The Buzz, 10-14: Dance
Locally, Test Globally
More supporters for Taglioni; Sense from Sensedance; Small-thinking
at BAM; Follow the Dancing Publicist Down the Red Road
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004 The Dance Insider
PARIS -- You don't know
what you got 'til it's gone, goes the Joni Mitchell song, and that
sure applies to your mother tongue. One of the hazards of living
in a country whose native parlance isn't yours is that drop by drop,
word by word, you start to forget how to say things in the language
you were born with. First to go for me in France, where I've lived
for three+ years, have been the English versions of words I use
a lot in French. Modern dance here is Danse contemporaine;
talking the subject in English with an American colleague recently,
I found myself saying "contemporainey" instead of...what was it...
contemporary. Trying to hang on to what's left of the mother tongue
in mine, I prize the language more today. This makes me extra indignant
when I see the president of my country butchering it -- not accidentally
in a malapropism, but with fear-mongering purpose. As even a Yale
man should know, when John Kerry said he'd apply a "global test"
to US foreign policy, he didn't mean he'd go around the world asking
permission. Rather, he meant "global" in the "universal' sense:
In considering whether to go to war, he wouldn't be guided by whether
the dictator in question had insulted his pappy, but rather whether
the war in question met a universal set of tests or standards.
Before you accuse me
of going political on you in a dance journal, the above is actually
a long-winded segue into today's first item, so....
Global Thinkers for Taglioni
Speaking of thinking
globally, a tip of the Dance Insider beret to the following dance
insiders who get the big picture, and Marie Taglioni's importance
in it. For their support of our efforts to preserve and celebrate
Taglioni's legacy, we'd like to thank our latest contributors:
**Anonymous, in the
name of Flamenca Phoebe Vernier, who you can catch dancing locally
in Petaluma (or Pet-a-luma, as we called it when I was growing up
in the area), California, this Saturday at Zangria restaurant at
1370 Redwood Way, in seatings at 7 and 9 p.m. More info: click here.
**Hannah Wiley, of the
University of Washington dance department
**And Peter Kyle, of
the same and formerly of the Nikolais and Murray Louis dance company.
What's the message here?
That as crucial as her heritage is to ballet in particular, Marie
Taglioni's legacy and its preservation is one in which we all --
dancers of all stripes, and the dance infrastructure that supports
and profits from them -- have a vested interest. To read the latest
on our campaign to properly remember Taglioni, please click here. If you don't know who Marie Taglioni was
and why you should care, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll explain.
To find out how you can contribute, write the same address.
Is that a word? I'm
not sure anymore. But I am sure that dance's big thinkers include
Byron Segal-Jacobs, administrator of Henning Rubsam's Sensedance.
In reminding us last month that four Dance Theatre of Harlem artists
join the company for this week's Baruch Performing Arts Center performances,
Segal-Jacobs asked, "Did you know DTH is laid off until June 2005?"
We didn't, not until Segal-Jacobs told us. Consequently, and after
confirming the story with two other sources, we were able to inform
the community immediately of this crisis, rather than waiting for
the press conference, and I use the term loosely when it comes to
DTH director Arthur Mitchell. Click here to read the story again, and to check Sensedance's
"Django" program, go to Baruch College Performing Arts Center tonight
through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. or Sunday
at 3. The evening includes four premieres and work from the repertoire,
performed by company members Shizu Yasuda, Kathryn Sydell, Michael
Pendell, Samuel Roberts, and the choreographer, plus DTH guest artists
Ramon Thielen, Melissa Morrissey, Akua Parker, and Sonny Robinson.
More info at 646-312-4085.
....a basketball term,
if I recall correctly, employed here as a cheap-shot subtitle to
introduce the next item, a continuation of our "global test" results.
The press office at the Brooklyn Academy of Music usually scores
straight A's here, but this week it's a ringing D-.
Believe it or not, my
reviewing dance from stages in France is not just an excuse to keep
me in baguettes and the cats in more kinds of cheese than your palate
would have time to adjust to, let alone your pet's. We assume that
our readership of dance professionals and dance fanatics has an
interest in dance so keen that it extends beyond what they can see
this weekend in their own backyard. They want to keep abreast of
developments in the field, on a global canvas. (Metaphor mixage
predated my move here.) However, in all our reviews from around
the world (not just mine), we are pleased when we can tell our readers
when they can see the dance in question at a theater near them.
As much of the dance in Europe -- not just France -- that passes
through here eventually makes its way to the US, I and my DI colleagues
here are often able to give our US readers such head's ups. (Here's
a freebie: Our Darrah Carr tipped you to Portuguesa De Bailado Contemporaneo,
playing this week at the Joyce Theater in New York, in this 2001 Flash Dispatch from Sintra, Portugal. Darrah's
another big picture thinker.)
