Archive for the ‘ Current Events ’ Category

Monday, December 5, 2011

By Merilyn Jackson
“Ties that Bind,” seen at the Painted Bride over the weekend, exemplified, through the choreography of three Philadelphia dance makers, just how this  dance community creatively pools its resources.
The first two works, by Jennifer Morley and Olive Prince, employed rigging hanging from the fly and told stories, while Nora Gibson’s was strictly abstract floor work.

Morley presented Bearing Fruit, a poetic and mythic narrative. Ellie Goudie-Averil and another dancer, wrapped like chrysalises in hammocks, unwound themselves to join the others, including Beau Hancock, the man born of a peapod in this story. Though it works as dance theater, the choreography was so quietly basic it could not have held the attention without the storyline.

In Prince’s Under Desire, the choreography was often gratifyingly surprising, but I could not find a link between her intention to portray what people feel compelled to do before they turn 87 (as she stated in the program notes) and the actual dancing. Morley, Prince, Elizabeth Reynolds, Caitlin Hellerer and Jennifer Rose all looked Olympian in Heidi Barr’s creamy tunics and danced like goddesses too, especially Rose and Prince. I could not guess what the extended use of the fog machine could have meant, except perhaps as a dreamlike device.

If I had seen these two dances on a program by themselves, they might have compared more favorably, as they were good efforts. They were just not strong enough — choreographically in the first case,  and in the second, in achieving intention — when up against Gibson’s innovative choreography and vividly met intent.

As did her 2010 Vested Souls, Gibson’s Trinity — Phase II took my breath away, this time from its first step to its final genuflection. Gibson uses clean, sharp minimalist ballet positions in a pedestrian manner, that is, she and her dancers, Jessica Warchal-King and Eiren Shuman in soft ballet slippers, sharply walk us through them. The formal preparations for a movement phrase are often strictly reversed; there is very little bent-knee work, except as preparation. Front-dipping penché arabesques spin away in the opposite direction. Certain choreographies, for ineffable reasons, remind me of Lucinda Childs, in whose work Gibson was pinpoint perfect a month ago at the Performance Garage. Gibson achieves a severely focused intellectual beauty with her chest out-shoulders down-chin forward perfect form.

Mikronesia’s Michael Reiley McDermott played his often arpeggiated electronic score live onstage.

Review: Koresh Dance Company

Friday, December 2, 2011

By Merilyn Jackson
What a wonderful thing when a city’s audience base sustains an arts organization for two decades or more. Koresh Dance Company’s 20th anniversary year is upon us, and the company proved that it deserves this longevity with its fall season opener at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre Thursday evening. The program was simply a stunner with in-your-face, all-out dancing by  the 10-member troupe.

I have observed in the pastthat Koresh’s programs are not usually particularly  varied, but this pastiche of “agonizingly chosen” excerpts from his favorite works (as Roni Koresh expressed  it before the show) gave the lie to that.

With his Israeli and jazz-based background, Koresh (who just turned 50) often uses socio-historical, folk, and biblical motifs with wit and playfulness, sensuality and menace. His 1992 Facing the Sun opens with a steam engine’s glaring headlight bearing down on the audience and the chug of a train. In this epic work the full company faces the menace of the Holocaust while heroically striving to remain committed to their community until one by one they are shot dead

If I have not said enough about Melissa Rector’s dancing over the years, here’s this: After 20 years with Koresh, she is still just about the best-trained dancer in the city. I don’t know how it’s possible to keep improving while other dancers would be declining, but she does. Even though Asya Zlatina, Alexis Viator, Shannon Bramham and Jessica Daley (each with the company four or more years) and newcomer Krista Montrone are younger, and equally athletic and beautiful, they are  no match for Rector’s perfectly arched point and her ferocious fire to dance. Her demanding choreography for the Koresh Youth Ensemble, which opened the program with a work called Surge, shows that when, if ever, she slows down, we won’t see the last of her talent.
She soared, swooped, and scorched the stage in the 1992 Carousel, the first Koresh work she ever danced in. One gorgeous moment: The women sit open-legged astride the men’s thighs, facing them. Hands entwined, the men swirl them backward until their heads almost sweep the floor.

