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Dancer With An Attitude

Imperial Acrobats of China

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The word acrobat conjures up images of super bendy bodies balancing on one limb or tiny people with super hero strength facilitating multiple twists and turns in the air. The definition of an acrobat according to Merriam-Webster is ”one that performs gymnastic feats requiring skillful control of the body. This is in fact, what we got on stage at the Ferst theater on Sunday.
In 1994, the Imperial Acrobats of China were formed by Yan Zhao and Guy Caron. This company is known for bringing light to the authentic culture of China and Shaolin Gung Fu. This performance, Chi of Shaolin: Tale of the Dragon, is the journey of a common thief. Hurt during his crime, he is found by a Shaolin Monk, taken to the temple and on the path to enlightenment.

Along the way we encounter Tai Chi, Qigong, Kung Fu, modern dance and contortion to name a few of the acts. Some of the best highlights involved natural elements, like the frog solo, with the performer springing high in the air and landing on his turned out knees. One of the most breathtaking moments was a single contortionist costumed as the top branches of a winter tree. She spent the whole time balancing on one appendage – if it’s her arm the rest of the body is upside down, legs in full split or wrapped around the torso in some unnatural yet graceful way.

There was sword play, the breaking of hard objects with body parts, beautiful costumes, dancing Chinese dragons and the balancing of many lit candelabras. The part that makes this more than a circus show is that there is also a decent story to tie it all together. Everything you need for Far East family fun.

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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