You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘entertainment’ category.

velocity dc logo

If you’ve always wanted to try a dance performance, but not sure what to see and on a budget, your time has come with VelocityDC.

On Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3, for only $15, come sample six of the best dance companies from DC (and beyond) at the beautiful Sidney Harman Hall at 610 F Street NW, beginning at 7:30pm.

Ron K. Brown and Evidence

Ron K. Brown and Evidence

Featured are short pieces from Ron K. Brown and Evidence, The Washington Ballet, CityDance Ensemble, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, Gesel Mason, Nejla Yatkin, Edwin Aparicio, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner presenting the outdoor piece “Bodies in Urban Spaces”. You’ll see modern, African, ballet, hip hop and many forms in between.

VelocityDC is designed for folks who may be new to dance, beginning with Gesel Mason’s performance of “How to Watch a Modern Dance”. Stay afterward at the bar to swap impressions, meet some dancers, and finally be able to ask them, up close and in person, how they do it all!

VelocityDC Late Night!

Night owls, stick around for VelocityDCLate Night! At 10pm on Saturday, October 3, a cabaret-style showcase of movement, music and mayhem featuring dancers, poets and musicians.

This late-night, 18+ cabaret promises an evening of music, movement and mayhem including appearances by Andile Ndlovu, Capital Movement Project, Contradiction Dance, Furia Flamenca, Gesel Mason, Gilded Lily Burlesque, Kentavius Jones, Komplex, Lucy Bowen McCauley Dance, Regie Cabico/Sol y Soul, and Urban Artistry.

In addition, relax and enjoy the Harman Center bars and lounges with DJ Ian Knight (Philadelphia) into the early morning hours.

The Washington Ballet performs Wunderland

The Washington Ballet performs Wunderland

Bodies in Urban Spaces

Street performances of Willi Dorner’s “Bodies in Urban Spaces” will take place both evenings free to the public. “Bodies” begins at5:30pm each night, beginning at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro and winding its way throughout the Penn Quarter neighborhood.

Presented in partnership by Washington Performing Arts Society, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Dance/MetroDC with major artistic partners The Washington Ballet and CityDance Ensemble.

Visit www.velocityDC.org for more information.

Tickets are on sale now for $15 at the website or the Sidney Harman Hall box office, (202) 547- 1122 or toll-free (877) 487-8849.

CityDance Ensemble

CityDance Ensemble

Press Photos and Releases:
www.velocitydc.org/index.php/press

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/velocityDC

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/velocity_DC

Advertisements

An alert iReporter caught this tractor square dance in Maria Stein, Ohio on tape. Not only is the sight of multiple John Deeres do-si-doing around each other all kinds of awesome, but also note how each one and its driver are decked out like superheroes. My vote goes to Wonder Woman.

tractorsquaredance

It was a sticky, humid day at the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, but this did not stop Puerto Rican bomba y plena musicians Viento de Agua from giving a dynamic performance that had the audience on its feet dancing.

Here is a video I made of Viento de Agua performing a plena. I did not catch the name of the song, so if anyone knows what it is, please comment. Plena is a traditional Puerto Rican style of music that we were told has its roots in the sound of a train. You can certainly here this underlying “chugging” sound in the music. Plena is one of the many caribbean styles that lends its rhythms and styles to salsa and merengue. It is characterized by the use of percussion instruments and vocal harmonies to form the rhythm and tune.

The second half of the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs July 1-9 on the National Mall. The three featured themes this year are:

  • Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture
  • Wales/Cymru

and my personal favorite…

  • Las Americas: Un Mundo Musical / Music in Latino Culture

It doesn’t take a, uh, scientist to come to the conclusion stated in the title of this post. That said, it’s nice to have some quantitative evidence to support the significance of the live performing arts experience.

The NYT’s Tierney Lab blog posts about a study conducted in conjunction with the Dance Your PhD contest (in which scientific studies are interpreted through dance).  Live audience members were given the four finalists’ abstracts and had to guess which dance matched up to which study. The same challenge was given to the online readers of Gonzo Scientist. The data were analyzed and the results are discussed here.

The most compelling finding of the study is that the live audiences did much better at correctly matching the study topic to the dance. As John Bohannon, the study’s author and Gonzo Scientist blogger, says, it is true that many in the live audience had a dance background as well as worked in the sciences.

