Browsing Tag

contemporary dance

Inbal Pinto Speaks on Shimon Peres and her ‘Wallflower’

The Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack company performing ‘Wallflower’ in 2015

The eyes of the world have turned to Israel this week following the death of Shimon Peres. Twice the prime minister of Israel and a member of the Israeli parliament for more than thirty years, Peres was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and a prominent advocate for peace. Peres’ death has put Israeli politics in the news this week, but Israeli culture is also having a moment here in D.C. – live and on film.

This Sunday you can see Ohad Naharin, the founder of the Gaga dance movement style and Batsheva Dance Company, in the award-winning documentary about him — Mr. Gaga – at the Jewish Film Festival. And the following Thursday, the Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company will perform their choreography Wallflower live in a one night stand at The Clarice.

Inbal Pinto got her start as a dancer with Ohad Naharin/Batsheva in the early 1990s. Joining forces with Avshalom Pollak – an experienced actor – the company creates distinct artistic visions. I spoke with Pinto by phone to ask her about the Company’s upcoming performance at The Clarice, the piece the company will be performing – Wallflower – which was first performed at a museum, and the legacy of Shimon Peres.

Jonelle Walker: What was the inspiration for Wallflower? What generated it among the company?

Inbal Pinto: First of all, this piece was created for the Tel Aviv Art Museum and, so, it was basically the first time we did a piece outside of a normal stage and the fact that it’s in the museum has a big effect on the process of the creation, of building it. The way that we approached it was using our bodies in the craftiest ways. Like, imagining our bodies like a plastic artist using his tools and materials. Refining our bodies as texture, as different textures. Almost like imitating strange combinations of materials, and how we define those in our own bodies … Of course, we are talking about human beings, so that creates all kinds of images when you are using your body as a metal … it defines your communication with others.

Continue Reading

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Company Opens Dance Studio in Glen Echo Park

Past the pottery yurts, glass-blowing demonstrations, and children’s theatres, a troupe of dancers practiced enthusiastically in the Hall of Mirrors at the recent Glen Echo Park Open House. Jan Tievsky, manager of the new Dana Tai Soon Burgess studio at the Park, invited passersby to watch the company as they practiced for an upcoming performance at the National Portrait Gallery. The open rehearsal also served as a preview for potential dance students.

This fall at Glen Echo, the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company (DTSBDC) will be offering classes in hip-hop, Bollywood dance, contemporary modern dance, improvisational movement and ballet. All of the classes will take place in the newly-renovated Hall of Mirrors dance studio, continuing a tradition first established by Tievsky in the late 1970’s.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance studio manager director Jan Tievsky

Jan Tievsky, DTSBDC studio manager.

The renovated studio space is clean and bright, with a fresh coat of light blue paint and two walls covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors. A windowed observation area looks into the practice room along a hallway with new changing rooms and a bathroom.

“We’re trying to get people interested in modern dance again,” said Tievsky, also vice president of DTSBDC’s board of directors. “These classes are open to any adults or teens who want to experience the Burgess School.” She explained that Burgess’s style is notable because he draws inspiration from a wide variety of dance traditions, and incorporates little details, like subtle hand movements, into his choreography.

“There is a ballet basis in everything,” Tievsky said. “He is so precise, and he grapples with huge, important ideas. You can tell when dancers have been with him for a long time because of the way they move: cerebral, emotional—the entire body is expressive. ”

DTSBDC is now in its 24th season and company members will be leading the classes at Glen Echo Park under the guidance of Burgess. The company has toured to over 20 countries and performed in the

Choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Dana Tai Soon Burgess (Photo: Tom Wolff)

White House at the invitation of President and First Lady Obama. Burgess has received numerous honors and awards for his work as a teacher and choreographer, including two Senior Fulbright awards, a Washington D.C. Mayor’s Art Award, and the Pola Nirenska Award.

The Washington Post’s chief dance critic, Sarah Kaufman, has noted Burgess’s use of subtle movement to tell powerful stories. “The basis of Burgess’s choreography is sympathy with what we struggle not to show. He can portray, uncannily, the flickers and stabs of feeling that swarm through us as we try to stay calm under stress,” Kaufman wrote.

The new Glen Echo Studio isn’t the only exciting development for the company. Recently announced as the first choreographer-in-residence at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Burgess will create dance performances inspired by the museum’s exhibitions over the next three years.

As a part of the residency, the company will perform Burgess’s “Margin” in conjunction with the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition this October.

The Outwin Exhibit, on display at the Museum through January 8, 2017, represents the best of current portraiture and examines issues of modern American identity.

Burgess has said that his unusual upbringing has been a major influence on his work. “Being half-Asian, growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, going to these bilingual schools, the concept of being ‘the other’ and looking for a sense of home, or looking for a sense of place was a continual challenge,” Burgess said.

Three dancer strike a pose

Kelly Southall, Christin Authur and Joan Ayap strike a pose from “Margin”. (Photo: DTSBDC)

The excerpts performed during the Glen Echo Park open rehearsal explored complicated questions about oppression and navigating life on the margins of society. In one scene, a solitary female dancer moves in tandem with a pair of male dancers. The woman and the pair mirror each other’s movements, except the woman is alone, holding hands with an imaginary partner while the men dance in one another’s arms.

The dancers’ movements fall in and out of sync with the bright, yet melancholy, melodies Burgess has selected. The soundtrack for “Margin” includes Concha Buika’s “Volver, Volver” and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Bibo No Aozora.”

The public is invited to attend open rehearsals at the National Portrait Gallery on October 1, 8, and 15, from 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m. each day, and on October 28 the world premiere of “Margin” will be held in the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery at 6:30pm.

2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Concrete Devotion’

Fringe performances tend to fall into one of the following categories: shows that make you cringe, shows that make you feel, or shows that make you think. Concrete Devotion, from well-established company Motion X Dance DC, offers three contemporary dance premieres with emotional heft and visual dynamism. It manages to make you feel and think while avoiding that other common Fringe experience.

The first two pieces – “Kindred” and “It’s On Her” – tackle illness, physical and mental respectively. Lauren Carnesi’s choreography for “Kindred” smartly utilizes weight-sharing to portray how disease can make the body weak and the community strong in supporting the ill. Sammi Rosenfeld’s “It’s On Her,” however, is the stand out of the concert. An exploration of mental illness, the staccato rhythm in the music and movement envelop the viewer in the fever pitch of mania. Concrete Devotion closes with a featured piece of the same name that follows a couple as they balance shared professional life with the intimacy of their relationship. The choreography is beautiful at moments – two dancers slowly walking away from each other, for instance – but in places retreads its own imagery (without additional impact.)

The ensemble on the whole is strong, but could be more cohesive; there were many moments when the dancers seemed to be out of tune with one another. Christopher Saunders, the only male in the ensemble, was a standout also for his strong solos, including an emotional performance in “Concrete Devotion.”  Otherwise, the ensemble was balanced enough that all dancers could shine.

The technical elements of Concrete Devotion are intriguing and may be one of the central selling points for the performance. Film of the dancers talking about their personal lives, designed by Stephanie L. Dorrycott and projected throughout, gave each live piece emotional roots. The unsettling imagery in the film of dancers lying on their sides on the floor and running along the walls is striking. The puppet designed by Rachel Adler for “It’s on Her” could successfully play a variety of emotions and added depth as a “character.”

Concrete Devotion will transport you to a cerebral place of emotional contemplation. It’s honest expression of sickness, mental illness and relationship trouble could certainly inspire a fulfilling trip to the Fringe bar.

This piece was originally posted on DC Metro Theater Arts