Bowen McCauley Braves “Rite of Spring” at the Kennedy Center

The audience gasps as the curtain reveals a cosmic scene – a blood-red scrim protruded by a gargantuan tinfoil moon structure and Bowen McCauley Dance’s eight member company strewn in makeshift positions across the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater stage. “Le Sacre du Printemps”(or “Rite of Spring”) is Lucy’s variation on the original Nijinsky work. The 33 minute score of asymmetrical tribal rhythms is a feat to attempt, and Lucy bravely gave the work a contemporary makeover, adding a new level of humanity to the portrayal of the virgin sacrifice who dances herself to death.

Photo Credit: John McCauley

Debuting at the John F. Kennedy Center March 1st and 2nd, 2012, “Le Sacre du Printemps” closed BMD’s four piece concert.  Composed by Igor Stavinsky, Vaslav Nijinsky’s original work was set on Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes.  It debuted in Paris in 1913 to an outraged audience. Compared to the Romantic ballets of the time, the low contracted, turned-in and grotesque shapes riddled with violent bouncing and harsh rhythms were no doubt shocking.

Now almost in its centennial year, “Rite of Spring” is credited with being “the first modern dance,” the work that set into motion a new generation of modern visionaries. Lucy has counted herself amongst those inspired for more than half her life. “I have loved this music since I first heard the orchestral version at Interlochen when I was 14,” she said.

Costumed in torn flesh-colored bike-tards ripping at the seams and muscle-like roping holding on stripes of charcoal fabric (design: Chesley Schuller and Tony Cisek), “Le Sacre du Printemps” was set to Stravinsky’s four-hand piano score (musicians: Fabio and Giselle Witkowksi). The melodic nature of the piano seemed to alleviate the severity of the monotonous chord pounding.

The tribe of dancers paints an apocalyptic scene, meshing classic stag leaps and hieroglyphic images joined with Lucy’s signature fluidity. Men and women seem to share power over each other, choosing their mates while also stalking the chosen sacrifice. When the choice is made, dancer Alicia Curtis draws out the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance, shown by a resigned intensity in her gaze. In a theatrical display that would’ve made Gelsey Kirkland proud, Alicia lets loose her hair and pleas to her kinsmen for mercy. Finally succumbing to her isolation and the emotional turmoil of this Vagner-like operatic drama, Alicia sprints to the edge of the orchestra pit cliff, just as the tribe encapsulates her. Blackout.

In “Beethoven Bits,” choreography by the late Eric Hampton, and “Resuitened,” smooth technique is interjected with pops of color – humorous moments of unexpected gesture implanted in such an unconventional way that the audience has to chuckle. The dancers are fingers on the keyboard, the theatrical depiction of each classical note.

“Ozone” was a rich collaborative project. With music by Larry Alan Smith, BMD’s music director, and inspired by Rita Dove’s poetry, “Ozone” blended the organic artistry of a cello, a flute, a soprano voice and graceful movement, with moments of discomfort – a breathy note of the flute, a piercing high of the soprano or a note held to the point of dying out on the cello. These moments were gradually extended much like expansion of atmospheric holes.

Lucy was awarded The Pola Nirenska Award, presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society for her achievements in dance in the DC Metro community. “[Lucy’s] company serves as a challenge for audiences and a frame for Washington talent,” said WPAS representative George Jackson.

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Welcome DC Dance Blogger Lauren Green

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as often. So you can imagine my excitement when Lauren Green asked to meet with me to talk about contributing to danceDC. It was inspiring to meet a go-getter like Lauren who not only loves dance, but also has an interest in the whole social media thing (you know I love me some Twitter). So please help me in welcoming Lauren by following her @laurlens, e-mailing her leads at legreen123@gmail.com and staying tuned to danceDC for her first blog post (also catch her stories on Pink Line Project).

Meet Lauren Green

Lauren Green is a local DC dance blogger and freelance writer. She has written articles for Dance Studio Life, Dance Teacher and The Buffalo Spree magazines. She has also written dance reviews for the Buffalo News. Now emerging in the blog world, Lauren is developing her following in the DC dance scene. She hopes to spread the word about great local dance events, performances, reviews, and educational opportunities with a clever stroke of the keypad.

Making her way in the world of PR and social media marketing, Lauren is currently an intern with Brotman.Winter.Fried Communications in Northern Virginia, where she is expanding her knowledge of events planning and media relations. Lauren has performed with LehrerDance in Buffalo, Undertoe Dance Project and Jessica Taylor in New York City, and Dancin’ Unlimited in the Washington DC Metro Area. Lauren has her BFA in Dance from the University at Buffalo (UB), where she was a member of the Zodiaque Dance Company. Lauren has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, under the direction of Debbie Allen. She has also trained intensively from Thodos Dance Chicago, the Broadway Theatre Project (2007), Ballet Academy East (NYC), Steps NYC, and Point Park University.

