25 to watch in 2002: the most exciting discoveries of the year as told by Dance Magazine writers and editors worldwide.
BY CHERYL OSSOLA
Radiant. Charlotte spun the word into her web about Wilbur, and there's no more apt term to describe Mariellen Olson. Named apprentice at San Francisco Ballet just months after her eighteenth birthday, this tall. fresh-faced woman has a commanding presence: No matter what's happening onstage, you watch her. Projecting girl-next-door wholesomeness tinged with flirtatiousness. Olson has a magnetism that leaps across the footlights.
"I always liked rehearsing, taking class--all the hard work." said Olson. "But I love performing." Enthralled by those fancy tutus at age 4, Olson trained in San Jose, Dallas, and New York before ending up at the San Francisco Ballet School. After a year and a half there. Olson got her big break. She launched her career last fall by learning seven ballets and touring England and Spain. Her excitement is tangible: "I like the classics and story ballets because of the acting. And contemporary ballets are fun because you get to move differently. I love it all!" (See www.sfballet.org.)
Cheryl Ossola is an associate editor of Dance Magazine.
An Air of Nobility
BY KEVIN NG
A constant joy during the Kirov Ballet's London season last summer was watching Andrian Fadeyev, 24, who joined the company in 1995 after graduation from the Vaganova Academy. With an innate nobility and a classical style as pure as water, Fadeyev is the best Prince Desire in the Kirov's new production of The Sleeping Beauty. He also excels in the Balanchine repertoire: He is an elegant cavalier in the "Emeralds" section of Jewels, a dazzling "Rubies" soloist, and a peerless young god who touches the heart in Apollo. Fadeyev also shows his dramatic flair when cast against type as the villain in Le Corsaire and as the vulnerable puppet in Petrushka. He can be seen in the Maryinsky International Ballet Festival March 9-18, and during tours to Washington, D.C. (February 12-17) and New York next spring. (See www.mariinsky.ru/eng/main.html.)
Kevin Ng, based in Hong Kong, also contributes to The Asian Wall Street Journal and South China Morning Post.
BY DONALD HUTERA
Akram Khan possesses the wow factor. At 27, the British-Asian dancer-choreographer is the U.K.'s fastest-rising star. Muscular and agile, in performance he lends a thrilling modern expression to the precision, speed, and gestural vocabulary of kathak. As a child, Khan trained in this classical Indian dance form, only later embarking on a serious study of contemporary dance. By dynamically blending two movement paths into one he's garnered critical acclaim, a slew of awards, and a growing international reputation. He's also canny about collaborators. In Stephen Petronio's footsteps, Khan has enlisted the services of sculptor Anish Kapoor for his next ensemble piece, the quintet Kaash (Hindi for "What if"). Kaash and a new solo will premiere in Creteil, France, in late March, followed by extensive touring. Khan's global activities are plotted through early 2004. He calls it "a good pressure. People are saying. `We really want to see what's the next stage.' It's something I want to see, too."
Donald Hutera writes for The Times of London, Dance Now, Dance Europe, and other publications.
BY LINDE HOWE-BECK
Her barefoot Carmen is wanton and kittenish; her Snow Queen floats with perfect line and command. It's forever fascinating to watch Genevieve Guerard's sunny and versatile approach to ballet.
Nine years ago, when she joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal as an apprentice, it was apparent that this gifted young woman was destined to become Quebec's first home-grown ballerina in recent memory. Whether dancing Petipa, Balanchine, or contemporary ballets, she overlays a fine technique with personal warmth, intelligence, and vivacity. At the same time, she seems surprised by the attention her dancing engenders.
Since guest choreographer Ib Anderson plucked her from the corps to dance the lead in Wave, Guerard, 28, has been a favorite of contemporary choreographers. Yet when she was promoted to soloist onstage in front of the whole company after ideal performances of Jiri Kylian's Stepping Stones, she was overwhelmed: "My knees gave way and I fell on the floor, bawling."
Having cut her acting teeth in Carmen last season, Guerard, now a principal, performs the lead in Kim Brandstrup's The Queen of Spades in New York City, Montreal, and Ottawa in February, and in Hartford, Connecticut, in April. (See www.grandsballets.qc.ca.)
Linde Howe-Beck, a Montreal dance columnist and critic, has been a contributor to Dance Magazine for more than twenty years.
