THE YEAR IN DANCE: A month-by-month look back at the twists, turns, and leaps of 2013
YEAR IN DANCE This is not 12 Days of Christmas but 12 Months of Dancing. And while there were plenty of lords-a-leaping and ladies dancing (and even a few drummers drumming and pipers piping), there is nothing even remotely accumulative in this annual looking-back at the year that was. Chronology — and what stood out within a particular month because of the generating ideas — and their shape on the stage determined the (sometimes difficult) selection.
January Bebe Miller, a feminist post-modern choreographer, has been making work for over 25 years. So her multimedia A History (Jan. 25, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), announced as a piece about "remembering remembering," sounded just about right. It was and it wasn't. The concept proved more intriguing than its realization, but watching the work attempt to give shape to complex ideas offered its own satisfaction.
February Modern dance repertory company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago teaming with Alonzo King LINES Ballet in the gorgeous Azimuth (Feb. 2, Cal Performances) seemed like one of the year's unlikelier projects. Yet to watch Hubbard's dancers take to LINES' skewed approach to ballet with such ease — and seeing King rise to the challenge of choreographing for a large ensemble with utter confidence — was surprising and delightful.
March With the world premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's From Foreign Lands (March 1, War Memorial Opera House) San Francisco Ballet acquired another treasure from possibly the most gifted ballet choreographer working today. In a series of beautifully distinct, picture-postcard scenes of refined dancing, the choreographer honored the roots of ballet in social dance. (Lands will return Feb. 18-March 1, during SFB's upcoming season.)
April As an Indian American dancer, singer, musician, writer, and actor, Sheetal Gandhi has a lot of resources. She excellently drew on all of them for Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-Law, Daughter, Wife)(April 19, ODC Theater), her humorous and poignant portrait of the restrictions that still shape Indian women's lives, both in this country and in India.
May The wild applause notwithstanding, it was such a relief to watch the end of Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's overwrought Rodin (May 11, Cal Performances), based on the sculptor's relationship with his pupil and lover Camille Claudel. You try to keep an open mind about an artist's take on ideas, but sometimes it's time to say "enough is enough, never again."
June Though we also got versions by Yuri Possokhov and Bill T. Jones this year, Mark Morris and the Bad Ass Jazz Trio's Spring, Spring, Spring (June 12, Cal Performances) was the most radical as well as most cogent reinterpretation of The Rite of Spring. Forgoing the original choregraphy and using the score's four-hand version as musical inspiration generated a work of both ease and heft.
July Serendipity ruled. I happen to catch Pierre Lacotte's approximation of what Parisian audiences might have seen in 1832 with La Sylphide (July 9, Palais Garnier) generally considered the first Romantic ballet. Excellently — of course — performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, this version looked like a distant cousin of the one we know, and offered a feast of classical dancing set to a score with hokey charm.