Sunday, December 28, 2008

"The Nutcracker" Quiz

I'm in Dallas, TX right now and will be line dancing at Billy Bobs, the world's largest honky tonk, this New Years Eve. I hope you all will be dancing into the new year as well.

Since I'm still on vacation, I thought a little holiday dance quiz could be fun. So see if you can answer the following questions and look for the answers at the bottom of the post.


1) Who do contemporary historians consider the first choreographer of "The Nutcracker"?

2) What other name is given to Clara in some Nutcracker performances?

3) "The Nutcracker" negatively was compared to which ballet score by Tchaikovsky? 

4) When and where was "The Nutcracker" first performed?

5) What is considered the most popular alternative version of "The Nutcracker"?




Ready



For



The 



Answers?





Here you go: 

1) Marius Petipa--a ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer of more than 50 ballets. However, it is debated whether Lev Ivanov choreographed "The Nutcracker" with Petipa's counsel.

2) Marie. The author of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (a morbid story never intended for children), E.T.A. Hoffmann, named the leading lady of his story Marie, while the name of one of her dolls was Clara. 

3) Sleeping Beauty--he called "The Nutcracker's" music "infinitely poorer" than this ballet he composed in 1890.  

4) December 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia

5) Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut," which sets the story based on horror-comic artist Charles Burns and premiered in January 1991. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Its Like to Be a Male Dancer in 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I've been away lately, moving back home to DC after finishing graduate school in Boston. But, I'm back and want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season. 

Today, I came across a  interview with three Mark Morris male dancers who describe their experiences of growing up and choosing a career in dance. All dancers feel emotional and physical pain and pressure, but male dancers have the added layer of physiological complexity of choosing a career that is considered feminine. 

Listen to John Heginbotham, David Leventhal and Bradon McDonald speak candidly about the support from their families, the hardships and the portrayal of these experiences in the new broadway musical Billy Elliot. 

You can listen to the interview here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another dance show comes to NBC

Do we really need another prime-time dance show? According to NBC we do and we will get it this January. Hosted by Michael Flatley, this show focuses on "dance superstars" and is a competition featuring a soloist, a duo and a group team representing one of eight countries. The show premiers on January 5th and will run until the 26. Here's the press release: 
NBC will broadcast "Superstars Of Dance" a breathtaking international dance competition led by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, two of the masterminds behind "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and hosted by Michael Flatley ("Lord of the Dance"). For broadcast in early 2009, the unique series will pit the masters of various dance genres from eight countries against each other. Equal parts sporting event, rock concert and artistic exhibition, "Superstars Of Dance" is poised to become one the greatest spectacles of dance performance ever seen on television.

The announcement was made by Craig Plestis, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, Development and Specials, NBC Entertainment.

"This dance competition is very much like the Olympics," said Plestis. "The physical feats these athletes and artists pull is mind-blowing, and we're so excited to form what we hope will be the definitive dance competition to decide which nation has what it takes to be the best of the best in the world. With so much at stake, this is sure to be a roller coaster, and you never know what will happen next. Plus, with Nigel and Simon running the show, it will be done first class all the way."

"This is the most challenging and exhilarating project I've ever done," said Lythgoe. "Nothing of this magnitude has ever been attempted before on television. We will bring to America different cultural styles of dancers -- each performer the best in their genre -- and the sheer mosaic of styles and energy is going to be nothing short of awe-inspiring."

Eight countries will participate in the competition with each team comprised of two soloists, one duo and one larger group. Viewers will get to know the competitors and the coaches through the trials and tribulations, both behind the scenes and on the stage. The stakes are high for these artists, as they are not only representing themselves, but also their dance form and their entire nation.

The eight countries currently scheduled to participate include: Ireland, India, USA, Argentina, China, Russia, South Africa and Australia. The dance styles that will be represented on the show will be announced at a later date.