Splicing Power and Subtlety
BY ROBERT TRACY
A former jock, Thaddeus Davis began studying ballet to gain agility and enhance his prowess at football. A decade later, he dazzles audiences with powerful physicality combined with subtle and sublime sensitivity. After dancing with Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theatre of Harlem for four years, he continues to guest with Complexions, and joined Donald Byrd/The Group because he wanted to work with a single choreographer. Soon after he accepted Byrd's challenge to deconstruct classical technique, he attained the speed and attack necessary for Byrd's off-kilter choreography. Davis, 33, is now assisting Byrd for their performances at the New Victory Theater in Manhattan in March. According to Donald Byrd, "We have reached a perfect symbiotic relationship." Davis has also begun to choreograph. Known as a terrific partner, he loves choreographing duets. "Partnering has got me to where I am at in my career right now," says Davis. (See www.newvictory.org.)
Robert Tracy's dance books include Balanchine's Ballerinas: Conversations with the Muses; Goddess: Martha Graham's Dancers Remember, and Spaces of the Mind: Isamu Noguchi's Dance Designs.
A Natural in Choreography
BY LYNN GARAFOLA
New York City Ballet's 22-year-old Melissa Barak started choreographing ballets when she was 8. They were only in her head, and she made them up in the car on her way to school or dance class, listening to tapes of classical music. She made her first real ballet in 1997 for the School of American Ballet's first Student Choreography Workshop. It was to Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence and had four dancers, including herself. They were all friends, which made it really "fun, like playtime," Barak recalls. After that came a piece to Shostakovich for NYCB's Choreographic Institute, and then Telemann Overture Suite in E Minor. A ballet for fourteen dancers, it was the surprise of last June's SAB Workshop Performance--musical, full of interesting patterns, and with terrific solos for the leads. It was so good that NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins took it into repertoire and asked her to do a ballet for the company's Diamond Project this spring. Again she chose music by Shostakovich. "I love his music," she says. "It gives me ideas. There's a depth in his music, an emotion the dancers must convey. Listening to the music, I see images. And the idea of a story line. Dancing the music is great, but I like it when it goes a little beyond that." (See www.nycballet.com.)
Lynn Garafola, the author of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, teaches dance history at Barnard College and is an advisor/senior editor of Dance Magazine.
Raising the Bar
BY RITA FELCIANO
Canadian transplant Sonya Delwaide was no neophyte when she moved to the Bay Area five years ago. A former member of Desrosiers Dance Theatre, she had been showing her own choreography in both the U.S. and Canada since the early '80s. What she brought with her was a high degree of professionalism, an experienced eye, and a voracious appetite for movement. What she did not bring--and still doesn't have--is a company attuned to her lightning-fast, emotionally explosive dances. Making a virtue out of necessity, she has choreographed intricate, technically demanding works for the mixed-ability AXIS Dance Company as well as for the Berkeley Ballet Theater. Her choreography asks some of the Bay Area's most accomplished dancers--from companies as different as ODC/San Francisco and Diablo Ballet--to follow her into the treacherous waters of virtuosity. They do so because Delwaide raises the bar on whomever she works with.
This month Delwaide premieres a new work as part of the Ladino Project at the Traveling Jewish Theater in San Francisco, and will appear at the Julia Morgan Center in Berkeley in May and at ODC/San Francisco in October.
Rita Felciano is dance critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and a California dance writer for Dance Magazine.
Chosen as the New Astarte
BY HEDY WEISS
As the eclectic and historically significant repertoire of The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago has begun to re-emerge from storage, Maia Wilkins, who has been in the company since 1991, has become one of the troupe's most versatile dancers. In a company that avoids the star system, she has become something of an unofficial prima ballerina: not only a superb and effortless technician, but an actress of exceptional subtlety and range.
With her petite frame, parchment-pale skin, and steely strength, Wilkins can easily pass for an aquatic nymph--a role she has danced memorably in Gerald Arpino's Sea Shadow--or embody the suppressed eroticism of the central figure in Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden. And she can just as convincingly pull off the physical comedy of John Cranko's Taming of the Shrew or capture the harrowing isolation of the Chosen One in Nijinsky's The Rite of Spring, which she will perform at the Kennedy Center in February. Back in Chicago in April, Wilkins stars in the revival of Joffrey's landmark 1967 psychedelic ballet, Astarte. But this is a dancer with more than flower power. (See www.joffrey.com.)
Hedy Weiss is the dance and theater critic of the Chicago Sun-Times.
