Archive for September, 2010


Merilyn Jackson 09.04.2010

The innovative choreographer Kun-Yang Lin has launched a daring dance workshop that seeks to transcend mere movement by getting inside dancers’ souls as well. It’s a fresh approach with the potential to galvanize today’s sometimes forgettable world of dance.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers: Body and soul workshops. Through December 5, 2010 at Chi Movement Arts Center, 1316 S. Ninth St. (267) 687-3739 or


The Solidarnosc Chronicles

The only time I was ever in Buffalo was during a January blizzard in ’84 in a van with seven heavily smoking Poles for a Solidarity conference. We stayed at the Lord and Lady Baltimore Motel. I brought goose rillettes from my Christmas geese and they loved me for that. My roommate brought extra toilet paper.

Thus begins a series of intermittent memories of my eight years spent supporting Poland’s Solidarnosc movement, mainly the underground press, which has today morphed into the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

8: Olive Prince and Shavon Norris. Olive Prince, a delightful dancer, choreographed quite a good piece Thursday evening with I Desire, one of eight new works by local choreographers for the Live Arts Festival. The pieces are being presented in four sets of two.

Marie Brown, Lindsay Browning, and Nora Gibson joined Prince onstage for I Desire, while Christopher B. Farrell’s compelling score moved them through with conviction. The dancers entwined themselves by turns in root-brown vines that hung from above. Prince repeated a motif using one vine for a support for deep back-bends and later did a little aerial work with it. This was not your girly maypole dance; all four attacked the meaty choreography with gusto. While Gibson brought her purposeful presence to the piece, Prince gave it its grace.

Dancers Mina Estrada, C. Kemal Nance, and Les Rivera inhabited the second work, Shavon Norris’ The Body in Lines, so well I was less disappointed that Norris wasn’t dancing. While I Desire explored what people really want from life, Norris focused on how people label each other and their lineage.

Nance played the role of what the narration called the “scary, big black man,” who is actually a dancer and educator (as Nance is in reality). Estrada, not the kind of dancer one would expect to find in a kick line, amusingly marched the three to the opening steps of A Chorus Line. Rivera slyly snorted and loped in apelike fashion through a dance meant to mock racial stereotyping.

The two simple, yet terrific dance concepts of I Desire and The Body in Lines are good examples of how dance transfixes audiences even when they don’t quite know what they are seeing.

– Merilyn Jackson

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Read additional coverage of the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe at Follow Inquirer critics on Twitter at #philastage.

Takes. Everything new is old again, unless it’s newer. In Takes, dancer/choreographer Nichole Canuso uses a Sol LeWitt-style cube, as have others recently. LeWitt, the late conceptual artist, still fascinates the dance world, having started the trend of image overlay 31 years ago in Lucinda Childs’ Dance, which anchors the festival next weekend.

Canuso squares her filmy cube with media artist Lars Jan’s installation (in which, during the day, you can make your own performance by reservation). Jan’s technical and artistic wizardry perfectly follows an indeterminacy principle mirroring Canuso’s deliberately indeterminate choreography. His live projections transfer Canuso and actor/dancer Dito van Reigersberg into quadruple takes on the enclosure’s “walls.” Wherever you are sitting (or walking – it encourages), Van Reigersberg’s image might loom vertically, like a cinematic Rorschach, from one corner while Canuso’s odalisque-like body floats around the sides.


Flying monks, undersea oddity, more


By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

You are sitting in silence as a black-and-white freeze-frame of phantom dancers appears on a scrim across the front of the stage, the opening shot of a film by artist Sol LeWitt. Then, like a startling squall, Philip Glass’ pulsing music jolts you into vigilance and live dancers leap from the wings, turning, tilting their upper bodies sideways, arms outstretched.

The burst of flutes, voice, keyboard, and piccolo gathers turbulently as the dancers bubble across the stage in overlapping torrents – eight, but there seem to be twice as many exiting and entering, over and over, on a grid on the stage floor. The images on the scrim reanimate, oscillating, expanding the effect of a host of dancers.

You are engulfed in Dance , choreographer Lucinda Childs’ germinal 1979 work, a highlight of this year’s Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe.

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