"Superstars Of Dance" is from 19 Entertainment. Nigel Lythgoe ("American Idol," "So You Think You Can Dance") and Simon Fuller ("American Idol," "So You Think You Can Dance") are the executive producers.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Alternatives to The Nutcracker

You have a busy month of decorating, buying gifts and planning party schedules ahead of you. When you're finished do you plan to unwind at a performance of The Nutcracker? Thousands of families across the country will spend an evening with the Clara and her prince this December. Originally choreograph by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Theatres in 1891 and with music by Tchaikovsky, this family favorite is an easy way to introduce children to the art because of its fairy-tale characters and simplistic story. It also is readily accessible, with the Boston Ballet, among hundreds of other companies across the country, performing it until January.  But there are alternatives to this holiday favorite, which can help you unwind just as easily, while introducing children to alternative styles of dance. 

Here in Boston you can choose styles ranging from Middle Eastern to contemporary dance. Here are some performances to consider:

Honey Blonder presents 12 Dancers Dancing...A Christmas in Cambridge at Dance Complex from Dec. 12 to 13. This holiday-themed repertoire features several local dance companies and choreogrpahers including Rainbow Tribe, Mavi Dance, Derrick Davis, Disco Brats, Kira Seamon, LaRossa Dance, Brookline Academy Dance Ensemble, Mass Motion, Jim Banta and Kimberly Stegmaier. 

Contrapose Dance and Green Street Studios present a Christmas Toy Story at Green Street Studios from Dec. 12-20. This piece featuring local contemporary dance artists is a fable of elves, broken toys, a gust of wind and resourceful friends. 

Vadalna Tribal Dance Co. presents Menagerie at The Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center on Dec. 5 and 6. With a theatrical base, this company merges traditional Middle Eastern dance with contemporary styles and hip-hop. 

Local artist Lucy Stack and Seattle's Dead Bird Movement presents Unfolding Spaces at the Mass. College of Art Pozen Center on Dec. 7.  These seven young artists will perform an evening-length collaborative piece mixing dance, music, video and sculpture. 

For more information on any of these performances, visit the Boston Dance Alliance. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Season Finale of DWTS

The samba smackdown revealed more than muscles underneath those bright yellow outfits. For the last time the samba showed how Warren is not up to par with Lance and Brooke. As much as I love the guy, he doesn't have the grace of Emmitt Smith. So the final smackdown now begins between Lance and Brooke. 

For some reason I just knew Brooke and Derek were going to do a Greece number! And they pulled it off with wardrobe changes, big leaps and tumbling tricks. Overall, she looked more confidence and graceful than I have ever seen her. Although I realize that female contestants do have to work a bit harder when competing in a ballroom competition, simply because of the focus on the female dancer, often I felt Brooke's movement was awkward and her performance quality was lacking. But tonight, thank goodness, she proved me wrong. 

Oh man, just saw Lance's number...it didn't do much for me. The most interesting part was when they did the cha cha at the end. They should have just stuck with that and forgotten the hip hop. This is a ballroom competition you know. As much as I want him to win, because he's a great dancer (not just because I'm an Nsync fan) I think Brooke has him beat. 

I can't wait to find out the results tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Responsibilities of a Dancer's Parents

I came across a blog called The Dance Mom today that speaks directly to parents about how they can support and encourage their young dancer. One post has some great tips about how to best be a supportive parent of a dancer, without getting into studio politics or living vicariously through your child.

I would also add that it is a parent's responsibility to profile the credentials of the teachers at the studio or academy their child attends. I can not stress the importance of this enough. From sixth to 12th grade I attended a studio that did not have the most qualified teachers available. There I was taught improper placement and alignment, which I relearned while majoring in dance during my undergraduate study. If I had been taught properly in the first place, I would have not spent almost a year realigning my body, finding my natural turnout, etc., and could have focused more on improving my overall technique. I also attribute my two chronic injuries, a stress fracture in my lower back and snapping hip syndrome, directly to more than six years of study under teachers who only had studio experience and no knowledge of anatomy or strong ballet technique.

