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5 Dance Exhibits to Love

As February draws to a close there’s no reason to stop that loving feeling. This year brought about a change in perspective for me regarding February; since I’ve never been wild about Hallmark Holidays, why not celebrate love–in all of its forms– for the entire month? Love feels good, doesn’t it? In the spirit of keeping love alive for all of February, I’ve searched for new dance-related things to love. This week we’ll close out the series by looking at 5 Dance Exhibits to Love. Enjoy!

Love Sky/Cielo del amor by CosasdeKike

Love Sky/Cielo del amor by CosasdeKike

Making Art Dance: Backdrops and Costumes From the Armitage Foundation. Karole Armitage, the “punk rock” ballerina, shares a new retrospective of her costumes and set pieces for the ballet, theater and film. Curated by former Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art director Jeffrey Deitch, the collection highlights innovative choreographer’s collaborations with fashion designers like LaCroix, Jean Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan’s Peter Speliopoulos, as well as with artists and filmmakers including Donald Baechler, Alba Clemente, Jeff Koons, David Salle and Philip Taaffe. Housed at Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary’s Glass Gallery, the show is a short PATH train commute from New York City — and a chance to check out this 50,000 square foot exhibit space designed by Richard Meier that opened last year. It’s also home for Armitage’s current troup, Armitage Gone! Dance. The company took up a residency in Mana Contemporary’s main building adjacent to the gallery.

Through March 13 at Mana Contemporary, 888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey;manacontemporary.com

National Museum of Dance: Jacques D’AmboiseThis exhibition pays tribute to 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee, Jaques d’Amboise, whose determined spirit saw him through years of ballet training and countless hours of rehearsals with choreographic luminaries such as George Balanchine. His positive outlook has led him to become one of the premiere dance educators in the country. While you’re visiting the museum, take in other ongoing exhibits, including Dancers in Film, a retrospective of some of cinema’s finest footwork, and Richard Calmes’s Dance Magic photography exhibit.

Dance Theater of Harlem’s 40 Years of Firsts. Originally an exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in 2009, the exhibit is still just as relevant today….and available to travel. Highlighting Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 40-plus year history, this magnificent exhibition celebrates the history and art of dance with 22 costumes, set pieces, videos, photographs and tour posters from four staged ballets including: A Streetcar Named Desire, Creole Giselle, Dougla and Firebird. This multi-media exhibition captures the majesty of the choreography, the beauty of the costuming, and the dancers who defied gravity and stereotyping, and celebrates the history of Dance Theater of Harlem, a company that began when Arthur Mitchell –inspired by the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–wanted to make a difference; by doing what he knew best. He brought the art form of ballet to Harlem. With a modest beginning, holding classes in a warehouse on 152nd Street, the school has greatly expanded and since grown into a multi-cultural dance institution. Visit the official website of the Dance Theatre of Harlem for further information.

Dancers Among Us. Jordan Matter made headlines when he became inspired to search for serendipitous dance moments out in the world. He photographed dancers in showers, snowbanks, New York City streets…even subways. This project became a passion and eventually a book, Dancers Among Us. Matter’s exhibits have since toured the world, most recently Seoul, Korea, and he’s now at work on a book about circus performers. Stay tuned.

 JR. In 2007, (with Marco), he did Face 2 Face, the biggest illegal exhibition ever. He’s known for creating “Pervasive Art” that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil…. although he isn’t really known: French street artist JR prefers to remain anonymous. He’s come a long way from his humble beginnings– he got into photography after he found a camera in the Paris subway. 

JR was a featured resident artist at Lincoln Center where he photographed the NYCB, and went on to continue working with ballet dancers, this time on the roof of the famous Palais Garnier, one of the homes of the Paris opera in a photo-shoot for the French magazine Madame Figaro. The spread features 40 dancers, over 180 feet above ground, the poses remininiscent of the classic musicals of Bubsy Berkley. 

Most recently, in the three years after he called for a “participatory art project” at a TED conference in Long Beach, California, his Inside Out Project has become one of the most ambitious and appealing art projects in the world. The art project has expanded from the streets and villages across the globe, to installations in places like Lincoln CenterTimes SquareEllis Island and the Paris Pantheon.  

