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March 2000 Newsletter from New York City

By Jennifer Leake Ó

There is never a dull moment and always something to celebrate in this fast, sometimes aloof, at times violent, yet definitely culturally diverse and by all means exciting metropolis. February was Black American History Month, March is Women’s History Month, April brings Dance Week and May leads us into New York’s summer festivities.

It really doesn’t matter which time of the year you decide to roll into New York to sample the dance world because you simply can’t leave empty handed (or should that be "empty spirited?"). My newsletter offers only a morsel of what’s yours for the taking, so please don’t forget to open America’s complimentary cultural newspaper "The Village Voice" (it can be found in a bright colored plastic container at almost every third corner in Manhattan). The performing arts weekly newspapers "Back Stage" and "Showcase" will provide you with information about positions available, auditions being held, as well as other theater-related news. Further dance-specific publications can be found at Barnes and Noble bookstores.



March Highlights

Feb 29 - March 12: Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to the City Center for two New York premieres, "Cascade" and "Arabesque," in mixed programs featuring pieces from Taylor’s repertory. Taylor 2000 is under pressure to be no less than entertaining, thanks to the generous sponsorship of TIME WARNER.

Boris Eifman’s Eifman Ballet will also grace the City Center stage with "Russian Hamlet," "Red Giselle," "Requiem," and "My Jerusalem" from March 29 through April 16.

March 7 - 12: The Joyce Theater brings Spain’s 8-member ensemble Compania Vicente Sáez Dance Company to the Big Apple for its New York Debut. Featured on the program is a new work entitled "Fenix" (Phoenix) -- inspired by the mythic bird reborn from ashes -- to the music of percussion group Amores. Choreographer Vicente Sáez, dance-maker since 1984, uses movement to explore universal spiritual themes. His Joyce debut promises to shed a different light on dance in downtown Manhattan. Call JoyceCharge on (212) 242 0800 for tickets @ $28.

March 17-26: The Step Lively: Dance at The New Victory series featured Philadanco (Oct. ’99) and Suzanne Farrell Stages The Masters of The 20th Century Ballet (Nov. ’99). Trinity Irish Dance Company will close the 1999-2000 series with its New York premiere of "Curran Event." Curran Event is a collaboration between choreographer/Bessie Award winner Seán Curran and Trinity. Currant adds body percussion (slapping, clapping and snapping) to the "reggae and reel" music of the Irish rock band Kila. Another work on the program is Ashley Roland’s "O’Reely." Roland is a former Momix and ISO dancer, and the founder of BODYVOX. Just call (212) 239 6200 or visit The New Victory Box Office (209 West 42nd Street) for tickets. Prices range between $10-$20.

A tit-bit for you: In 1995 The New Victory Theater, a venue geared towards kids and their families, became the first of a host of historic 42nd Street theaters to reopen it’s doors after redevelopment funded by the non-profit organization The New 42nd Street Inc. 42nd Street Inc. is also The New Victory’s owner/operator.

March 17-18: Aaron Davis Hall -- Harlem’s foremost performing arts hub -- presents Urban Bush Women with the David Murray Octet in "Soul Deep." UBW’s Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar worked closely with composer David Murray to create a work that reflects the artists’ shared background in African American culture. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Walker Arts Center co-commissioned Soul Deep. Tickets are available for $22 at the ADH Box Office by calling (212) 650 7289.

The Aaron Davis Hall’s artist in residence for three years, is Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. The program, titled "Window on New Work," was launched in September 1998 and is aimed at increasing audiences for modern dance. The initiative has attracted almost two thousand people for movement workshops, master classes, and discussions exploring the how and why behind artists’ motivation for creating movement. Call (212) 650 7148 for tickets and details.

March 21-April 23: The Joyce Theater is again home to Eliot Feld’s "Ballet Tech" (The Company, The School, Kids Dance, and NYC Public School) for a 5-week season "of Kids Dance." Ballet Tech will perform two premieres alongside a number of repertory works. New York City Ballet’s principal Dancer Damian Woetzel will appear in "Mending" as special guest for the season. Call JoyceCharge for tickets on: (212) 242 0800.

March 29: Ballet De L’Opera De Bordeaux, directed by former principal dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet Charles Jude, will showcase works by legendary dance artists Fokine and Nijinsky, in a "Tribute to Diaghilev." The venue will be Lehman Concert Hall. Tickets cost $20 and $25. Call (718) 960 8833 for reservations.

What’s on Broadway?