So parents, be careful about who your children study under, it could have long term effects.

Also, be sure to check out The Dance Mom's tips here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Billy Elliot: "The Best Gift from Britain Since Harry Potter" -- New York Post

Bill Elliot opened this weekend on Broadway, after wowing audiences in London. The New York Post says the show is "The Best Gift from Britain Since Harry Potter." Based on the 2000 film, the story examines the life of a young boy growing up in a working-class mining town in England during the 1980s. While his father and brother march to the picket lines for the historic 1984 miners strike, Billy discovers his gift for ballet and secretly begins to study the art. With the help of his liquor loving, chain-smoking dance teacher, Billy's gift blossoms and he aspires to be the first working-class boy to enter into the prestigious Royal Ballet School.

Three young triple threats play the lead role of Billy at alternating performances: David Alvarez (trained at the American Ballet Theatre), Trent Kowalik (the youngest American to win the World Irish Dancing Championship) and Kiril Kulish (prized ballet and ballroom dancer). Learn more about these 13 and 14-year-old budding stars here.

Elton John wrote the score, which should be particularly moving after listening to his work on broadway shows such as The Lion King and Aida. Helping John with the music was Lee Hall who wrote the lyrics. Director Stephen Daldry also directed the film, which was nominated for more than 40 awards worldwide. And Choreographer Peter Darling actually worked on the Lord of The Rings among other works on his extensive resume. 

This show is now on the top of my "must see" list. If you're not convinced that Billy might be worth seeing, check out the links above and below to watch videos and learn more about the musical. 

Watch the video of opening night here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Schwimmer Siblings Perform on Dancing With the Stars

Words can not express how good the Schwimmers are. Lacey and Benji performed together last night on Dancing with the Stars and threw out more turns and tricks then I've seen in a long time. And then, of course, they topped it off with their wonderful technique that comes from their father, Buddy, the king of swing. 


Monday, November 10, 2008

Bill T. Jones' Exploration of History, Focusing on the Civil War

With the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth this February, Bill T. Jones' new piece "Another Evening: Serenade/The Proposition" examines our nation's history, focusing on the civil war. Jones' first section of a three-part series  again integrates multimedia work and voice with fluid, abstract choreography. To learn more about the piece, take a look at the review by my classmate Chelsey Philpot for Big Red & Shiny. 


Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Simple Guide to Ballet History

Want a quick refresher on ballet history? Lisa T. McNeill of article19 wrote "The Idiots Guide to Classical Ballet," a fun post that talks about Petipa, Balanchine, Nureyev and Nijinsky--the key players in ballet's evolution.

If you want more details, I recommend the following links:



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?...Old news but still fun to watch

Have you heard about Matt, the guy who travels around the world dancing the same dance? His videos have gone viral, making millions of people laugh, using the power and joy of dance. Take a peak:

Monday, November 3, 2008

High School Musical 3: B+ for Dance

So one of the advantages of having a birthday this fall is that I can drag my friends to see High School Musical 3 with me without feeling guilty. I sat down in the theater ready to be entertained, not really thinking much about the dancing. But it turned out, the hip hop, jazz and even waltz pieces in the movie were actually filled with technique.

The dancing truly has improved since HSM2. Zac Efron must be preparing for his role as Ren in "Footloose," because you can definitely see an improvement in his movement. He's less awkward than he was a few years ago. The hip hop piece he performed in the car/junk yard with Corbin Bleu had a lot of great ground work.

I was most impressed with Vanessa Hudgens. During the slow waltz with Efron she did a decent attitude promenade with him holding her. She looked steady on her feet...nice balance.

Overall, good show.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speaking of Michael Flatley

All this chatter about Michael Flatley has made me want to watch some old-school Lord of the Dance. 
Here you go: 















Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Grand Finale for Cloris

Did you know that Monday night's Dancing with the Stars outranked the World Series, 18.9 million to 13.2 million viewers? I guess people wanted to see Cloris Leachman perform one last time.