“But it doesn’t solve the mystery of why live audiences seem to be smarter in general. It’s unlikely that the online experiment systematically attracted people with less science or dance expertise. Nor is access to information likely to make the difference. (Probably few online participants took the time to read the full papers.)

I propose a simple explanation. Being part of a live audience focuses your attention in a way that staring at a lonely computer screen never can. It’s equally true of art and science.” [emphasis added]

Although the Wolf Trap is only a few miles from my home, save chaperoning a bunch of screaming kids at the International Children’s Festival, I am ashamed to say that I have never attended an even there. After spotting their summer ’09 calendar and the fabulous goodies on it (not limited to dance), that will hopefully all change. This summer’s dance lineup at Wolf Trap includes the following highlights:

  • Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance on June 16
  • Aspen Santa Fe Ballet on July 7
  • Merce Cunningham on July 14
  • 42nd Street runs July 17-19
  • Trey McIntire Project’s Face of America: Glacier National Park on August 19

This and much much more can be found on the Wolf Trap Site. The recession is not excuse– the lawn seats are the cheaper– and more relaxing– way to go. So grap a picnic basket, a blanket, and enjoy some arts under the stars this summer!

I don’t know if it’s too much yoga and not enough dance, but I can’t seem to find the inspiration to write much lately. Personal blogs are interesting that way; they do tend to come and go, ebb and flow with the whims of the writer. Similarly, my blogroll changes as blogs I follow change or fall into inactivity. Not that I’ve been reading many blogs lately either. But here are a few that I enjoy following lately.

Apartment Therapy – If you live in a small space like me, those lavish spreads in traditional design magazines and blogs are hard to relate to. Apartment Therapy is a blog/web magazine that gives inspiration to those of us who don’t want to sacrifice style in tight quarters. From inspiring color schemes to unique ways to jazz up an entryway (or the wall by your door if you don’t technically have an “entryway”), I have gotten many ideas from this blog that I’ve been able to apply to my own living space.

This is Why You’re Fat – Only in America… Bacon, deep frying, and food-on-a-stick feature prominently on this blog of all culinary creations obscene. Yes, it’s an offensive name, but let’s face it– if you ate stuff like this on a regular basis, I don’t see how you could be skinny (or healthy).  I dare you to look through such creations as The Bacone (A bacon cone filled with scrambled eggs and country gravy topped with a biscuit) or the Fat Sam (Cheesesteak sandwich with chicken fingers, french fries, mozzarella sticks, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and topped with egg and hot sauce) without giggling just a little bit.

Jodi’s Blog – I always enjoy following my friend, the talented artist Jodi Hoover’s blog. But never have I enjoyed it more than in the last few days as she blogs The World Beard and Moustache Championships. Jodi’s husband Mickey proudly represented Maryland with his full face of hair. I can’t tell you how entertained I have been reading about the Parade of Beards, and the politics of the World Beard and Moustache Association, and The Beards, an Australian band that, as Jodi explains, “They sing songs about beards for people with beards.”

In honor of wordpress enabling the embedding of TED videos, here are some amazing moves from Kenichi Ebina, a guy who has no skeleton.

It’s nice to know we have had so many dance movies in the past few years that it is time for a parody:

Preview for Dance Flick

In honor of the lovely spring day we are getting, here is some lovely ballet to brighten you ballet– an appearance by Suzanne Farrell on Sesame Street.

In which Miss Farrell takes little steps and big steps:

In which the Count counts Miss Farrell’s turns:

It’s a snowy, dreary day.  And to boot, you’ve got a case of the Mondays. Where is spring? Where did all this white stuff come from? Here’s a little something to get your week off to a happier start: a salsa dance-off between Tropical Gem and Utribe.

America’s Best Dance Crew is down to its top two crews. Voting is going on this week and the winner will be announced at the finale show this Thursday.

I find it interesting to see the type of web presence each crew– Beat Freaks and Quest Crew has. Does it have any bearing on their dancing? No. But this show is not just about dancing; it is a popularity contest as well. Fan votes will ultimately determine who wins, and the web has become an important additional factor in rallying their bases.

Beat Freaks

Beat Freaks have fully utilized the social networking tools at their disposal. They are doing a good job of engaging their fans. None of it– aside from the Freak the Vote site– is anything that you can’t make for free. This is the underdog group in the sense that they don’t have the same recognition as Quest Crew. They

They have a wordpress blog with a populist feel to it. Lots of fan appreciation and interaction. It is frequently updated and pulls in youtube videos and fan submissions.