All the World's a Stage
BY WILMA SALISBURY
David Shimotakahara, formerly a principal dancer and rehearsal director of Ohio Ballet, founded GroundWorks Dancetheater in 1998 to present new and vital choreography to audiences in conventional and nontraditional settings. His dramatic works for a small group of classically trained dancers are created in collaboration with composer Gustavo Aguilar and performed at Cleveland Public Theatre, where the company is in residence, and also in alternative spaces of historic and architectural significance. With its riveting choreography, intense performance style, portable stage, and inventive lighting, the company has mounted stunning productions in an old ice house, a modern library, a suburban church, and a contemporary sacred space shared by Jewish and Episcopal congregations. A brilliant success in Northeast Ohio, the company is now laying the groundwork for national touring. Says Shimotakahara, 45, "We're just itching to find out if our intimate brand of theater is relevant to a broader audience." The company will perform this season at Gray's Armory and Cleveland Public Theatre. (See www.groundworksdance.org.)
Wilma Salisbury is dance critic of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She has contributed to Dance Magazine for more than twenty-five years.
Beating Her Taps Like Wings
BY SALLY SOMMER
Roxane Butterfly is as lyrical on her feet as a butterfly is on her wings. A beautiful woman, she earned her name because she darts across the stage, her body riding lightly atop her feet. However, when Butterfly wants to deliver the hard stuff, she can "hit it" as sharply as glass cracking in the heat. Combining an elegant upper body with hard-core, technically precise footwork, she taps out her rhythms crisply, dancing up high rather than hunkering over. And she can float! Certainly this is a direct infusion of style from her mentor and teacher, Jimmy Slyde. Like Slyde, Butterfly can kiss the stage with her feet, slipping and skating, playing bebop cadences and rhythms. Roxane Butterfly is one of the distinctive new women tap stylists to watch. She is outside the mold, moving to her own rhythms, playing her own beat.
A great place to catch Butterfly is Club Maxim (212/736-0836) in the Stanford Hotel in midtown Manhattan on Sunday nights. There Butterfly and other NYC jazz-tappers improvise with musicians, a practice known in tap circles as "Universities of the Clubs." (See http//beauteez.free.fr.)
Sally Sommer, a dance historian and professor at Florida State University, produced a documentary on club dancing, Check Your Body at the Door.
Amazing Technique for Starters
BY GUS SOLOMONS JR
When this American Ballet Theatre soloist casually tosses double pirouettes between the fouette turns in the coda of the Black Swan pas de deux, then nails the finish as if to say, "OK, now give me something hard!" you realize that 23-year-old Gillian Murphy is a wonder. Her powerful stage presence is riveting, whether dancing Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, or a Depression-era floozie in Paul Taylor's Black Tuesday. She's fearless, flawless, and versatile. We can't wait to see her again next spring in ABT's annual Metropolitan Opera House season. (See www.abt.org.)
Gus Solomons jr teaches dance at New York University, writes for Ballet Review and Dance Magazine, and co-directs Paradigm.
BY IRIS FANGER
Jorden Morris, chief ballet master at the Boston Ballet, is the miracle behind the company's comeback from the turmoil of last spring resulting from the loss of its artistic director-designate (see Presstime News, Dance Magazine, May 2001, page 39). Morris had been on the coaching staff less than a year when he stepped in to assume administrative, teaching, hiring, and casting responsibilities. He brought complete confidence to all aspects of the job, excelling especially at grooming male dancers for performance. He'll be in charge in the studio until Mikko Nissinen arrives on July 1 as the new artistic director.
Now 34, Morris has no plans to leave the Boston Ballet. However, with his experience as principal dancer, ballet master, and artistic coordinator at the Royal Ballet of Winnipeg--not to mention his celebrity in Canada as star of the children's television series The Toy Castle--he is ripe for a company of his own. (See www.bostonballet.org.)
Iris Fanger has been writing for Dance Magazine since 1972 and directed the Harvard Summer School Dance Center from 1977 to 1995.
City of Dancerly Love
BY BILL BISSELL
Neither the traditional moniker "City of Brotherly Love" nor the newer, tourist-driven slogan, "The Place that Loves You Back," describes why Philadelphia has become "The City That Dances."
Philadelphia is an important urban center for black culture, and the city's flagship dance company, Philadanco, is its most widely known and respected ambassador. On January 17, Philadanco comes home to debut as a resident dance company of the new Kimmel Center in Center City.