Sadly, last night Cloris took her final bow, but that doesn't mean she wont' be back. Take a look at Bob Tourtellotte's post for an overview of last night's show and Julianne Hough's expected recovery--she says she'll be dancing with Cody again in two weeks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Week 6, watching/writing live

Yes, group routine. Oh and no Glen tonight either, Michael Flatley has decided to join us instead. I used to watch a tape of "Lord of the Dance" over and over. I always wanted to be that evil girl in the red dress, she danced to the cooler music. :~)

Oh no, Cherly has her worked cut out for her with Maurice tonight, at least from the video. Okay here comes their waltz. He definitely doesn't have the fluidity, but he looks like he's enjoying himself. Humm...lets see what the judges think. I agree with what Carrie Ann said about their lack of chemistry, they have none. I think Maurice still lacks confidence on stage, he needs to start having fun out there. 

Love seeing Lance in his old studio. I was such a big Nsync fan back in the day. Oh they are good. Happy feet. Fun outfits too. Thank you Lacey for letting Lance show off a little. Oh and he put in that slide move where he fell last time...good for him. I still don't know if he will be able to beat Brooke. 

Susan, I really don't know if you're going to make it much farther than this. Please, oh please put on some personality tonight! Hopefully that outfit puts her in the mood. Yikes, the movement looks way too fast for her. Nope, didn't break out of her shell tonight either. I completely disagree with the judges, she didn't bring any attitude to that piece at all. 

Can I just say that Michael could say anything with that Irish accent, even something horrible, and it would sound delightful.

Poor Brooke, her foot must be pretty painful. Hopefully she can dance through the pain. Rumba time. She can act sexy, that's for sure. Now these two have chemistry. As much as Derek irritates me, he has worked well with Brooke. Yes, I do agree with the judges, she looked a tad off, especially during the turns. Good for Brooke for staying so positive though. WOW and a 10 from Michael! HA! I guess he hasn't watched Brooke dance before to see what she can really do. 

This hip hop routine looks ridiculous on the video. I'm ready for the silliness to begin. 

It's Cloris time, in a bright, sassy, yellow outfit. Vintage cha cha cha. Oh, now that she's moving she looks good, even when its fast movement. OOOO my...a death spin...ha! Wait a go Cloris! And she can't stop laughing. Love her. Oh please Carrie Ann, Toni was nonsense compared to Cloris who at least knows how to put on a show. Many of the people commenting on the Dancing With the Stars live blog agree with Carrie Ann. One irritated viewer said, "This is a DANCING contest, not a popularity content." Actually, 2/3 of dance is performance-based, it's not about technique. So, especially when you are putting a celebrities on the dance floor, 2/3 is a popularity contest. 

Warren has such grace. Unfortunately, he basically walked around the entire routine. 

Awesome hip hop routine ahead. This is where Cloris can bust a move! Ohhh Cloris I love the orange leggings. Poor Susan, she looks so out of it. I'm not sure what that was, but at least it was fun. 

Another week of celebrity dance complete. 

 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modern Dance Goes Commercial

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has been plastered along the T's trains for months here in Boston. The performers are captured sliding and leaping through the space wearing Puma clothes and shoes. What I thought were new ads are actually part of Puma's "I'm Going" campaign started in 2007. The company has also performed in a television commercial for Puma (see below). But Jones' company is not the only group showcasing dance through advertisements.

Many of you have probably seen Pilobolus Dance Theater's commercials for General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Bloomingdale's. But what's interesting about Pilobolus is that it actually has its own creative services unit that focuses on choreographing original works for advertising, film, television and corporate and fund-raising events. The unit was founded in 1997 to support the "growing demand from the commercial world for first-rate movement services." Besides commercials, the company has created live events for corporations such as IBM and Procter & Gamble, performed in a Marilyn Manson music video and has captured movement for books, such as Twisted Yoga. But, is this new trend of modern companies entering advertising campaigns beneficial or detrimental to modern dance as a whole?

