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Monday, June 20, 2016

A Battlefield with Deep Roots: Peter Brook's 30 Year Endeavor

Jared McNeill, Sean O’Callaghan, Ery Nzaramba, Carole Karemera. Photo: Caroline Moreau
By Jess Goldschmidt

Before it reached America’s shores, it was already a sensation. Making its world premiere in 1985 at the Avignon Theater Festival, Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata was performed in a massive, open limestone quarry filled with gleaming yellow sand. It shattered the limits of epic theater, sweeping audiences into an all-night staging of Hinduism’s most revered saga, with rivers of fire, hails of arrows, and an ensemble of actors and musicians from 18 countries. It has been said in various ways: “Everything that exists is in The Mahabharata... what isn’t in The Mahabharata doesn’t exist anywhere.”

Over the course of the production’s 10 years of development, Brook assembled some key collaborators, from musician Toshi Tsuchitori—who traveled to India for nearly two years to learn classical instrumentation—to the woman who would become his right hand for the next 30 years, Marie-Hélène Estienne. In the early 80s, Estienne went to India at Brook’s behest to simply observe and report back on the details of as many adaptations of the production’s source material as she could.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Moved by the Music: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's Choreographic Vision

Vortex Temporum in rehearsal. Photo: Anne Van Aerschot
By Anna Troester

Thirty years ago, Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas, made their BAM debut in the 1986 Next Wave Festival with a deeply compelling work of driving intensity. Weaving repetitive, mundane gestures with moments of visceral spontaneity—in symbiosis with a similarly relentless, minimalist score by Thierry De Mey and Peter Vermeersch—four female dancers demonstrated a kind of stripped down movement idiom that audiences had never seen before. The piece was the now-seminal Rosas danst Rosas.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dance—changing lives worldwide

BODYTRAFFIC in Jordan. Photo by Guzmán Rosado
By Susan Yung

Since its inception, DanceMotion USASM has reached more than 125,000 people in 49 countries, and an impressive 40 million online. Participants for 2017—18 are KEIGWIN + COMPANY, Stephen Petronio Company, and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. It’s a testament to the depth of American dance talent that these esteemed companies comprise what is already the sixth season of this international exchange initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, produced by BAM.

BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo notes, “DanceMotion USASM has had enormous impact on the global communities it has touched, and has inspired and enriched our dance-ambassadors.” The artists will embark on four-week residencies in different regions of the world, engaging in performances and outreach events—workshops, master classes, and press interviews—as well as sessions on production and arts management. Of particular focus are at-risk youth, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTI community.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016 Next Wave Festival—Shifting Borders

Company Wang Ramirez in Monchichi. Photo: Morah Geist, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance
By Susan Yung

The 2016 Next Wave dives into new genre amalgamations and forms that have been in flux throughout the Festival’s 33-year history. Collaboration is prominent, notably in the Brooklyn/Paris Exchange, which underscores the frequent comparison between creative nerve centers Brooklyn and the Left Bank, with exchange runs by four inventive troupes—two each from Brooklyn and Paris. Dance is robustly represented by nine exhilaratingly disparate companies. Theater includes searing reboots of classics, as well as five of the Bard’s plays rolled into one, plus inventive productions that push known limits. Music also defies standards with compositional daring and physical risk-taking.