Monday, May 2, 2011

My Alma Mater at The Joyce Tonight and a Free Show at Judson Church

Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University presents Dance At The Joyce, Monday May 2, 2011 at The Joyce Theater (175 Eight Avenue) tonight only at 7:30 pm. This special evening features Rutgers dance majors performing the works of Merce Cunningham, Benoit-Swan Pouffer (Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet), Ohad Naharin (Batsheva Dance Company) and a world premiere by Doug Elkins.

For tickets call (732) 932-7511. $25, $15 for Rutgers alumni, employees, students and seniors. No tickets will be available at the door so order ahead.

Check out the Mason Gross Channel on youtube to see exclusive interviews from students, faculty and guest artists (these mini-docs are extremely well done!)

WHO: Vanessa Justice, Pedro Jimenez, Sari Nordman and Yozmit
WHAT: Movement Research at the Judson Church
WHEN: Monday May 2, 2011 @ 8 pm
WHERE: Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square South at Thompson St. Subway: A,C,E,B,D,F,M to W 4th St.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Roundup: April 23 & 24, 2011

WHERE I'LL BE: DanceBrazil
WHEN: Saturday April 24th @ 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 25th @ 2 pm & 7:30 pm
WHAT: "A Journada," "Memorias," "Batuke." The "high-octane, high-flying" (The New York Times) energy of DanceBrazil takes center stage at The Joyce when the company returns for its 2011 season, with "A Jornada" (The Path), artistic director Jelon Vieira's landmark work that premiered at The Joyce in 2001. "A Jornada" follows the path of Africans to Brazil using the Afro-Brazilian traditional art form of Capoeira as the base, the link to, and an expression of the struggle and liberation of Afro-Brazilian culture.
WHERE: The Joyce
TICKETS: 212-242-0800

WHO: Venti Petrov (of the Dokoudovsky New York Conservatory of Dance)
WHEN: Saturday April 23 @ 8 pm
WHAT: "El Cid"- a Soviet-era story based on the 11th century Castilian military leader El Cid. The 2 act ballet is set to various Massenet scores, and Petrov plays the title role supported by an international cast including Gabriela Gonzalez as "Jimena."
WHERE: Mason Hall, Baruch College 17 Lexington Ave. @ 22nd St.
TICKETS: 646-312-5073

WHO: Avi Scher & Dancers
WHEN: Saturday, April 24 @ 3pm and Sunday, April 25 @ 8pm
WHAT: The company is known for presenting stars from other major companies on smaller stages at lower prices. The performance includes Sofiane Sylve (San Francisco Ballet) and Carla Körbes (Pacific Northwest Ballet) joined by local favorites Tyler Angle and Craig Salstein. "Mirrors" is set to live violin and piano and explores the self-conciousness of the dance studio, while "Dreamscapes" continues the Romantic ballet tradition.
WHERE: Ailey Citigroup, 405 W. 55th St.
TICKETS: 212-477-3030 ext. 3205

Free Performance: Capacitor @ The Great Hill
WHEN: Saturday, April 24th @ 1 pm
WHAT: "The Perfect Flower"- Lessons about the birds & the bees are implicit in the site specific piece that explores the biological utility of beauty as an attractor from the San Francisco company.
WHERE: Central Park entrance @ W 106th St.
TICKETS: 212-860-1370

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Memory of "The Ballroom Review"

In addition to the contemporary dance performances I feature on this blog, I'd also like to do a recurring post that features social dance happenings. I met Ed O'Malley, one of the creators, writers and editors of a journal called, The Ballroom Review last summer. The Ballroom Review cataloged nearly all of the classes, workshops, club nights and competitions related to a broad range of social dance in the tri-state area. If you wanted to know where to go salsa dancing on a Wednesday night in Manhattan, you turned to the Review. Despite it's useful practicality, the publication ceased printing a few years ago due to demanding overhead costs. So, I think an online hub to house this sort of information would be helpful for New York's social dance community. If you have a weekly social or special workshop, please send me the information and an image to post. The number of submissions I collect, and the events I'm able to attend and review will determine which events are published on this blog.

