February 21, 2015 |
Once again, BalletX has delivered on its promise to present challenging new work performed by top-notch dancers. The troupe's winter series, which premiered Wednesday, consists of four pieces - including world, national, and company premieres - by choreographers from the United States, the Philippines, and Spain. The evening's emotional high point was "Triptych," by Val Caniparoli. Inspired by photos of British soldiers who served in Afghanistan, the dancers leap, crawl, and occasionally execute stylized military movements, first to contemplative string music by Alexander Balanescu, then to John Tavener's increasingly frantic score.
February 15, 2015 |
The dance is Polynesian and contemporary; the story is from New Zealand's history, yet the themes are familiar. You could cut-and-paste in many people's stories, but for Neil Ieremia, the Samoan-New Zealander artistic director of the company Black Grace from New Zealand, the struggle is for Pacific Islanders. The company opened a run Thursday night at the Annenberg Center, presented by Dance Celebration. In his "Gathering Clouds," Ieremia speaks of a Tongan Christian priest arrested for overstaying his welcome, of 30 percent of the population filling 80 percent of the jail spots, of getting teased for the shape of his eyes, of new immigrants holding on to traditional songs and dances, and of their children trying to assimilate.
February 8, 2015 |
When it comes to Philadanco, the award-winning dance company she created back in 1970, Joan Myers Brown is all focus. Fervor for the company, she acknowledges, has been second only to her delight in family. "My home, well, it's a good place to kick off my shoes and relax. But it's nothing fancy. " What her University City home is, however, is a warm and welcoming place that has brought Brown back from her years of rearing children in the suburbs to a more urban existence.
January 18, 2015 |
The Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre brought some much-needed Miami heat Thursday night to Dance Celebration at the Annenberg Center. The Philadelphia premieres of Herrera's Dining Alone and Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret also provided a few good laughs along with some puzzling and thought-provoking moments. Both shared oblique historical and political references and autobiographical material. Herrera's father, a Cuban émigré to Miami, had been both a baker and a waiter.
January 13, 2015 |
LIKE SO MANY churches that have closed in recent years, South Philly's massive Shiloh Baptist Church, built in 1870, has a small congregation burdened with huge repair bills, which is not a recipe for survival. But the Victorian-era church on Christian Street near 21st, one of the city's oldest African-American Baptist congregations, found two unlikely Earth angels. Shiloh Baptist rents its soaring second-floor spaces to Brat Productions, an edgy rock 'n' roll cabaret troupe, and to Brian Sanders' JUNK Dance Company, which choreographs around stuff that Sanders trash-picks on Philadelphia streets.
December 29, 2014 |
Jordan Matter is a one-man flash mob - with a camera. On a frosty Monday in early December, Matter and two dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and one from BalletX are pinballing around downtown, politely commandeering Santa's seat in City Hall's courtyard, an entire block of Addison Street, and a divider in the middle of South Broad Street - during rush hour. See it. Feel it. Shoot it. That's how Matter works. The eye behind the lens of Dancers Among Us , a 2012 New York Times best seller and an Oprah Magazine best book, says his process "relies on serendipity.
December 17, 2014 |
Philadanco came to the Kimmel Center last weekend for its annual holiday treat. This time it presented a suite of dances it called "Dance Is . . . Risky Business," and indeed, Friday night's athletic performance could have knocked preconceived notions out of a skeptical dance newbie with a single jeté. The company performs Daniel Ezralow's Pulse , set to music by David Lang, every few years, and it's fun every time. Where dancers would usually do anything to avoid a skid, here they revel in skidding, wearing special footwear that lets them slide across the stage but still control their movements, stopping for a casual run or a series of impressive turns.
December 10, 2014 |
Pennsylvania Ballet has undergone great change in recent months - a new artistic director, new ballet masters, new dancers, and more. One had to wonder: Would the beloved winter classic George Balanchine's The Nutcracker look different too when it opened Saturday at the Academy of Music? The once-a-year balletgoer may not notice the changes, because the Balanchine choreography must be kept as the great choreographer set it 60 years ago, only allowing for alterations he later made or would have approved.
December 1, 2014 |
Ballet or college? Many young dancers ask themselves that question. For Elizabeth Mateer, the matter was even more complicated when she received a job offer from Pennsylvania Ballet 2, the second company, as well as an acceptance to Harvard. Mateer, now 24, chose ballet. Five years later, as a member of the first company's corps de ballet, her decision is paying off in featured roles. In October, she shone in performances of Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy and Alexei Ratmansky's Jeu de Cartes . Next she'll dance Sugar Plum in some performances of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker , opening Saturday.
November 28, 2014 |
AT 4 A.M. yesterday, security guards arrived at the bleachers in front of the Art Museum. By 6 a.m., spectators with tickets to the 95th annual 6ABC/Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade started to fill those seats. By 7, Mike Avello - the "No. 1 Rocky lookalike in the world," he says - posted himself 100 feet from the original's statue and high-fived fans. The less-than-2-mile parade route gave onlookers plenty: performances by singer Lance Bass, "American Idol" winner Candice Glover, and fresh-faced Radio Disney and Disney Channel stars, person-pulled giant balloons (an injury to My Little Pony made her a last-minute scratch)