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Archive: June, 2012

POSTED: Monday, June 11, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Last night the charming Irish folk-flavored "Once" scored multiple Tony Awards - including Best Musical. And today you can grab a free sneak peak of show composer Glen Hansard's latest album project. 

The auspicious timing comes courtesy of NPR Music, delivering Hansard's solo debut "Rhythm and Repose" as one of this week's "First Listen" streams. You can find it at an NPR Music app, at NPR.ORG/music or most directly right here.

Based on the semi-autobiographical  film also called "Once" in which Hansard played a struggling Dublin busker befriended and inspired by a tough nosed Czech pianist (played by Marketa Irglova), the film won the duo an Academy Award for best song (the melencholy "Fallling Slowly") and also sparked a touring/recording  version of the couple  as The Swell Season. And while he now seems to have given up on his prior, rocking group The Frames, Hansard recently scored a couple high profile, more vigorously uptempo contributions to "The Hunger Games" soundtrack.

POSTED: Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:40 PM

With dance all over reality TV, in movies, and on music videos, one might think the interest would translate into theater as well. But concert dance still struggles.

Jerome Robbins’ 1958 piece N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz is a fine starter piece for hesitant viewers, a ballet in sneakers. Performed in casual street clothes, its format is that of a plotless ballet, with group sections, a pas de deux, several small solos, various patterns across the stage, and all thoroughly accessible.

Pennsylvania Ballet named the final program of its season for this company premiere, which opened Thursday night at the Merriam Theater. If you like West Side Story, Opus Jazz shares its choreographer and has a similar look and feel (minus the brawl). Dancers snap their fingers, shake their hips, shuffle around the stage in a circle, and strike a pose with a leg in the air in second position. (New York City Ballet’s filmed Opus Jazz, performed in gritty urban settings, aired in 2010 on PBS’s "Great Performance" series.)

POSTED: Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:11 PM

By Merilyn Jackson
FOR THE INQUIRER
Dance of the lower-case companies! Kate Watson-Wallacer, and Jaamil Kosoko are dancer/choreographers who recently formed anonymous bodies, and Megan Bridge and Peter Price, who make up a team they call fidget, have paired up this weekend at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Both partnerships engage in dance theater, live music, on-site installation, multi-media, social justice and political themes, and audience involvement. In a trend that’s been growing, if diminutively, they titled their show “us.” 
Another trend that’s been around for awhile has the performers on stage in costume and going through their paces before the show actually starts. Watson-Wallace, in a red jumpsuit, and Kosoko, in crimson-sequined crinolines around his neck instead of his waist, wore tinselly wigs that made them look, appropriately enough, like July 4th sparklers. The program notes said they were attending a funeral for the United States. But although they looked solemn, danced with flags, and Watson-Wallace took a series of violent death drops, there was little to suggest a funeral. 
They better reached their intention to defy genre, gender and identity when, Kosoko changed to a white suit, Watson-Wallace returned to the stage in a black suit, and both rolled their T-shirts up over their heads. Hiding their faces made them anonymous. Exposing their chests — black male skin in white and white female skin in black — made quite a nice statement, but not enough to flesh out this unfinished piece. Prior to the show they invited the audience to check out the scant “installation” on stage, but it piqued no one’s curiosity.
In Kosoko’s solo, other.explicit.body, he wore a cut-up sweatsuit graffitied with slogans: “Black Power” across his bottom. To live music by Brandon Shockley with a voice-over NPR interview of novelist and essayist Touré, Kosoko shadow boxes, drags a netted basketball around chained to his ankle, and writhes on the floor. Whether in defiance of or compliance with all these stereotyping props, he picks up books on black dance and the black body from a stack and reads their titles before slamming them to the floor.
Fidget’s Subject in Two Parts was reprised from four years ago, when I reviewed it at Community Education Center. Bridge, as ever, is a riveting dancer, whether deconstructing Jack Cole’s choreography for Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, projected and distorted behind her by Price, or standing naked pulling ticker tape from her mouth. In the second part, the electric presence of Annie Wilson joined John Luna, Lorin Lyle and Rebecca Sloan, recharging the group dynamics and the 
By Merilyn Jackson

FOR THE INQUIRER

Dance of the lower-case companies! Kate Watson-Wallacer, and Jaamil Kosoko are dancer/choreographers who recently formed anonymous bodies, and Megan Bridge and Peter Price, who make up a team they call fidget, have paired up this weekend at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Both partnerships engage in dance theater, live music, on-site installation, multi-media, social justice and political themes, and audience involvement. In a trend that’s been growing, if diminutively, they titled their show “us.”

POSTED: Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:01 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

FOR THE INQUIRER

Michael Ogborn’s new musical Tulipomania, commissioned by the Arden Theatre, has been through six years of development, several scripts, plus the addition and eventual subtraction of playwright Michael Hollinger (Opus, Ghost-Writer). Its story, pegged to the 17th-century Dutch tulip craze, remains a topical match for any number of parallels: subprime mortgage crisis, real estate bubble, Facebook IPO.

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