Another favorite of mine from 2005 was the excerpt from Standing in Tears, to Balkan Beat Box — wild and tribal. And Micah Geyer and Rector’s priceless send-up duet from 2009’s Evolution, to solemn  Schubert music, had us all entranced. Eric Bean and Bramham were also breathtaking in an excerpt from Sense of Human (2010), as was a ravishing trio with Geyer, Montrone and Joseph Cotler from the same dance. Newcomer DJ Smart made up the minyan in this dance ensemble and acquitted himself well. Could we please have another 20 years of this?


November 21, 2011|By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

  • Gabrielle Revlock in "Share!" Also featured was Lionel Popkin's "There Is an Elephant in This Dance."
Gabrielle Revlock in “Share!” Also featured was Lionel Popkin’s There is an Elephant in This Dance

Sometimes when a critic sees a dance the first time, it goes over her head. On a witty double bill with Lionel Popkin at Philadelphia Dance Projects’ season opener at the Performance Garage, I saw Gabrielle Revlock’s Share! a second time since it premiered in 2009.

I got the wit part back then, but not the “share.” With Julius Masri performing his soundscape live off to one side, Bonnie Friel stands on a riser lip-synching “Red River Valley.” Gregory Holt and Revlock dance Revlock’s eccentric and often original choreography: standing in place, the right toe raised slightly, the buttock rocking up and down with the eyes rolled upward – a motif repeated throughout the dance until you get its slightly bored affect. Eventually the three begin removing multiple sets of underwear and exchanging them, but finally it all ends up in heaps on Friel – shared.

Popkin illuminated Philadelphia stages years ago, but we lost him to Trisha Brown’s company and now to UCLA, where he teaches. His There Is an Elephant in This Dance is something you might have to see more than once.

Popkin, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Carolyn Hall, and Zornitsa Stoyanova warmed up the audience by coming out and chatting up individuals, creating a lovely connection between us. As Stoyanova donned the elephant costume, she asked an audience member to help her. When she danced, hopping, mincing along on her knees, flapping her trunk, we felt affection for her. The elephant seemed pensive, dejected, and then brightened at times, on stage as well as in Kyle Ruddick and Cari Ann Shim’s ghostly video projected throughout.

Popkin riveted us with an upstage center solo done in one spot. Without moving his feet, he moved or shook every other body part, even his mouth, blowing air out at us, eyes twinkling. At times he could have been evading an insect. Or he’d just let his upper torso sway and sink into his hips. All the while, he never lost eye contact with the audience, and we loved it.

Houston-Jones (another Philly ex-pat) stomps and travels rapidly across the stage in a vigorous dance that ends abruptly as he saunters away, shrugging it off with a raised eyebrow. Popkin dances with Hall; they do a back crossover tango step, and she leaps high backward into his hands. Popkin puts on the elephant, does kazatskis in it – funny, sad. Sometimes you don’t quite get a dance, but you know it was something heady.

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Merilyn Jackson writes on dance, books, and food for

The Inquirer and other publications. Her blog is


By Merilyn Jackson
For The Inquirer

BalletX opened its fifth season at the Wilma Theater on Wednesday with a triple bill sparkling with surprising and lovely performances by company newcomers and more-senior members. A new initiative backed by the Knight Foundation and Wells Fargo included intermission entertainment that kept the excitement going. During the first, the Conestoga Angels Precision Marching Drum Corps shook things up by marching down and taking the Wilma stage with stomping, rib-pumping drills and bold-as-brass drumming.

It was like taking an expansive breath between the show’s two dark opening numbers. The first, Two Ears, One Mouth, a world premiere by up-and-coming choreographer Loni Landon, evoked a steamy after-hours street scene, with clubgoers in confrontations that spun out in backbends. In one beautiful phrase, new member Barry Kerollis gorgeously curled his fingers into a fist, then bobbed his head three times as he ducked under Anitra N. Keegan’s waiting upraised leg. Kerollis knew where to go but the work didn’t always.

Alex Ketley’s Silt (2009) looked more solid on second viewing than the title implied. Keegan and Kerollis started with exaggerated studio poses, while the other dancers sat around, observing. Veteran X-er Tara Keating and newcomer William Cannon clipped their movements short to metronomic music. In the second section the movement became more attenuated, the women’s arms went ribbony. Keating’s solo opened the final section to a plinking piano piece by Arvo Pärt, soon stomping to it with Cannon and the others. Colby Damon and Laura Feig ended it with a duet of compressed passion.

The entr’acte here was First Person Arts winner R. Eric Thomas, talking about moving to Philly because “everybody here has it in them, and that’s freedom!”

