It was with relief that I greeted the final number on the program. Undercurrent, set to music by Henryk Gόrecki, woke up, enlivening me, the audience at large and also seemingly the dancers who had previously drifted through a series of works that I found bland and somnolent. Undercurrent raised levels of power and energy with repeated prancing steps, first danced by groups of women and later by the company’s men.
Articles by Mari S. Gold
Gary Ferrer’s Nothing Here is Real is an entertaining mash-up of what he refers to as “mentalism”—magic effects, including one it-almost-doesn’t-happen card trick, and cheery, crowd-pleasing patter designed both to engage the audience and turn its collective mind where he wants it to focus.
Benjamin Britten’s 1946 chamber opera, set in c. 600 BC when a wildly debauched Rome was under Etruscan rule, is accidentally prescient. As presented by New Camerata Opera, the work, intelligently directed by Bea Goodwin, makes the most of the abuse of male power, retelling a legend that has as much (maybe more) significance today than it ever did.
The evening provided a thoroughly engaging look at the creative process as it concerns choreographers, dancers, costume designers, music and a related exhibit that examines both antiquity and its relationship to the revered Ballets Russes.
Conflating the myth of Helen of Troy with the story of Norma Jeane Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, is a terrific idea. Both women were revered for their beauty and lusted after by men far and wide; despite, or probably because of these characteristics, neither enjoyed a very happy life.
Two big hits out of three made for a great evening. Sombrerisimo, a total delight, is choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, inspired by the surrealist world of René Magritte who famously painted bowler hats. The work was made originally for an all-male cast; this version turns it upside down with Shelby Colona, Jenna Marie, Eila Valls, Gabrielle Sprauve, Dandara Veiga and Melissa Verdecia pulling off a bravura number.
Dramatic and innovative, even to the point of changing her name from Angela to something more exotic, Isadora Duncan helped free ballet from restrictions and in doing so became one of the earliest proponents of modern dance. At twenty-one with very little money she sailed on a cattle boat to England and there, at the British Museum, fell for ancient Greek sculpture in a big way. The result was barefoot young women in skimpy clothing dancing with abandon—which drew huge crowds and lots of attention.
Tap dancing was once dismissed as lightweight entertainment, for example Fred Astaire, who delighted zillions of people, great art or not. Then came artists including the astonishing Savion Glover; now there is Dorrance Dance, the company that has won numerous awards for pushing tap rhythmically, technically and conceptually. Founded in 2011 by artistic director Michelle Dorrance who became a MacArthur Fellow in 2015, Dorrance Dance blows the lid off the form.
The founders of Frog and Peach, Lynnea Benson and Ted Zurkowski, began the company with the goal of making Shakespeare “playful and down to earth,” i.e. accessible to all. This is a great idea, and undoubtedly their group has introduced many people to the Bard but in this case it doesn’t make a great production.