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Author: Karl Toepfer

Performance as Bio-Archive: David Gordon at ODC

Performance as Bio-Archive: David Gordon at ODC

Dance concerts in which dancing is incidental or secondary to some larger idea of dance performance have become common in postmodern dance culture. Bill T. Jones (b. 1952) has become one of the most successful advocates of this aesthetic. But one can trace the origin of the aesthetic back to the Judson Dance Group, a collection of dancers associated with experimental performers like Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and John Cage, which in New York City, between 1962-1964, explored the potential…

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SMUIN BALLET: PREDICTABLY ATTRACTIVE

SMUIN BALLET: PREDICTABLY ATTRACTIVE

But Are These Modern Ballets Mired In the Past? By Karl Toepfer artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area dance Weeks starting May 15, 2016 Vol. 18, No. 71 The San Francisco Ballet is such a powerful cultural presence in the Bay Area and in the world that other local ballet companies must struggle mightily to achieve a sustaining level of recognition from audiences, donors, and arts councils. Local companies must show what ballet can do with much…

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OPTIMISM AS OBFUSCATION

OPTIMISM AS OBFUSCATION

ODC’s Dance Downtown Program Postmodern aesthetics emphasizes inclusivity, the value of difference and the “beauty” of the mundane. Translated into dance, the aesthetic tends to imply that all bodies are lovely, all movements are to be treasured and all moments are equal. This thinking supposedly produces a sense of optimism, since all that is excluded is conflict, struggle, drama, differences that cannot be reconciled, or incompatibilities that cannot be resolved through the simple exchange or interchangeability of movement. The idea…

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INDIA’S KATHAK DANCE

INDIA’S KATHAK DANCE

In Troupe’s Posthumous Tribute to Chitresh Das BERKELEY—The idea of “modern” Indian dance is perhaps difficult for many spectators to grasp, because the concept of “Indian” dance has become so intensely associated with a notion or memory of India from a pre-modern era. Indian dance means for the most part preserving “traditions” from pre-modern times rather than breaking with them. Teacher and choreographer Pandit Chitresh Das (1944-2015) exemplified throughout his life an inclination to adapt traditional Indian dance forms, particularly…

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POSTMODERN DANCE, 3D, & MAKE-BELIEVE ATOMS

POSTMODERN DANCE, 3D, & MAKE-BELIEVE ATOMS

3D viewing of movies is nowadays commonplace, just as a “cutting edge” idea of “the body” is commonplace in postmodern dance culture. But what happens when postmodern dance embraces 3D technology? The Company Wayne McGregor, from England, tries to answer this question with its production of Atomos (2013). Wayne McGregor (b. 1970) is the founder of the company and the choreographer of Atomos, and he has acquired considerable international acclaim for dances that involve the use of video and digital…

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SAN FRANCISCO’S DANCE CORNUCOPIA

SAN FRANCISCO’S DANCE CORNUCOPIA

Via the International Festival By Karl Toepfer artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area dance Weeks starting June 15, 2015 Vol. 17, No. 74 SAN FRANCISCO—From May 21 to June 7, Fort Mason hosted the San Francisco International Arts Festival. This extravaganza presented more theater, dance, and music groups than anyone can sanely absorb. Most of the performers came from the United States, but several groups came from faraway places like Iran, Poland, Kurdistan, Ireland, Taiwan and Argentina….

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SMUIN BALLET, THREADING THE GENRES

SMUIN BALLET, THREADING THE GENRES

Starting Multi-City California Tour The Smuin Ballet Company holds a unique position in the dance world for pursuing an idea of ballet that is more heterodox than the aesthetic perspectives of more high profile, traditional, and heavily institutionalized ballet companies. With his extensive experience on Broadway and in Hollywood, as well as in ballet, the company’s founder, Michael Smuin (1938-2007), believed that a prosperous future for ballet involved the incorporation of elements from popular culture, with music, movement, and mood…

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CAN AILEY CO. BUILD UPON ITS PAST?

CAN AILEY CO. BUILD UPON ITS PAST?

Its Old Repertory Is Still the Best By Karl Toepfer artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area dance Weeks starting April 28, 2015 Vol. 17, No. 56 BERKELEY — Last week, the Alvin Ailey Company visited Berkeley, bringing with it three programs in six concerts. The programs mostly featured new works receiving their Bay Area premieres and works adopted by the Ailey Company. The only piece choreographed by Ailey was Revelations, his great, enduring, and immensely popular hit…

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