Posted in #DanceTheatreOfHarlem, dance

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s New York Spring

DTH_Apr6-9_CityCtrYou don’t have to have been around in the ’60s to know that this was a heady time in racial politics: Civil Rights was a Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, the Panthers, SNCC were the focus of civil rights activity.

The arts played their part as well. Alvin Ailey chose to tell the story of African Americans in modern dance, with Revelations as the pinnacle of his legacy.

Arthur Mitchell took a more classical, balletic approach. A former principal with New York City Ballet under George Ballanchine, Mitchell went on to appear in several Broadway shows. After the assassination of Reverand King, he returned to Harlem, determined to give black youngsters the opportunities Mitchell had had through dance training. In 1969, Mitchell and Karel Shook formed the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Ailey’s company has thrived, even after the death of its founder. DTH has had its struggles. In late 2004, the core company went on a hiatus, while the DTH Ensemble, the performing arm of the school, continued performance around the globe. The 82-year-old Mitchell, a Kennedy Center honoree in 1993, is a Director Emeritus of DTH. Today, DTH is shepherded by Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, who joined DTH in 1969 and was a lead dancer with the company for 28 years.

DTHWomenChoreographersDuring this “Return New York” season, April 6th through 9th at New York City Center, the final evening will be dedicated to a celebration of black ballerinas from dance troupes all over the country. In the 1960s, when DTH was founded, this kind of event could only have been a dream.

Visit the DTH calendar,  for tickets and information.

The programs will feature pieces choreographed by women dancemakers:

Divertimento (NY Premiere) Elena Kunikova
When Love  Helen Pickett
Change (NY Premiere) Dianne McIntyre
Coming Together Nacho Duato
Return  Robert Garland
Pièce d’occasion: Gladys Knight Tribute

Posted in dance, fairytale, modern American dance, modern dance

Wit and whimsy


“Fairytales can come true,” as the song “Young At Heart” says. They also often have a grain of truth in them. For instance, Snow White is about vanity and the dislocations it creates.

In Paul Taylor’s hands, Snow White is a witty, whimsical and untidy tale.

The Wicked Stepmother (Sean Mahoney, who also plays the Prince) is put off by the answer her mirror mutters– it is not she but Snow White (Parisa Khobdeh) who is the fairest in the land. She sets about dispensing with her rival. The self-polishing poison apple (A Bad Apple, in Mr. Taylor’s cast list, and played by Heather McGinley) is clad all in red by costume designer Cynthia O’Neal, who has given Snow White the familiar dress of a Disney creation.

Snow-White_header1-300x168This Taylor creation was first danced in 1983, and features music specially composed by Donald York, the PTDC music director who is conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Sets are by David Gropman and lighting is by Jennifer Tipton. George Smallwood, James Samson, Michael Appuzzo, Robert Kleindorst, and Francisco Graciano are the active, sometime vengeful dwarfs out of central casting.

Along with Snow White on the program was also Profiles, a 1979 dance, which has a
sculptural quality. The music for this piece is also specially composed for it–this for a violin, cello and viola quartet by Ian Radzynski. The movement, like the costuming (by Gene Moore) bears resemblance to cut-out figures. Michael Trusanovec, Laura Halzack, Michelle Fleet, and Michael Novak performed.

Larry Keigwin’s Rush Hour reprised on the bill, with original music by Adam Crystal. The piece is inspired by the images of sculptor George Segal, and has some of the herky-jerky feel of the long trip home after a hard day’s work.

The 1982 Taylor dance, Mercuric Tidings is set to excerpts from Franz Schubert’s symphonies. The piece has a lovely and somewhat languid soul. It also requires a large cast, including Jamie Rae Walker, Madelyn Ho, Christina Lynch Markham, joining many of those seen earlier in the day.

For more information on the PTDC New York season, which continues through April 3rd, please visit the David H. Koch Theater website.

Posted in dance, modern dance

The all-American dance form

There are so many ways to celebrate. Paul Taylor’s tribute honoring Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th anniversary is to stage one of her dances.

from MGDC website, Diversion of Angels
from MGDC website, Diversion of Angels

Given Taylor’s background– he was a Martha Graham Dance Company member for many years– it’s fitting that Paul Taylor Dance Company undertakes a dancework created by Martha Graham. Diversion of Angels, the Graham dance she made in 1948, and in which he danced from 1955 for eight seasons, will be part of this PTDC New York season. Taylor’s partner at MGDC, Linda Hodes is helping oversee the production, staged by Blakeley White-McGuire and Tadej Brdnik for PTDC.

