July 12, 2009
I’m loving all of the character-derivative, dance-theater pieces on Fox’s
“So You Think You Can Dance” this season. What these pieces remind audiences is that, not only is dance an art, but also a form of entertainment.
I think so many professional companies, whether ballet or modern, seem to forget that, at the heart of it, dance can be so fun and entertaining, even while conveying a message or feeling.
I have seen so many lackluster modern dance performances lately: overly conceptual pieces with no real structure, musicality, and completely devoid of technique and grace. While I can appreciate what they may be trying to accomplish, I find myself completely underwhelmed and maybe even a little bored.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the kinds of things this television accomplishes for the dance industry is amazing– but if that kind of entertainment is going to be transferred to the stage (and to non-profit dance companies) these companies need to learn how to put the characters and entertainment value into their repertoire.
Check out these killer, character-derivitave pieces to see what I’m talking about!
And, below is one of my favorite Wade Robson pieces of all time: the movement quality and characters are so strong and real here…THIS is what dance companies can accomplish on stage, by working with character and story, as opposed to just concept or technique.
June 17, 2009
It’s a great time to be a dancer– the dance industry is exploding in more mainstream outlets, placing a greater value in the average American home on dance as a form of entertainment.
What perhaps started with the film “Center Stage” in 2000, has turned into a series of more and more opportunities for dancers in finding commercial work- and more opportunities for the average Amercian to see dance as entertainment.
Since then, several dance hits (and a few misses) have been released, among them: “Save the Last Dance”, the “Step Up” series (including soon-to-be-released “Step Up 3D”, “Honey”, and “Billy Elliot” (among many others).
With this new upswing in dance entertainment, it has prompted the release of new spoof-comedy “Dance Flick” (now playing in theaters), poking fun at the dance film phenomenon.
Also, rumor has it that a new Darren Aronofsky film starring Natalie Portman, a thriller called “Black Swan” set in the New York City Ballet, is in the works.
And, of course, there’s the success of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” , now renewed for a new Fall season line-up.
Regardless of whether you are more of a fan of the campy parody or the real deal- one this is certain: it will be hard to escape the music this summer and fall.
I for one, think this is exciting and encouraging- especially for the dance community!
June 15, 2009
June 11, 2009
Wade Robson’s piece on SYTYCD last night was absolutely amazing. At first, I was a little unsure about the whole “Crash Test Dummy” character piece, but I found myself completely swept up and mesmerized by what I was watching.
While there were some really nice numbers last night– this one really stuck out for me. What I love most about it, is that it transports the audience into a completely different world, while at the same time staying true the artistry of dance– not just the athletcism and technique.
Props to dancers Kupono and and Ashley for their dedication to character and the organic quality of movemement that the choreography required. They truly mastered the look and feel of the piece, and made a strange and compelling peice of dance theater all the more enjoyable to watch.
I’m, of course, not surprised by the quality here– Robson has proven his genius time and time again, but each time I watch one of his character-driven pieces I am swept away once again!
The music, “Felt Mountain” by Goldfrapp was an amazing choice!
Despite how much I loved this piece, I have a sneaking suspicion that it might land these two dancers in tonight’s bottom three couples. I know that all too often, Americans like their dance entertainment a little more “watered down” and “typical”.
But, this piece is the living proof that it doesn’t matter if the dancers win this competition- what matters (as Adam Shankman said) is that the average American household had the opportunity to experience this.
June 10, 2009
I hate to admit it, but I did not watch the Tony Awards this year. I just…forgot they were on. I had read several articles and had even picked this year’s award sweepers: Billy Elliot and God of Carnage.
I meant to watch. But, what’s bad for the Tony’s is that I wasn’t reminded to watch. Which might explain some of the ratings problems the awards show has seen in the past. Or, perhaps it’s just the fact that the Tony’s just don’t draw the same media appeal as the big Oscar ceremony does every year.
However, I must have missed out on something, because this year’s Tony Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, had the best ratings since 2006.
But, what really plagues me is why was I more interested in watching the Oscars? Why doesn’t stage acting have the same commercial appeal as film?
The answer I’ve come up with is this: I’m not in New York, so it’s virtually impossible for me to see every (or even any) of the shows nominated. So, even as a performing arts professional, I have less interest in the award ceremony than I care to admit. How can I be excited when I haven’t seen the show?
Maybe Broadway needs to do a better job of offering video streaming of the nominated productions- that way we can ALL take place in this event.
It can’t hurt, especially when, according the the New York Times— the Tony awards aren’t estimated to provide a big surge in Broadway box-office sales. Especially in this economy, many of the Tony productions are closing– and soon! But, the good news is, they’re making room for next year’s winners.
