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The Buzz, 8-13: Tiny Bubbles
Nixon Meets Bessie; Barretto to run new Performing Arts Program at LMCC; New Harkness Director Lacks Curating Experience; Dancenow to DTW in 2005; Finding Dendy's 'Head'; Swan's Irish Song; WAX Sealed; Elsie Joins the Navy

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004 The Dance Insider

Nixon's the One

The last thing I remember, I had turned the shower on and stood up in the bathtub to wash the bubbles off. The year was 1985, the bubbles were expensively Swiss (la belle mere owning a bath store, Common Scents), the bathtub was immense and hand-crafted to sink into the floor (la pere being an architect), and I was getting ready for a first date (the date being a dancer, but you knew that). I must have floated into consciousness briefly in the emergency room of San Francisco General, for I remember a doctor (the doctor being a dish) telling me this wasn't going to hurt a bit as she began to stitch the flesh above my eye back together. What I do not remember, but what my younger brother Jordan swears is true, is that when the doctor tested my faculties by asking me who was the current president of the United States, I answered tentatively, "It's not Nixon, is it?"

Old threats notwithstanding, it appears we will forever have Nixon to kick around. The latest arena is Dance Theater Workshop's Bessie Schoenberg Theater, where on September 23 Big Dance Theater gives the NYC premiere of "Plan B," in which playwright Len Jenkin, choreographer Annie-B Parson, and co-director Paul Lazar pair the infamous Nixon tapes and Kaspar Hauser to make hilarity, or something, ensue.

Other highights of DTW's just-announced fall season include Everett Dance Theatre, Gabri Christa, and David Parker and The Bang Group, plus three thematic Family Matters programs: KinFolk Tales and Trails, on September 18, features Keely Garfield, Peggy Peloquin, Rachelle Garniez, Maura Nguyen Donohue and Rebecca Stenn. (Donohue and Stenn contribute to this publication.) On October 16, World Beats, Feats and Treats offers Ayodelle Casel, Baba Israel, Parker & Bang again, Happy Hour, HT Chen, and Darrah Carr Dance. (Carr also contributes to the DI.) And "Femmes and Fellas," bowing November 20, features Jessica Smith/POW, Happy Hour, Rokafella & Kwikstep, Femme nameless, David Neumann, and Ann Liv Young. And surely Ellis Wood, gracing the Schoenberg November 17-20, is established enough by now as an artist in her own right that the PR doesn't need to start off by reminding us of her celebrated parents? (Quote: "As a performer, Ellis Wood, the daughter of former Martha Graham principals David and Marni Wood, hits the stage in a storm of unapologetic sensuality." Tell us something we don't already know, Mr. or Ms. PR writer! Please?)


Speaking of offspring, when our friend and colleague Nolini Barretto left DTW as its marketing and PR director in June 2003, we asked her to write if she got work; Barretto has not been a stranger. About a year ago, she signed on at the leadership-transitioning Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as marketing and communication director. This summer, she stretched outside of that portfolio to introduce a dynamic festival of site-specific work to New York's summer and downtown landscape. And now, on the heels of that success, newish LMCC president Tom Healy has appointed Barretto to the new position of performing arts director, the Dance Insider has learned, as he tries to elevate the artist and community services organization's curatorial and presenting presence at a juncture of shifting artistic leadership around New York.

Barretto, who had never curated a festival before launching SiteLines with a June 15 performance by Stephan Koplowitz, immediately signalled a curatorial taste combining the familiar with the untested, a vitalinclination for dance programmers in the dance capital of the world if the art is to continue to evolve. In addition to site-specific veterans like Stephan Koplowitz and Tamar Rogoff, SiteLines also produced new work by emerging and sophomore-year artists such as Andrea Haenggi, who created a work in an abandoned cigar shop, and Heather Harrington, who spoofed the New York Stock Exchange across the street from its Wall Street headquarters. (Barretto also involved experienced presenting and producing partners like Dancing in the Streets.) Parlaying her own extensive marketing experience, the spunk of the artist and good timing, Barretto got national play for Harrington's "Giscard Games" earlier this month. Network television crews had turned out in force after warnings by the Bush administration of a potential attack on the NYSE. Finding no action at the Stock Exchange, the cameramen and camerawomen turned their lenses to the Stock Exchange parody being played out across the street on the steps of the Federal Hall Memorial. Harrington's piece -- or a glimpse of it, anyway -- made CNN that weekend. (The piece repeats Monday and Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.)