For a full schedule and tickets, please visit the David H. Koch Theater website.

For other MGDC news, please visit this site here.

Posted in dance

Dancin’ Around Town, a Mar/Apr sked

You already know to anticipate Paul Taylor’s New York season, beginning March 16th (through April 3rd) at Lincoln Center. If you are a Taylor aficionado, you can revisit some of past years’ classics and see the new this season. If this is your first encounter, expect a spectacular array of dance pieces, including a tribute to the Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th anniversary. All programs will be accompanied by live music by the St. Luke’s Orchestra, under the baton of Donald York, long-time Music Director and Conductor.

Over at the New School, its newly formed College of Performing Arts is partnering with the Martha Graham Dance Company. The College, overseen by Executive Dean Richard Kessler, includes the Mannes School of Music, The School of Jazz at The New School, and The School of Drama. The New School’s College of Performing Arts will present Martha Graham Dance Company’s 2016 New York Season, its 90th anniversary year at New York City Center on April 14, 15,16, and 18.  The performances will be accompanied by live music from the Mannes Orchestra, conducted by David Hayes

The Miami City Ballet is at Lincoln Center from April 13th to 17th. There will be world premiere commissioned works on the large Koch stage.  Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, Liam Scarlett, Twyla Tharp and Balanchine are on the bill.


goldendragonOn Sunday, March 13th, Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College offers a performance by The Golden Dragon Acrobats  at 3pm. The Golden Dragon Acrobats, who originate in the Hebei and Henan provinces of the People’s Republic of China, have toured the United States continuously since 1978. In 2005, their performances at The New Victory Theater earned them two Drama Desk Awards.

Amanda Mponlive: Rockitaerials presents the New York City Premiere of Circo de la Luna
Amanda Moonlive: Rockitaerials presents the New York City Premiere of Circo de la Luna

Circo de la Luna is an original hybrid circus– which incorporates high wire, contortion and comedy created by NYC-based aerialist Amanda Topaz in partnership with Sonia Olla.  Aerial choreography by Sonia Olla and Ballet Hispanico choreographer Pedro Ruiz, directed by Mark Lonergan. The New York City premiere of Circo de la Luna is presented by Rockitaerials on April 21-22, 2016 at the Rose Nagelberg Theater, Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Ballet Hispanico takes its mission to share and reflect the ever-changing diversity of Latino culture by creating new American danceworks with a Latin inflection. Ballet Hispanico is having a big 45th anniversary New York Season at the Joyce Theater,
April 5th-10th. The programs will include a New York Premiere of Flabbergast by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Bury Me Standing by Ramón Oller, Club Havana by Pedro Ruiz.
So many of this city’s modern dance troupes have long histories. The Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell, is no exception. Their spring season is from
April 6 through 9th at New York City Center.

An original performance piece, combining dance, interactive media and film, Bird Sing A Pretty Song from dancer Rebecca Margolick and composer and graphic artist Maxx Berkowitz is at the Theater at the 14th Street Y on April 7 & 9, 2016. The work, presented by LABAlive, is an exploration of how technology affects our sense of solitude, beauty and chaos.

Posted in dance, modern American dance, modern dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Spinning the human connection

Dance is music in motion which has “charms to soothe the savage breast.”

Photo © Paul B. Goode
Photo © Paul B. Goode
Photo © Paul B. Goode
2.Images 1
Photo © Paul B. Goode
3.Spindrift 2
Photo © Paul b. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company with the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, at the David H. Koch Theater through April 3rd, manifests the catharsis of which Congreve spoke with every leap across the big stage.

A program of Spindrift (1993,) Images (1977) and Promethean Fire (2002) speaks to the human connection with a religious awe. The trio of Taylor pieces is devoid of humbug, of course, but each looks at man’s existence relative to community (Spindrift), idols (Images) and evolution (Promethean Fire.) At least this is a broad stroke explanation of the stories these dances tell.

Images is the most pleasing of the works, with lively costuming by Gene Moore and a soupçon of an exotic variety in the movement, set to a Debussy piano . Promethean Fire has the gravitas of a Bach score and handsome Santo Loquasto costumes. Spindrift, which sent me scrambling for a definition– it is waves of sea or sand spray–is a very serious work with a string quartet for background.