Email announcements to: SARAMURPHY@LIVE.COM
This week, by recommendation:

WHO Kizomba US
WHEN Wednesday April 13, 2011
WHERE Cafe Iguana, 240 West 54th St.
TIME 6-11:30 pm, 7-8 pm class
ADMISSION $10 (includes a 1 hour beginner's class)
DJ: Bobby Jam
Notes: This event is bi-weekly
Brazilian Zouk
WHO Zouk NY with Special Guest Teacher, Pablo Schmoller
WHEN Thursday April 14, 2011
WHERE Sparks, 161 W 22nd St., 1st Floor
TIME 8-9:30 pm workshop, 9:30-12 am social dancing
ADMISSION workshop $30, class and club $35, club only $10
Notes: BYO drinks & snacks, no outdoor shoes

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seductive Thrills and Hope Unfettered:

Stephen Petronio's Underland

Choreographer Stephen Petronio has had his finger on the pulse of urban life since his company first appeared in 1984. Edgy, sexy and provocative, Petronio brings a certain New York cool, enlisting some of the city’s most charismatic movers to execute his aggressive, fast paced movement. A champion of collaboration, Petronio has worked with an impressive list of well known artists including musicians Lou Reed and Rufus Wainwright, fashion designers Rachel Roy and Tanya Sarne/Ghost and visual artist Anish Kapoor, to name a few.

Today is your last chance to catch Petronio’s Company performing Underland for their annual New York season at The Joyce Theater (performances at 2 & 7:30 pm). Underland is an evening length work that was originally created for the Sydney Dance Company in 2003. Petronio’s decision to stage the work on his company was fueled by his desire for America to see what he can do when he’s “funded and supported”--a comment he made in a recent interview in Time Out New York.

Inspired by the dark music of alternative Australian musician Nick Cave, the choreographer mixes classical technique with his signature ferocious sequential style in the New York premiere. Petronio calls Underland an “subterranean, post-apocalyptic, subconscious kind of place,” unraveling in a series of solos, duets and ensemble sequences to reveal a sophisticated world of hope and despair.

The Stephen Petronio Company in Underland with music by Nick Cave, video and lighting design by Mike Daly and Ken Tabachnick and costumes by Tara Subkoff/Imitation of Christ closes Sunday, April 10, 2011 at The Joyce Theater in New York, NY.
For tickets go to

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

AFTER-THOUGHTS: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Curates at 92Y's Harkness Dance Festival

I was a bit underwhelmed by Zollar's curated program, but so grateful to witness some really beautiful dancing from new faces (for me).

Please put Souleymane Badolo, Lacina Coulibaly and Samantha Speis on your radar.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Introducing a New Weekly Column: "Weekend Roundup" A List of Dance Happenings in NYC

Weekend Roundup: March 18-20, 2011
(Note: This weekend's list only includes contemporary dance events, but look for more genres soon!)

Top Pick:
WHO: Vicky Shick
WHAT: Not Entirely Herself
WHEN: Friday-Saturday, 8pm
WHERE: The Kitchen 512 W 19th St between 10th & 11th Ave. (Subway: C,E to 23rd St.)
TICKETS: 212.255.5793 ext. 11,, tickets $15
INFO: Shick and guest artist Neil Greenberg will perform a coda at the end of the new work.

WHAT: Harkness Dance Festival 2011
WHO: Souleymane Badolo and Maria Bauman
WHERE: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. between 91st and 92nd Sts. (Subway: 4,5,6 to 86th St.)
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, 8pm/3pm Sunday
TICKETS: 212.415.5500,, tickets $15
INFO: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Urban Bush Women) curates the closing week of the festival.
..........................................(Above: Vicky Shick).................