Matthew Neenan went to the Andrew Jackson School in South Philly for inspiration for the first installment of an education venture funded by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Composers Forum. For it, he and his musical collaborator, Robert Maggio, created a charming and strong work called Jackson Sounds. A little video of the kids they worked with set the stage, including a song an Asian student sang that later became Maggio’s theme and variations for two live cellists, Jie Jin and Thomas Kraines, upstage center.

The five women en pointe and in Martha Chamberlain’s adorable flirty skirts toyed with the company’s five men, including marvelous Jesse Sani and Adam Hundt. Their interplay shows that BalletX, even when fooling around with its schoolyard playmates, is quite grown up.


Posted: Fri, Nov. 4, 2011, 3:00 AM

By Merilyn Jackson

For the Inquirer

Tui is the Maori name for a black bird with a small white tuft at its throat. When the English came to New Zealand, its native habitat, they named it the parson bird. Honeyeaters, Tuis have two voice boxes and some of their sounds range beyond what we humans can hear. On opening night at Subcircle’s Christ Church fall run, called Seed, Gin MacCallum and Niki Cousineau danced like two wavering voices that hushed us and left us craving to hear and see them.Cousineau and MacCallum choreographed, and New Zealand’s Carol Brown, who has worked with Subcircle and Group Motion here in past years, directed. Jorge Cousineau created a spare and moody set, vaguely reminiscent of the Mutter Museum, with glass-doored specimen cabinets on either side. His video screen runs on a wide band across the stage and slowly morphs through organic, sepia-toned scenes. The Cousineaus run Subcircle and are both recent, and very deserving, independent recipients of Pew Fellowships.

I can’t say how enjoyable it was to see MacCallum dance here again, after her departure from Philadelphia. She’s an artist whose mysterious quality reminds me of a 19th-century poet – frail, romantic, possibly a little shy or neurotic. Paired with Cousineau’s cool rationality, it made for a glorious frisson that lasted throughout the one-hour dance theater piece. Together they wove a spellbinding web of fantasy.

Dressed in a man’s black suit, Cousineau is like a scientist dissecting a bird. From it, she pulls various objects – a red ribbon, a blue feather, twigs – no doubt secreted to decorate the nest. As Cousineau deliberately arranges the objects and notates them, MacCallum interferes like a little magpie, creating disorder.

They veil their heads in black, don pink or red high heels, crawl under the table. MacCallum becomes a specimen lying on the table, ripping the paper sheet to shreds and eating it. Cousineau calmly removes the wad of paper from her mouth and places it in a jar.

Rosie Langabeer’s mournful accordion notes glaze the scene with a dreamlike aura. She later sings unearthly fragments of song: “Mad with honey” is one. In her clangorous percussion section the dancers squat, swoop, lunge to the floor and then, on all fours, behave erratically. They swerve their heads or torsos one way, pull back, teeter. A coat floats down behind Cousineau. She wraps herself inside and flaps the sleeves as it wafts her aloft.

Sometimes you can see the tuis flying about like that, whimsically capricious, intoxicated by fermented nectar.

Posted on Sat, Oct. 29, 2011

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

Carbon Dance Theatre made its Philadelphia debut Thursday evening at the Performance Garage with Swan Songs, a serious contemporary ballet program that uses the final songs written by classical and contemporary artists just before their deaths.

Carbon’s founding artistic director, Meredith Rainey, invited Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, a master character developer and choreographer, “to take the edge off” in the pauses between the four works. In this program, he is Jeremiah, a seriously funny MC who reads poems (some his) and drolly recounts his time spent on safari or in Peru.

Rainey is a former Pennsylvania Ballet soloist and this year’s A.W.A.R.D. show winner for a duet he choreographed and danced with Sun-Mi Cho, Carbon’s artistic associate. He created two works for the program and invited works in the last-song theme from 2007 Pew Fellow Kate Watson-Wallace and Matthew Neenan, choreographer in residence at the Pennsylvania Ballet and a founding director of BalletX.

Rainey’s Through the Wake centers on Cho, whose beautiful, classical ballet training holds it together. Felicia Cruz and Anna Noble, both fine dancers, seemed ill at ease in Rainey’s ballet choreography, at least on opening night. Rainey has Daniel Moore and DuJuan Smart Jr. twisting the women between them like drenched sheets in two pas de trois. To Richard Strauss’ last lieder, sung by Jessye Norman, the dance longs for the peace that comes with death.

