create. Playing with multiple perspectives, gravity and dimensionality, the piece, organizers say, changes how people look at dance through a kaleidoscopic view of human connection.
On a lighter side, the troupe's dramatic flair and quirky sense of humor comes into play in the "The Inconsistent Pedaler." With music by pop music legends Perez Prado and Tom Petty, the work was created by four of Pilobolus' artistic leaders in collaboration with fiction writer Etgar Keret and filmmaker Shire Geffen. A summary shows that there is indeed a stationary bicycle on stage around which a tiny family saga unfolds. As long as one person spins the bike's wheels, the family is in action; as soon as it slows down, they flag as well. There has to be something psychological here about how we spur each other along – or can take the wind out of each other's sails.
A fourth piece is "Sweet Purgatory." This work is set to lush music by Dmitri Shostakovich and features dancers miraculously suspended in time and space, showcasing the dancers' combination of kinetic and physical capabilities. And for an added benefit to area audiences, Pilobolus will preview the current version of an as yet untitled work that will be premiered at a later date.
DanceCleveland will present Pilobolus for a one-night only performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 31, in the State Theatre of Playhouse Square, 1519 Euclid Ave., Akron; 216-241-6000; www.dancecleveland.org. Tickets are $20.
Roger Durbin, Knight Arts
RELATED COMPANY: Pilobolus
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 12:00 PM
DANCECleveland Receives Support from Major National Foundations To Explore the Creation of a National Center for Choreography in Northeast Ohio
CLEVELAND (January 8, 2015)– DANCECleveland has received lead funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and additional funding from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Fund for National Projects to explore and test the idea of establishing a new National Center for Choreography in northeast Ohio.
While there are a number of choreographic residency sites in the U.S., there is only one National Center for Choreography – the more › Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University (MANCC). In comparison, France has 19.
Pre-planning began last fall for the feasibility study, which will engage national, regional and local arts community and academic leaders as well as potential funders and partners,to explore operational scenarios and to test the viability of the concept. The study, which will take approximately 18-24 months, will be coordinated by Pamela Young, DANCECleveland executive director, and conducted by consultants Janus Small, principal, Janus Small Associates, and Jennifer Calienes,Independent Consultant and MANCC Founding Director and Senior Advisor.
The project will include three curated pilot choreographic residencies which will bring national choreographers to the region and provide them with time for research and space to create new work.
Young says that these pilot residencies will provide a strong indication about the viability of an operational model that emerges from the feasibility study. "It's our hope that the feasibility study will galvanize attention among local, regional and national dance communities around a possible solution to the industry-wide challenge of where and how the dance of tomorrow will be developed."
"Northeast Ohio has developed not just great dancers but a community around the field of dance," said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation, which provided $140,000 in funding. "The next generation of dancers needs a place where they can develop their craft, and the study will tell us whether Northeast Ohio can be that home."
"As dance continues to strengthen its presence around the country, this project to explore a decentralized network of dance centers is especially timely and important," said Ben Cameron, Program Director of the Arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation which is supporting this project with a grant of $73,125. "We are honored to support DANCECleveland and look forward to the results of this work."
The seeds for the concept of a new center began when The University of Akron opened its state-of-the-art dance facility in 2006. With its spaces -- including seven dance studios, a black-box theater and access to the 3,000-seat E.J. Thomas Hall -- serving as a catalyst, the idea for the creation of a new national center took root. In the fall of 2013, DANCECleveland convened a national blue ribbon panel, comprised of national dance leaders, choreographers and academic representatives, to gather preliminary ideas and provide feedback about the concept.The blue ribbon panel and community events not only helped to bring this idea into focus, it also challenged DANCECleveland to broaden its focus to encapsulate the idea of possible research, dance and theater partners and sites across the entire northeast Ohio region.
"We received overwhelmingly positive encouragement from the panel participants, stakeholder groups and the audience at the event, so we're eager to launch the next steps in this process which could have far-reaching implications not only for northeast Ohio, but also for the broader American dance world," said Young.
# # #
DANCECleveland, a Cleveland, Ohio based non-profit organization, works to bring the passion and verve of modern and contemporary dance to the northeast Ohio community. 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. For more information, visit www.dancecleveland.org.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.
About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties. The Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.
Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 12:00 PM
Witty, Gravity-defying Pilobolus Comes to PlayhouseSqaure Jan. 31 DANCECleveland Presents Celebrated Troupe for One Performance Only
CLEVELAND (Jan. 6, 2015) – The wildly popular Pilobolus, world renowned for their gymnastic, gravity-defying dances, will take the stage at the State Theatre in PlayhouseSquare on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 8 p.m. for one evening only.
Presented by DANCECleveland, Pilobolus is deeply rooted in experimentation, dance improvisation and self exploration, using the human body as a medium of expression to create form and movement with breathtaking effect.
Tickets, starting more › at $20, can be purchased at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office, 216-241-6000 or online at www.dancecleveland.org. Groups of five or more can call DANCECleveland at 216-991-9000 for group rates.
The company will perform four works reflecting the variety of their repertory. "On the Nature of Things," inspired by ancient sculptures, is performed by dancers balanced on a two-foot wide column rising above the stage. It is set to music by Michelle DiBucci and Ed Bilous inspired by the classical baroque. The Washington Post in praising the work said, "There is a Sistine Chapel esthetic here, in the fleshiness, the impressive musculatures and the dancers' magical floating quality."
"All Is Not Lost," created by Grammy award winning OK Go, Pilobolus and Trish Sie, is the live companion to Pilobolus' video collaboration with OK Go. Playing with multiple perspectives, gravity and dimensionality, the piece changes how people look at dance through a kaleidoscopic view of human connection.
The troupe's dramatic flair and quirky sense of humor comes into play in the "The Inconsistent Peddler." With music by Perez Prado and Tom Petty, the work was created by four of Pilobolus' artistic leaders in collaboration with fiction writer Etgar Keret and filmmaker Shire Geffen.
The fourth piece, "Sweet Purgatory," is set to lush music by Dmitri Shostakovich and features dancers miraculously suspended in time and space, showcasing the dancers' combination of kinetic and physical capabilities.
In addition, Cleveland audiences will be the first to see the preview of a new Pilobolus work (Untitled 2015) prior to its premiere at a later date.
Pilobolus, named after a barnyard fungus and founded in 1971 by a group of Dartmouth College gymnastic students, is known worldwide for its inventive, athletic and witty performances for stage and screen. In recent years it has become an international entertainment brand with commercials, music videos and appearances on such shows as the Academy Awards, Oprah Winfrey Show, Conan O'Brien and the NFL Network, for which it received a Sports Emmy nomination.
For more information on Pilobolus and video of the company, 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.
Monday, November 10th, 2014 12:00 PM
The idea of circularity in life and our existing in circles of the individual, the couple, and society was the theme for Israeli choreographer Rami Be'er's 2012 dance work "If At All," performed last weekend by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in the Ohio Theatre at at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland.
The underlying theme of circles, figurative and abstract, is a recurring one in some of Be'er's over 40 works for KCDC including more › 2002's "Screensaver," which the company performed in nearby Pittsburgh in 2005, the last time they visited the region.
Set to an eclectic mix of music from alt-rockers Nine Inch Nails to composer Max Richter, the 65-minute continuous work presented by DANCECleveland on Sunday began with a solo by dancer Olga Stetsyuk to the Bon Iver song "Woods." On a darkened stage backed by a small moon/sun-like projection on a rear stage curtain, Stetsyuk danced with lithesome athletic power in Be'er's signature full-body, full-throttle movement style. In a crouched stance she stretched side to side into back-bent and arched poses that screamed beauty and power.
Early practitioners of the contemporary dance genre that has recently taken over the dance world, KCDC, like several other Israel-based dance companies including Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company, are among the world's elite. Be'er's expertly-crafted and polished choreography for "If At All," and KCDC's adroit dancers' performance of it, was inspirational.
The abstract work continued as a flood of dancers ran onto the stage circling Stetsyuk. Seven male dancers in long black skirts broke from the throng and dropped into fetal positions in a horizontal line across the front of the stage and in front of Stetsyuk who continued her solo far behind them.
The men then moved upright to hunch over individual footlights executing a unison pattern of bobbing heads and pounding fists as one at a time each dancer rose to perform a wild solo. The solos had the dancers flinging their bodies about the stage, flailing their arms, some staggering, some convulsing and falling to the floor while their compatriots continued their unison pattern at the front of the stage.
The multi-talented Be'er, who not only choreographed the work but provided lighting, sound and costume design for the production, created atmospheric moods and a cinematic soundscape in which feelings of conflict and turmoil, love and nurturing invaded the space, one after the other, dissipated for a time, only to circle back and repeat once again.