Across Broad Street from the Kimmel, the Wilma Theater's premiere dance season, "DanceBoom!"--scheduled for performances January 9 through 27--will highlight several black artists. Paule Turner (one of last year's "25 to Watch") shares a double bill with Phrenic New Ballet, and Eleone Dance Theater will perform work by its founder, E. Leon Evans, on a sampler program with a number of Philly's other small companies and independent choreographers. (The Wilma's dance season also includes Bessie Award-winning Headlong Dance Theater and Flamenco Ole in stand-alone programs, and Group Motion Company will share a doubleheader with the collective SCRAP Performance Group.)
One of the city's many culturally specific companies, the Congolese group Eteko Bonyoma, concludes a new residency program at Philadelphia's International House with a performance on April 13.
June 2002 brings hip-hop guru Rennie Harris's eagerly anticipated Facing Mecca.
Scholar and writer Brenda Dixon Gottschild and her husband, choreographer-dancer Hellmut Gottschild, have recently collaborated on Tongue Smell Color, a "performance discourse" on race and gender that is touring Europe. These artists, among many others, underscore the fact that "black dance" is as diverse--and as global--as any other dance tradition.
Bill Bissell writes for Dance Now (U.K.) and is director of Dance Advance in Philadelphia.
In Music Videos, the Kid Rules
BY HEATHER WISNER
Wade Robson, 19 years old, choreographs for Britney Spears and N'Sync; he has even choreographed a Superbowl halftime show. The Australia native began catapulting through the commercial dance ranks at age 5, when he won a Michael Jackson dance contest in Brisbane and got to meet and perform onstage with the White-Gloved One. Thousands of cheering fans sealed his ambition to become a dancer, but aside from dancing in traveling shows with the local Johnny Young Talent School, Robson says he mostly taught himself. He's inspired by Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and Charlie Chaplin, though his choreography also relies on the hip-hop styles he absorbed from studying with Breakin' star Poppin' Taco. Robson, now a Los Angeles resident, stayed in touch with Jackson and danced in his "Black or White" and "Jam" videos. "I was known as the 10-year-old who can hang at adult auditions," he says. Spears called Robson a baby at their first meeting when she realized that he was only 16.
Robson gets little sleep and becomes fidgety on his days off. He's always trying to top the last thing he did. After videos, world tours, commercials, TV, and teaching, that means reviving the movie musical genre, using universal themes that resonate with all viewers. "I don't want to make films just for a dance audience," he says, in typically ambitious fashion. "I want the world."
Heather Wisner is an associate editor of Dance Magazine.
ANITA SUN PACYLOWSKI
Undergoing and Upcoming
BY KATE MATTINGLY MORAN
Her legs cut with dagger-sharp quickness, yet her arms glide through the air with silky smoothness. Her performances electrify because she seems to be both discovering new steps and mastering her technique. Anita Sun Pacylowski of the North Carolina Dance Theatre was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, and trained at Mary Day's Washington School of Ballet. At the age of 13, she discovered she had severe scoliosis. For two years, she wore a back brace constantly, taking it off only to dance. But she won a Princess Grace Award when she graduated high school in 1989, and then danced with Washington Ballet for five years. She joined NCDT, now led by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, when she was 23. Pacylowski likes the company's small-town feeling and the variety of choreography in NCDT's repertoire. This summer she returns to the stage after giving birth to a daughter, Sofia Lee. (See ncdance.org.)
Kate Mattingly Moran is a freelance writer and dance history teacher based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Enduring the Brutality of a Soldier's Life
BY SHAYNA SAMUELS
Tamar Rogoff's new performance piece about the psychological shock of war is suddenly more relevant. An intensely empathetic choreographer, Rogoff interviewed veterans for her upcoming piece, Daughter of a Pacifist Soldier, about their grueling experiences in World War II, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Rogoff is herself a veteran of incorporating difficult topics into her work. In 1994, she created a piece in a small town in Belarus commemorating the 2,500 Jews massacred there by Nazis, including twenty-nine of her own relatives. She has also worked with prisoners, children with disabilities, and schizophrenics, encouraging them to express themselves through art. Rogoff says she doesn't do this brave and emotionally trying work because she's a "do-gooder." Rather, she says, "I figure out who can be my teachers and bring them into the piece."
The evening-length work, appearing at La Mama in Manhattan in January and later at The Painted Bride in Philadelphia and at Middlebury College, was inspired by her father's World War II diaries. Six dancer/actors will perform a series of short vignettes while vets' voices play in the background.
Shayna Samuels is a freelance dance journalist living in New York City.