If Barretto was offered her new position shortly after this media success, Healy's decision was not impulsive, but fits into a general plan to increase LMCC's presence as curator in the performing and visual arts. In a shift from the usual paradigm of multi-arts venues, Barretto says she will focus on dance her first year, reflecting her area of expertise. In addition to her executive position at Dance Theater Workshop, Barretto was the administrator of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance for 12 years, following which she earned a Master's from Columbia in arts administration.

If this heady background in dance administration doesn't prove she can curate, that she's new to the metier may prove an advantage, given that Barretto is a listener and that her first endeavor, SiteLines, shows she's not going to just stick to the tried and true but not necessarily innovative. Notwithstanding LMCC's annual Evening Stars program (co-presented by the Joyce this year, which perhaps accounts for the mainstream programming featuring American Ballet Theatre, Paul Taylor, Savion Glover, MOMIX and, in a real miracle, a company the Joyce is calling "the Joffrey Ballet," which ceased to exist about nine years ago), LMCC has not had a high presentorial profile, focusing instead on grant re-funding and providing other services and resources to the community. So Barretto does not have large, or any shoes, to fill.

She can dance, but can she program?

The 92nd Street Y has appointed as Joan Finkelstein's replacement to the directorship of its Harkness Dance Center a successor with little apparent curatorial experience, at least according to the information made available by the Y's press office. There's no doubt that Renata Celichowska's resume as a dance educator and scholar is rich. In eight years with New York University's dance education program and at other universities and conservatories, Celichowska has taught technique, choreography, and dance history. A member of the Erick Hawkins dance company, she also penned "The Erick Hawkins Modern Dance Technique." If all this makes her well-suited for Harkness's extensive dance education programs, her credentials for programming its dance performances, including the marquee Harkness Dance Festival, are less obvious. The best way that Celichowska can turn this liability into an asset is by programming the festival with the input of a wide variety of outside curators. "Dance has the potential to introduce people to a multi-cultural perspective and a community-building social interaction," Celichowska says. Well, yes, and these are important to a community focal point like the Y, but dance also has the potential to create art.

Dancenow heads to Dance Theater Workshop

The ever-expanding Dancenow/NYC, ten years old this fall, will levitate slightly uptown in the fall of 2005, moving its 'base-camp' from Joyce SoHo, which it had outgrown, to the larger Dance Theater Workshop house.

Bring me the 'Head' of Mark Dendy

Dendy, like Sedaka, is back. El Mark has written the book and designed the choreography for "Andru's Head," a new "indie rock musical," says the PR, "about a disembodied head who hosts a public access children's show which is co-opted by a mad corporate baddie. Murder, corruption and lots and lots of head." (Don't shoot me or the piano player, that's what the PR says. Only Ron Lasko would dare to go there. Nevah change, baby!) It all implodes at the Players Theatre starting August 14.

Swan's new song

Derry Swan, who departs the Merce Cunningham company this summer, levitates over to this side of the ocean in December to perform with John Scott's Irish Modern Dance Theatre in Ireland.

WAX sealed

The Williamsburg Art neXus will close its performing arts facility at 205 North 7th Street on November 30, when the current lease expires.

Navy seal

Her name is Elsie, as in Management, her clients include Jane Comfort, Sean Curran, Noche Flamenca and Shapiro & Smith, and she's just moved into new digs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Explains Laura Colby, who wears the yellow jersey at Elsie: "What I'm getting that I couldn't get in the Slope or Prospect Heights for under $1,000 is SPACE. And a guarantee of (only a) 3% increase on the rent." Bon voyage, so to speak, to Laura, Meghan, Nancy and most of all, Woodstock. And merde to Elsie client Brian Brooks Moving Company, performing for free tonight at Central Park Summerstage, on a bill with Yoshiko Chuma that starts at 8:30.


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