WHAT: Perforations Festival New York
WHO: Mladinksi Theater, Damned Be the Traitor of His Homeland
WHERE: La MaMa E.T.C. Annex 74A E. 4th St. between Bowery & 2nd Ave. (Subway: F to 2nd Ave/6 to Bleecker St.)
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, 10pm/8pm Sunday
TICKETS: 212.475.7710,, tickets $15, $10 senior/student
INFO: Movement-based performance works by artists from the Balkans.

WHAT: BAAD! Ass Women Festival 2011
WHO: Fierce Kickers: BAADass Woman 2011 Dance Concert featuring Toni Renee Johnson, Sasha McCarter, Djuna Passman, Denise Perry, Dawn Robinson, Meli Sanfiorenzo and Sandra Passirani, Simone Sobers and Marya Wethers
WHERE: Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance 841 Barretto St. 2nd Floor between Garrison and Lafayette Ave. (Subway: 6 to Hunts Point Ave)

.......(Above: Souleymane Badolo)...............................................................

WHEN: Saturday, 8pm
TICKETS: 718.842.5223,, tickets $20
INFO: Eleventh annual festival featuring a diverse line-up of female contemporary choreographers.

Honorable Mentions:
*Laurie Berg + Aynsley Vandenbroucke-"Body Madness" @ Dancespace Project (
*Trisha Brown Dance Company-"For MG: The Movie," "Foray Fôret" and "Watermotor" @ Dance Theater Workshop (
*Yvonne Rainer-"Assisted Living: Good Sports 2" and "Spiraling Down" @ Baryshnikov Arts Center (
*Mark Morris Dance Group-"The Muir" and "Petrichor" @ Mark Morris Dance Center (
*Juilliard Dances Repertory: Nijinska, Feld and Morris @ Peter Jay Sharp Theater (
Bronislava Nijinska's Les Noces will be performed by the Juilliard ensemble.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jennifer Muller/The Works

The Dance We Share: An Evening for Mothers and Daughters
Friday, March 11, 2011

Last night I attended a private event by Jennifer Muller/The Works at their loft studio in Chelsea. It was a lovely evening--I reconnected with a dance peer I hadn't seen since my undergrad days--and chowed down on some yummy sushi, cheese and fruit.

The company showed 5 excerpts from past works, including a sneak peak of a work-in-progress that will premiere at their gala in June. Of note was the highlight from Edge (2007). Muller's use of Zap Mama music successfully showcased her signature emotive movement. The powerful polyphonic rhythms sung by Marie Daulne isolated the well-crafted solos, duets and trios.

In the Q&A with Muller and the dancers following the 45 minute program, executive director John Louis Bryant announced that the Muller Technique is featured in a new German book presented by Tanztechnik that compares 7 different contemporary dance techniques. Muller calls her technique a "polarity technique" that "contrasts a relaxed and grounded plié with an extenuated and energized up.” I'm now desperate to get my hands on that book, as literature on dance technique is few and far between. I have to say that Muller's dancers are beautiful, but I'm not sure a technique informed by "groundedness" really translates into the body. It's no secret that I prefer Klein technique, because it's informed by human anatomical structure in order to achieve "groundedness." But to be fair, I should take a Muller class and pass judgement then.

Also, one audience member asked if there's a difference between modern and contemporary dance (Muller favors contemporary). I thought that was a great question, especially after living in London where it's only called "contemporary dance," yet when I was studying dance in high school and college in the US, it was definitely "modern dance." I think that would make for an interesting debate and future blog post!

You can catch the world premiere of Muller's new evening-length piece, The White Room, at the Cedar Lake Theater--547 W. 26th Street--from June 22 - 26, 2011. Tickets are $49 and will be available beginning April 1 at 212-868-4444 or Gala tickets are available at (212) 691-3803. A Gala Dinner and Silent Auction at Chelsea Art Museum, 556 W. 22nd Street, NYC, will follow the Opening Night Gala performance. The Gala honors Phoenix Partners Group, lead corporate sponsor for the company's education programs.