So after Sasha Waltz
and her dancer-collaborators blew me away the other night at the Theatre de la Ville
- Sarah Bernhardt with the Paris premiere of "Impromptus," I naturally
sought out the company management afterwards to ask if the piece
would tour to the United States. From company officials Jochen Sandig
and Manfred Stoffl, I got -- and was able to include in my story
-- the helpful information that yes, "Impromptus" would receive
its US premiere at BAM on December 5, 2005. My US presenter-versed
companion and I also offered helpful suggestions about other presenters
in the US that might receive the work well, such as Cal Performances
in Berkeley and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. We were four
big picture people essentially interested in spreading the gospel
of dance through this special work of art.
BAM executive producer
Joseph Melillo is a big picture guy too, which is why we got an
appreciative note back when I hipped him to our review yesterday.
The head of the BAM press office is normally a big picture person
as well, which is why I was shocked by her reply when I FYI'd her
about the review and its mention of the upcoming BAM engagement.
I wasn't looking for a 'thank you'; it was just common reporter-publicist
courtesy. But I wasn't expecting what came back. "I'm sure you think
this is helpful," she wrote, "but we won't be announcing this engagement,
or the 2005 Next Wave, for quite some time."
My pique with (at?)
this maybe-to-you innocuous note is not personal but, er, global.
The sentiment apparently expressed here ties into the global problem
among some small-thinkers in our community that dance can only bear
so much media play. Practically put: If the news gets out now, more
than a year before the engagement, the media won't want to cover
it next year -- or so goes the thinking -- when we'll need to sell
the tickets. Here at the Dance Insider -- and there are many of
us global thinkers outside of our publication -- we like to think
big. We treat a new and groundbreaking work by a major choreographer
like Sasha Waltz not just as review fodder but as NEWS. We regard
the news that this work of art will hit US shores next year as a
SCOOP. By treating advance word of a dance concert as just as excitement-generating
and attention-deserving as a scoop in any other realm (took me three
minutes to remember that word), we recognize that dance has a primary
place in the cultural and in fact news diet of readers...globally.
(Big-thinking is also why we've assigned -- with the appreciated
cooperation of the BAM press office -- two reviews of the same piece
in Pina Bausch/Tanztheater Wuppertal's upcoming BAM season. She's
big, we have the opportunity to assign critiques by two big reviewers,
Chris Dohse and Gus Solomons jr, so we have.)
Small thinking like
that shown here by the BAM press chief reminds me of a saying we
used to have at Dance Magazine. Attending a performance of the New
York City Ballet, my colleague Caitlin Sims and I noticed that,
despite its featuring a City Ballet dancer on the cover, the boutique
at the New York State Theater had no copies of our current issue.
Before our next performance, we grabbed a few issues that were sitting
in a big stack at the office and simply gave them to the boutique
manager, who was quite pleased. The next day we were scolded by
the circulation manager and reprimanded by the associate publisher.
This and other instances of non or even anti-promotion of a journal
the staff was then quite proud of led us to come up with the ironic
slogan, "Dance Magazine: The best kept secret in the dance world."
Dance insiders, our
art is not a precious secret to be hoarded among the cognoscenti.
It is a transformative jewel to be discovered by all, and that thus
needs more, not less press.
The Global Red Road
Speaking of publicists,
the good news is the most of those who work in dance are global
thinkers. Some are even globally qualified. (I don't mean the rest
aren't qualified, I mean that some are multiple-threats.) Take Tom
Pearson, the former PR manager for Dance Theater Workshop, now running
his own shop. Besides writing some of the best press releases in
the business -- this is important if you want my and other assignment
editors' and potential reviewers' attention, dance insider -- Tom
also designs some of the best banners in the business, for clients
with the interest and wherewithal to market their activities on
the web. But that's not all! A tonic to all editors about to hurt
someone if they see the word "beautiful" or any of its empty superlative
cousins in another press release, Tom is a DANCER and CHOREOGRAPHER
as well, and draws on this experience in his original PR material.
You can check Tom this Sunday, FOR FREE, performing his "Ceremony"
at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, on the waterfront between
the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. (Rain location: White Wave's
John Ryan Theater, located at 25 Jay Street, on the waterfront in
Global thinker that
he is, Tom also makes sure to tell us that the program, playing
from 1 to 2 p.m. as part of the d.u.m.b.o. dance festival, also
includes Melissa Briggs Dance, the Highcliffe Project, Amy Beth
Schneider -Thread Dance Theater, Aimee Rials, Melinda Ring - Special
Projects, Emily Faulkner and Sabine Heubusch. As for "Ceremony,"
which draws on Tom's Cherokee/Muskogee roots and in which he's accompanied
by Thunderbird Indian Dancers director Louis Mofsie and Rob Mastrianni,
the New Yorker called it "Movement that shimmers with unusual psychic
static...." (More info on Tom's Web site.)
On that note: I know
what you're thinking, so I'll sign off before the static blocks
out the shimmer.