A Note From Lauren

“A love of writing and social media paved the way for my interest in blogging. I found Cecile without difficulty when researching local dance blog artists and am now excited to be contributing to her well-established resource.  Here’s to dancing ahead!” ~LG

Capital Funk and Capitol Movement

I’ve been hard at work at Joy of Motion Dance Center so haven’t had the chance to write as much as I would like to. Don’t be mistaken though! I am still taking class and attending dance performances all over the area. Last month, I cheered on Capital Funk at their 4th annual hip hop showcase Funk Academy. And last weekend, I was in the back row of The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in awe of the amazing dancers of Capitol Movement. I thought it would be fun to do a side by side comparison to show you how diverse the DC dance scene really is. I keep telling you. There really is something for everyone.

Company & Concert Capital Funk: Funk Academy Capitol Movement Project: Layers
Performance Date Saturday, April 16, 2011 Saturday, May 14, 2011
Venue Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University Terrace Theater, The Kennedy Center
Ticket Price $10-$15 $60
What You Missed A showcase of hip hop artists including dancers, rappers, spoken word artists, singers and beatboxers A work in progress exploring the dynamics of the human experience through diverse styles of dance
What Made Me Smile Capital Funk performed two medleys. The opening number included Janet Jackson’s Pleasure Principle. The final number ended with Jordan Knight’s Give It To You! I’ve been to several shows at The Kennedy Center, but this was the liveliest crowd I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t help but smile at the loud cheering, whistling and clapping.
What I Could Have Used Less Of The MCs. They were funny, but made the program longer than necessary. Strobe lights and on stage bedroom scenes. A couple numbers were guilty of using these ‘effects.’
What I Would Like To Have Seen More Of Capital Funk! I was surprised that they only performed twice. I came to see you all dance : ) The Pre-Professional Company. They performed what I thought was the best hip hop piece of the night (choreographed by Luam).
What Made The Crowd Go Wild Culture Shock DC’s number during the second act of the show. When the dancers went back to their seats in the audience, their fellow performers were literally bowing as if to say ‘we’re not worthy.’ The Long Walk, a duet choreographed by Fidel Garcia and Stephanie Jojokian. People were really giving it up for one of the leads. She was preggers! The final number Salvation also ended the show on a high note.
What Else I want to give a shout out to the West Springfield Dance Team. Their Matrix inspired routine was scary, but sick. Holler at Joy of Motion Dance Center faculty members Ashley White and Sarah Mikels. You inspire me on stage and in the studio!

Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker at The Kennedy Center

Joffrey Ballet

source: The Georgetowner

Last night, I saw Joffrey Ballet perform The Nutcracker at The Kennedy Center. To give you some context, I’ve seen The Nutcracker performed several times by Northeast Youth Ballet (formerly Melrose Youth Ballet), Ballet Theatre of Boston, Boston Ballet and The Royal Ballet in London. I was hoping to go on and on about how the Joffrey Ballet has been my favorite Nutcracker experience so far, but that’s not the case. The Royal Ballet still takes the cake.

The Nutcracker took place at the Opera House, the second-largest theater in the Center according to their website. The Opera House is a sea of red fabric with gold detail. The ceiling centerpiece is a circle of crystal lights that feels a bit outdated, but glamorous nonetheless. I sat in the first row of the second tier and the view was still great. I give one point to The Kennedy Center for that versus the Royal Opera House in London, which has seats with obstructed views. Seriously, there are some seats where you can’t see half the stage.

I always hate the party scene of The Nutcracker, but the dancer who played Fritz made it somewhat interesting. Although he was completely over acting, he was so fun to watch and looked like he was legitimately having a good time playing the part. During the battle scene, a few moments that made me smile were seeing the mice wearing armor and riding cavalry, and the toy soldiers pulling out a large map in the middle of fighting. I was excited when the snow scene finally came, but was distracted by the site of Clara sitting on a rocking horse. I’m also pretty sure I saw a couple of the snowflakes run into each other. There was a male lead in the snow scene who did a great fuete/attitude turn combo, but that was one of the only moves that caught my eye.

Joffrey Ballet

source: LASplash.com

In the second act, I was surprised that I really enjoyed the Arabian dance. I still liked my favorites – Spanish and Russian, but the Arabian dance was much more technically impressive. The female lead had amazing back and leg extension, and during the finale she did this cool lift turn where she landed with both knees tucked into the arms of her male partner. Most impressive was a ponche en releve that she executed while holding a scarf. I was trying to find the words to explain it, but luckily I found this picture from LASplash.com.

If you saw The Joffrey Ballet at The Kennedy Center, what were your favorite moments? How did this performance compare to other Nutcrackers you’ve seen in the past?

danceDC Weekend Event Guide 11/26-11/28

Joffrey Ballet

source: Joffrey Ballet Facebook page

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I guess it’s not too ridiculous to start thinking about Christmas (or whatever it is you celebrate). Part of the holiday season, for me anyway, is going to see The Nutcracker. If you’re in DC this weekend, The Joffrey Ballet will be performing the classic at The Kennedy Center. Performances are today, tomorrow and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm. I’m hopefully going to get home in time for the 7:30pm performance on Sunday, but we’ll see how that goes.

If ballet isn’t your thing, you can catch Flamenco en Familia at the GALA Hispanic Theatre Saturday at 8pm. This FREE performance features an interactive demonstration led by Lourdes Elias, co-director of the Spanish Dance Society, and other local Flamenco artists. For more information about this event, please visit www.galatheatre.org. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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