The White Room begins in a large featureless space, which alters as the piece progresses, influenced by the attitudes and actions of those inhabiting it. In the beginning, the room echoes the innocence of a young girl; The White Room is her story. She is both damaged and transformed by encounters with a diverse cast of characters. The piece concerns the corruption of innocence, contrasting purity with heartless self-interest and questioning the value systems of our times. The music is a compilation of cello-based music from traditional sources including Yo-Yo Ma and contemporary composers Zoe Keating, Break of Reality, Gordon Withers, Matthew Schoening and Julia Kent. Costume and stage design by Stageworks, lighting design by Jeff Croiter and projection design by Kevin Harkins.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Harkness Dance Festival Week Two: Christopher Williams Presents Excerpts and Other Mumbo Jumbo

By Sara Murphy

REVIEW- The Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y is continuing a legacy more than 75 years in the making as the home of American modern dance by presenting choreographers such as Christopher Williams as part of their annual Dance Festival.

Other than perhaps a church, Williams couldn’t have asked for a more fitting space than the Y’s Buttenwieser Hall to display a collection of excerpts inspired by medieval art history and thirteenth century texts from his decade of work on Friday, February 25, 2011. The New York based choreographer seemed to be channeling the biblical stories depicted on the ornate painted ceiling of the hall as it was almost fathomable his dancers somehow magically came alive right from the historic murals. Commenting on his choreographic process in the brief Q&A following the hour and twenty-minute program, Williams shared that his wildly creative imagination was spawned from reading children’s stories and fables. “When I was a child, it was never enough for me to just read the words on the page, because the story seemed dead. But, if I got up and acted the words out physically—experiencing what it actually felt like to be a unicorn—the story was more fulfilling.”

Williams’s fascination with fairytales led to his exploration and use of puppetry in his choreography, however he specifically left his puppets at home for this weekend run at the Y. Purposely selecting excerpts from past evening-length works including Virgo Genitrix (2003), the Bessie award winning Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (2005), The Portuguese Suite (2006), The Golden Legend (2009) and Hen’s Teeth (2010), they, in his words, showcased the most “dancey” sections of his body of work. Though his intention is to create theatrical worlds on stage, these excerpts revealed the flaws and cracks imbedded in his lack luster movement vocabulary. For someone who is so talented at engulfing an audience in a Renaissance atmosphere, he fills the space with ordinary, recycled Cunningham movement.

However, dancing in a Williams work is not an easy task. As a dancer, you must be willing to perform naked, wear risqué costumes and fabric prosthetic breasts, and execute slow, balletic adagios (which were often beyond the dancers’ technical capabilities). The sequences were screaming for a groundedness that was never achieved, and instead a plethora of wobbly arabesques magnified the performers’ weaknesses.

In all fairness, Williams’s M.O. is not the dance, but rather everything around the dance. His costumes have craftsmanship worthy to be called haute couture, and his use of live musical accompaniment for this program for only two pieces—featuring a harp, viola, recorder, a mezzo-soprano and baritone—displayed a commitment to transport his audience.

The world premiere, Mumbo Jumbo, is a duet for two men to music from the Bollywood film, Raja Hindustani and Indian artist, Kishore Kumar. Though it was a departure from the vibe of the rest of the evening, simply titling a dance “Mumbo Jumbo” doesn’t pardon a disjointed mash-up of ideas. Perhaps par for the course in a dance referencing “cultural confusion,” the inspiration and text in the piece came from the children’s stories Little Black Sambo (1899) and The Tar Baby and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus (1904).

