The DI, Year One: Dance Theater that dreams are made of from Needcompany, Ballet Frankfurt, and James Joyce

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2000, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS — The main reason I love dance is its ability to dream, and to help me dream. It dreams every time a dancer leaps for the sky, and everytime she contracts her abdomen. It dreams when a lover instinctively clutches a partner and when the partner instinctively falls into the lover’s arms and is caught. It lives from image to image, with the flow of a dream; nothing seems pre-meditated, everything seems instinctual. As in a dream, the connections aren’t always logical, or even readily decipherable. But also like a dream, the images convey a tangible, not always describable, feeling. With “DeaDDogsDon’tDance,” which sold out three performances this weekend at the Theatre de la Ville – Sarah Bernhardt here, Needcompany and Ballet Frankfurt have upped the anti, creating a danced play that presents as totally unpremeditated. This is as rough and raw as it gets, folks — the stuff that dreams, and nightmares, are made of.

To receive the rest of the article, first published on November 6, 2000, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) and receive full access to our Dance Insider Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015, plus five years of the Jill Johnston Letter. Just designate your PayPal payment to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to find out about payment by check or in Euros. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $129 (institutions) Purchase by May 31, 2017 and receive a second, free copy for the recipient of your choice. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

Europe at the Crossroads: Choreographers & Artists Converge on Paris — help the DI be there

For subscription and sponsorship opportunities starting at $30, contact Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com.

Berlin’s Constanza Macras, Portugal’s Vera Mantero, Belgium’s Alain Platel, Spain’s Israel Galvan, Crystal Pite — these are just a few of the choreographic giants coming to Paris this Spring that the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager will be able to cover with your support.

Many of you first read about these internationally renowned choreographers for the first time on the DI and, continuing our 20-year mission of bringing you stories not told elsewhere and giving a voice to dancers, we’ll also be reporting on Giulio D’Anna, a Netherlands-based Italian choreographer whose “OOOOOOO” is inspired by Zagreb’s “Museum of Broken Relationships,” and Jasna Vinovrski’s “Lady Justice,” addressing the relationship between justice and art. Speaking of art, we’d also like to bring you Yasmina Reza’s “Art” as interpreted at the Theatre de la Bastille by the pioneering Belgium theater company STAN — co-founded by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s sister. And of intersections between art and society, this year’s Chantiers (Building Projects) d’Europe festival at the Theatre de la Ville features countries in the front lines of the refugee crisis, notably in six short films from Greece addressing this topic and a public brainstorming session with artists from six countries. And we’ll bring you into the studios of the 200+ artists taking part in the Open Studios of Belleville — a neighborhood which in its very MULTI-CULTURAL contours and dimensions provides the best retort to the cloistered vision of French culture represented by the National Front. (We share the FN’s stated pride in traditional French culture; we simply argue that this definition is too limited and does not do justice to the grandeur and ouverture to the world that has always been French culture.)

To be there, in addition to the support of our current subscribers and sponsors, whom we thank infinitely, we need bring in at least $1500 from new subscribers and sponsors. This will be used to help cover housing and transportation. (An American colleague in Paris has offered us a special price on lodging.)

Already a subscriber or sponsor? Please forward this article. Want to become one? Contact us at paulbenitzak@gmail.com . Subscribers receive full access to our 20-year archive of more than 2,000 reviews by 150 leading dancer-critics of performances on five continents, plus five years of the Jill Johnston Letter as well as Arts Voyager art galleries, film reviews, and travelogues from Paris, New York, and across the U.S.. Sponsors receive this plus advertising on The Dance Insider, and/or the Arts Voyager.

(If we do not raise enough to return to Paris this Spring / Summer, all new donors, subscribers, and sponsors will be given the option of recuperating their pledge or having it applied to current and/or future coverage, including our ongoing project to put the entire DI 20-year archive online.)

On a personal-professional level, your support will also help me make my own career transition as a French-to-English translator, making it possible for me to participate in a translators’ festival taking place in Paris this June, essential for my being able to continue to pursue 40 years of building bridges between nations in a new form. And to access essential health-care (‘access’ because the costs for this will be paid for by myself with help from my family).

France, too, is at the crossroads. On May 7 — my 56th birthday — the country will choose between the fear represented by the National Front and the hope and optimism represented by Emmanuel Macron. Between closure and opening. In the campaign between these two ‘cultures’ that has raged in this country for the past two years, CULTURE has been all but forgotten. (Among Macron’s refreshing ideas: More library hours.) With your help, we will be able to do our part in restoring some light to what has always been France’s principal calling card around the world. Our calling for more than 20 years.

Many thanks and
Cheers,

Paul
paulbenitzak@gmail.com

Subscribe! (+Sponsorship Opportunities)

freespace smallSubscribe to the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager today for just $29.95/year or 29.95 in Euros and get complete access to our 20-year archive of more than 2,000 exclusive reviews of performances on five continents by 150 writers, plus commentary, art, Jill Johnston & more. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com , or write us at that address to find out about payment by check. Institutional rate of $99 or 99 Euros/year gets full access for your entire company, school, etcetera.  Sponsorships start at just $49/month and include placements like that above for DI sponsor Freespace Dance. Photo of Freespace Dance’s Donna Scro Samori and Omni Kitts by and copyright Lois Greenfield. Sign up as a sponsor before May 1, 2017 and receive a second month free. Contact paul@danceinsider.com . Subscribe before May 1 and receive a second, gift subscription for free.

