Tag Archives: columbus dance theater

Danse Homage and the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, Oct. 16-17

16 Oct

For the first time in months I attended a live dance show (PRAISE BE TO BILLY ELLIOT!), Danse Homage, as presented by the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company (and others).  First I have to say that it felt so good just to be seeing dance on the stage again.  It was a choice between this show and BalletMet’s production of Swan Lake, but I was kind of weirded out when I heard BalletMet had cast two different dancers as Odette and Odile.  Also, when I reserve things from the library I get e-mails that tell me when they’re ready to be picked up, and lo and behold, I got an e-mail yesterday that said a Swan Lake I had reserved was in.  I took it as a sign that I should experience something new and different, because for the most part, Swan Lake is Swan Lake.  Not to mention Columbus is driving me crazy and I spend my days formulating some kind of a plan to get out of here and be anywhere but here, so with that as the theme of life for the time being, I made my choice.  The only mistake of the evening I really made was wearing my skinny jeans, which happen to strangle my fat thighs and restrict my legs from bending too much.

Anyway, the department of dance chair specifically requested that we tweet, call, text, whatever and spread the word about the show, so here’s my leetle contribution.  Kristina Isabelle is a local artist, with a small modern company.  I believe she grew up in the area, is obviously still here (although she earned her BFA from Juilliard) and thus quite invested into the Columbus dance community.  And let me tell you, the Columbus dance community needs her.  Personally, I think it’s kind of dilapidated here (keep in mind I’m getting increasingly bitter, crotchety and anxious to get out by the day), and the survival of dance in Columbus hinges on the Ohio State’s dance department.  Even our major ballet company, BalletMet, is combining with the Cincinnati Ballet to put on Swan Lake.  We just don’t have a lot of resources here, and it kills me.  The arts shouldn’t have to try so hard to survive, which is why this town drives me oh so crazy, because if the arts struggle to survive, I struggle to survive.  Quite simply, without thriving arts, there be no me.  Don’t get me wrong, Columbus has a great art scene…but it’s not enough and I’m wasting away.  Anyway, it’s up to fantastic leadership from a few individuals to ensure that the arts don’t develop a geographic bias.  The work that she’s putting into Columbus is a swim upriver, but she’s doing something great.

The show featured a fair variety of pieces, of course all under the branch of modern movement, although one was on stilts which was rather unusual.  The first piece was more “dancey” in the sense that it was superhuman and unearthly.  The colors of the costumes were reminiscent of celestial bodies in the universe, and the movement was sensuous with lots of undulations and intimate lifts, but without being skanky.  Then there was a solo…kind of prototypical modern: square spotlights, really aggressive, thrown movements, and technologified mixed sounds for the soundtrack.  Basically the kind of stuff that weirds me out with its intensity, but that’s my nature.  The namesake of the company performed the solo, and she is perhaps one of the fittest women in the world, but when people get in my face, I tend to withdraw.  But that’s me.  Third piece was a male solo on stilts, which scare the crap out of me because I always envision a grape or an olive rolling in front of someone on stilts and then they take a nasty fall.  I don’t know why I can’t get that image out of my head, but stilts freak me out.  Innovative, and I was taking it very literally and getting this injured and angry heron vibe, as if it were caged and definitely mad about it, but had I read the program, I would have known that it was based on Saint Sebastian.  I’m an idiot.  Moving on, the fourth piece featured young dancers from Columbus Dance Theater (but choreographed by Isabelle, again showing her involvement), and watching them made me feel like I was forty years old.  So young.  I think it was a great opportunity for those kids to experience modern dance so early in their dance careers.  Unfortunately I believe Saturday’s show will feature a different piece instead of this one, with everything else remaining the same.  So if anyone in Columbus is interested in seeing the show, Saturday will not have this.

