Joshua Beamish’s New @giselle, Hudson River Dance Festival, and Battery Dance Festival
There are three programs (or series of programs) of note scheduled within the next few months. One is next week. I apologize for the late notice, and the PR tone, but I had to get this out quickly.
Joshua Beamish’s @Giselle
In what seems a world ago, in September, 2019, I attended a preview of Joshua Beamish’s world premiere performance of his “updated” version of Giselle, titled @giselle, which was supposed to premiere in Vancouver the following week. Based on what I saw of that preview, I recommended that it might be worth a detour to Vancouver to see it. Now you won’t have to travel so far.
There’s been a lot of water, and a pandemic, under the bridge since then, but Beamish, who should be familiar to New York area dance-goers via his MoveThe Company performances and such dances as Soudade at BAM Fisher in 2017, which made my list of Tops in New York Dance in 2017, is now bringing @giselle back to New York with two performances next week: 7:30 p.m. on May 18 and 19, 2023, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at the John Jay College, a few blocks southwest of Lincoln Center.
Beamish’s production updates the classic with what’s described as a technology driven, contemporary reinvention of the ballet classic. Born out of “Reimagining Giselle,” a shorter work commissioned by The Royal Ballet in London and further developed through a residency at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Pocantico Center, the full-length narrative production will feature Betsy McBride, a Soloist with American Ballet Theatre, performing the title role of Giselle; Harrison James, Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, dancing the role of Albrecht; and Sterling Baca, Principal Dancer with Philadelphia Ballet, as Hilarion. Fangqi Li, from ABT, will perform the role of Bathilde, and Berthe will be played by former Ballet Frankfurt and PACT Ballet Johannesburg dancer Beverley Bagg. Supporting them will be additional ensemble talent from Canada and the US.
Directed and choreographed by Beamish, the production updates the narrative to the present, exploring connections between the original classical ballet and understandings of love, sex, and relationships in a world mediated by dating apps, digital illusions, and fleeting encounters. Here, the 19th Century character is betrayed, isolated, and ghosted by her romantic partner on social media. In a state of extreme anxiety, this contemporary Giselle livestreams her premature death and later returns to haunt her male tormentors in the form of motion-captured holograms projected onto the bodies of live dancers, creating a haunting tension between live and digital realities.
According to Beamish, “@giselle is a careful examination of the evaporation of romance in our culture, and the isolation, narcissism, and lack of accountability that social networks have fueled. By reimagining this story with motion capture technologies and a social media framework, I want to challenge audiences to consider the ways technology is changing the very nature of modern love and relationships.” @giselle features what’s described as stunning animation and projection design by trans artist and activist Brianna Amore, costume design by Janie Taylor, formerly a Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, and currently Rehearsal Director with Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project, and utilizes a recording of the original score composed by Adolphe Adam.
Tickets, which can be purchased through www.joshuabeamish.com , are priced at $55/$45/$35 (plus any applicable fees) and $15 student tickets are available with promocode: GISELLESTUDENT
The New York premiere of @giselle will be celebrated in partnership with Dancers Responding to AIDS, which funds a safety net of social services for those in need. As a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, DRA supports the essential programs of The Entertainment Community Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative and The Dancers’ Resource, as well as more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.
Exclusive VIP tickets to the Opening Night Performance & Celebration Reception benefit DRA, which includes top tier seating, a meet-and-greet with Artistic Director Joshua Beamish, champagne and lite fare. The Celebration Reception will take place on Thursday, May 18th at 6pm at the Jeremy Travis Room, 524 West 59th Street, New York, NY. Limited VIP tickets at $200 ($160 of which is tax deductible), are available through https://tickets.broadwaycares.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ticket.start&eventID=718
Hudson River Dance Festival
Hudson River Park and The Joyce Theater will present the Hudson River Dance Festival, which presents two free shows, on June 8 and 9, 2023 that will present an eclectic group of well-known dance companies. The events will take place at Hudson River Park’s Pier 63 Lawn.
2023 performers (lineup subject to change) include Ayodele Casel, The Missing Element (commissioned by Works & Process), Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. As of this writing, the date of each company’s appearance and the dance(s) to be performed has not been released.
Further information can be obtained through the Joyce Theater website: https://www.joyce.org/2023-hudson-river-dance-festival and/or the Hudson River Park website: https://hudsonriverpark.org/visit/events/event/hudson-river-dance-festival-friday-2023/
Battery Park Dance Festival
It took until last year for me to finally get to the annual Battery Park Dance Festival, but the experience was both entertaining and rewarding. The 42nd Anniversary of the festival was recently announced, and over the week-long period promises something for everyone, new discoveries, and old re-discoveries. As before, admission is free, and will also be presented virtually.