Neenan’s Tell Me What’s Next is danced in a dark and intimate style, to songs by Nick Drake, the young English singer-songwriter who died in 1974. In jeans and cutoffs, four dancers make beautiful, slithering arm exchanges, shifting their weight low to the ground.

I Spiral Into Water is Watson-Wallace’s first work on a stage after years of site-specific work, most famously Car. What a lovely thing it was to watch her work with four ballet-trained dancers. The men’s personalities came out in a spiraling, athletic duet and her choreography to Jeff Buckley’s “Everybody Here Wants You” and Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” entranced me with its tiptoe dancing, slouches, spasmodic embraces, and free falls.

The strongest work, Rainey’s Waiting Room, featured Alex Ratcliffe-Lee, an exceptional young danseur seen last weekend in the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Jeu de Cartes. Although Moore executes a perfect six o’clock extension while prone, Ratcliffe-Lee’s elegant port-de-bras and elasticity and Cho’s intense focus are what’s needed to carry Rainey’s choreography.

With a little more polish, Carbon should become the new jewel in Philadelphia’s dance diadem.

Posted on Sun, Oct. 23, 2011

Reviewed by Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer


Actress, Empress, Whore
A Novel

By Stella Duffy

Penguin. 352 pp. $15 (paperback)

She rose from actress to empress, from prostitute to political powerhouse, as tough an infighter as any man in the labyrinthine Byzantine Empire.

New Zealand native Stella Duffy, who now lives in London, tells the story in Theodora, an evocative historical novel released last year in the United Kingdom and now available in paperback in the United States.

Born about 500, Theodora was the daughter of a bear trainer. Duffy, writing at a quick, cinematic pace, tracks her odyssey from the bowels of the Hippodrome to the imperial palace, where she became the paramour and then the wife of Emperor Justinian I, who by all accounts relied on her judgment.

Some of Duffy’s most vividly imagined passages cover Theodora’s desert conversion to Monophysitism (the belief that Jesus had only one nature, divine, rather than two, human and divine). It was a significant decision in a world where theology and politics walked hand-in-hand and the majority held the two-nature view of Jesus.

In Duffy’s account, Theodora’s conversion takes place during a three-year journey back to Constantinople from Appolonia (in present-day Libya), where a pre-Justinian lover has banished her. She endures the symbolic 40 days and nights alone in a cave. She has visions and delirium and then “she lay in a pool of her own thin blood, the pool spreading rapidly, out and away from her, liquid life pouring away.”

For all the drama of Theodora’s life and all the double-dealing and steamy scenes, Duffy leaves the reader eager for the full story of the rule of the Augusti, the royal couple, but her novel ends with their marriage and coronation. Duffy promises a sequel that will no doubt deal with Theodora’s key role in the brutal suppression of an uprising against her husband in 532, along with the intrigues, earthquakes, plagues, wars, the rebuilding of the great church, Hagia Sophia, and its costs and Theodora’s death in 548.

As Duffy presents her, Theodora combines warring characteristics that alloy into a mettle greater than that of any man of the era. She was ambitious, unscrupulous, wily, but also loyal and compassionate.

Justinian, known as a ravenously intellectual student and lawmaker, is remembered for issuing the Corpus Juris Civilis, the Body of Civil Law. In Duffy’s portrayal, he is a tireless scholar king and Theodora’s ardent and loyal lover.

Duffy cites more than a dozen sources on Theodora from the last several decades. If ever there was a woman whose power, reputation, and stature in history demand the same fascination as Cleopatra, it’s Theodora. Duffy leans most heavily on the elegantly written biograpohy Theodora: Empress of Byzantium (2004), by Paolo Cesaretti, and on the historian Procopius’ Wars of Justinian and his savage Secret History, which reveals his distaste, if not his hatred, for Theodora, his contemporary.

Lately, Duffy has taken some Internet heat for her use of profanity. When it comes from the mouths of former brothel acquaintances, or even Theodora’s own, it rings with authenticity. But the author repeatedly drops the F-bomb as a kind of shorthand for making love. In the passages on Theodora’s pre-Justinian life, it sounds merely lazy. This becomes more grating when she writes about the imperial couple making love. Accounts of their union show it to have been loving and respectful. One of Justinian’s laws proclaimed, “Marriage does not consist in sexual relations, but in conjugal affection.”

Duffy succeeds best with the dialogues she creates between Justinian and Theodora. They are simple, but intimate and caring. After the death of his uncle, the Emperor Justin, Justinian feels orphaned. He asks Theodora, “It is just me now, isn’t it?” She responds, “In the purple?” And he says, “With you beside me.”

