Author : Pamela Vachon
In Katlehong Cabaret, presented exclusively in the United States by Peak Performances, all the familiar elements of cabaret are incorporated: an opening number that builds slowly into a full-company anthem, an uplifting love duet, a melancholy torch song, a bejeweled diva, a virtuosic tap solo, physical comedy, audience participation, a self-deprecating emcee, a show-stopping ensemble dance number, even a rousing can-can routine (one that might have made the ladies of the Moulin Rouge high-kick in their graves, but nonetheless…). Although the format is familiar, this is unlike any cabaret come before it, in that the headliner at this nightclub is South Africa herself. Read more »
Imagine, if you will, a casting notice: “Local children wanted for Italian theater production containing adult themes on aging and illness. Children will be expected to throw rocks at a Renaissance portrait of Jesus. Please bring backpack.” Such was one challenge for Peak Performances in presenting Romeo Castellucci’s On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God. Six children, aged 10 to 13, were nonetheless recruited; most were children of local artists or academics with relationships to either Peak Performances or Montclair State. I had an interesting vantage point among all this, in that I was hired to serve as a “wrangler” for the local kids—to be an extra point of contact for their parents and an extra backstage adult ensuring that the kids were where they needed to be when they needed to be there. I knew little else about the show when I agreed to the gig. Read more »
Benjamin Millepied, a French choreographer with a largely balletic background and lately popularized by his work on the psychological dance thriller Black Swan, has assembled a company of six boundlessly athletic and sexy young dancers capable of tackling the challenge before them: an evening of three works representing the spectrum, historically and stylistically, of contemporary dance. The choice of these three pieces—Millepied’s own Moving Parts (2012), Merce Cunningham’s Winterbranch (1964), and William Forsythe’s Quintett (1993)—and the way they collectively demonstrate what contemporary dance is capable of make for a highly successful evening, one that not only exhibits varied styles of movement within the canon but provides an interesting examination of how certain attendant technical elements of contemporary dance performance—music, lights, scenery—contribute to its overall spirit as an art form. Read more »
A Bangladeshi choreographer, a British urban planner, and a 13th century Sufi poet walk into a bar…the result is less punchline, more visual punch. The program notes for Akram Khan Company’s Vertical Road begin with a poem by Rumi; to ruminate (pun intended) on his ideas is a fitting beginning to this evening of dance and movement narrative. Read more »
This just in: Hula dancing is not just about undulating hips and swaying arms and gentle voices intended to lull you into a catatonic stupor following a pig roast and poi platter. Neither, apparently, does it necessarily include grass skirts and coconut bras.
My singular experience with hula dancing and Hawaiian culture, prior to Saturday night’s performance of Kūlanihāko‘i: Living Waters in Montclair, was at a luau at the Polynesian Resort Hotel in Walt Disney World when I was twelve. Can you blame me for my preconceptions?