March 16 - Opening: Just when you thought you’d missed it (I have to admit, I did) "Riverdance" makes a comeback! Only this time it’s at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway. Previews commenced March 3 and the official opening is March 16. This Irish extravaganza needs little introduction except maybe some information about who is featured in this particular troupe. World Champion Irish dancers Pat Roddy and Eileen Martin lead a company of 80 dancers, singers and musicians. Familiar names starring in this production made for Broadway are: the South African vocalist Tsidii Le Loka (The Lion King); Irish singing star Brian Kennedy; and the voice of Liam Neeson. Also featured in the line up of performers are the now famous 36-member Riverdance Irish Dance Troupe, The Riverdance Singers, the Moscow Folk Ballet Company, an African vocal ensemble, and The Riverdance Tappers. The show’s producer is Moya Doherty.

March 30 - Opening Night: The Lincoln Center Theater brings choreographer Susan Stroman and playwright John Weidman’s "Contact" back to the stage after a brief pause. Commencing at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on March 2, this dance play tells the tales of people in search for emotional connections. Contact’s music ranges from The Squirrel Nut Zippers to Stephane Grappelli’s rendition of Rodgers & Hart, and pieces by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Bizet. Call Telecharge on (212) 239 6200 for tickets ranging in price from $55-$80.

For an affordable and -- more often than not -- a rewarding experience, don’t miss what these theaters are presenting:

  • DTW (Dance Theater Workshop) 219 West 19th Street, NY
  • The Kitchen 512 West 19th Street, NY
  • Dance space Project@St Mark’s Church Reservations: (212) 674 8194
  • Joyce Soho 155 Mercer Street, NY. Reservations: (212) 334 7479
  • Riverside Church 91 Claremont Avenue (@121 Street), NY. Reservations: 718 481 6773 ext. 2
  • Judson Church 55 Washington Square South
  • Merce Cunningham Studio 55 Bethune, 11th Floor, NY. Information: (212) 330 8613
  • The Works Studio 131 West 24th Street, 4th Floor, NY. Reservations: (212) 691 3803
  • Symphony Space
  • 92nd Street Y Lexington Ave @ 92nd Street, NY
  • P.S. 122 150 First Ave, NY Reservations: (212) 477 5288
  • Thalia Spanish Theater
  • BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
  • Japan Society
  • Café Forty One (Features a line-up of very fine tap dancers) 41 Clark Street, Brooklyn Heights. Reservations: (718) 222 4488.
  • Pace Downtown Theater (Schimmel Center for the Arts/Pace University) Information: (212) 399 8519

Dance companies to keep an eye on:


Looking back at February

The opening of Juilliard Dance Ensemble’s 2000 Spring Performances, on February 17, would have to be one of the most exciting evenings of dance I’ve seen in New York since White Oak Dance Project at The New Victory last year. Juilliard’s most professional dance students were fully committed to the very diverse styles of guest choreographers Adam Hougland (Toronto Dance Theatre), Iyun Ashani Harrison (Ailey II; formerly Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble), Reginald Yates (Executive Director of Dance Aid for Africa), Mauricio Wainrot (Artistic Director of Ballet Contemporáneo del Teatro San Martin of Buenos Aires) featured on program. Three world premieres, Hougland’s "Beyond", Harrison’s "Of Roots and Stone" and Yates’ "Life Forms/Solo Inventions," were all original, outstanding and conclusive, leaving the audiences with lasting impressions. Juilliard’s dancers may not all possess the "typical dancer physique" but they do own the drive, commitment and magnetic presence of any "successful professional performing artist."

New York City Ballet added a new work by Twyla Tharp to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major to its repertory. In her "Beethoven Seventh," Tharp twisted the fast footwork, extended classical lines, virtuoso turns and challenging partner work -- idiosyncratic of the late Balanchine’s choreography -- out of shape enough to make the audience stare in disbelief at the agility of the 16 dancers. At the same time, a smile was never far from our lips as we watched dancers such as Jenifer Ringer and Peter Boal perform with a lightness of being and musicality that only Tharp can so naturally evoke.

The next new Tharp premiere to watch out for will be her new ballet created for American Ballet Theater. Its world premiere is on March 21st at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The piece’s New York premiere will take place at the Metropolitan Opera House from May 9.

I may not be around to put together’s April newsletter due to a trip I’m taking "down under" -- where I hope to see what’s happening during the lead up to Sydney Olympics 2000. I will try and let you in on the dance scene in the Southern hemisphere, but please excuse me if I get side-tracked by all the sun and surf enveloping my homeland, Australia. Happy theater going!

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