This year, the Battery Park Dance Festival will run from August 12-18, 2023, in partnership with Battery Park City Authority. It will feature in-person and live-streamed performances staged each night at Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City, New York City at 7PM ET, with a rain date on 8/19. The location is a new one. As a consequence of Hurricane Sandy, it was determined to raise the previous site location, Wagner Park, 12 feet. That process has begun, making its prior location, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, temporarily inaccessible. If you’re unfamiliar with the location of Rockefeller Park, check the website (below) for directions and other information.
The 2023 Festival artists (to date, and subject to change), and descriptions provided of the program for each, are listed below.
Amanda Treiber (NYC), Wind-Up
Wind-Up is a playful contemporary ballet for four dancers drawing inspiration from flocking birds and what their relationships might be to each other, with music by Ryan Anthony Francis. The music also borrows themes from other musical works that reference birdsong.
Battery Dance (NYC), The Wind in the Olive Grove and Repertory works
Battery Dance presents new and repertory works including The Wind in the Olive Grove by Syrian-German choreographer Saeed Hani, a work that takes inspiration from paintings of the same names by abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann.
Boca Tuya (NYC), Like Those Playground Kids at Midnight
Like Those Playground Kids at Midnight is a highly physical and intimate duet work by Omar Román De Jesús, filled with tenderness, connection and trust, set to “Songs My Mother Taught Me” from Gypsy Melodie, Op. 55, by Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott.
Carolyn Dorfman Dance (New Jersey), NOW, NYC Premiere
The dance for eleven virtuosic dancers was created by renaissance artist and nationally renowned dancer/choreographer Juel D. Lane (a former Carolyn Dorfman Dance company member currently dancing with award-winning choreographer and director Camille A. Brown). NOW showcases Juel’s signature fast-paced, heart-stopping choreography in a defiant journey of thriving and creating despite the fearful and difficult time in which we continue to find ourselves.
Dancers Unlimited (Hawaii), Edible Tales (Excerpts); Soul Food & Lawaiʻa, NYC Premiere
The work explores cultural heritage, social justice and sustainability, using food topics. Lawaiʻa roughly translates to “fisherman.” Being a fisherman is an act of observing, understanding space, and environmental stewardship. The work is a contemporary dance interpretation of traditional Hawaiian chants. Soul Food is a process of remembering, digging deep into memories through percussion and dance steps to connect with ourselves, our ancestors, and heal from the trauma placed on generations of African American bodies.
Erv Works Dance (NYC), Veiled From the Womb
Veiled from the Womb explores memories of erasure. The grandson of an African American grandfather and Puerto Rican and White grandmother, Will’s aunts, mothers and siblings were not allowed to learn Spanish or the cultural heritage of his grandmother. The piece explores brief glimpses of that culture and its suppression as well as what it may have been like were he to have been exposed.
Fanike! African Dance Troupe (NYC), UPLIFTED!
UPLIFTED! represents humanity’s eternal desire for healing, strength and to be uplifted through the journey of life. UPLIFTED! shares the stories of people as they pull on their ancient history and culture to request, gather and then release their healing back into the universe.
Jerron Herman (NYC), Lax, World Premiere
Lax is a punk concert in a sleep store, at least in the mind of the performer. It’s an observation on how getting rest is athletic and energetic, through a disabled lens. Lax was commissioned by the Stephen Petronio Company for the 2023 Bloodlines (future) Program, made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
Jiemin Yang (NYC), Here We Root (Excerpt)
Here We Root is an original contemporary dance inspired by Asian immigrants’ stories, focusing on the Chinese diaspora in Flushing, New York. It invites audiences to experience, reflect on, and celebrate Asian immigrant identities and experiences. The piece combines movement with text, theatre, and an original score.
Julian Donahue Dance (NYC), Displacement
An intimate duet exploring gesture as it relates to two femme presenting bodies.
Keturah Stephen (NYC), A Yearning Desire, NYC Premiere
This piece was created to highlight different stages and moments in the choreographer’s life in an effort to show moments of isolation and also moments of community and the importance of relationships that we often long for. In the end, we are met with a sense of surrender, because we finally let go of what we are searching for and learn to accept who is in front of us.
Nu-World Contemporary Danse Theatre (NYC), The Called and The Chosen, NYC Premiere
The Called and The Chosen is a contemporary look at an ancient tradition as a tribe gathers for a young member’s rite of passage ceremony. Within this ceremony, the elders and ancestors guide her as they pass the mantle through prayers in a generational blessing. The work’s title refers to how Black people use faith, the Church, and each other as a place of refuge and sanctuary.
SOLE Defined (DC), SOLE Defined LIVE, NYC Premiere
SOLE Defined LIVE is an immersive performance exploration of music and movement rooted in ancestral memory, embodied storytelling, and African Diasporic Percussive Dance. SOLE Defined LIVE performers use the body as an instrument, creating a sonic and kinesthetic symphony by synthesizing Tap, Stepping, Body Percussion, Sand Dance, Gumboot, and audience participation, interwoven with original arrangements by Tamar Greene (Hamilton), Ryan K. Johnson (STOMP), Raina William, and Patrick O’Neal.