Now the third piece, to Tchaikovsky!  Be still my beating heart!  It was interesting, because there’s moments in the piece where the dancers were scratching themselves furiously, and scratching is one of those things where if you watch it enough, your brain kind of creates an imaginary itch and all of a sudden you find yourself needing to alleviate yourself.  The costumes were pedestrian clothes, the movement more organic and human in nature, which is interesting when juxtaposed to the structure and lyricism of a Tchaikovsky string quartet.  An different take on the emotion of frustration and after the show I was told that parts of it were…“improvised.”  Heed my warning…one should take care to avoid mentioning “the I word” around me, because it strikes fear in the deepest part of my soul.  There are many things I fear in life, and “the I word” is most defos one of them.  I’m like a deer in the headlights, and I freeze in complete terror.  But this is also a large part of the reason why I respect people who are comfortable with it.  Anyway, the night ended with a piece that was…I hate to say, on the long side, but there was an unusual interactive feature where someone in the audience got to choose several pieces of music and the order in which they would be performed.  That’s kind of cool.  However, personally, I prefer continuity in a dance, and the last piece was very disjointed (a perfectly fine artistic choice) and I lose focus.  You’d think the attention span of a squirrel would help in this instance, but it actually makes it worse.  There were a lot of different styles, personalities, solos, group dances…it was a lot like channel surfing, but when I channel surf, I don’t get anything out of it, because all I concern myself with is wherever I stop.

So if you’re in Columbus, please check out their second show on Saturday, October 17th, 8pm at Sullivant Theater.  Be sure to check out the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company’s website as well, if you’d like to know more about their company, her background, etc.  It’s really important that we support local artists, because as I always say, pyramids are built from the bottom up.  No matter which dance artists you think are the best in the world, there is a myriad of bricks on the bottom, many of them unseen, doing hard work to hold them up there, and they need recognition too!

No rabbits, no olives. What’s the journey of the pelvis?

16 Sep

Last week I said I was reading Carlos Acosta’s biography, and it was true.  But I was on page six.  However, last night I felt compelled to read much more and got through about a third of the book.  I have to say he’s actually quite funny, although I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was intending to be or not.  Maybe I have a sick sense of humor, but stories like the one of his dad teaching him how to ride a bike by putting him on it and giving him a hearty push so that he would run into a lamppost each time until he would eventually figure out how to avoid the lamppost…so much funny.  But he was so traumatized by the event, I feel guilty for being amused.  Or how traumatized he was by his parents cooking his pet rabbits for dinner, which at first, I gasped out loud because I was horrified by the thought, but then I kind of chuckled out of pity for little Carlitos and the bunnies (to this day, he has never eaten rabbit meat since).  I guess I relate to his childhood traumas in a comical way because humor is how I deal with mine.  I’m still terrified of and can’t watch The Goonies or E.T., and I’m okay with and might even enjoy the fact that people get a kick out of that.  Or how I could not reason with myself into eating black olives because when I was little, my parents took me to Pizza Hut and I completely freaked out when I was sure I saw an olive move.  They looked like the little beetle guys from Super Mario.

For the record, I have as an adult learned to eat and appreciate black olives.  Sometimes I still balk when it comes to pizza, but I think I've conquered it.

For the record, I have as an adult learned to eat and appreciate black olives. Sometimes I still balk when it comes to pizza, but I think I've conquered it.

He also has some good, what can now be termed “FML” moments (acronym for “f my life” for the blissfully unaware), like one time when he was playing hooky from ballet school (at one point he said he made a “compromise” with himself and would only skip school one week every month, instead of all the time), fell asleep on a pile of leaves by a lake and woke up to find that a bird had shat on his head.  Or a childhood game he and his friends invented, where one would throw a stick in the mud, the goal of which was to throw it in such a way that it would be standing up straight, and if one managed to achieve such a feat, the loser would have to eat a ball of mud.  It got better when he was also playing this while skipping a performance, and because his friend wasn’t convinced that Carlos had won, started wrestling with him in the mud.  The good part was when his teachers came by in a black car, abducted the muddy little Carlos and dragged his behind back to the school for the show (in which he was to do a mazurka with a girl he had a bit of a crush on), reprimanding him the whole time and literally flinging him into his costume and throwing him onstage.  I live for this kind of stuff.  There are definitely a lot of raw, gritty and difficult moments so far (where I am in the book he hasn’t even left Cuba yet), but it’s proving to be a really entertaining read.