By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons
Footnote: Larry Keigwin’s new work, Rush Hour, inspired by the George Segal sculpture of the same name, is on the bill again on Sunday March 27th and Friday April 1st.

Sullivania, one of Taylor’s two new works (along with Dilly Dilly), reappears later in the season as well. The final premiere is Doug Elkins’ The Weight of Smoke which also shows up on the bill of fare again in the next couple of weeks.

For more information and tickets for the New York season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, please visit

Posted in dance, Larry Keigwin premiere, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Welcoming the newest dance to the family

A new Paul Taylor American Modern Dance season also means a new dance or two or, this year, four. Two are the creation of Paul Taylor , bringing his oeuvre to 144, and two are by choreographers he has commissioned. These collaborations in keeping modern dance vibrant are part of the PTAMD mandate.

Promethan Fire also on the Gala rep. Photo by Paul B. Goode
Promethan Fire also on the Gala rep. Photo by Paul B. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company sprung into its New York season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on March 15th. It will stay through the April 3rd matinee. During this season, also in keeping with the mandate to hono, celebrate and preserve modern dance, PTAMD is presenting Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels and Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will perform McKayle’s 20th Century masterpiece.

At the Gala last evening, Paul Taylor’s 143rd dance, Sullivaniana got its first New York showing. The guest choreographers in the Taylor Company Commissions initiative for the season are Larry Keigwin and Doug Elkin. Keigwin’s work Rush Hour received its world premiere last night, also danced by PTDC. The dancing was accompanied by live music from the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under Donald York’s baton in the Keigwin piece and Sullivaniana was conducted by Tong Chen.

Sullivaniana, by the way, was danced to Sir Arthur Sullivan’s overtures from Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance and Patience.  With the ladies costumed as music hall dancers in high heels and colorful frocks, and the gents attired in equally colorful window-pane suits appropriate to the mid to late 1800’s by Santo Loquasto who also designed a set to look like a music hall stage for the piece, Sullivaniana is alive with duets. At one point, Taylor brings all ten of the cast together under Sullivan’s “Hail hail, the gang’s all here;” at another they miss each other entirely as they pass on the stage. As is usual in a Taylor work, there is plenty of wit in Sullivaniana.

While the Sullivaniana cast are clad in vaudevillian trappings, those in Rush Hour wear haute workout gear (by Fritz Masten) and run about barefoot. The 16 dancers occupying the space, often act in pairs, mimicking each other’s moves.  Rush Hour is a mixture of austere and lively, with music composed for the Keigwin piece by Adam Crystal that alternates speedy passages with leisurely ones; it’s as if once the action is slowed down, it refires again. Our only other experience of Larry Keigwin was in a Fall For Dance program years ago; a couple of more viewings of Rush Hour should help solidify impressions.

For more information on the spring season of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, please visit the LC website.

Posted in musical theater, theater songs

It’s a good start

Musicals in Mufti is a York Theatre Company tradition, in the vein of City Center’s Encores! series.

The Full Company: Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyricist/director), Charlotte Maltby, David Shire (music), Bobby Conte Thornton, Kurt Stamm, Krystal Joy Brown and Kevin Stites (music director). Photo credit: Ben Strothmann.
The Full Company: Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyricist/director), Charlotte Maltby, David Shire (music), Bobby Conte Thornton, Kurt Stamm, Krystal Joy Brown and Kevin Stites (music director). Photo credit: Ben Strothmann.

Starting Here, Starting Now, playing at the York through March 20th, is a revue of music on which David Shire (music) and Richard Maltby, Jr (lyrics) collaborated. The collection of theater songs began life as an off-Broadway production in the ’70s and had success with MTC when it played at the Bohemian National Home. . Maltby also directs this production, which has music direction by Kevin Stites, and a three-member cast featuring Krystal Joy Brown, Charlotte Maltby, and Bobby Conte Thornton.

Starting Here, Starting Now is amusing, intimate and touching. Some of the songs are almost mini-playlets, like “We can talk to each other,” or “Crossword puzzle,” each delivered with smarts by the cast.

“One step” is a show-stopping number in the style of Fosse, and Krystal, Charlotte and Bobby pull it off with plenty of pizazz.

Many musical numbers from Starting Here, Starting Now are very familiar. Streisand has recorded a few, including the title track. “I don’t remember Christmas” is a personal favorite.

