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Breaking Buzz, 3-1: White Out Conditions
'Cross-cultural Communication' as Lincoln Center Festival Sees it

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider

Lincoln Center Festival today announced a line-up whose dance attractions are dominated by popular old favorites and Western contemporary dance or ballet forms, with a world premiere from Elizabeth Streb; Mark Morris's "Sylvia" and a tepid mixed program from San Francisco Ballet; the New York premiere of Bill T. Jones's "Blind Date"; New Age choreographer Saburo Teshigawara; Batsheva and two other modern dance companies from Israel; and has-been French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, who choreographs Elliot Goldenthal's opera "Grendel," directed by Julie Taymor and starring Desmond Richardson. One has to wonder what Lincoln Center president Reynold Levy was referring to -- certainly not the dance component -- when he said, "We are proud of the contribution to cross-cultural communication a number of our projects have made." No Asian cultures, for example, Indian forms (although there will be a dance element to the Thai 'Rak' opera "Ramakien"), no Spanish cultures (Flamenco), and no African dance cultures are represented in the festival's dance programming. Exactly how is this cross-cultural? On an equally fundamental level, where exactly is the curator? The question isn't whether companies like Streb, San Francisco Ballet, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane merit a mass audience; they do. Yet I can't help sensing a certain claustrophobia in programming which seemingly refuses to recognize the validity of any forms of dance besides ballet and modern. There's a whole wide world out here; why can't the Lincoln Center Festival recognize this, at least as pertains to its dance attractions -- especially when it claims to have an expansive world view?

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