Trisha Brown has graced the stage of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Opera House many times as a dancer and choreographer. Performances of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at BAM, June 10 to 13, mark the postmodern choreographer's first appearance as an opera director. Brown also choreographed the work, setting movement for both the singers and her company. The innovative production has spare yet colorful sets, and employs both of two endings written by Monteverdi. "I always have been a director of my choreography," said Brown prior to the work's premiere in Brussels in 1998. "The bigger step is to go from abstraction to narrative. Who would have known after all these years of arch abstract choreography that there lay behind it a closet narrativist?"
* A Life in Dance provides comprehensive and clear advice on how choreographers and dancers can create archives to preserve their artistic legacies. Important information for any artist, the booklet, a publication of The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, also deals with the urgency of documentation and legal planning for artists with AIDS. For a booklet, contact The Estate Project at (310) 652-1282 and www.artistswithaids.org, or Alliance for the Arts at (212) 947-6340 and www.allianceforarts.org.
LIVING ROOM PROJECT WINDS UP SEASON IN COMMUNITY GARDEN
This year's Living Room Project culminates on June 26 with a free performance and shared meal (donated by East Village restaurants) at the amphitheater of the East Village community garden, La Plaza Cultural. The Project, developed in 1997 by Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks (right) and Danspace Project, unites performers with downtown residents and business owners. Hosts are paid a stipend to prepare a meal for two to three dancers and guests of their choice. Food and conversation is followed by a 15- to 20-minute informal dance performance. "The Living Room Project was developed with the goal of creating relationships among artists, the East Village community, and Danspace Project," says Barbara Bryan, associate director at Danspace.
DUKE FOUNDATION AWARDS $8.65 MILLION
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation awarded grants in April to five performing arts institutions: Brooklyn Academy of Music ($3.5 million), Brooklyn's 651 ARTS ($1.5 million), the National Dance Project (NDP) of the New England Foundation for the Arts ($2 million), Spoleto Festival USA ($1.5 million), and New York City's Theatre Communications Group ($150,000). The Duke Foundation, which awards grants to arts presenting and service organizations, has more than $1.4 billion in assets.
The NDP will use the Duke grant, along with a recent $500,000 grant from the NEA, to fund commissions and tours of new works by contemporary choreographers. This year the NDP awarded nearly $700,000 to fund touring initiatives for four commissioned works as well as for eighteen companies, including Ballet Hispanico, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Meredith Monk, Philadanco, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
BAM will use the grant for programming and to increase its endowment. 651 ARTS will earmark $1 million to establish an endowment and $500,000 to commission and present dance works by black choreographers through its dance series entitled Black Dance: Tradition and Transformation.
PARIS COMPETITION WITHHOLDS AWARDS
The first edition of Paris's newest dance event, the International Classical Choreography Competition, got off to a chilly start in March when the international jury, presided over by Patrice Bart of the Paris Opera Ballet, announced its selection: Five of the seven young entrants were eliminated. Neither the Grand nor the First Place prizes were awarded: FF40,000 and FF30,000, respectively ($7,500 and $5,000). France's First Lady, Bernadette Chirac, presented the Second Place Prize (FF20,000) to Austrian Jorg Mannes, 29, for Ensemble, a ballet to the music of Sergei Prokofiev performed by dancers from the Dosseldorf and Monchengladbach Ballets. German choreographer Dmitrij Simkin, 35, was awarded the encouragement prize (FF15,000) for his Kafkaesque As Long As You Lust, to the industrial music of Alfred Schnittke. Among the entrants in the competition were American Hazel Sabas-Gower, 37, who presented her sinuous Deconstructing Gershwin to the music of Herbie Hancock and Dave Grusin, and Norwegian Teet Kask, 30, whose Ursula X was surprisingly contemporary for this otherwise classical competition. The competition was created and organized by Cyril Lafaurie, the director of the city's Concours International de Danse.
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Hotline was reported by Susan Amoruso (Living Room Project), Karyn Bauer (Paris Competition and Dupont), Rita Felciano (Joe Goode).
PAVLOVA DANCER CELEBRATES 100TH BIRTHDAY
Beatrice Collenette, who danced with Anna Pavlova and founded the Collenette School of Ballet in Pasadena, California, will celebrate her 100th birthday on June 30. As a young English girl, Collenette studied and performed with Pavlova from 1912 to 1918. Collenette toured the globe with the company, performing in Europe and South America as well as at the The Big Show at the New York Hippodrome, alongside acrobats and elephants.