Perhaps in the sequel, Duffy will reimagine and eroticize their lovemaking. As a historical narrative, her book is racy and informative, but her unmelodious and dry style is unbefitting a ruler so juicy.

Merilyn Jackson writes on dance, books, and food for the Inquirer and other publications. Her blog is

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By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

As she traveled with playwright Tadeusz Slobadzianek through the Czech Republic and Poland last summer, Blanka Zizka, founding director of the Wilma Theater, noticed that many of the towns they passed through were full of vivid posters advertising theater, concerts, and other activities. But their destination, Jedwabne – on which Slobadzianek modeled the town in his play Our Class, whose central event is the 1941 massacre of its Jews – impressed her only with the vacuity of its cultural life.

“What I found important,” Zizka says, “was to be able to inhale the same air, to see the landscape, the surprising flatness of it, the misery of the small places, the void of the Jewish presence, the overgrown Jewish graveyards . . . .”

Our Class, now in previews, opens its U.S.-premiere production Wednesday night at the Wilma, with Zizka directing Ryan Craig’s English version.

The play’s first act fictionalizes real events through the eyes of 10 schoolchildren, from the 1920s to the July day in 1941 when Jedwabne’s Jews were forced into a barn that was then burned to the ground. The second half follows the survivors in post-wartime through the turn of this century.

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Also Worth a Look

Posted on Sun, Sep. 11, 2011
By Merilyn Jackson
For the Inquirer

Olive Dance Theatre’s ‘Brotherly Love’ Olive, formed in 2002 by Jamie Merwin, has just returned from a national tour with this show about the early MOVE confrontations in Philadelphia. Through hip-hop-inflected “breakin,'” the company’s dancers explore personal struggles with the questions and issues the radical movement evoked. Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Painted Bride, 230 Vine St. (215-925-9914

The Blind Faith Project The First Wave is a sensitive, witty treatment of the early-20th-century suffragist movement. The wit comes in the choreography, with its admixtures of American folk steps and modern dance to jazz and trip-hop music. Blind Faith also premieres The Chair Piece, an examination of the roles chairs play as we sit in different kinds at different life stages. Oct. 8 at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. (215-520-3538, [email protected]).

See The First Wave at

Gabrielle Revlock & Nicole Bindler, plus the Lawrence-Herchenroether Dance Company and Gregory Holt. Revlock and Bindler reprise their in-your-face I made this for you, a hellzapoppin’ commentary on judging dance. Hula hoops, crutches, nudity, yoga, making out, cute kids, balloons — the two throw in the whole nine yards to win the audience’s favor and a $10,000 prize, succeeding in at least one of those goals. Oct. 13 and 15 at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. (719-761-5489 or

‘Ties That Bind’ Work by Philadelphia choreographers Olive Prince, Jennifer Morley, and Nora Gibson. Gibson presents Phase II of Trinity Project, featuring three dancers (Gibson, Jessica Warchal-King, and Eiren Suman.) This phase is a collaboration with composer and sound artist Michael McDermott (Mikronesia) and lighting designer Clifford Greer Jr. Dec. 2-3 at the Painted Bride, 230 Vine St. (215-925-9914,

See an excerpt from Trinity Project’s Phase I at

Family Holiday Events

Pennsylvania Ballet Get those little girls’ frocks fluffed out and the boys’ oxfords shined! George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, a timeless holiday bonbon and the best excuse ever to dress up, returns to the Academy of Music Dec. 4-31. (215-893-1999,

… And another Brandywine Ballet’s handsome version of The Nutcracker runs Dec. 9-18 at Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, West Chester. (610-696-2711, [email protected]).

Eleone Dance Theatre presents the 20th anniversary of Carols in Color, retelling the Gospel according to St. Matthew by using contemporary music, exuberant dance, and powerful narration. Dec. 17-18, Kurtz Center at William Penn Charter School, 3000 West School House Lane. (267-235-0163 or 1-800-838-3006).

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Posted on Sun, Sep. 11, 2011
By Merilyn Jackson

Julie Diana in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

‘I love dance as an art form,” says current Chicago mayor, former White House chief of staff, and onetime dance student Rahm Emanuel, a Chicago native who wants his city to be known for its moves. Like Philadelphia, it is a first-rate dance town, and, with Philadelphia, it is recognized by national dance media as one of the top five in the country. But it doesn’t eclipse Philadelphia.

