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In from the Cold: Winter Dancing at REDCAT

CalArts Winter Dance, The Sharon Disney Lund Dance Series, REDCAT, Los Angeles, California, 16 December 2011 – Four works were presented at the CalArts Winter Dance event for this year: first-performances of works by two CalArts choreographer-professors, followed by the renown Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. The evening revealed stark differences in approach, the first two works incorporating traditional and modern movements within a larger context, while the Naharin works used no conventional movement. Contemporary dance comprises a very broad range of styles, even at a school such as CalArts, known worldwide as a haven of experimental and avant-garde creativity. One of the two premieres of the evening, Los Angeles … [Read more...]

Three to Get Ready

New Original Works Festival, REDCAT, 22, 23, 24 September 2011 – An enthusiastic sold-out crowd saw a triple bill last week of two new dance works and an elaborate puppet/human operetta in the annual NOWFest at REDCAT, a three-week series that showcases new works by Los Angeles-based dance, theater, music, and multimedia performance artists. Michel Kouakou began the evening with his pseudo-solo Sack, in which he was the primary moving object. A large sack suspended from the ceiling functioned as the only prop — unless one also counts the several stationary dancers who also occupied the stage, all of whom had their shirts pulled over their faces for the duration of the 20-minute performance. Kouakou's movement cerainly contrasted … [Read more...]

Working Woman

Sandra Bernhard, REDCAT, Los Angeles, August 12, 2011 – Performances run through August 21. www.redcat.org Sandra Bernhard is back in L.A. for a two-week run at REDCAT to promote her recent album, I Love Being Me, Don’t You? Or perhaps the album promotes the tour--it’s hard to say since she included hardly any of the recorded material in her 100-minute performance Friday night. If you know Bernhard only through YouTube videos or guest appearances on talk shows, or even from her albums, you don’t know her vast range until you’ve seen her live. The show was a balanced blend of standup, stories, and music. Bernhard’s an assured, emotional singer, and the audience responded to the risk inherent in the intermixing of music and … [Read more...]

In Contact

Undone: androgyne, gender and humanism Choreography and Direction: Stephanie Nugent Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, June 10-12, 2011 – Los Angeles choreographer Stephanie Nugent presented new versions of several works in a three-day run at Highways Performance Space earlier this month. The Nugent Dance company—four women and four men—performed three varied, athletic, fresh, and valuable original works. Southern California dancers are perhaps most familiar with Nugent, a member of the dance faculty at CalArts, through her Hourglass concerts, during which audience members are invited to participate in the hour-long improvisational performance with a live music ensemble. Nugent’s compositions are informed by the history … [Read more...]

Inventing Awareness

50Collective, ARC (A Room to Create), Pasadena and The Sweat Spot, Silver Lake, May 11-13, 2011 – The improvisational dance ensemble known as 50Collective appeared in southern California earlier this month at several intimate venues, including Pasadena’s ARC studio and The Sweat Spot in Silver Lake. 50Collective was born in a 2010 workshop led by Venezuelan dancer/choreographer David Zambrano; eleven of the 50 original participants in that workshop are on this North American tour, demonstrating masterful spontaneous movement and supreme alertness as they conduct workshops and present hour-long performances. This reviewer participated in the Wednesday night workshop at ARC, and the numbers were just right: every member of the … [Read more...]

Revisiting Faith

Pat Graney Company: Faith, REDCAT, April 28th - May 1st, 2011 – Choreographer Pat Graney’s work is an unmistakably original artwork—fresh, timeless, and challenging. Graney is the recipient of dozens of awards for her choreography, including 11 NEA fellowships and the Alpert Award in the Arts. Her work presented at REDCAT recently is a re-creation of a 1991 piece that, in time, became the first segment of the Faith Tryptych, which, thanks to numerous grants, is being entirely resurrected this year. The one-hour Faith section stands on its own as a unique conception of movement and social commentary. From the start we are drawn into an unusual experience: we witness animated tableaux vivants representing … [Read more...]