For more information on Musicals in Mufti, the York Theatre Company and Starting Here, Starting Now, please visit


Posted in dance, modern dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Dancing “with a generous spirit”

I may be running out of adjectives to describe Paul Taylor’s brilliant air-propelled aerodynamic troupe, Paul Taylor Dance Company, now properly called Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. Here Paul Taylor, a man as adept with words as he is with dance steps, may be able to help. In a 1974 memo, Taylor exhorted his  dancers to give “zunchistic” performances.

“Zunch is the thing,” Taylor said… “that sets the exciting dancer apart from the adequate one….” He went on “Zunch is fullness. It is not merely authority and, naturally not technical brilliance…. Zunch is being generous with your spirit.” (I am quoting from The Diamond Anniversary book for the Paul Taylor Dance Company.)

PTAMD‘s New York season running from March 15th through April 3rd at the David H. Koch at Lincoln Center promises another opportunity to find new words

Spindrift Photo by Paul B. Goode
Spindrift Photo by Paul B. Goode

Truthfully, as I run out of descriptives for a Paul Taylor Dance Company presentation, so it seems that Taylor’s dancers nearly run out of stage when they perform. Having exhausted my own vocabulary to effectively explicate what they do, I am grateful to be able to describe their movements with the zesty expletive of “zunch.”

Snow White Photo by Paul B. Goode
Snow White Photo by Paul B. Goode


Modern dance uses less of the arabesque and en pointe than it does the expulsive and explosive whirl and jump. PTAMD is so often airborne it seems to lack connection with all earthbound action. When it does come down to earth, it offers surprise and amazement.

Mr. Taylor’s own work now numbering 144 pieces is equally impressively aerial/ethereal. The new dances, #143 and 144 added to this year’s repertory give an adrenal rush. This variety of excitement is no less breathtaking than what we experience when watching a blow-em-up blockbuster.

Posted in drama, theater

Headlong into the maelstrom

Bitterness often festers in confinement. A girl’s boarding school, for instance, may well be the site in which pettiness blossoms and blooms.

It was a pleasure to see Hazel Ellis’s text** for Women Without Men brought to life under Jenn Thompson’s direction, at the Mint through March 26th.

Photo: Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis Directed by Jenn Thompson Cast: Mary Bacon Joyce Cohen Shannon Harrington Kate Middleton Aedin Moloney Alexa Shae Niziak Kellie Overbey Dee Pelletier Beatrice Tulchin Emily Walton Amelia White presented by The Mint Theater Company; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center 131 W 55th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine
Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis. Directed by Jenn Thompson. Cast: Mary Bacon, Joyce Cohen, Shannon Harrington, Kate Middleton, Aedin Moloney, Alexa Shae Niziak, Kellie Overbey, Dee Pelletier, Beatrice Tulchin, Emily Walton<, Amelia White presented by The Mint Theater Company; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center. Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine.

The teachers’ lounge, in Vicki R. Davis’ detailed set, also came to life, both a grand setting for the day-to-day proceedings at the Malyn Park Private School, and a kind of prison for its inhabitants. Each of the women at the school live in their own disappointment. Costumed by Martha Hally as 1930’s era spinsters, they move within the confines of their class and trade.

If she could, Miss Marjorie Strong (Mary Bacon) would lead by an example– and an occasionally sharpened tongue– that would suggest detachment from these surroundings. She says as much to the new instructor, Miss Jean Wade (Emily Walton,) who is optimistic and lively. The others, even the youngish Miss Ruby Ridegeway (Kate Middleton), are all entrenched in their jadedness. Well, perhaps with the exception of Miss Connor (Kellie Overbey) who has made a life project of a book about “beautiful” acts; she is certain that her grand oeuvre will inspire awe and bring fame to the school.

Standing out in the excellent cast are the aforementioned and also Aedin Moloney as the oft-put-upon Miss Margaret Willoughby.

The three leads get fine support also from Dee Pelletier as Mlle Vernier, Joyce Cohen as the head mistress, Mrs. Newcome, and Amelia White as the Matron. The schoolgirls,  Phyllis Conway (Beatrice Tulchin), Dorothy Benson (Shannon Harrington) and Peggy Summers (Alexa Shae Niziak), play piquant and well-rounded parts in Women Without Men.

**See below

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Reading a script is a poor substitute for seeing a play in actu.  I need the actors, and their director to help guide me through the work. The written work supports my memory.

