Upcoming dance season: Irvine Barclay Theatre

Paul White in “The Oracle,” photo by Regis Lansac

The details:

  • Akram Khan Company,  Oct. 10
  • Stephen Petronio Company, Nov. 14
  • Solo artist Paul White, Feb. 26, 2013
  • Spellbound Dance Company, April 2, 2013
  • Ballet BC, May 11, 2013

The lowdown:

The Barclay’s season focuses on contemporary modern dance and ballet, and tends to showcase work that’s kinetically exciting and theatrically polished, which is a characterization, not a criticism. (Full disclosure, I worked at the Barclay from 2010-2011, during a three-year career shift into fundraising and arts administration.)  The companies tend to appeal to the  intellect without ignoring the value of entertaining.

Akram Khan Company will be doing “Vertical Road,” the same popular piece the group is doing at UCLA Oct. 5-6, so you have a second opportunity to see it here (see previous post). Stephen Petronio Company is based in New York City and I have been a fan of his for some time, based on the handful of pieces that have made it out here. Petronio started dance training late, in college, but he had a successful performing career and was the first man in the Trisha Brown Company. He has been a continually interesting movement innovator and his dancers have strong technical training. His group will perform “Underland” (2011) with music by post-punk musician Nick Cave, and Petronio’s latest piece, “Architecture of Loss” (2012), a co-production with The Nordic House, an important arts and cultural center of the Faroe Islands (in the Gulf Stream, halfway between Norway and Iceland). The music for “Architecture” is by Icelandic composer, producer and record engineer Valgeir Sigurosson, who has worked with Bjork and director Lars Von Trier (“Dancers in the Dark.”) Additional music is by Nico Muhly, whose name you might remember as the frequent collaborator of Benjamin Millepied.

Australian Paul White will be performing “The Oracle,” described as an intense dance-theater collaboration made with Meryl Tankard, set to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” It was originally commissioned by the Sydney Opera House. Tankard  began her career at the Australian Ballet, but then switched gears as a leading performer with Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal. White was with the contemporary Australian Dance Theatre, but he has dedicated himself recently to solo work, immersing himself in innovative projects with cutting-edge choreographers. The Barclay brochure notes that this piece contains adult themes and nudity, and is perhaps a more challenging work.

Spellbound Dance Company is based in Rome and was started in 1994 by Mauro Astolfi. It’s not surprising to know, given the company’s English name, that Astolfi lived and trained in the U.S. for eight years at the studios of  Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor. The program features two of his pieces: “Lost for Words” and “Downshifting.” This is the company’s first U.S. tour, thanks to a grant from the highly competitive New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project.

Finally, Ballet BC (the BC stands for British Columbia, in case you were wondering). This Vancouver-based company with 16 dancers is now under the direction of Emily Molnar. A former dancer with National Ballet of Canada and Ballet BC, Molnar has shifted Ballet BC’s direction and repertory, changes that are all for the better, according to a close friend of mine who is a Vancouver dance writer. The group will bring two ballets to the Barclay, both by European choreographers new to me: “Petite Ceremonie” by Medhi Walerski (formerly with Nederlands Dans Theater) and A.U.R.A. (Anarchist Unit Related to Art) by Jacopo Gondani, an Italian choreographer who has received commissions from NDT, Royal Danish Ballet and others.

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