DANCE A stiff breeze is blowing through the venerable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, though not enough to ruffle feathers among Ailey aficionados (of which there are millions). The troupe is not dancing better, just differently. For that, they and the audiences have to thank new artistic director Robert Battle, who has been watching and choreographing for Ailey for years, though he was never a company member. Coming to the job as both an insider and an outsider, he knew exactly what to do.Read more »
DANCE The United States Bicentennial, 1976, was also the middle of what some have called the Golden Age of American dance. Balanchine premiered Union Jack; Twyla Tharp turned ballet inside out with Baryshnikov in Push Comes to Shove; the Philip Glass-Robert Wilson-Lucinda Childs team had a monster hit with Einstein at the Beach (side note: Berkeley's Cal Performances presents it in October); and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company was invited to the prestigious Avignon Festival for the first time.Read more »
DANCE When choreographers Sue Li Jue and Nina Haft found that they shared a common interest in exploring the body's memory — of personal experience, history, origins — they decided to make a work in which their individual choreographies would take turns on the stage. Thus the problematic this.placed was born.Read more »
DANCE This past weekend two master choreographers, each with more than 30 years experience, still managed to surprise us with fresh goods in their dance bags.
Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company has a well-deserved reputation for physically lush though highly disciplined choreography. Again presented by San Francisco Performances, Batsheva brought the 2007 Max, whose name may be derived from Naharin's pseudonym of "Maxin Waratt" as the work's composer or simply is an abbreviation of "maximum."
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DANCE On the opening night of its eighth year, the three-weekend "Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now" deserved its name. The quality of the choreography and the confident performances more than confirmed that BCF is a celebration of excellent contemporary African American choreography. Four out of the five works starred as fine world premieres by local artists. They were stylistically about as diverse as you would want, but this was an evening to rejoice. The Feb. 10 audience at Oakland's Laney College more than agreed.Read more »
DANCE Randee Paufve's voice is quiet. But once you have heard her speak through her dances, you are unlikely to forget the strength of what she has to say. Her craft is impressive, her topics are many-layered, and the resulting choreography is pared down to its essence. Sometimes, I have even wished for a little more looseness just so I could catch my breath.Read more »
DANCE Early in the 20th century, Ezra Pound declared "the artist is the antenna of the race." True or false? Do artists have the ability to predict the future, or are they stuck in the present?Read more »