The dance opened with Raja Kelly in blackface dressed in a harlequin-esque jacket and bowtie. Reciting text from the literature and confronting the audience with his close proximity, Kelly’s character immediately set a playful tone. The audience is then introduced to what appears to be Kelly’s twin played by Paul Singh, dressed identically to Kelly and also in blackface. Singh’s movement included Indian dance motifs such as moving his shoulders up and down rhythmically to the Hindi music. The idea to re-examine Little Black Sambo—a story that is widely thought to portray an African American boy, but is in fact about an Indian boy—is at the very least, ambitious. Written at a time when “black” was used as a general term for non-white or “Other,” Williams’s desire to explore how images of black males in performance has changed over time using nineteenth century literature is an interesting concept to explore using dance. As the piece went on, it was unclear just exactly how these two characters fit together. They giggled, spoke in verse and even kissed, but the concept depicted in movement was a bit too confusing. Long, messy and in dire need of editing, cultural confusion is no doubt chaotic, but Mumbo Jumbo was not the perfect storm.

All in all, there was never a dull moment, and Williams’s inventive take on Christian saints and medieval music cleverly evoke times long past submerged within his own queer experience in contemporary dance. You can catch Christopher next when he hosts an “Informance” at the Performance Garage in Philadelphia March 12, 2011.

Week three of five of the Harkness Dance Festival premieres on Friday, March 4 with Patti Bradshaw and People, Places and Things.
WEEK FOUR: jill sigman/thinkdance March 11-13
WEEK FIVE: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Curates (Maria Bauman and Souleymane (Solo) Badolo) March 18-20

For tickets visit or the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center located at 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rebeca Tomás: Revision, Addition or Part 2? A Palo Seco- Rasgos Flamencos

By: Sara Murphy

A new year and an altered program, but not quite a sequel, Rebeca Tomás and company premiered a revised version of their debut Spring 2010 flamenco performance January 28-31, 2011 at Manhattan’s Theatre 80 in the East Village. Re-titled, A Palo Seco: Rasgos Flamencos, this show was Tomás’ ode to tradition and invention. Tomás and company’s performances continued the legacy of flamenco with the kind of sincerity and passion any Andalusian aficionado could be proud of.

Sitting in the audience at Sunday’s matinee performance, I was nervous for Tomás when Theatre 80’s manager Thomas Otway announced A Palo Seco: Rasgos Flamencos would join the ranks of historical performances the theater has hosted, such as the original production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. Despite Mr. Otway’s grandiose comparisons, the company wasn’t jinxed, and delivered a memorable program strong enough to dismiss most of the criticism (The Times, The New Yorker) of the 2010 version.

After an energetic opening that introduced the audience to the company’s musicians and dancers by way of a customary bulerías (a festive improvisation), Tomás emerged from the wings with fierce authority. Pensive and compelling, she used a Spanish fan as a percussion instrument during her a palo seco (acapella with percussion) solo, Abanico: Rasgo Flamenco. Her strongest contemporary choreographic effort on the program, the dance’s repetitive blackouts revealed Tomás striking varied poses, looking a little like a deer caught in the headlights. Her nerves simmered down as soon as she moved out of her isolating pool of light, and took to the stage like a bullfighter in a ring. High-waisted black pants and a blousy, crisp white shirt made her petite frame appear statuesque and powerful. She echoed the sound of the cajón and the three accompanying singers with meticulous rhythmic footwork, and a body percussion score. Tomás’ dancing in Abanico ignited a palpable tension that remained in the air for the rest of the show.

In Alegrías, Tomás traded in her fan for a bata de cola (a dress with a long ruffled train). A traditional flamenco dance accessory, Tomás playfully whipped her skirt to the jaleos (shouts of encouragement) from the audience. At times, the bata de cola appeared distracting and seemed to burden her traveling footwork patterns, yet she seemed much more at ease in the limelight than she was in Abanico. The audience was absolutely enamored with Tomás’ performance. Though I preferred Abanico, their enthusiasm was contagious, and the piece seemed a fitting end to the highly expressive evening.

A mention must be given to the incredibly dynamic dancing of Sol “La Argentinita” in the somber solo, Soleá. She swallowed the space, carving her torso and arms elegantly and with raw audacity. Her piercing eyes never allowed me to escape her gritty performance. Percussionist and singer Oscar Valero’s cajon playing was equally as ferocious, and echoed by David Castellano’s soulful voice. Flamenco dancing owes so much to its musical counterpoint, and the company’s five musicians were extremely attentive to the dancers, and very supportive of each other throughout the performance.