Art Passing Through Itself

Schnee (Snow), 2008,  Composer Hans Abrahamsen Cave Creek. Winter canon. 2011., Filmmaker Rick Bahto Monday Evening Concerts, Zipper Auditorium – The closing event of the Monday Evening Concerts series this year featured an ideal pairing of experimental film and Danish post-“New Simplicity” music, both incorporating canonic techniques in their conveyance of an altered sense of the passage of time. Los Angeles filmmaker and performer Rick Bahto presented the world premiere of his most recent film Cave Creek. Winter canon. 2011. and Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, completed in 2008, was given its west coast premiere. Schnee (Snow) is a roughly hour-long chamber work for double ensemble. Each group includes a piano and either … [Read more...]

Ageless Deliberations in Space

Eiko & Koma: Retrospective Project I: Regeneration, REDCAT, March 3 and 5, 2011 – Raven, performed at Danspace in 2010 The singular duo Eiko & Koma returned to Los Angeles for the first segment of their three-year retrospective based on 40 years of performing together, which have included many honors, grants, collaborations, and documentations. This Project I features one work each from 1976, 1984, and 2010. I attended two of their five performances at REDCAT. The newest of the three works, Raven, established the unwavering grim tone and largo tempo for the evening. Eiko & Koma build and modulate tension through magnified examinations of movement. While they do eventually arrive at new locations or orientations, it is … [Read more...]

Modern Commitment to the Present and Past

JACK Quartet, SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) – Chamber Music in Historic Sites, 13 February 2011 In this uncommonly vibrant and relevant program of contrasts and collisions, the New York-based JACK Quartet demonstrated thrilling engagement with music from the medieval, Renaissance, and 20th century periods. When one considers the extensive list of string quartet composers, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, and Schoenberg, it is even more impressive that the JACK Quartet began the concert with three arrangements of songs originally written for unaccompanied voices by 14th-century master Guillaume de Machaut. These settings, by quartet member Ari Streisfeld, gave the intricate polyphony of Machaut … [Read more...]

Forti On All Fours

Simone Forti, MOCA Grand Avenue, 23 January 2011, In conjunction with The Artist's Museum exhibition – Dancer-choreographer-writer Simone Forti returned to her roots in more ways than one in her Forti on All Fours performance last Sunday at MOCA Grand Avenue. By including works from 1968 and 1974 alongside improvisational pieces, she presented a convincing overview of her early choreographic process which began in 1955. And by choosing a museum for the event, she was recalling her 1960s performances given at New York art galleries and Yoko Ono's loft. Joining Forti for two of the four works was French improvisational dancer Claire Filmon. The entire event was recorded by by an ever-present videographer and photographer who moved … [Read more...]

Containing Multitudes

Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance: How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? – Ralph Lemon takes the long view in the latest work from his Cross Performance company, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? presented at the REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater space November 10-14, 2010. His previous company followed a traditional annual touring schedule, presenting a mixture of old and new works. With Cross Performance, he creates large-scale multi-disciplinary projects over many years. This single-project approach creates an atmosphere in which Lemon, a Guggenheim and US Artists Fellowship recipient, among many other awards and honors, feels comfortable attempting to integrate his responses to … [Read more...]

The Commitment to Witness

Wrought Iron Fog, Tere O’Connor, REDCAT, October 14-17, 2010 – New York choreographer Tere O’Connor’s latest work, Wrought Iron Fog, was performed at REDCAT during its four-performance west coast premiere last month. O’Connor, a former Guggenheim and Rockwell fellowship recipient and creator of dances for Jean Butler, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the White Oak Dance Project, is rightly regarded as an original figure in dance, as much for his deliberately varied creative processes as for the results he achieves with his dancers. Wrought Iron Fog leaves no doubt about its uniqueness while it solicits inquiry from its very first moments. The work begins on a spare darkened stage, with a rippling blue curtain at the rear and dozens of … [Read more...]

Movement Over Time

Pilobolus Dance Theater, 2010 Tour Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons and Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theater – Pilobolus began in the early 1970s by taking the risk to be abstract. Their early pieces, some of which emphasized process and metamorphosis, such as “Ciona” from 1973, were fascinating, time-bending body-essays combining athletic skills and visual composition. This new non-narrative dance, movement for movement’s sake, had not yet gained a crowd-pleasing reputation with classicist patrons who were used to modern dance companies that offered a story line. Still, they built a following and cultivated a fan base whose credo sounded “dance for people who hate dance.”  Nearly forty years later … [Read more...]