The DI, Year One: Celebrity Dance Match — It’s Balanchine vs. Forsythe on Paris Opera Ballet at the Vienna State Opera House

By Tara Zahra
Copyright 2000 Tara Zahra

VIENNA — I have seen plenty of Balanchine in my time, and quite a bit of William Forsythe. But through the juxtaposition of the two, brilliantly executed by the Paris Opera Ballet at the Vienna State Opera House Saturday, I learned a few things about both. Balanchine and Forsythe exposed each other, through a conversation full of rebellions and homages and calm replies. And yet it could not be considered an argument, because in the end the range of works presented affirmed the fungible potential of classical technique — to express the spirit of a time, to be used as the language for an argument or an agreement, to swing from high culture to low, even when the choreography is ostensibly only “about” choreography, music, and technique itself.

To receive the rest of the article, first published on July 24, 2000, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) and receive full access to our Dance Insider Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2016, plus five years of the Jill Johnston Letter. Just designate your PayPal payment to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to find out about payment by check or in Euros. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $129 (institutions) Purchase by March 30, 2017 and receive a second, free copy for the recipient of your choice. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

Flash Flashback, 1-11: Shock Treatment Vandekeybus in Alaska with all the angry young men and women

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Ultima Vez in Wim Vandekeybus’s “nieuwZwart.” Photo © & courtesy Pieter-Jan De Pue.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2009, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

PARIS — At a certain point in Wim Vandekeybus’s “NieuwZwart,” seen in its French premiere Tuesday on Vandekeybus’s company Ultima Vez at the Theatre de la Ville – Sarah Bernhardt, I asked myself, to cop a line from my DI colleague Chris Dohse, “What are they so angry about?” A man violently throws another into the audience and laughs diabolically even as his victim grunts in evident pain. A woman straddles/strangles a man between her thighs. Another repeatedly knocks the white-suited narrator (Ultima Vez veteran Gavin Webber) on his side as he’s talking. Men or women repeatedly kick their colleagues when they’re down, usually adding contemptuous regards. And overall, the tenor of the physical contact between performers, particularly in the partner dancing, was of the genre regularly exhibited by European companies, in which the dancing seems more like dance-fighting, or if you prefer dance-wrestling, or at least dance-grappling.

I decided to just ask the choreographer, after the performance, “Where’s all the anger coming from?”

To get the rest of the article, first published on June 9, 2009, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) and receive full access to our Dance Insider Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015, as well as five years of the Jill Johnston Letter. To subscribe via PayPal, just designate your payment to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check, Euros, or British pounds. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $129 (institutions). Purchase before January 15 and receive a second, free copy for the recipient of your choice. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

Flash Flashback, 12-1: Of gangs and gongs — Egea sings the body electric in hip-hop “Soli 2” while Gourfink dissects the ballet body in “Corbeau”

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Emilie Sudre in Anthony Egea’s “Soli 2.” Photo © & courtesy Jean-Jacques Mahé.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2009, 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

(Originally published May 27, 2009.)

PANTIN (Seine-Saint-Denis), France — Apparently to goose his party’s standing for the June 7 European Parliamentary elections, French president Nicolas Sarkozy just announced he’s going to send a couple hundred more police over here to this department (as French counties are called) on the outskirts of Paris to take back several areas which in his view have been over-run by gangs. I have a better idea: Instead of simply squashing all that youthful energy, how about re-channelling it into constructive, creative activities and ends? I propose sending those young citizens over to the Centre National de la Danse. Even if, when one enters its newish, somewhat cold concrete building on the banks of the Ourcq canal just outside the Paris perimeter, it may seem more like a library or hushed sanctuary than a place where dance students flock to get their technique pushed and dance fans to seek inspiring performances.

Justement, as the French say, it occurs to me that the audience at the CND May 27 for the opening of Anthony Egea’s putatively hip-hop solo “Soli 2” was predominantly white (the youth in Seine-Saint-Denis are predominantly colored, French of North African or other African descent) and, except for the kid two seats over from me who finally stopped squirming when the dancer Emilie Sudre took off her top (tastefully — her back was to us for most of this segment, and more about that beautiful back in a minute), predominantly older. And considering that this was a hip-hop solo and the lady was busting to move, markedly sedate. (Sometimes at the CND, I feel more like I’m in a science laboratory than in what is theoretically in part a national hub of experimentation for an art vivant; no hubbub here, bub!) But what if a bunch of those excitable youth from all over Seine-Saint-Denis were bussed over to the CND?

To get the rest of the article, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at artsvoyager@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Complete articles are $5 or three for $10. Subscribe to the Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($119 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, dance company members, etc.) and receive full access to our Dance Insider Archive of 2,000 exclusive reviews by 150 leading dance critics of performances on five continents from 1998 through 2015. You can also purchase a complete copy of the Archives for just $49 (individuals) or $129 (institutions) Purchase before December 15 and receive a second, free copy for the recipient of your choice — the perfect holiday gift. Contact Paul at artsvoyager@gmail.com .