Trainor Dance Inc. (NYC), Under Pressure, World Premiere
A large cast piece set to a remix of Freddy Mercury and David Bowie’s a cappella version of the song, Under Pressure is a ritual, spectacle, and virtuosic tour de force. Bodies undulate through space creating intricate, mandala like designs, feet pound rhythms on the ground, and eyes draw audience into the realm of limitless movement and community connection.
Circumstances (Netherlands/Belgium), ON POINT, U.S. debut
ON POINT (2021) is a wordless, site-specific circus and dance performance full of humor. Two men on the edge try to keep their balance between, above, below, on and against each other. Falling is not an option. What starts as a game develops into a common challenge. Every step, touch, shift must be precise. Sponsorship provided by Dutch Culture USA.
Citadel + Cie (Canada), Soudain l’hiver dernier
Originally created for Montréal Danse in 1987 by James Kudelka, this dance for two men explores variations on the theme of not failing someone, as lifting or supporting a body always implies some kind of trust. Here it is a bedrock of faith. Sponsorship provided by the Consulate General of Canada in New York.
Reuel Rogers (Curaçao), Power, World Premiere
A solo dance work that explores the power to make things happen which exists within each one of us, the concept of making and achieving goals, and a celebration of the power of nature: the wind we cannot see, but feel, and the waves we can touch, but cannot hold. Sponsorship provided by Dutch Culture USA.
Rudrakshya Foundation (India), Kali Krishna, NYC debut – India Day
Rudrakshya Foundation, an all-male professional troupe and school founded in 2000 by choreographer Guru Sri Bichitrananda Swain, hails from Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern coastal Indian State of Odisha. The ancient classical dance form of Odissi to which Rudrakshya is dedicated, is depicted in the carvings of ancient Hindu temple friezes in Puri, Bhubaneswar, Konark and Cuttack. Guru Bichitrananda received training from the pre-eminent guru of Odissi, Padma Vibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra and his leading disciple Sujata Panigrahi.and passes on his learnings and his choreographic creations to young men in the traditional form of teacher and students living and learning together. Rudrakshya has been presented in festivals and theaters throughout India and on tour in Europe, Asia and North America. This is the troupe’s first appearance in New York City and celebrates Indian Independence Day, with sponsorship from the Consulate General of India in New York and State Bank of India – New York.
Tabanka Dance Ensemble (Norway), Progress, U.S. debut
The final section of an evening-length work, Limbo Where Stereotypes go to Die, Progress is a physical push and invocation towards a “making of space” for the unpoliced Black body and its autonomy and agency in Norway. Sponsorship provided by The Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York.
Teatrnowszy (Poland), Close (Excerpt), U.S. debut
The closeness of another person has a huge impact on our lives. Getting too close can be a sign of aggression, and too far can be a sign of coldness and lack of concern. That said, we never remain indifferent to the closeness of another person, no matter what. Close is a search for different qualities of closeness that are shaped by individual needs, and also a glimpse of that specific moment when we get closer to someone.
SPECIAL EVENING: TURN OF THE CENTURY DANCE PIONEERS
Dances by Isadora (NYC), Isadora Duncan: Under a New Sky
A selection of works by Duncan from 1905-1923. Grand Marche was created c.1914 during Isadora’s year at Bellevue following the tragic deaths of her children in 1913. Originally set to the music of Franz Schubert, it has been reimagined here to music of African American composer George Walker (“Lament/Lyric for Strings”). In contrast, the vibrant Valse Brillante (Chopin) is offered as a quartet with a new and powerful generation of dancers.
Denishawn (NYC), Denishawn (Excerpts)
Audrey Ross, believing that these historic dances should be preserved and performed for contemporary audiences, gathered a group of stellar dancers to perform dances by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, the titular Mother and Father of American Modern Dance. Performances took place October 2021 at the Theatre at St. Jean’s in NYC, and select works will be revived specifically for the Battery Dance Festival.
Lori Belilove/The Isadora Duncan Dance Company (NYC), Tribute to Ukraine
Artistic Director Lori Belilove and her Company pay homage to Ukraine. The Company performs this work honoring the heroism and valor and grit of the Ukrainian people. Belilove, herself a descendant of Ukrainian ancestry, reimagines these dances that evoke the cry, the terror, the loss.
Time Lapse Dance (NYC) American Elm
American Elm deepens the ongoing climate-engaged collaboration between choreographer Jody Sperling and composer Matthew Burtner. In this solo embodying tree-ness, Sperling begins by slowly unfurling her costume (in the style of Loie Fuller), hand-painted with tree limbs by textile artist Gina Nagy Burns. The dance explores shifting tempos, from arboreal stillness to human hurriedness, to mingle the perspective of tree and person. The music sonifies tree ring data from an elm, compressing the rhythm of its life into a few haunting, looping bars.
The companies / dancers performing dates at the Festival will be announced at a later date. For further information as to that, as well as directions and other information, visit https://batterydance.org/battery-dance-festival/