June 9, 2009
So, I know I said this wasn’t going to be a SYTYCD blog. Whatever. Here are MY notes on this season’s top 20 picks!
To be honest, I’m a little disappointed by the Top 20– and I still miss Natalie Ried!
My # 1 Pick??? Kayla Radomski: Jazz/Contemporary
– Gorgeous Dancer with EXTRAORDINARY LINES
– She’s had to WORK for this! And, I’m confident she won’t disappoint.
This guy is AMAZING! Sweet jumps, great personalty AND he’s cute as a button! (Mad props to his brother too!)
This dude is phenominal. The only reason he isn’t my # 1: He should be dancing for Ailey
Plus, Mia hates him and I can’t stand the way they’ve been treating him
Love this girl– beautiful technique, feet, and body. But, I worry about her injury. Sometimes, it seems by the look on her face that she doesn’t really want to be there. Take this as coming from an injured dancer: I wouldn’t want to put my body through the show. But, regardless, I think she’s fabulous.
Tony Bellissimo: Hip Hop— Hey….he tries really hard and it seems important to him to improve.
Melissa Sandvig: Ballet— I’m digging that they chose another ballerina…and she’s older, more mature of an artist. I think she may move up to my top list– I just need to actually see her dance– because I haven’t yet.
Kupono Aweau: Lyrical/Contemporary– he’s unique– a true artist.
The rest–to me– are a forgettable tossup of dancers. BUT– keep your eye on this one. She may very well take the prize this year:
At the risk of sounding prejudiced, I’ve seen how this show works, and let’s face it: she’s hot, she’s Asian, and Nigel seems to love her. I bet she’s in it for the long haul…
June 8, 2009
I visited “The Artistic Home” in Chicago for the first time this weekend to see their 8th annual “Cut to The Chase” one act festival. I always consider it a pleasure to take part in Chicago’s small, neighborhood theatre companies, as I think the heart of Chicago’s theatrical community lies to these types of organizations. That being said, I was impressed with the overall quality of this small, storefront theatre. However, I would have like to see a bit more done with the stage area. It’s definitely an intimate space, and the actors handled that impressively, but I still felt as if they could have done more to clean up the staging area.
That being said, I found the three one-acts to be entertaining, though the 11 o’clock start time was a bit daunting. The standout of the evening was a piece by local actor and playwright Matt Welton. The other pieces, despite being well-acted, were not as memorable as Welton’s engaging work.
I do, however, think the Artistic Home is a great venue, especially because they are both an ensemble company AND an acting studio. They offer Meisner technique classes at a rate slightly below the standard for some of the larger Chicago acting programs. I will definitely be back to take part in some classes!
Check out the Artistic Home at 3914 N Clark St (near Clark and Irving Park) in Chicago.
You can see the Cut To the Chase Festival thru June 13th @ 11:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
For a Chicago modern company, CMC manages to incorporate strong dance technique into modern choreography, creating a softer, more contemporary approach. I have been very disappointed in the past by other Chicago-based modern companies– but CMC was no disappointment!
WHAT: Dance Shelter
WHEN: Thu-Fri, 6/4 – 6/12 @ 7:30 PM
WHERE: Hamlin Park Fieldhouse: 3035 N. Hoyne
June 4, 2009
This isn’t a SYTYCD blog– I’m not going to update re-caps after every show or even pick up a phone to vote. BUT, I have to say that I am REALLY disappointed with what I’ve been watching. They’ve really got to cut it with the “overly-produced television drama” You’d think Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe would step it up with the show this season, given his last foray into dance-themed television programming, “Superstars Of Dance” was such a huge failure. Based on what I’ve watched thus far, they seem to be taking some of the artistry out of dance, and presenting some pop-culture, mass-produced garbage.
First of all, cutting Natalie Reid from the competition was huge mistake. Audiences remember Natalie from last season, when she got cut just shy of the top 20, the judges in favor of her roommate, Katee Shean. She could have brought in big numbers. But, after performing strongly in Sonya Tayeh’s jazz piece in rehearsal, she didn’t “bring it” (God, I hate that expression), in her audition. They cut her straight away, and later gave comebacks to weaker dancers. Which was very discouraging, especially considering that few of this year’s dancer’s have been stand-outs.
She may not be the strongest dancer they’ve had– she’s a bit lanky, but she really has a fierce and unique quality to her movement. It’s a shame to not have the chance to see more.
It just makes me wonder if there were genuine reasons for her abrupt cut: contractual issues, personal reasons, etc. rather than just superficial TV crap. Who knows? This could be some ploy to get audiences to watch the new Fall Season. But, if things don’t get better for season 5, I might just skip fall program altogether. Pull it together, Mr. Lythgoe.