Feeling intrigued? Inspired? Awesome! JR wants you…There’s an open call on his website where anyone can get involved.

RELATED POSTS:

5 Dancers-Turned-Authors To Love

5 Dance Films To Love

5 New Ballets To Love

5 Dance Films To Love

February is the month of love, whether you’re down with the idea or think it’s trite Hallmark trash. This month, in honor of the sentiment of love, (which is a beautiful thing when it’s not being commercialized beyond recognition) I went in search of new things to fall in love with, beginning with this first installment: 5 Dance FIlms to Love. I hope they make your heart beat just that little bit faster, as they did mine.

BallerinaHeartsCutoutSm

artwork © Grier Cooper 2015

Ballet 422. If you’ve ever wondered how ballets are created, this is the film for you. Choreographer Justin Peck has made a name for himself as one of the youngest resident choreographers for New York City Ballet, arguably the most prestigious ballet company in the world. At only 25, Peck was commissioned to create the company’s 422nd ballet( thus the film’s title). He was given two months.

Independent Filmmaker Jodi Lee Lipes takes viewers behind the velvet curtain to reveal Peck’s process. When Lipes shot the film, Peck was still a corps dancer with New York City Ballet, getting a chance to choreograph after showing a rare talent during an institutional workshop. The film doesn’t use interviews and dialogues, and includes only a few pieces of on-screen text to explain who Peck is and what he’s doing. For the most part, Ballet 422 simply gives viewers a fly-on-the-wall approach and leaves it to the audience to figure out what’s going on and how to process it.

Something to look forward to: Ballet 422 will be released in theaters February 11th.

Shapeshifting. Filmmaker Crystal Moselle took ballet to the streets when she created this video for the band Color War, just months before she won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for her documentary, The Wolf Pack. The video centers around three teenage dancers (Cassiel Eatock, Isabel Ball and Elizabeth Van Genderen) who turn the parks, streets and underground parking garages of New York into their own ballet stage.

More about the video and dancers in an interview with director Crystal Moselle here.

Bandaloop Dancers Soar and Swoop on Marin Cliffs. Project Bandaloop dancers have long been taking dance to a new level…literally. Through the use of rock-climbing equipment, the group has performed on Seattle’s Space Needle, Mumbai’s skyscrapers, the cliffs of Yosemite, a cathedral in Mexico and dozens of other unusual public stages around the world—sometimes for audiences numbering in the tens of thousands. For this particular film it was just dancers, seabirds, and KQED’s cameras, on the cliffs of Red Rock Beach, near Stinson Beach, California. This was the first time artistic director Amelia Rudolph and dancer Roel Seeber performed this dance called “Swing Duet” on this rugged stretch of Marin County coast. At times the dancers seem to defy gravity, giving new meaning to how dancers interact and stretch boundaries and limitations in dance. Says Rudolph, “We want to energize urban and natural spaces so that people see these places in new ways,” she says. “We want to spark the imagination of people who would never otherwise experience modern dance—and challenge preconceived notions about what dance can be.”

Rectify. A global music and dance tribute to bring people together in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring the world’s top performing artists: Usher, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Common, La Santa Cecilia, Joan Armatrading, Seattle Symphony, LA Opera, Skillet, Ahmir, English National Ballet, Compagnie Käfig, L.A. Dance Project, Los Angeles Ballet, Houston Ballet, Alabama Ballet, Afghan National Youth Orchestra, South African Youth Choir, the inter-Israeli/Palestinian Jerusalem Youth Chorus, Massar Egbari (Egypt), Beygairat Brigade (Pakistan), and Tanjaret Daghet (Syria).

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity. Known as the “Evel Knievel of dance”, choreographer Elizabeth Streb says she has always wanted to see humans fly. Watching this film it’s obvious her dancers are not only fearless but on a deeper quest for meaning. As one dancer says in the film, “There is magic. It doesn’t exist everywhere, so you do have to catch it when it comes.” When an interviewer expressed his doubts about Streb’s approach, saying, “It doesn’t sound safe” Streb’s response was: “Anything that’s too safe is not action.”

This film was just one segment of Dance on Camera (Jan 30th -Feb 3rd , 2015), which honors ballet and contemporary dance personalities through documentaries and narrative films to show how dance changes lives. The festival is produced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.