ABT's New Standout
BY CLIVE BARNES
He is aggressive, in a quietly stylish fashion, and, even in the corps de ballet, not completely averse to being noticed. Sean Steward, born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, started his ballet training at the age of 11 with Lisa Clark. He later worked with Joffrey II and studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School. He joined the corps of American Ballet Theatre in 1997, and soon had featured roles in such ballets as James Kudelka's Cruel World, Jiri Kylian's Sinfonietta and Stepping Stones, Twyla Tharp's The Elements, and as Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet.
His first major break came in October 1999 when Tharp gave him a pulse-raising role in Known by Heart, and soon his bright, energetic dancing won attention and comment. Last spring he pulled off a telling character double, debuting as both the Jester and one of the Ugly Sisters in Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, and impressed in the Neapolitan in Swan Lake. www.abt.org.)
Clive Barnes is senior consulting editor for Dance Magazine and theater critic for The New York Post.
Japan to Boston by Way to Madrid
BY WENDY PERRON
Chica Mori, the Japan-born flamenca, slams her cane into the floor with a ferocity both frightening and thrilling. Her beautifully accented heel work and lacy finger work add to the vibrancy and authority of her dancing. Among the musicians in her Boston-based company, Boston Flamenco, is Fernando de Malaga, a flamenco singer who is the real thing--you can hear the lament in his voice.
La Chika, as she has been dubbed, has a vulnerable yet knowing face, sensual torso, and fiery presence. It all adds up to that tragic passion that marks great flamenco dancers. In her solo Independencia, she uses the cane "to symbolize the limitation that I carry when I dance flamenco as a Japanese person." In confronting the stereotype, she says, "No, I do not have a voluptuous body or wild, catlike eyes, but I do carry the arts inside my heart." At a recent performance at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven (curated by this writer), the audience cheered wildly. Ole! (See www.chicamori.com)
Fascinated by People
BY KARYN D. COLLINS
There's something about the way Cleo Mack uses movement that makes people lean forward in their seats for a better look, laugh, feel their breath catch in their throats in shock, then remain in their seats afterwards to ponder what it all meant.
A choreographer since high school, Mack was already on the dance world's radar screen when she graduated from Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts in 1998. That year, she won several awards for her choreography. Her two-year-old company, the Cleo. Mack Dance Project, has performed at small venues in downtown New York like the Movement Research at Judson Church series and Dance Theater Workshop's "Fresh Tracks."
Mack, 26, says, "I'm interested in people. I'm not interested in nature, like `Wow, look at that tree.' I'm way more captivated by characters, and the odd ways that people move."
Karyn D. Collins is a dance critic and entertainment writer for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey.
Skating on the Edge of Gold
BY HEATHER WISNER
Her vibrant musicality, balletic line, and love for dance give Sarah Hughes, 16, a competitive edge. Hughes, a Long Island native, is considered one of America's top figure skating contenders for the 2002 Olympics, along with 20-year-old rivals Michelle Kwan and Angela Nikodinov. Hughes has skated snippets from Esmeralda, Paquita, and Swan Lake; she won high artistic marks at the 2001 world competition for her Don Quixote-inspired program, studying Kitri with ABT ballet mistress Diana Cartier and attending a performance of the ballet as homework. Though she's chosen bits from Fosse and is planning a tango for an upcoming interpretive program, she feels most comfortable with classicism. Her coach, Robin Wagner, has envisioned her as "a magnificent, exotic bird" for this year's 2002 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held January 6 through 13, and broadcast on ABC affiliates. If Hughes qualifies for the U.S. Olympic team there, she'll skate at the 2002 Winter Games in February.
Associate Editor Heather Wisner hails from Tonya Harding country.
BY GEORGE JACKSON
Is being multitalented always a blessing? Tony Powell of Washington, D.C., works in dance, music, and photography. People lined the block for the first concert of Tony Powell/Music & Movement, but some critics found Powell's choreography to his own music rather busy. However, the first time he partnered with music not his own--Bach's--his choreography breathed and grew. Since then, Powell has choreographed classically to Chopin for his own company and in a solid ballet/modern mode to a Steve Reich score for Gus Giordano's jazz dancers from Chicago. On occasion--for example, his Lyric Discourse (which had "an exciting propulsion," according to critic Richard Christiansen) for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago last year and a commission for Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater--he still uses his own scores. But he's looking for something baroque for another commission from Salt Lake City's Odyssey Dance Company. He has also written concert music that's spacious and flows without a step being danced to it. From March 1 to 3, look in at D.C.'s Dance Place for a film collaboration with Paul Taylor and a new pointe ballet for his own dancers, who also appear with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago as guests on an all-Powell program at the Kennedy Center on May 29. (See www.kennedy-center.org.)