Achieving the program’s goal of juxtaposing raw emotional darkness and festive playfulness, the show’s concept did not attain Tomás’ desire for ingenuity. Nevertheless, she and her company continue to seriously contribute to flamenco in New York.

Photos for this article are courtesy of Lee Wexler and Maly Blomberg, respectively.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Imperialists Are Still Alive!

This review was originally posted on the NewsGallery's website (see The last two paragraphs feature an added dance anecdote specifically for this blog.

Rooftop Films screened director Zeina Durra’s debut film, The Imperialists Are Still Alive! at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan on Sunday February 13, 2011. The screening was a free, sneak-peak of the film (officially selected at the Sundance Film Festival last year) before its New York premiere at the IFC Center March 4. The Ace Hotel was an apropos location—a hangout spot one could imagine Durra’s heroine Asya (played by French actress, Elodie Bouchez) waltzing in, wearing her fur coat and heels.

Shot using a super 16mm camera, Durra mentioned in her brief Q & A after the screening that she was inspired by Scorsese’s cult classic, After Hours (1985), Stillman’s Metropolitan (1990) and 60s and 70s era film aesthetics. The feature achieved the grainy texture Durra desired, but the picture quality looked blurry and often times out-of-focus, leaving me to wonder if that was a deliberate choice, or an outcome related to inexperience. Stylistically, Durra’s ode to iconic eras was a theme carried over into costuming, as well as popping up in the film’s title—a line taken from Jean Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967)—which I’m not sure captures the story’s essence.

Durra’s film however centers on Asya, a successful visual artist and cultural hybrid of Palestinian/Bosnian/Lebanese/Jordanian descent, raised in Paris, but living in New York. The film is a New York portrait, but an international story--reflective of Durra’s own cultural heritage and upbringing. Sarcastic and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, Durra weaves together several vignettes of nightclubs, art galleries, loft apartments, Chinese restaurants and cab rides into a cohesive palette of vibrant colors.

Durra fought hard to prevent the producers from turning her script into a conventional story. She deliberately wanted to explore themes of rendition, imperialism, war, resistance, displacement and post feminism from a perspective closer to the milieu she grew up in. “The idea that Arabs or Muslims brought up in the West find themselves constantly torn between their roots and their "Western" lives has always annoyed me, since I have never related to that conflict,” Durra comments.

Sophisticated, independent, rebellious and cool, Durra takes viewers on a journey that has no resolution, but rather allows us to peak into the lives of wealthy international hipsters who fluidly transfer from Arabic, French, English, Spanish and more—navigating New York’s subcultures—simultaneously keeping one eye on the political conflicts in the Middle East. For Durra’s characters, “home” has a transient meaning and money buys freedom.

I wanted to post my review of The Imperialists Are Still Alive! on The Dance Anthropologist, because the film features too very funny dance scenes that unfortunately make dance the butt of the joke. The first takes a stab at conceptual dance when the main character, Asya, is taken by her boyfriend to his friend's "environmental dance" performance. The work is inspired by the choreographer's trip to the Amazon, and is basically a Mexican woman's horrifying portrayal of the dances she observed in a black box theater. With a troupe of contemporary looking dancers behind her, they roll around in leaves wearing tribal paint, chanting and screaming as Asya trys to conceal her laughter. Haven't we all been there?