Since 1993, Collenette has written a monthly letter to friends and family, in which she tells tales of her youthful adventures and describes the historical figures she met during her career. Following is an excerpt from her letter of September 1993.
"It happened the spring of 1914, a few weeks before [World] War I started. We were touring Germany [as] `Anna Pavlova and her Russian Ballet.' It was bad enough to be Russian in those days, and worse still to be English--we were fourteen English girls and two Polish. One day a message came to our director from the German government asking us to give a `command performance' for the Kaiser [Wilhelm II], he was very big then. This started all of cleaning. New shoes, fresh tutus, and on and on. Now we and all excited. At all theatres there is a peephole to look front. [The audience] was out of this world. Everybody in full dress with medals and ribbons and lots and lots of diamonds glittering all over the theatre. We were all like racehorses waiting to start, but we had to wait for His Majesty to arrive and be seated.
Always, wherever we danced, when the first curtain went up a big hand made us feel very good. This performance nothing, not a sound and nothing until almost the end of the show when Pavlova danced Swan and again at the last curtain. What we thought was going to be a wonderful show was dull, dull, dull. Why? The Kaiser was born with a short arm and nobody was allowed to clap until he did."
PEOPLE AND COMPANIES IN THE NEWS
Stefano Giannetti has been named artistic director of Northern Ballet Theatre.... A performance tribute to Carmen de Lavallade will take place on June 5 at the Hudson Theatre in New York City and will benefit Steinway Child and Family Services.... Philanthropist Phyllis C. Wattis gave $1.5 million to San Francisco Ballet to support the creation of new works.... After guest teaching at SUNY Purchase for five weeks, former Hartford Ballet director Kirk Peterson served as interim artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company from late February to mid March. He choreographed a new work for Richmond Ballet, which premiered May 7, before returning to New York to teach and choreograph at the six-week ABT summer intensive. This fall, Peterson will revive his Belling the Slayer for Cincinnati Ballet's fall performances (October 22 to 24).... Jessica Harston and Tony Wang have been promoted to principal at Ballet West and Nils Bertiel Walin joins the company as a principal. Michiyo Hayashi and Kevin Carpenter were promoted to soloists.... Pollyana Ribeiro was promoted to principal dancer at Boston Ballet.... Stephanie and Charles Reinhart were presented with the Dance Notation Bureau's 1999 Service Award at Lincoln Center on April 26.... Choreographer Ralph Lemon was awarded a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts ($50,000).
DUPONT PROMOTED TO ETOILE AT PARIS OPERA
"When I am onstage, I am just so happy," says Aurelie Dupont, 25, the newest etoile at Paris Opera Ballet. Dupont's first appearance after her New Year's Eve promotion was in the title role in John Neumeier's hip re-creation of the classic ballet Sylvia. "I wanted to do something new, which was more adapted to me, so I proposed a few changes to Neumeier," she says, "and he said `You're right, that's more suitable for you, do it that way.'" Her brass paid off in showers of compliments and accolades from her coaches offstage. "I looked at them with wide eyes because it is so rare!" says Dupont.
This same courage, pride, and determination has brought Dupont to the front lines. When she took her first dance class at the age of ten, she had a lot of catching up to do. "I am pretty stubborn," she says. "I like it when I decide to do something and then succeed. For me, all I wanted was to work, work, work, so that I would never look back regretfully thinking that I could have worked harder." Her hard work paid off when the ballet's director, Hugues Gall, announced her promotion. "I think it was a beautiful gift," she says. Dupont looks forward to working with choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, and again with Pina Bausch, for whom she recently danced in Rite of Spring. "I want to share my love, my passion," she explains. "I need human contact. I am a very sensitive person. When you have a particular movement you want to do because you are sensitive, the public feels that. And that is very important to me."
* Avila/Weeks Dance performs the world premiere of Seat of Dreams, June 10 to 13 at the Pace Downtown Theater in Manhattan. Homer Avila and Edisa Weeks, (right) who met while dancing for Bill T. Jones, are known for innovative partnering based on her supporting him. The premiere, for eight dancers, is set to music by Fibre.
* The Joe Goode Performance Group premieres the ensemble piece Gender Heroes-Part I (below) as part of its 1999 San Francisco season (June 3 to 6 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts). Based on interviews with a wide variety of Bay Area residents, the work--the second part of which will be next year's season--forces which shape gender identity. Gender Heroes will be joined by Goode's signature solo 29 Effeminate Gestures (1987) and the Rock Hudson/Doris Day-inspired "Doris in a Dustbowl," from Goode's The Disaster Series (1989).