Tuesday, December 05, 2006

December 2006

Tapestry Dance Company's "The Souls of Our Feet", was to date my favorite Tapestry show. It bumped Safe and Sound. I was concerned whether I could appreciate two hours of nothing but tap, but I soon lost track of time once the show started.

The live music, Jason Amato's lighting, superb energy of the dancers, and the format kept me glued to the show. It took me a while (two pieces) to figure out what was going on. The performances began with short video clips of the tap classics (by Nicholas Brothers, Charles "Honi" Coles, Cholly Atkins, etc.) from the movies and TV shows...and would transition into the live space both musically and dancing. The short pieces, variety, changing costumes and lighting, and high energy and precision of the dancers, kept my interest throughout. Two tap legends (Sarah Petronio and Dianne Walker), graced the stage for solos and a group piece. The dancers seem very much into the pieces even during the rehearsal, which connected me to the activity much more.

The Helms Auditorium is one of my favorite venue in Austin. Its design allows a great deal of flexibility in framing images. The performance and the space, inspired me to think outside the box, and document dance and movement in unusual ways. These are some of the best images I have taken of the company.

Tapestry Dance Company will be touring this show the USA in the Fall 2007. Try and catch it if it is at a place close to you.

I have experienced two opuses of Blue Lapis Light, featuring the works of Sally Jacques. Sally's forte lies in site specific works, and Requiem is dedicated to the demise of the Intel Building shell - to be reborn as a Federal building. Since I had seen the performance twice before, and photographed it from the audience prospective, this time I opted to document the performance from the dancer's prospective. I became more sensitive to the complexity of the piece and the dedication/talent/stamina of the dancers by observing the activity and coordination behind the scenes.

Lighting design was courtesy of Mother Nature and Jason Amato. The backdrop of the Austin downtown, both, during the twilight rehearsal, and the dress rehearsal in the night resulted in an unusual prospective of the volatile Austin Downtown. I merged some images from the last performance and this run, into a larger gallery.

Texas Ballet Theater's 2006 Majestic Gala was a wonderful experience. I had not photographed at the Majestic (Dallas) for more than a year or two, and I enjoy galas a great deal, due to the variety. Ben Stevenson's Bartok was the first half, utilizing the whole company. It was an engaging piece. This was the first long contemporary piece I have seen of Mr. Stevenson, and it kept me interested throughout. It borrowed a great deal form pure classical vocabulary, while retaining a modern edge to it. I am getting the opportunity to see a lot more of Mr. Stevenson's work, and have a general handle on his classical story ballets styles. So far on the non-classical side, I find his creativity to be very broad. Most pieces I have seen so far have been quite different.

In the second half, several short pieces featuring the talents of company members, and choreographers were presented. Carolyn Judson & Thomas Kilps stared in Ben Stevenson's Harlequinade, a very sweet, high energy, romantic piece. I remember some of the vocabulary from the Jester's role in Cinderella. Kilps played the roleof the Jester. He has beautiful timing, form, and expressions. He always gives me great photos. Lonnie Weeks is not yet officially an adult (at least that is what I am told). But his dancing shows a great deal of maturity. He was absolutely stunning in Endangered Species, as a rag doll who is alive, and realizes that all around are not so. The costume, choreography, and dancing made a wonderful amalgam. Lonnie's expression under the white mask, reached out and touched the viewers. I first saw Lonnie, in his final Academy show, this summer, and was very taken by his performance. And to be made a full company member in his teens speaks volumes about his talent and potential. The Britten PDD, did not do it for me. There were moments of "ahhs", but I was unable to appreciate a lot of it. I do not know if the shifts in mood, or stronger impressions of the previous piece were the cause. Company member Peter Zweifel presented Julie Gumbinner & Lucas Priolo in Sweet n Tangy. It reminded me a lot of the European styles I see at Dance Salad. I mostly enjoyed it. The sudden change in mood between the first part of the piece and next was a bit awkward. But it was interesting once the transition passed. The Matvienkos took my breath away. It is not often that I want to stop and just watch, instead of photographing. I had seen the Don Q PDD three times in the last few months, which is a lot for me.This was by far the one I liked best. Anastasia Matvienko has amazing proportions and lines. Her sense of timing and the way she flows between to poses is stunning. Denis's technical skills and his beautiful partnering made him equally hypnotic. I do not know if this version comes closes to what the original choreographer has envisioned, but it was superbly executed. Denis opened my eyes a little more and helped me begin to appreciate the role (and characteristics) of a good male partner in classical ballet PDDs. Tim O. Keef's One, which ended the show, was a Jazzy show bring our focus to Chita Rivera. Her photo dominated the background and the all female cast, paying tribute by superbly synchronized movements, made the piece a memorable one. I had seen it at the Academy performance for the first time, but enjoyed it more this time, due to the venue and lighting. Photos from the show will be online for a few months.

Bruce Wood Dance Company is one of my favorite modern dance companies. I have only seen three performances of theirs in two years, and the last one was almost a year ago. So I was looking forward to their 2006-2007 season opener. I also wanted to test out new techniques at this performance, as I rarely get to photograph modern dance at the Bass. The company usually presents one new piece, and two older ones. Their signature vocabulary is the manner in which the arms of the dancers are used. Circular arms seems to be a favorite. The manner in which formations are used are very unique.

The September 2006 performance was my favorite so far. The show opened with a new piece, Lay your Burdens Down. Several translucent bowls containing dripping water from high above, had a Zen quality to the design of the space. Tony Tucci's lighting and the white flowing costumes worked beautifully to set and hold the mood of the choreography. Water - and its symbolism seemed to be explored, especially in its aspects of birth and rebirth. It was an evocative and a serious piece. I had not seen this side of Mr. Wood before, and it was a memorable experience. The next piece celebrated movement, and had the signature moves/poses of Mr. Wood. Colorful costumes, swift synchronized movements, and moments of activity culminating in a still pose, kept me drawn to the piece throughout. It was a difficult piece to photographer, and required a great deal of patience (and concentration) to capture just the right moments. Liturgy was the last piece, with the dancers in black costumes resembling the robes of the catholic clergy. It too had a serious and deep feel to it, but seemed to have a lighter edge than the Lay Your Burdens Down. Formations with arms and fast groups movements, ended with a beautiful image of the ascension of the soul. Photographing this one was a challenge due to the costume colors blending with the background, wide formations, and high lighting contrast.

I was shocked to hear that the company closed its doors and cancelled the rest of the season, due to financial difficulties. It was a privilege to have captured their "last" performance. I hope the company finds support and resumes its unique vision.

COMING SOON: Requiem (Revisited) & Tapestry's Souls of our Feet....

1 comment:

mcewen said...

I searched 'PDD' and here I am! You learn something new every day. Who would have thought that there was another acronym for PDD?
Best wishes