The other dance moment comes later when Asya attends her cleaning lady's gathering to celebrate her son's graduation from the NYPD academy. There-she encounters the "Latin" male salsa dancer personified-dressed in a skintight black unitard with a plunging v-neckline, he seems to think he's the best thing since sliced bread as he tries to woo Asya with his "shines." Director Zeina Durra claims that her goal was to show Arab women from an alternative perspective sans stereotypes, but she can't seem to do the same for dance. Are there oodles of wretched contemporary dance performances, and a slew of dirty old men posing as salsa dancers in New York? Absolutely! I'm just disappointed that she couldn't come up with anything more original to get a good laugh...but then again, I can take a joke!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ralph Lemon at the MoMA

On Saturday, January 29, I saw Ralph Lemon's performance with Okwui Okpokwasili, Untitled (2008)- held in conjunction with the On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century exhibit at the MoMA- I was thoroughly disappointed. Maybe it was the packed crowds that caused constant obstructed views, needless to say I was surprised that the crowd stayed so ample. The MoMA's atrium space and two interesting figures were simply not enough to hold my attention. The movement was minimal and the interaction between Lemon and Okpokwasili looked like uncrafted contact improvisation. Studying the eclectic and eccentric audience members from my perch was far more fascinating. It looks like Xavier Le Roy's collaboration with Laurent Golding containing nudity and featuring music by Diana Ross in the same space February 2, 5&6 will give me much more to write about!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jordana Che Toback

I love this press photo dancer/director/choreographer Jordana Che Toback is using to promote her new show with fellow choreographer Clarinda Mac Low opening at DNA tomorrow night (1/27) and running through Sunday.

For tickets and more information, visit

Jordana Che Toback has performed with choreographers including Mark Morris, Amy Pivar, Patricia Hoffbauer/George Emilio Sanchez, Pam Tanowitz, and Douglas Dunn/Joshua Fried. Toback is currently choreographing new work for her POON Productions ensemble while re-staging her 4th evening length work, TERRE for performances and parties in early 2011.

A Dirty Life

A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can't, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. It's blackmail, really.

The above passage is from the current book I'm reading, The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. Kimball's synopsis of farm life reminded me of the pursuit of dance. A dancer's "farm" is their body and also never finished, but that is the beauty and probably what compels many dancers to continue. Perhaps blackmail-like a farmer, being a dancer is steady work that has no end, but carries many rewards.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Guggenheim Presents: Works & Process 2011 Spring Series

Sara Murphy

This article was published on, January 7, 2011

For 27 years, the Guggenheim Museum’s Work & Process series has provided New Yorkers with unprecedented access to some of the most celebrated performing artists in the world by creating a forum where audience members not only experience the performances, but also get to see what happens behind the curtain with moderated discussions between the artists. Works & Process 2011 features nine events over the next five months (January-May), and kicks off a very dance centered series this weekend.

The first event presents the Pacific Northwest Ballet from Seattle dancing excerpts from Peter Boal’s new staging of the romantic ballet classic, Giselle. Using reconstructed choreography based on Stepanov notation circa 1903 and French sources from the 1840s, the program runs January 9, 10. The opening performance will also be streamed live over the web (accessible on the Guggenheim’s website) beginning at 7 pm (EST) on Sunday, January 9.

Other events of interest include John Zorn’s Music Interpreted (February 27, 28) featuring two commissions to Zorn’s scores by avant-garde choreographers Donald Byrd and Pam Tanowitz. Look for Tony award winning dancer Ashley Tuttle (Movin’ Out, ABT) in Tanowitz’s work. In addition to the two world premieres, Byrd, Tanowitz and Zorn will all be present to chat about their collaborations.

Also be sure to check out How Judges Judge- Youth American Grand Prix (March 6, 7), and American Ballet Theatre- On to Act II (May 1,2). Both events invite the audience to delve inside the dancer’s head. The Youth American Grand Prix is the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition. The event will expose how the competition’s jury members select the winners as they critique an impromptu ballet competition in front of the audience. American Ballet Theatre has rounded up a panel of notable alumni to discuss what happens after dancers hang up their dancing shoes. A dancer’s dancer event, current ABT members will also perform excerpts from their upcoming Metropolitan Opera House season, so there’s something for every dance lover.

For a complete list of the Guggenheim’s Works & Process events, ticket information and performance times, go to

Sara Murphy is a freelance dance writer and anthropologist in New York.