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The Buzz, 4-18: Rant-free Zone
Aurora's Dream Team in Tulsa; Bill Graham is Alive & Well & Working as BraginStaff in NY; the Real 'Scene' in Montpellier; Rainer Noted in the Village; Chen's Landscape in NJ; my Bionic City by the Bay

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider

In commemoration of today's centennial of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, today's three-dotter, filed from his second-favorite city, is dedicated to the greatest three-dotter of them all, who shoulda been here to chronicle the day himself, Herb Caen.

Tulsa Towers

As any educated dance insider will tell you -- and as my DI colleague and tutor Aimee Ts'ao first taught me -- a bad partner can make a good dancer look weak, a solid partner can elevate her to excellence. I can't think of a truer test of this than the "Sleeping Beauty"'s Rose Adagio, in which Princess Aurora passes among four cavaliers, balancing on pointe in attitude, in between partners doing so by herself. Okay, I know this is more the test of the ballerina than her men, but I can't help that think that the steadfastedness of her partners must be bolstering. One can hardly imagine four more reliable cavaliers than (the eternal) Frederic Franklin, Bruce Marks, Ivan Nagy and Ben Stevenson. So when it came time for Tulsa Ballet director Marcello Angelini to put together the appropriate 'supporting' cast for Tulsa ballerina Daniela Buson and the Rose Adagio segment of her gala, it was to these four colleagues that Angelini turned, and none, reportedly, disappointed for the April 9 event at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. "It was an historical moment as those four masters have never been, and will never be, on the same stage again," the awed Angelini told the Buzz....

Inklings of an Impresario

... Actually an impresario hybrid, those being Bill Bragin, perhaps the closest thing we have left to a Bill Graham, and Robin Staff, the co-founder of Dancenow/NYC. So what if there's not a Joe's Pub 'West' yet?; presenters who want to both see the edge and move it would do wise to follow Bragin's programming (and research approach) as artistic director of Joe's Pub, part of the Public Theater empire. For the first couple of years of his reign, Bragin -- who previously ran the whole show at Central Park's summer arts festival and the newer music programming at Symphony Space -- would sort of apologize to me for not being able to pursue his acquired dance passion in and on the more compressed Joe's Pub stage. Then he met the indefatigable Staff, who never met a stage she couldn't dance on, and it wasn't long before BraginStaff had created Dancemopolitan @ Joe's Pub, thus solving the only thing I didn't like about the annual Dancenow festival: that the New York presenting scene, which can sometimes seem inbred (Danspace Project being an exception among the major presenters), needed more than a once-yearly infusion of a new -- and more inviting, to artists as well as audience -- curating perspective.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can experience it viscerally at the Pub May 5 & 6, when the apparently noted prestidigitator "The Amazing Russello" presides over a Dancemopolitan alchemy that comprises Kyle Abraham, Dixie Fun Dance Theater, Keely Garfield, John Heginbotham, Deborah Lohse, Christopher K. Morgan, Regina Nejman, Nugent + Matteson Dance and Peggy Peloquin. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an effective way to reserve tickets on either Dancenow or Joe's Pub's websites, so in lieu of sending you to Telecharge I'll just have to call on the time-honored... check your local listings....

Stages Outside Stages

Lest you think the Buzz is Manhattan-centric, or even USA-centric, or even (reflecting the town where we live) Paris-centric, or yet again (reflecting the town we're about to speak about) festival-centric, hereabouts our Bill Graham goes by the name of Etienne Schwarcz, who, with Young Ho Nam, Leonardo Montecchia and Fran┘ois Rascalou programs la Chapelle, an almost literally underground space in the Cite Gely quarter of Montpellier (France, not Vermont). From being regarded by the locals as a bunch of wierd artists (I simplify a bit) when they first took over the former chapel in 2001, Schwarcz and associates have now fully integrated themselves into the community, which means on any given night one might find a soiree with local gypsy talent or post-modern permutations with programming you'll rarely see on the major circuit. For the next 'Scenes hors scenes,' or stages outside stages, it'll be the latter, with choreographies from Matthieu Hocquemiller, Brice Gaubert, and Montecchia. For more info on this and other activities, try going to the Chapel by clicking here....

... Or the IRT

Press release of the week award goes to the efficient Laura Diffenderfer, who writes that the program Trying to Remain Upright opens tomorrow at the IRT Theater, 154 Christopher Street, Suite 3B, with performances tomorrow through Saturday and again next Thursday - Saturday. Scheduled stops include the piece of the evening's title, inspired, says Diffenderfer, by a program note "written in 1968 by Yvonne Rainer," and Meghan Finn's "Berlin/Birmingham," which addresses "the effects of fear on the voice," examining "the pure oratory power that overcame such fears, profundity changing the history of the 20th century." It's the element of mystery -- intriguing the editor and enticing the potential audient -- that makes this my candidate for best PR of the week. If you have a press release about a dance event, btw, send it to us in an e-mail -- not as an attachment and, please, without any images -- by clicking here. If you want to make reservations for Trying to Remain Upright -- advised, I'm told, as the space is so small you might end up just that if you wait too long -- call 347-267-6045 or e-mail info@longestlunch.com....

My kind of town, NJ is

Hey, I was interned there for seven years, I can rag on the Garden State. Except when it comes to encouraging you -- if your landscape extends to New Jersey -- to check Nai-Ni Chen's new "Isle of Dunes," the most recent segment in Chen's American Landscape series, collaborations with composer/vocalist Joan La Barbara which, says the choreogrpaher, incorporate movement and music to trace her own journey as an immigratn artist, "examining the American spirit in relationship to ideas of energy, hope, and renewal." Curtain's up April 29 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. You'll find more info, including some stunning images and without having to get onto that New Jersey Turnpike, by turning off here.

We Built this City

Speaking of renewal, it's perhaps hard for non-San Franciscans to understand how there's an almost celebratory aspect around this year's commemorations of the Great Earthquake and Fire which struck our City by the Bay on April 18, 1906, almost exactly 100 years to the hour before which I'm writing these words. What we honor is a moment that in its momentousness is a signatory part, indeed a turning point or marker, of our communal story, even for those of us born after the event, as well as of our power -- the power of our ancestors -- to rebuild our beloved levelled city better than it was. If we built this city on rock 'n' roll, as the Starship sang, we also built it on an infinite faith in our ability to renew and knowing that the lights on our city would and will never permanently go down.

(And in case you didn't think there was a dance angle, there's always an angle, dance insider! -- as Herb Caen might say. Lotta's Fountain, where survivors and others gather every April 18 morning at 5:12 to commemorate the Great Quake, was donated to the City, the website San Francisco Rising reminds us, by Charlotte Mignon Lotta Crabtree -- a singer and...dancer.)


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