ADF: Ballet Preljocaj

Ballet Preljocaj. Photo:©JC Carbonne.

Ballet Preljocaj. Photo:©JC Carbonne. The Durham production features other dancers.


The seriously wonderful French company Ballet Preljocaj takes the stage again tonight as the American Dance Festival continues at the Durham Performing Arts Center. A few people walked out, but most of the audience was amazed and delighted by the first-anywhere performance of the full suite of Angelin Preljocaj’s Empty Moves, parts I, II, III. It fascinates on many levels, and the dancing is very fine.

Before the performance last night, Angelin Preljocaj accepted the 2014 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, with its “Sammy” statuette and $50,000 check. He slipped between the curtains and up to the microphone in a slim-cut gray French suit and white sneakers, looking like an elf from a modern fairytale. After noting his gratitude to a various people, he looked up at the audience and said: “to see the list [of former reward recipients] was amazing…all those people were heroes to me!” Then he coyly thanked his mother and slipped back through the red velvet, all through talking. He reappeared during the extended ovation after the dance, to kiss and hug his dancers. They deserved it.

From my review was published June 12, 2014 on with the title “A Suave Mousse of Motion: Ballet Preljocaj at ADF.”

July 11 marked the first US presentation of Empty Moves, part III (2014), and the first anywhere of the entire sequence (part I, 2004; part II, 2007). There’s nothing empty about it. It is empty the way a Zen tea bowl is empty—it holds everything. However, Empty Moves is abstract, it is an abstract of something greater. Its 90 minutes of flow illuminated onstage is not really extracted from the great flow of motion and words that goes on forever and ever, amen.

Read the full review here.

ADF: A Dark Night with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet


From Crystal Pite's Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, performed by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Photo: Sharen Bradford.

Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, performed by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Photo: Sharen Bradford.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet will return to the Durham Performing Arts Center tonight with the same program they presented last night, which included the American Dance Festival-commissioned world premiere of a new work by Emmanuel Gat, and the consuming Hofesh Shechter work Violet Kid.

From my review published 7/6/14 on

While Violet Kid was onstage, I hated the music for its similarity to the clatter and crash of urban life even while admiring its dense rhythms. I hated the everyday-grunge costumes for obscuring the lines of the dancers. I hated the lighting for keeping the eyes of the dancers from me even while it revealed them as one body. I hated the dance for not offering any hope of respite from the daily struggle even while being unable to take my eyes from it. But this is one of those dark, dense artworks that the mind and the heart learn to love with just a little time. It was by far the most memorable and significant of the three works on the program. I’d see it again in a heartbeat.

Read the full review here.


Emmanuel Gat's Ida? premiered 7/5/14 at the American Dance Festival. Photo: Grant Halverson ©ADF.

                Emmanuel Gat’s Ida? premiered July 5, 2014, at the American Dance Festival.                Photo: Grant Halverson ©ADF.

ADF: Adele Myers and Dancers’ Happy Physics


Adele Myers Dancers near the end of Myers' Einstein's Happiest Thought, June 30, 2014. Photo: Grant Halverson, ©ADF.

Adele Myers Dancers near the end of Myers’ Einstein’s Happiest Thought, in Reynolds Theater, June 30, 2014. Photo: Grant Halverson, ©ADF.


Adele Myers and Dancers, who opened their 3-day run in Reynolds Theater on June 30 as the American Dance Festival continues (we are at the mid-point), will reprise Myers’ cheerfully elegant dance about balancing on the uneven parallel bars of fearful anticipation and rewarding risk once more tonight.

Einstein’s Happiest Thought won’t burrow to the bottom of your psyche, but it provides an evening of pleasurable, polished dancing. Its serious considerations do not overwhelm its basic playfulness, but do give the five women ample opportunity to show us their fine warrior poses and handstands along with their frisky strength and grace (there’s skipping!). As was the case with the company’s appearance last year, the dance and the dancing boost the vitality of the viewer.

But the dancing is not all there is. This is a highly designed artwork, from the dancers’ well-fitting gray and red coveralls (Heidi Henderson), to the yellow ladders and lines and the active lighting (Kathy Couch), the hyper-scaled film by Emmanuelle Pickett, and the peculiar music by Josh Quillen. Myers seems to have a penchant for saturated primary colors and uses them effectively to emphasize the bold prowess of her dancers. As we saw last year, Myers makes much use of diagonal line, leaning, and motion across the stage, but here the challenging slope also appears in small and tall ladders and lines drawn through the space with rope. The work includes very subtle exploration of the effects of space and scale on dancer and viewer along with bolder, comic, statements on the topic.

I thought the dance was perhaps just slightly too long, and Myers throws away her opportunity for a powerful ending, instead letting it quietly expire. But nonetheless, Einstein’s Happiest Thought made me happy, too.


Adele Myers and Dancers. Photo: ©Christopher Duggan.

Adele Myers and Dancers. Photo: ©Christopher Duggan.


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