November 18, 2006 |
It really was a dark and stormy night - complete with tornado warnings - when Philadanco opened its fall season at the Kimmel Center on Wednesday. Perhaps because of the weather, the Perelman Theater was less than two-thirds full. But the enthusiastic crowd witnessed a superbly performed sampler of works from Danco's ever-expanding repertory. To help celebrate the Kimmel's fifth anniversary, Philadanco founder and executive artistic director Joan Myers Brown assembled a typically varied selection - one world premiere, the restaging of a classic modern dance, and two recent pieces - by a quartet of choreographers.
November 15, 2006 |
IN PHILADANCO'S West Philadelphia studios, accolades honoring founder and director Joan Myers Brown cover every wall. If awards for persistence, determination and blind hope were given, there'd be even more. As it is, she'll have to make room for another one. Monday night in New York, Brown received the prestigious Dance Magazine award, with Philadanco performing a work created in her honor by Ronald K. Brown, "For Mother. " Dance Magazine was an important resource for Brown when she founded the company in 1970, since blacks weren't accepted then in many local dance schools.
May 20, 2006 |
The sky - or rather the ceiling - was the limit Thursday night when Philadanco dancers soared through the air in a world premiere at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, confident that their partners would catch them. The floor was also the limit, and the dancers pushed that boundary as well, sliding across it on their feet, lying on it, and getting into it by executing multiple pirouettes on flat feet and bent knees. Cottonwool, choreographed by Christopher L. Huggins, was an exciting, high-energy ballet of unusual lifts, sliding movements, long leaps, split jumps, and double air-turns.
April 13, 2006 |
It isn't only Philadelphia groups like Philadanco and Group Motion that have celebrated big birthdays lately (both recently turned 35). On Tuesday, the Mark Morris Dance Group, a youthful 25, followed its monthlong New York birthday bash with a concert at Princeton's McCarter Theatre, demonstrating that Morris, the younger lion, is a king of his chosen realm. That would be the profound, age-old connection between music and dance. Morris' dancers don't so much move to music as fuse with it. Phrase for phrase, note for note, they hew to the music's spirit, rhythmic structure and harmonic qualities, playing out ecstasies and darker moods within his fulfilling, complex structures.
December 19, 2005 |
There are only so many ways to crack a nut. So, beloved though The Nutcracker may be, it's a relief to have other holiday dance options. Philadanco answered the call last weekend with the entertaining "Xmas Philes" at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater. Choreographed in 2000 by Daniel Ezralow, "Philes" is family friendly yet sexy; hip yet set to familiar music; funny; and, unlike many other holiday dance programs, offers a lot of very good dancing. Highlights of the piece include the "12 Daz" section, with dancers in pajamas each adding a dance phrase to the 12 days of Christmas.
May 7, 2005 |
A single world premiere on a dance program is usually something to celebrate. The finale of Philadanco's 35th-anniversary season offers three, and all show off the best assets of the Kimmel Center's resident modern-dance company: speed, stamina, beautiful bodies, and mastery of many styles of dance. In the opening number of the performance in the Perelman Theater, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Between Earth and Home, eight women strut out dressed as birds. They pose, they fly, they flutter in quick contractions of the arms and abdomen.
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!