On the positive side, these ads attract unlikely audience members to view and even appreciate modern dance. Take my boyfriend, an engineer who works all day analyzing patterns created in a vacuum chamber. After seeing Pilobolus on a commercial, and then on Conan O'Brien's show in June, he's willing to see them perform in November. I didn't even mention they were coming, he found the show. Now even people who's heads are usually filled with numbers are willing to sit for two hours and enjoy a modern dance performance. Amazing.

But will the attraction of new audiences alter the movement created for performances? What you see in commercials are a lot of flexibility and many jumps. People want the "wow factor." And to new dance viewers that comes in the form of leaps and unnaturally flexible performers. But what about those subtle performances with raw emotion and no tricks? Are we going to substitute flexibility and leaps for well-crafted simplicity?

One of the most beautiful pieces I've every seen was a modern piece called "I Am Not My Little Black Dress," the last piece choreographed by the late Ed Tyler. This piece, crafted for my fellow members of the 2007 Virginia Repertory Dance Company, was comprised of simple hand and leg gestures and sustained movement, without the fluff. But it had power and poignance. More power than any leap I've ever seen. I would hate to see that kind of emotion taken away from a choreographer's vocabulary just to please new viewers.

Hopefully there can be a happy medium that transitions newcomers to regulars and integrates these more simple pieces into a repertoire, even possibly in an advertisement. Do you think that's possible?


Bill T. Jones Puma Commercial

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dance Video: RAPID STILL

The patience some performers and choreographers have when capturing dance on video is outstanding. But Brian Brooks tops them all. He is the choreographer and performer of RAPID Still, and jumped 812 times to create his first dance film. Take a peak.



More Dancing With The Stars + Politics

Last night, DWTS featured campaign ads for each celebrity. I particularly like Cloris Leachman's. Thanks DanceWatcher for showing these videos. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dancing with the Presidential and VP Candidates



Thanks Meredith, from The Librarian Next Door, for this photo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Presidential Candidate's Views on the Arts

While Obama has plans for more arts funding and bringing the arts to inner-city schools, McCain has a record of voting against support for the arts. One example is his support for a bill that would reduce the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Here is a great article with more details. Just visit Womenarts.com.

Thanks Eva YaaAsantewaa from Infinite Body for showcasing this topic.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Season 7, Week 2

My thoughts as I watch and chat on the Dancing With The Star's live blog:

Maurice and Cheryl started the night with a sexy samba to some disco. She's my favorite professional, with a big personality, just like her hair this week. As for her partner, I agree with Glen, he needs some refinement in his movements.

Cody stumbled a tad during this one, but gave a solid performance.

Many people online really like Toni. I'm just not convinced. She stumbled a few times during this performance. Also, she looked down and dropped character when she wasn't being sultry.

I commend Cloris for trying hard this week. She looked very sophisticated and young. Her turns were great and extending her leg that high, wow! She's such a delight. Maybe she will be in the competition longer.

Poor Rocco, his movements are just so awkward not matter what he does. But at least this week he was really having fun. Unfortunately, gimmicks like removing clothing won't get you far in this competition. That plus no musicality = gone tomorrow.

I love that Susan got Tony on "All My Children"--hysterical. Unfortunately, her attempt to get Erica Caine into her performance didn't come across through her face at all. But, the rigidness of the tango suited her well. Although, the fast-pace of the music did them a disservice by making their movement appear very slow.

Brooke shook it tonight. I love that song and the characterization throughout. This was the first time I was really impressed with her. Even her face was into it. Wonderful. I can't believe Glen didn't like the story incorporated into the dance. It complemented the music's story, Glen, come on.

Ha...anyone else see Lacey looking ticked off behind Brooke and Derek when they were talking? What an irritated expression. Do I sense some jealousy?

Woo creepy costumes and makeup Lacey and Lance, nice halloween feel. Very sharp and clean. Thank goodness Carrie Ann agrees. Sir Lancelot..wow it's the first time Glen actually liked it. See Lacey, nothing to be jealous about.