There is also a facebook fan page

A FREAK THE VOTE website– this looks like the official site. It is a professionally created and hosted site with voting information. It has a retrospective of their performances if you want a quick refresher. I initially thought the crew had engaged a publicist to create and maintain this page for them. Then, I noticed something on their blog that says: “FREAK THE VOTE! is a 3 month movement strategy to create awareness of the BEAT FREAKS participation on Mtv’s America’s Best Dance Crew.  We are a pro-bono, non-profit grassroots movement of Fans.”

A YouTube channel featuring professional-quality interviews with each crew member, and favorited videos of them and other dancers.

A fan created MySpace page that aggregates a lot of information about the crew and has things such as fan-submitted dance videos.

BeatFreaks on Twitter. Very actively used to notify followers of new videos, blog posts, and of course, how to vote.

Quest Crew

I had to giggle when I saw their official website, which includes member bios, photos, videos, and booking information. Mr. P said the other day that he thought Quest sounded more like a corporation than a dance crew. The source of the giggle was the mission statement on their website. Yes, mission statement. And a very corporate sounding one at that (excerpt: “to provide awareness of the facility that remains a viable resource of knowledge and growth for the community” tell me how this appeals to the average ABDC viewer).

The group has a MySpace page though they haven’t used it much to promote themselves for the show.

There is a Facebook page, but likewise it is not very active nor has it been used much in the service of the show.

I searched for, and was unable to fine, a blog or a twitter feed.

With So You Think You Can Dance alums Hok, Dominic, and Ryan on Quest crew, it’s no surprise they have a more established feel on the web. The slick official website definitely has a publicist behind it. Is this a good thing for a popularity contest? Not so sure. On one hand, I’m more drawn to the populist feel of Beat Freaks. It makes me feel like my vote is more appreciated. In fact, most of the existing web content for Quest Crew appears to pre-date America’s Best Dance Crew. There’s something to be said for branding, but this is pretty static.

In the contest for best web content and best use of social networking to mobilize support, there is no contest, the Beat Freaks win. Now, let’s see who wins the dance and popularity contest on Thursday. This is a pretty equal contest in terms of originality and dance prowess. Could web presence play a part?

What did you think of America’s Best Dance Crew last night?

Though I haven’t written much about it, I have been following the show on and off this season. I think there is some amazing dancing on this show, which really showcases the diversity of hip hop. I love that they had a clogging group and I love that they made it as far as they did. I also love that female groups did as well as they did this season, outnumbering the men 2:1 in the top three.

Ultimately, Fly Khicks, the female group from Miami, was eliminated, leaving the Beat Freaks and Quest Crew (which Mr P thinks sounds like a rather corporate name) heading into the finale. I think this is a good top two. Strikers All-Stars, the step crew from Florida would have also merited a place at the top. Ultimately, it came down to the two groups with the most physical prowess and the most unique flavor.

I just love what the Beat Freaks have done, showing that women can go head to head with men in some of the craziest, most difficult moves such as head spins and threading. They have upper body strength and control that even most men can only dream about.

Quest Crew has some familiar faces– Dominic (or D Tricks as he’s calling himself on this show) and Hok– from So You Think You Can Dance. That gave them a familiarity advantage in the beginning, but they truly belong at the top.

I have no idea who deserves to win. I think that Quest did slightly better last night in terms of leaving their mark than Beat Freaks, but I’m going to have to review videos from the season before I can figure out who deserves to win.

Here, to brighten your Monday morning, is the amazing Santo Rico salsa company.

Thanks to Salsa Gigolo for bringing this to my attention.

Everyone’s doing it. So I present to you 25 things– not about me– but about Alvin Ailey’s 50th Anniversary performance at the Kennedy Center on February 4. It took me a while to get it up, but I promised I would!