Four well-established, critically acclaimed resident companies – the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadanco, BalletX, and Koresh Dance Company – bring choreographic cachet to the Avenue of the Arts. This fall we’ll see another world-class season by Dance Celebration at Annenberg. And dozens of other small but robust companies will be presenting as part of a newly funded venue-rental program.

Our dance makers are artists, athletes, activists, healers, and teachers who may actually serve your diner breakfast the morning after you’ve seen them leap from the flies. With plucky start-ups bubbling like so many water-main breaks, you just can’t stem the tide of dancers here. Our own mayor would do well to tap them as role models for Philadelphia’s youth.

– Merilyn Jackson reviews dance for The Inquirer

Carbon Dance Theatre Carbon ironically calls its season-opening concert “Swan Songs.” World premieres by Kate Watson-Wallace, Matthew Neenan, and Carbon artistic director and retired Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Meredith Rainey are set to a range of final songs, from Schubert’s Schwanengesang to those of contemporary (if late) popular artists Amy Winehouse, Nick Drake, and Tupac Shakur. Oct. 28-30 at the Performance Garage ( or

Group Motion/Masaki Iwana As part of a long-established Japanese-American dance exchange, Group Motion presents a one-night-only chance to see Japan’s Butoh master, Iwana, in a solo dance, as well as the dance-theater artist Moeno Wakamatsu in Naked Water. Sept. 23 at the Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave. (215-387-19110

Subcircle Seed was conceived in New Zealand early this year and fleshed out in the Czech Republic over the summer as a duet for Niki Cousineau and Gin MacCallum, with choreographer Carol Brown directing and performance design by Jorge Cousineau. The multi-award-winning Cousineaus are founders of Subcircle, one of the city’s leading dance-theater companies. Nov. 2-5 at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St. (215-829-1449, [email protected]).

Philadanco It’s more than 40 years old, yet as young at heart as its founder, Joan Myers Brown. The company dances the Philadelphia premiere of Watching Go By, the Day by one of its former stars, Hope Boykin, on a bill with Gene Hill Sagan’s glamorous full ballet La Valse, Christopher Huggins’ all-male Blue, and Suite Otis by George Faison. Nov. 3-6 at the Perelman Theater (215-893-1999,

Headlong Dance Theater Desire, an original, full-length dance-theater piece directed by Swarthmore College’s K. Elizabeth Stevens, stars Headlong’s codirector/founders Amy Smith, David Brick, and Andrew Simonet. You’ve been waiting for this loopy trio to repossess your sensibilities with onions, hippos, and watermelons, haven’t you? Nov. 11-13 at Bookspace, 1113 Frankford Ave. (215-545-9195,

Lionel Popkin Here’s a not-to-be-missed chance to see former Philadelphian and Trisha Brown alum Popkin dancing in his quartet There is an Elephant in This Dance, joined by Carolyn Hall, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and a mystery guest, in the Philadelphia Dance Projects Presents 2011-2012 series, “Dance Up Close.” Gabrielle Revlock’s Share is also on the program. Nov. 18-19 at the Performance Garage (215-546-2552 or

BalletX The often-puckish choreographer Matthew Neenan collaborates with composer Robert Maggio on a piece for the company’s dancers, with music scored for and performed live by Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra cellists Jennie Lorenzo and Mark Ward. San Francisco-based choreographer Alex Ketley’s 2009 Silt repeats. Nov. 16-20 at the Wilma Theater (215-546-7824,

Dance Celebration at Annenberg This stellar presenter has snared two of the world’s most brilliantly unorthodox choreographers in one season – Australia’s Gideon Obarzanek, founder of Chunky Move, and Montreal’s Marie Chouinard in her Compagnie Marie Chouinard.

Those who loved Obarzanek’s Mortal Engine at the Live Arts Festival two years ago – in which light displaces music as a driving force – will no doubt flock to see his new work with kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin. In Connected (Nov. 17-19), the dancers construct Margolin’s sculpture in real time.

I cut my professional reviewing teeth on Marie Chouinard’s Rite of Spring shortly after it premiered in 1993. I’ve since seen at least seven other Rites by renowned choreographers, but none surpasses Chouinard’s for steamy atmosphere of a savage life cycle annually rising from the slime. No less turbulent will be her 24 Preludes by Chopin, also in its Philadelphia premiere. Dec. 8-10 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (215-898-3900,

Jack DeWitt, Steven Weisz and 7 others recommend this.
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