George Jackson is a Washington, D.C., dance critic and a writer for Dance Magazine, The Washington Star, and other newspapers.
From Mousy to Momentous
BY MARTHA ULLMAN WEST
In the rehearsal studio, Alison Roper looks like the nice girl from Maine that she is: unassuming, hard working, even a little mousy.
But onstage in Oregon Ballet Theatre, you can't miss her, whether she's in the ensemble or center stage. The vitality of her dancing and her commitment to the roles she's been given--from the lyrical Russian Girl in Balanchine's Serenade to the cold-hearted Queen of Hearts in Trey McIntyre's Aliss in Wonderland--mean that she is always in the moment, in the music, connecting with the audience.
Since 1996, when Artistic Director James Canfield took her into the company, a raw 22-year-old with little professional experience, Roper, hungry to learn and avid to move, has been a choreographer's dream. Canfield speaks of her "willingness and openness that strive for technical artistic perfection." Roper explains her transformative abilities as "getting away from the mirror. I'm free!"
She'll be dancing in new works this spring at the Joyce Theater in New York City with OBT in July. (See www.obt.org.)
Martha Ullman West has been watching dancers in the Pacific Northwest for three decades and writing about them for Dance Magazine for more than two.
She Can Do It All
BY K. C. PATRICK
Ashley Canterna lights up a stage with her energy and ebullience. She charms with her character portrayals, impresses with her awesome technique, and shows a flair for choreography. At 16, she is definitely not in the shadow of her sister, Adrienne, 19, who was junior gold medalist and partnered senior gold medalist Rasta Thomas at the 1998 USA International Ballet Competition. Ashley won the 2000 gold medal at the Youth America Grand Prix and was junior silver medalist at Varna's International Ballet Competition. This year, as Miss Dance of America 2002, she represents Dance Masters of America. But her choice of profession wasn't always clear: While studying with Mary Moran in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Ashley changed her goal from world-class shortstop (following her two baseball-loving brothers) to ballerina. She trained at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C., among other studios and with other coaches. Watch for her to compete at the Seventh USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, in June 2002.
K.C. Patrick is editor in chief of Dance Magazine and still loves dance.
BY JOSEPH CARMAN
Nicholas Leichter has a hip-hop style that appeals to a universal crowd, but with a sophisticated twist lacking in a lot of choreography of that genre. In typical MTV videos, he says, "the choreographer is just there to sell the song and make sure that Britney Spears stays in the center." Leichter, whose venue is live theater, prefers to take a song and play with the music, movement, and formations from all angles, whether he is using Mary J. Blige or Stravinsky. As a solo performer, he is electrifying in his quirky, hyper-physical movement. Last summer, he made a successful jump in translating his style onto his seven-member troupe of top-notch dancers during his sold-out run at the Flea Theater in New York. Whether performing in St. Petersburg, Russia, or at a campus in Virginia, audiences get behind his work. Upcoming New York appearance: The Duke Theater in February. (See www.nldnyc.org.)
Joseph Carman is a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre and a frequent contributor to Dance Magazine and The New York Times.
The Happening Neighborhood
BY CHRIS DOHSE
Williamsburg is booming. Centered around Bedford Avenue, one subway stop from Manhattan's East Village, this Brooklyn community has rapidly become New York City's preeminent bohemian colony. And dance is a vital part of the neighborhood's evolution. Here, where performative flair pervades the sidewalks, and flaneurs with tattoos and pierced body parts congregate in cafes, movement impetus is everywhere.
WAX, or Williamsburg Art Nexus, is the home to performances--everything from tap to standup comedy--almost every weekend of the year. Choreographers like Elizabeth Streb and John Jasperse have rehearsed there, and promising young choreographers like Fiona Marcotty and Mollie O'Brien have presented concerts. The in-house series of emerging artists is called WAXworks.
Nearby, Terry Dean Bartlett and Lisa LeAnn Dalton hold roughly bimonthly dance/circus/cabarets at Galapagos (www.galapagosartspace.com), which also hosts a variety of live bands and hybrid performance events. (Jill Sigman performs there in March.) Dalton and Bartlett are both in Streb's company and schedule their curatorial duties around touring. Hippies and hipsters crowd into a sweaty back room for their shows. WAX co-founder Melissa Rodnon describes the vibe: "Everybody here is alive, being exactly who they are right now." (See www.wax205.com.)
Chris Dohse directed a dance/theatre company in Baltimore called Toothmother and now writes for www.danceinsider.com.
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