One such repeated image was of dancer Renana Randy bursting onto the stage being held back by a group of male dancers like a captured animal. She aggressively tried to break free from the men holding her arms and torso, her long black hair whipping the air around them. Just as jarring: as she and the men tore onto the stage, they faded away, to be replaced by another scene conveying a very different kind of emotion and beauty.
As the work poured through a litany of fabulous solos, duets, trios and groups dances whose images occurred and then reoccurred, Be'er's choreography drove home that theme of circularity in work's structure and intent. Infused into the soundtrack were voice-overs speaking of "multiplicity" and the idea "that we are many people, not just one," and a woman stating: "Just because a person looks nice on the outside doesn't mean they are nice on the inside." All hinting that the circles in life intersect in some way.
Perhaps the most moving scenes in the intense work involved the dancers performing to sounds of gunfire, explosions and people screaming, conjuring up images of the military conflicts plaguing the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, along with a tender duet danced by Randy and dancer Niv Elbaz to a remix of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds' "Viđ vorum smá". The music's haunting melody and eerie childlike computer generated voice repeating the phrase "As our last lost chance," cut through the theater space, adding to the overwhelming sense that in "If At All," we were witnessing something truly special.
The work closed with a marvelously patterned group dance that, like the music it was set to, built in intensity. The stirring unison choreography came to an abrupt end as the dancers, on the music's final note, all froze in a pose staring out into the audience eliciting a standing ovation from the audience.
Steve Sucato, Cleveland.com
RELATED COMPANY: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company
Thursday, November 6th, 2014 12:00 PM
In theatrical terms, a chain of events is an important device or vehicle by which artists or even dancers can tell a story.
That in a nutshell is what internationally acclaimed Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company Artistic Director Rami Be'er explores with his "If at All" work, which Israel's most prominent dance troupe will perform Nov. 8 and 9 at PlayhouseSquare's Ohio Theatre.
"We have performed this worldwide across Europe and Asia, India more › and South Korea," said Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company International Director Yoni Avital, calling from Israel.
"It's been very well received. There's some beauty in this piece, and the set design is relatively basic or naked with more minimalist costumes.
"But the basic element deals with the relationship of the individual's relationship with his or her community and society."
Presented by DANCECleveland, the innovative Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is known for its emotionally charged productions boasting sophisticated choreography and stunning dancers.
The company's history begins with Auschwitz survivor Yehudit Arnon, who in the late '40s moved to Israel to establish the Mateh Asher Dance Studio. It wasn't until the '70s that she created the performing ensemble that continues to tour today in various incarnations.
"During the Second World War, Christmas 1944, the German officers demanded Arnon perform," Avital said. "They heard about this woman who was dancing in the barracks. They asked her to perform at their Christmas party. She refused and risked her life.
"Her punishment was to be outside in the freezing snow, where she'd die. That evening she decided if she were to survive that she would devote her life to dance and education."
That education continues with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company's visit to Northeast Ohio. During its performance, the company will hold auditions for its international dance study program called Dance Journeys.
"Every semester we host almost 40 dancers from around the world," Avital said. "And in Cleveland we'll be holding auditions. If the dancers pass the audition, it'll allow them to participate as a student in our international dance program."
Something else that makes the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company stand out is its use of music that is outside of the norm. In addition to music by H. Gudnadottir, Olafur Arnalds and Ophir Leibovitch, audiences will hear songs from Volcano Choir, Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack.
"Be'er comes from a family of musicians, and he's a musician himself," Avital said. "He's a cellist, and he's a complete artist in that not only does he create the choreography but he also is very much involved in the lighting, set design, the costumes and especially the music. He's always sampling music from everywhere in all genres, and that of course becomes samples and the musical soundtrack of his pieces."
It's this use of different, eclectic music that truly epitomizes the spirit of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
"A big part of the company's success is that it really appeals to the general crowd and not only audiences that are savvy in contemporary dance," Avital said. "It's a complete performance of premiere choreography, music, lighting, stage design and concert design."
What: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 3 p.m. Nov. 9.
Where: Ohio Theatre, Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
Tickets: $25 to $55.
Info: 216-241-6000, 866-546-1353 or www.PlayhouseSquare.org.
John Benson, The News Herald
RELATED COMPANY: Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company