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Dancer With An Attitude

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker

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It wouldn’t be the holidays without Drosslemeyer’s magic, Mouse King,  a Sugar Plum Fairy and a little girl with a Nutcracker Prince. I have to admit that is has been a long time since I’ve actually participated in the Yuletide ritual.  My children have received their Nutcracker education through video.   Since I come from a modern concert background they have seen a wide spectrum of interpretations, from the classic Baryshnikov/ Gelsey Kirkland version to the Balanchine movie with the unfortunate appearance of McCauley Culkin.  In our personal library we have more contemporary choices like Maurice Bejart’s autobiographical story, Matthew Bourne’s witty orphanage depiction and the piece do resistance, Mark Morris’s contemporary classic The Hard Nut. 

 Having said all that, since Lady H. and the Viking Princess are almost 7 and 3, I thought it was time to take the plunge and experience a live performance.  We decided to run down to the Fox Theater and see how the Atlanta Ballet fares in the mix.  It fares well.

The first element that distinguishes this production from the pack is that it is set in a Russian period context. The costumes in the party scene are in beautiful lush blues, purples and creams.  The international guests are distinguishable with their spectacular sparkly headdresses.  Drosselmeyer stood out as he swooped in with his vibrant black and red cape.  The names are a bit different, for example our young protagonists name is Marya not Clara and Mother Ginger is Matrushka, in the Russian tradition.  Otherwise, the story is pretty familiar with a few interesting additions.

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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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