  1. I prefer Ailey as a repertory company. It was educational to see an all-Ailey choreographed program, but there are only so many torso contractions and grande plies in second one can watch in an evening.
  2. It is incredible how Revelations stays fresh after so many performances. Among many highlights, it was the highlight of the evening.
  3. I think one of their secrets is mixing up the dancers’ roles in Revelations each season.
  4. Torso contractions and grande plies in second never feel tired in Revelations.
  5. Revelations’ Wade in the Water is like a hot summer evening and deliciously refreshing on a cold winter night.
  6. If I’m only allowed to see one more thing before I die, it will be Revelations’ Sinner Man. What an amazing explosion of movement. I don’t know of anything that explores the range and ability of the human body while combining musicality and passion that just explode on stage so much as this.
  7. I could have done without the lady on my left’s strong perfume and the sounds and smells of the lady to my right’s munching on peanuts throughout the show.
  8. They packed in a lot of different excerpts of pieces into this program– lots of short excerpts, and the transitions were way too fast. Often, one dancer would be starting in on the next piece while the other was finishing up the previous one. It was too jarring and left no time to absorb what I just saw. If time was the issue, I would have preferred fewer, longer excerpts, with longer pauses in between to allow the audience to catch its breath.
  9. Linda Celeste Sims in The Lark Ascending was some of the most pure, delicious dancing I’ve ever seen. At the end, I realized I’d been holding my breath the whole time.
  10. I have said delicious twice in this list.
  11. I’ll tell you what else is delicious– the entire Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre company. Such beautiful bodies; such beautiful dancers.
  12. I’m glad I went to the gym right before the show. It made me feel just a little bit better about my, er, succulent body.
  13. I’ll tell you wo else was eye candy: Kirven Boyd and Matthew Rushing in Streams.
  14. One of the longer excerpts of the evening was Movement II from Night Creature. It was absolutely delightful.
  15. Night Creature  is all about the party (literally, the piece depicts a nighttime bash) as a whole, each member as part of the party, and how they become one and separate. It ius a corps de ballet piece where each member’s personality and style shine through rather than the cookie cutter corps we typically think of. I don’t think Ailey could do it any other way.
  16. I’m not a fan of pretending to play a musical instrument, particularly when you don’t know how to play the instrument. This, unfortunately, is the premise of A Night in Tunisia from For “Bird” With Love, in which male dancers pretend to be members of a jazz combo in a nightclub.
  17. Fortunately, the “musicians” break free of their miming in short order and dance to the sound the instrument makes in the music.
  18. No dancer better embodied his instrument that Guillermo Asca as the bass player. He danced just the way a bass sounds with a sublime quality of movement. I didn’t even know a bass sound danced that way, but I know now.
  19. Opus McShann— the excerpt was Jumpin’ the Blues— was a straight up swing dance set with lots of shines. It was what numbers at a salsa (or swing) congress could be if they were really good. Not saying that there aren’t really good numbers at a salsa congress, but they are few and far between.
  20. There was some sort of motorcade outside and I got excited hoping it would be a senator or cabinet member (the President was ruled out as the motorcade did not contain an ambulance). Disappointingly, it was no one I recognized. Probably a diplomat with an importance complex.
  21. The audience gave a standing ovation for probably at least ten minutes. They knew if they kept at it long enough they would get an encore, and we did.
  22. After an evening of many many pieces performed to recorded music, I appreciate live music even more. Amazing as the dancing was, something was taken away by the all-recorded soundtrack.
  23. Big thank you to my parents without whose give of a Kennedy Center gift certificate last year would not have gotten me such an amazing close-up seat.
  24. Readers, what do you think of dance review in 25-things format? Or is this just bad?
  25. The end.

As the news media have widely reported, Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama all attended last night’s sold-out performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

While the time-out from stimulus package dealings got a little flack, the President’s dancer in chief (and chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel seemed to have things under control. But here’s why I’m giddy with excitement– the President and his family have announced their commitment to being an active part of the DC community and in showcasing the best our culture has to offer. Now they are making good on that promise. Am I getting ahead of myself dreaming that the ‘Obama effect’ will extend to increased patronization of the arts?

The ‘Obama effect’ I refer to is that the President’s cache` is so great that many people want to be a part of what he is a part of. I can just imagine more shows selling out around town in the hopes the President (or other luminaries such as mother in law Marian Robinson or Second Lady Dr.  Jill Biden, who attended Ailey a few evening earlier) will be there too. And in the process maybe some folks will get an appreciation for experiencing the arts.

There’s no word yet on how this sudden elevation of the arts in Washington might translate to policy. The idea of a Secretary of Arts has been thrown around (see related discussion, including my thoughts on the matter at Dancing Perfectly Free). Increased funding for arts in education, museums, and artists is always something being pushed for. Personally, I’d love to see a WPA-type creation of jobs for artists in the economic stimulus.

Policies aside, let’s celebrate the fine example the White House is setting as a patron of the arts. The Obamas also demonstrate that exposing your kids to the arts at a young age is appropriate and beneficial.

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 236,695 hits