Inspired by the endless best-of-2009 lists, decade-wrap-ups, and Evan’s own recap on Dancing Perfectly Free, I thought I’d take a stab at my favorite dance events of the past year. There is so much that I missed, so in addition to being highly subjective, this list is also woefully incomplete. But enough apologies, onto the praises!
Yanira Castro’s Dark Horse/Black Forest presented by PS122. This work absolutely knocked me over– twice in a row. Set in the bathroom of the Gershwin Hotel, two extraordinary dancers (Heather Olson and Joseph Paulson or Luke Miller and Darrin Wright) made us terribly uncomfortable by sharing intimate moments with us. I learned the joys of having a performance invade my personal space, and I had the absolute pleasure of writing about it for the Rail. It will be presented at the Skirball Center ladies’ room at Dance Gotham 2010, January 9 and 10.
Laura Peterson’s Choreography’s Forever at DNA. So much that I loved about formal dance in one clean performance. Danceviewtimes ran a fantastic review in February. Laura Peterson Choreography’s newest work, Wooden, will be shown January 12-13 at HERE Arts Center in a shared program with Johari Mayfield, and you can catch another look at Forever at the APAP showcase at DNA.
Ursula Endlicher’s Website Impersonations at Center for Performance Research. Another dance installation that worked its way under my skin, the piece exposed the fundamentals of human learning and understanding by reflecting the virtual world. The butoh-trained dancers were phenomenally intelligent and mature. My review for the Rail is here.
Kate Weare Company at Danspace Project. This was my first brush with these artists, and I was utterly enraptured, my memory of the show a blur. The choreographic craft, understated power of the dancers (Jennifer Nugent’s devastating presence hangs in my consciousness), and musical cohesiveness combined to produce an emotionally weighted, deeply satisfying evening. I left feeling that I had witnessed something divine. Deborah Jowitt’s thoughts are here.
It’s wonderful, if not that common, that a show’s ambitious concept is fully realized. I saw the revival of John Jasperse Company’s Becky, Jodi and John at DTW, which considered aging and art-making with humor and sensitivity. There was a strange delicateness to it that seemed perfectly appropriate. Read Claudia La Rocco’s thoughts on the first production. Totally of-the-moment was jill sigman/thinkdance’s ZsaZsaLand at Office Ops, a brightly-colored, darkly-familiar celebration of excess and denial in response to the economic meltdown, war, and related crises. I wrote about it here, and you can read Deborah Jowitt’s view here. Finally, Dan Safer/Witness Relocation’s The Panic Show at DNA was delightfully spot-on dance theater exploring anxiety, and hilarious to boot. If you missed it, there will be another showing at the APAP showcase at DNA.
Aside from the dancers mentioned already, I wanted to give a little space to three more: Judith Sanchez Ruiz, Jodi Melnick, and Natalia Osipova. I saw Sanchez Ruiz in REPLICA, a duet with Jonah Bokaer for the LMCC Sitelines series this summer. Both are fluid, clean, “quiet” dancers, absolutely beautiful movers with a post-modern clarity stripped of flash (Bokaer cut his teeth with Merce Cunningham, Sanchez Ruiz is in Trisha Brown’s company). Sanchez Ruiz has a touch of bounce that distinguishes her from Bokaer, as if a rubber ball was in her body– but softly! The bounce pours from her face, eyes and mouth in a way that is not “emotive” but pure dance. It’s enthralling. She was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for 2010, and will be performing solo work at Danspace Project this February in a shared program with Souleymane Badolo. Jodi Melnick performed at The Kitchen before gracing John Jaspere’s show at DTW. Claudia La Rocco’s NYT review captures some of the subtlety and magic of her movement. And it may come as no surprise that I adored guest artist Natalia Osipova’s ABT performances this spring, particularly Giselle. I wrote a short preview for the Rail anticipating her US debuts, but Alastair McCauley’s review confirms that she nailed it (Giselle, at least). Robert Gottlieb praises her here. This summer, we’ll finally get to see her Don Quixote, and she’ll dance the lead in Sleeping Beauty as well.
A few honorable mentions– first to Vanessa Anspaugh, whom I saw at Food for Thought at Danspace, and blogged about here. Her work will be performed at DTW’s Fresh Tracks in February. Second, to Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith at the Tank, to whom I devoted an extensive post on this site. They will perform at Movement Research at Judson Church on January 4. Third, to Christopher Williams for the scale of The Golden Legend at DTW (my response is here; Deborah Jowitt wrote a great piece for the Voice). Finally, to Mark Morris’s Romeo and Juliet, for the exquisite music (and, I concede, I had a soft spot for his gender-bending Mercutio and Tybalt). Like many, I love Prokofiev’s familiar 1940 score, but to hear the 1935 version, sweeter and somehow richer, blossoming from the orchestra pit was an experience I am glad not to have missed.