Yes, Capoeira...I love that they're showing all these styles on TV. That's one class I didn't get a chance to take at the American College Dance Festival, but I would have loved to try.

Warren...oh have more fun with it. There you go. He looked pretty distracted tonight and not fulling into the piece. I agree with the lack of content in the piece that the judges were disappointed in.

Pretty varied show tonight, with some really fun pieces.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Old Hollywood Dancer

Cyd Charisse had it all. She dance with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I grew up watching her on TCM and AMC in "Singing In The Rain," "The Harvey Girls," and "Brigadoon," all those great 1940s/1950s musicals.

In "Singing In The Rain," she was only in one number, but she stole the show, portraying a sultry, elusive woman. In that number she performs a modern ballet piece with wind blowing an extremely long, white piece of fabric as she wraps herself into Gene's arms. Stunning.

Charisse died in June of this year at the age of 86, but will be remembered as an old Hollywood musical great, a real triple-threat. The performers of the 21st century musical will never have her sophistication and elegance.

Ms. Charisse's obituary can be found in The New York Times.

Below is her performance in "Singing In The Rain."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why does ABC need to add more drama to a painful situation?



Why did "Dancing With The Stars" decide to have Misty May hobble onto the stage at the end of the show? We had already heard her Achilles tendon pop, that was enough drama for me. I agree with what Sharon wrote on her blog, Tink's Corner, about the whole situation. I hope Misty makes a fast, smooth recovery.

As for the other performers, it was an "ehhh" kind of show for me. Even Cloris Leachman, throwing out all the stops, wasn't a thrill. As much as I love her, I think it's about time for her to end her stint on the show. But more so than Cloris, the person who needs to leave soon is Rocco DiSpirto. Bye, bye, no more awkward movement from you please.

You would think Susan Lucci, with all her acting skills, would have caught on by now that to fully impersonating a character during a dance performance you have to throw yourself completely into that character, not half-heartily. Her happy persona throughout the jive was fake and juvenile. Come on Susan, you can do better!

Thank goodness for Warren Shapp's elegance, just like Emmet Smith. I would have liked to see those two duke it out on stage.

Lets hope for some more impressive performances next week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A site specific a little too close for comfort?

So, I'm all about breaking the boundaries of the proscenium arch, performers interacting with the audience and pushing comfort levels. But, performing in your bathroom?

Dark Horse/Black Forest, by Yanira Castro + Company is a piece that comes straight to your home bathroom upon request. Performed previously in Romania, this piece is a work in progress that is scheduled for release in the United States in 2009.

Listen to Castro speak with NYC dance writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa on her blog InfiniteBody to learn more about pushing the boundaries of audience interaction.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Hunt For Sound Without Concerns of Money


Finding the perfect sound combination that has the lulls and crescendos and doesn't repeat too much is always a difficult task. I used to hunt for hours on iTunes trying to find that perfect sound clip, but would often pay for the rest of the song and be disappointed because it wouldn't fit my choreographic concept. Luckily, there are some great music download sites that don't require payment, only recognition of the artist.

I learned about www.incompetech.com during a computers in communication class. It is used by movie and advertising producers to complement their work. And it's all free, although donations are optional. So I thought, this would be a great resource for dancers, especially students. 

Kevin MacLeod writes all the music on the site, unless otherwise noted. You can search various styles of music by genre or emotion, which is a wonderful tool considering many dances are conceived based on an emotion. The pieces vary in length from 30 seconds to 10 minutes and they can be downloaded via iTunes. If you can't find what you're looking for from Kevin's selection, try some of his friends' sites: http://www.jimmyg.us/ and http://www.jmtr.com/jmtr-royalty-free.html

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dancing With the Stars Season 7, Week 2


Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer stole the show on Monday night. Bravo to Lacey for bringing that extra shove of creativity by pushing the boundaries of the Paso Doble. I don't think adding some contemporary elements is about "being who we are," as Lacey put it, it's more about moving dance forward. Len Goodman has been labeled as the "traditional" judge for years, so he has to maintain that image for the branding of the show and disagree with what they did. I wouldn't expect him to change his mind any time soon.

