May 5, 2005 |
It has been the subject of a documentary film and part of an Emmy Award-winning television broadcast; its members have toured extensively in North America, Europe and Asia; and tonight Philadanco will celebrate its 35th birthday by opening a four-day engagement at the Kimmel Center, where it is the sole resident dance troupe. Not bad, for the creation of a West Philadelphia native who grew up as a ballet-obsessed African American in a world that was anything but welcoming to black dancers.
March 21, 2005 |
What do professional dancers do for fun? Dance some more. Heidi Cruz's stellar cast, mostly "borrowed" from Philadanco and Pennsylvania Ballet, gave their all in her program at the Community Education Center's Meeting House Theater on Friday. In "Atardeser Azul" and "Crossing Waters," Cruz showed off her dancers' great chops and her own facility with African American, Afro-Caribbean, and classical dance idioms. An 11-year veteran of Pennsylvania Ballet, Cruz also danced solo in "Magazine," to poetry performed live.
January 25, 2005 |
Sunday afternoon's DanceBoom! program offered a touchstone for the overview of African-influenced dance in Wilma Theater's festival: some straight-up African dance provided by Lisanga Ya Bana Kin, a Philadelphia-based group of mostly Congolese performers. Along with a piece by Philadanco (to be replaced by Odunde on the final weekend) and a stage-shaking outing by Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, this one leaves no question about where it all began. With strong, acerbic harmonies, the six members of Lisanga Ya Bana Kin sang their piece, Gizembe, into life.
January 21, 2005 |
If Africa is the origin of human life, it is also the origin of language, art, music and dance. As Philadelphia's most renowned modern and Africanist dance writer and scholar, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, writes in her elegant DanceBoom! catalog essay, "African culture [and its] seeds pervade our daily lives from basketball to ballet and beyond Broadway. "Africanisms are not a choice," she writes, "but an imperative that comes to us the way electricity comes through wires. " With a dozen dance groups, this year's DanceBoom!
November 15, 2004 |
The Philadelphia Dance Company, which has come to be called Philadanco the world over, is known for its intensity, speed and large-scale dances. Now celebrating its 35th anniversary and firmly ensconced as the resident dance company at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, the troupe's run there this weekend featured all its hallmarks, plus world- and company-premiere performances. The company has presented choreographer Donald Byrd's 1995 BAMM before, but this was my first viewing.
September 12, 2004 |
Dance is sometimes called the stepchild of the arts. Perhaps some perceive it as having too little to do with the mind and too much with the body, unlike literature, music and theater. Recently, dance has made news with setbacks and scandals. The Pew-funded National Initiative to Preserve America's Dance closed. Dancers were fired for being overweight - at as little as 110 pounds. Martha Graham Dance Company, one of America's longest-lived dance troupes, shut down for two years, entangled in a lawsuit.
April 3, 2004 |
Philadanco artistic director Joan Myers Brown made the company's spring offering a selection of audience favorites. The result, in case you were wondering, is a night packed with exhilarating, near-nonstop movement, danced with the precision and force the company is known for - no downtime here. Thursday night's program opened with two beloved "oldies" dating from the '70s: George Faison's Suite Otis and tasty excerpts from Talley Beatty's Pretty Is Skin Deep, Ugly to the Bone.
February 20, 2004 |
Meredith Rainey's commanding presence strikes audiences each time he takes the stage. As featured soloist with Pennsylvania Ballet since 1999, he's had the opportunity to dance the most difficult virtuoso roles and make them his own. Most dancers find their desire at an early age, but Rainey discovered it by accident at age 15 in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I didn't know 15 was late," Rainey said. "I was from the projects, with no idea of what ballet was, but a girl I was dating asked me to come to her dance audition.
November 22, 2003 |
Philadanco continues its high-altitude cruise with a phenomenal program at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, a balance of older and new work designed to show off this company's exuberant strengths. Managing director Vanessa A. Thomas dedicated the opening piece, Gene Hill Sagan's 1984 Elegy, to the late Willard G. Rouse III, the prime mover behind the Kimmel's development. Moving to the plangent strings of a Ralph Vaughn Williams recording, the 10 dancers exhibited an emotional esprit de corps that brought chills by the end. Antonio Sisk danced the solo Sweet in the Morning Thursday night with great, swiveling back arches and thigh rotations; guest artist Zane Booker will perform it at today's matinee.
November 21, 2003 |
This holiday season, treat your family, friends and self to the gift of dance. Philadelphia has more than 30 dynamic dance companies - and some of the nation's oldest companies are based here and tour globally. The Pennsylvania Ballet is celebrating its 40th year, while Group Motion Dance Company and Philadanco are gearing up for their 35th anniversaries next year. Each has gone through many changes in personnel but is artistically stronger than ever. Newer companies - from hip-hop to dance theater - thrive here as well.