Any whozoozle, as you can probably tell, I haven’t been to a dance class for a few weeks now, and it is slowly killing me on the inside.  It’s not there aren’t options, it’s just that I’m at a point where so many things in my life are up in the air and as a result I can’t squander the remains of my funds.  I might have to start going at least once a week though, because my soul is withering away, but while it does I survive on late-night dancing by myself like no one’s watching and memories of good times.  In fact, yesterday while YT-surfing, I found in a “related video” a dance by Adriana Durant, who now teaches at Ohio University.  SMALL WORLD.  She was one of the teachers I had at OSU, and…well, this is difficult for me to say, but I took hip hop with her.  I will rarely, if ever discuss hip hop in this blog, and not because of any ideas of it not being “legitimate dance” or anything like that I assure you.  It’s just that the thought of me and hip hop is pretty horrifying because that’s how bad I am at it.  My brain isn’t wired to understand it very well, and I’m not exactly into that kind of music either (Off topic, but Acosta started as a little break dancing kid.  Who knew?).  But it is fun to try every now and then, although for me, I’d be happy if I could take a hip hop class maybe…three times a decade.

The dance of hers I found was Jane and Wayne, a piece I actually got to see live while she was at OSU (although I don’t know if that’s where it was originally choreographed) and it was really cool to see it restaged for OU.  (For the record, people outsiders get Ohio State University and Ohio University confused all the time.  In fact, a lady I edit translations for intended to go to Ohio State, went through the whole application process and everything, and it wasn’t until after the unexpectedly long bus ride from the airport that she arrived in Athens, Ohio and thought to herself “I don’t think I’m in Columbus” and was welcomed by the orientation staff as one of Ohio University’s newest bobcats.  True story.)  I don’t think Jane and Wayne had a plot, and she typically does plotless dances to music, oftentimes incorporating an element of humor, which of course I loves.  In Jane and Wayne the audience always laughs at the end, but unfortunately you can’t see why in this particular video (priceless facial expressions).  It’s just a really fun piece that maintains the audience’s attention.  Unspoiled by messages or storylines, it serves as a conglomeration of peculiar movement that draws in the eyes and asks the brain no questions, takes no prisoners.

I did have a chance to take a modern class with her at the beginning of the summer when she did a workshop type thing at Columbus Dance Theater, which was a lot of fun, albeit painful.  First, I hadn’t done modern in a long time and modern is not my forte.  In fact, every time I’ve taken a modern class I always seem to hurt myself.  Hers in particular had some inversions and my elbow cracked, which it does a lot but on rare occasions it’s the kind of popping that hurts.  It didn’t feel good the next day and my sides were so sore it hurt when I laughed.  Second, her choreography is just plain hard.  But she’s so creative, supportive and non-judgmental it really is a pleasure to work with her.  She’ll say things like “I’m all about the journey right now, like the journey of the pelvis from here to there.  What is that?” to which I can only shrug my shoulders and say “I dunno” while internally thinking “let’s find out.”  I miss her, and her stories…like one where she told us about choreographing a dance in high school that included her, her sister and a group of friends and at the very end they were supposed to all jump up with jazz hands or something like that, except before the actual performance she told everyone except her sister to stay down instead.  It was mean, but so damn funny.

In other, completely unrelated news, last night I happened upon a video of 12 year old Derek Dunn, who I’m sure many ballet people are already familiar with.  He won the 2008 Youth America Grand Prix junior division with a Flames of Paris variation that was ridiculously good.  There’s a video of him doing it another competition too, and I like the commenter who wrote “12 my ass.”  It’s clear though, that at twelve he already knows how to connect with an audience, has wonderful eye contact and some extra gas in the tank that has a dusting of Soviet.  Companies must be salivating at the prospect of snapping this one up, with his enormous talent and Baryshnikovian head tossing.