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Dancer With An Attitude

SYTYCD season 8: part 7

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We continue on our journey to explore just the highlights of the past few weeks. The week of July 6th and 7th was a fairly anticlimactic one. Especially since So You Think You Can Dance was featuring many new choreographers I was expecting to be wowed and moved, but just didn’t feel much of anything about the show as a whole. There were a few moments worth mentioning, one of the best being the opening group men’s routine.

There is something about a group of very talented men dancing together. I don’t know if it’s because they are a rare breed, I’m a heterosexual female or that I am privy to the fact that most men don’t have this kind of training (this is changing, however), but it is a really an exhilarating experience. Their strength, flexibility, artistic choices coupled with the good solid choreography by Justin Jiles was … The seven dancers each expertly manipulating their own prop, represented the seven stages of grief and love; shock, anger, denial, depression, guilt, bargaining and acceptance.

Justin Jiles was the star of the evening. His contemporary piece about a love that has run its course was another can’t miss moment. The interaction between Jesse LeProtto and Clarice Ordaz was low, combative and hard hitting. Jiles brings his own vocabulary to the music, and since I think really highly of this group of dancers, you know I’m going to say the dancers were amazing.

Another new choreographer this evening was Chucky Klapow. He was lucky enough to get Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime for his wild punk rock meets David Bowie piece. They strutted around with their pelvises thrust forward and crazy eyes. It was very stylized but I think it wore them out a bit. I felt there was more dance than energy.

In the results show on Thursday we had the pleasure of seeing the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. This is definitely my kind of ballet. It was punk rock and gorgeous. There is nothing like modern dance with the perfectly sculpted bodies only hard ballet training can create.

Thursday is the “Day of Judgment”. Six dancers had to defend their place in the competition. All of them were decent to virtuosic. After the most excellent treat of getting to see Florence and the Machine perform the show had to send two more fabulous dancers home. This week we said goodbye to Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl. I agreed with the judges, but I also think it is going to be brutal from this point on. These dancers should all get metals, money and jobs because they should win as a tight knit amazing company. I’m really going to hate to see any more go.

Dancer With An Attitude

The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee

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“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee

The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Beginning 1.31.15

There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”

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Dancer With An Attitude

Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”

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photo : Chris Carder
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The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence

The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.

The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.

“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”

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T. Lang: A Woman Searching

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The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience.  Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place.  The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from.  Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.

On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s  performance of Post Up.  The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings.   The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison.  An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through.  The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.

The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent.  Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.

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