Unfortunately, on a recent occassion, when I was unable to attend Hazel Ellis’ Women Without Men, playing at City Center Stage II in a Mint Theater production through March 25th, I resorted to reading the text.

Women Without Men is not a lurid prison tale, but it may as well be. The all-female staff  in this all-girls’ boarding school are just as confined in their environment. Hemmed in in their study room, the teachers are at best unpleasant and mistrusting of one another.

Ellis brooks no nonsense about the gentler sex’s genteel interactions.

Photo: Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis Directed by Jenn Thompson presented by The Mint Theater Company; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center 131 W 55th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. Seta by Vicki R. Davis Photo: Women Without Men
By Hazel Ellis. Directed by Jenn Thompson, presented by The Mint Theater Company; Sets by Vicki R. Davis; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday…

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Posted in #newShakespeareanplay, dance, drama, theater, theater for the common good

Theatre for the greater good

Well, yes, of course the purpose of theatre is to entertain, but also as a platform to educate and elevate.

doublefalseThe projected HeForShe Arts Week that kicks off March 8th in support UN Women’s mission for gender equality arts and cultural institutions in New York City will coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th. UN Women will partner with cultural and art institutions, like The Public Theater which is taking a lead role. The Public’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis says “The theater is a collaborative form, and the core of collaboration is solidarity. The Public is proud to stand in solidarity with HeForShe and the United Nations as we fight together for a better world.”
During the inaugural arts week in March,  venues for ballets, operas, Broadway shows, concerts, as well as other theatres, galleries, and museums will enjoy the opportunity to join the HeForShe Initiative and spotlight the work of UN Women as the global champion for the rights of women and girls. These other partner institutions will also donate a percentage of proceeds to UN Women to support its efforts in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality globally.
Emma Watson, British Actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador adds “… it makes perfect sense for HeForShe to partner with arts institutions like The Public Theater to evolve the behaviors, norms, and perceptions that shapes our cultural view of gender.” The goal for HeForShe is gender parity, to be achieved as Planet 50-50 by 2030. (See how the League of Professional Theatre Women are awarding gender equality in the theater, here.)

The stories of three very different women merge in The Hundred We Are, by the famous Swedish novelist, playwright and activist Jonas Hassen Khemiri. In The Hundred We Are, Khemeri conflates the lives of a young radical, a middle-aged housewife, and a discerning world-traveler in his innovative new memory play. The Hundred We Are, is at the cell from March 16th through April 8th, in an Origin Theatre’s production. For information on Origin and The Hundred We Are, visit

From February 25th through April 6th, LAByrinth Theater Company presents the New York premiere of The Way West by Mona Mansour, directed by Mimi O’Donnell, and featuring in its ensemble Deirdre O’Connell. The comedy treats the serious subject of debt and dependencies in a funny and poignant way. To learn more about The Way West, please visit

Abrons Arts Center & New York City Players (NYCP) present a world premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Really, directed by Richard Maxwell and designed by photographer Michael Schmelling, from March 16th – April 2nd. Really concerns itself with grief, and intimacy. In the play, a woman takes photographs of her boyfriend’s mom, and they jockey to a claim on him. To learn more about Really, please visit and also

In the world of Shakespeare, there is always something to celebrate and often something to learn. It is the 400th year of William Shakespeare, and Letter of Marque Theater Company has uncovered a “new” play by the Bard. Double Falsehood, at the Irondale Center  March 5th through April 9th, 2016, has many elements usual in a Shakespearean work. The action in Double Falsehood is propelled by a sexual assault, which Letter of Marque is using to create an important dialogue. During the run, there will be additional programming and panels to discuss rape culture in our country. To learn more about Double Falsehood and Letter of Marque Theater Companyvisit To learn more about the panels and programming discussions, please also go to

Starting in April, in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Alice Birch explores the thorny questions of gender supremacy and how inequality is sustained through the politics of language. Playing at Soho Rep, April 5–May 1, extended to May 15th the production,  presented in association with John Adrian Selzer, and marking U.S. debut of the award-winning U.K. playwright is directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. To learn more about Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., please visit

Edward R. Murrow contributed mightily when it came to doing good. He brooked no nonsense even from the scary likes of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Joseph Vitale looks at the man and his career in Murrow, starring Joseph Menino, and directed by Jeremy Williams. Murrow, produced by Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, is in a limited engagement at The Wild Project from May 4th through May 22nd. To learn more about Murrow and about the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, please visit and