Although Julianne Hough moved Cody Linley around the floor, instead of the other way around, he did a great job with performance quality and some of those moves. Yes, the polish isn't there, but thank goodness he's trying harder than some of the adults.

Karina Smirnoff and Derek Hough decided to dance around their partners this week instead of with them. Brooke Burke pranced around Derek like a three-year-old in ballet class as he swung his cape. Then, Rocco DiSpirito stood like a stick stuck in the mud swaying back and forth as Karina danced around him during the Rumba. Rather disappointing from those pairs.

And nope, Kim Kardashian going home doesn't surprise me, I just wish Mark Ballas could stick around...he's rather nice to look at.



Cirque du Soleil: Kooza


Although it's not dance, Kooza offered such creativity and artistry it deserves a post. This was my first experience with Cirque du Solei and I was impressed, not just with the acrobatics, but with the integration of a story line throughout. The story follows a lonely clown and his journey through a magical world where he finds friends and confidence. 

Besides the usual tiperope routine, the show offered some unusual acts, like a Unicycle Duo who performed a pas de deux on wheels. How he could balance his partner and flip her above his head and ride around the stage in circles I will never know.

Some of the best moments of the performance where watching the clown king and his court jesters interact with the audience. One woman had a chair that was attached to a hydraulic lift system and she went high into the air laughing hysterically. That was probably the best moment of the show, because she had no idea what was going on.

The contortionists put me in pain in my seat. It was beautiful to watch them unfold and fold into each other with such strength, but all I could think about was their poor lumbar vertebrae. I have a stress fracture in my fourth lumbar because of dance, and I can only think of the pain they might have in the future.

But what a show, filled with a beautiful interplay of music, acting and acrobatics. Kooza is on a national tour so take an evening off and get ready to be amazed.  

 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Winner of The Emmy Award for Choreography

This year's Emmy for choreography went to Wade Robson for "The Hummingbird and Flower/Chairman's Waltz" from So You Think You Can Dance. It was much deserved, take a look for yourself:






As for next year's Emmy, here's my choice by Mia Michaels:



Katie and Joshua just couldn't go wrong together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dancing with the Stars Season 7, Night 2

It looks like an exciting season ahead on Dancing with the Stars with no real leaders in the first round. Of course you have Lance Bass who was taught rhythm throughout his years in ‘NSYNC. (Frankly, he or anyone who has danced on a stage for such a long time should not be qualified for this competition.) Beyond Lance's rhythm, Maurice Greene, Warren Sapp and Brooke Burke stood out to me by the second night of competition. They each have true performance qualities and can relax enough to look confident on stage. Misty May could be up there too if she had more confidence. She is often looking down throughout the piece and doubting herself. But she has a great body and rhythm, so she could be someone to look at in the future.

One person I know will head home sooner than I would like is Cloris Leachman. What a performer. What a comedian. If only she was more stable in her movement. But bravo for those chaines on the second night. With that confident personality and her natural excitement she is a delight to watch.

One thing that irritated me was Derek Hough's apparent excitement over the fact that Brooke hyperextends her legs. This is something he should be trying to correct, not complimenting. And she is such a good dancer, beyond her nice legs, that he should have focused his attention on complimenting something else about her, instead of pointing out a negative that any trained dancer knows damages a body. Dancers work for years trying to correct this inappropriate placement. So shame on him for framing the term as a positive, especially when young, impressionable dancers are watching this show and looking to him as a professional.

Overall, looks like a season with some confident celebrities and some edgy professionals, like Lacey Schwimmer who will bring some great creativity to the competition. But by the end of the season the people I want to see dance are the judges, have they ever shown them dance? I think it’s time to start. They did it last season on So You Think You Can Dance.