March Fourth – I saw this approximately 300 years ago, so details are going to be a little slim. It’s a wacky show, it’s kind of a circus. There’s people on stilts, twirlers, dancers, hula hooping, etc. The music is kind of just party music. Not club music, exactly, but dancey party music. It’s basically drum corps instruments: brass and percussion, and I can listen to that all day and love it, so that was great, a lot of fun. They also dress like a marching band, but some sort of wacky colorful goofy marching band. All the chicks have fishnets or have some how sexified their uniform. The dudes have wacky additions like a pharaoh hat or a sombrero. Mostly it’s all silly and not cool, but in keeping with the fun theme. The physical stuff is pretty well done, all the stilt walking and such is cool. They do acrobatic stuff while on stilts, flipping girls around and such, that’s pretty neat. At one point a stilts dude holds a metal pole while a girl pole dances on it. While kind of dopey, that’s pretty damn impressive to pull off. All in all, it was a pretty fun show. Not for everyone, for sure, but even I was in the middle doing their dorky dance moves to the “everybody dances now” song. Lots of fun.
Soledad Barrio/Noche Flamenca – This is some straight up classic flamenco stuff. Nothing surprising, but very well done. I’m not the biggest flamenco fan, the dance by itself can be a little boring for me, kind of like tap. Include the singers and the guitar and the clapping, and things get a lot better. It’s still far from my favorite dance form, but it’s still very cool. These people are very good at what they do. The dude is kind of obnoxious, with all his prancing and posing. I don’t think it’s his fault, I think that’s probably just how dudes dance flamenco, but it’s not for me. The women, especially the lead, were very very good. Cool show.
Chick Corea & Gary Burton – So, funny story. We saw this on accident. Turns out when you tell the person at the box office when you are buying 10 sets of tickets for various shows that you want “Barton”, meaning Aszure Barton the dancer, you might accidentally get Gary Burton, some jazz dude. So, that happened. Kind of a bummer, because not one of us had any interest in seeing jazz. I guess this Chick Corea guy is pretty famous and respected. I have no problem believing that, he’s good at what he does. Gary Burton does this xylophone thing and was very very good at it. But, it’s jazz. Jazz is boring. Here’s the only two pieces of evidence I need to know that jazz is boring: 1) They covered a Beatles song and made it 10 times as long as the original and 10 times less cool. 2) At least 3 times Chick Corea had trouble flipping the page on his music. The flow of the song did not seem to suffer in any way. So, jazz is boring. They are good at it, but I don’t like it. On the plus side, we got to see the Fox Theater for the first time, which was awesome.
Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet – I’ve never really been into ballet, but little bits of it sneak into other things I like and are making me start to like it, maybe. This is a little bit closer to a real ballet, though still not that. It came in two halves. The first was well danced, but a little boring. The music was just sleepy. The dancers did a good job, they were beautiful, but the music made it boring. The second half was better – it was pieces of Sheherazade, which I don’t know anything about. But the music was much more energetic, much more interesting. The dancing followed suit – incorporating a lot of african/tribal type movements in addition to the modern/jazz stuff. It was by no means my favorite dance performance, but it was very cool.
Premium Blend – I love this show. I have to say, as with last year, I think this year is maybe a step down, but it is still fantastic. The dancing is just as cool, and the choreography is just as good. The problem is a lack of variety in the styles of dancing. This version had too much ballet, I’m afraid, almost every sequence including quite a bit of ballet. Last year had that amazing tap number. This year could have used some hip hop, or ballroom, or something. I guess it’s just not what this school does. But that’s the end of the critiques, the rest is great. The opening sequence was an excerpt from a ballet called Jewels. I’m told that this is still not a proper ballet, but it’s way closer than anything I’ve seen so far. Very prancy, tight tights. Kind of weird, really, my feeling that I won’t like real ballet if I ever see it. But there were parts of this that were pretty cool. Then came a super cheesy one called Songs of Sanctuary. The music was some new agey Orinoco Flow type stuff. The dancing was correspondingly a little dorky, a bit too much self-touching and reaching for the sky. But past that, it was very good. The lighting was dramatic and the dancers (all women) were excellent. Next was a rat pack send up called Rats. This was 4 guys, and it was very charming. The dancing was a bit feminine, which was kind of weird. But the personalities were strong and entertaining. One song in particular was fantastic as the guys (I think) used real (or real-ish) sign language to dance along to a song. After the break was a long broadway/ballet piece about the beach, which was a lot of fun and well put together. Next was a really awesome number called Styx. It was a bit over the top, and I could see some people not being in to it. It was very electronic, kind of 80s, driving music. Everyone ran around with staves basically doing some jazz kind of dancing. It was very aggressive, a tiny bit ridiculous, but otherwise totally cool. Last up was a very silly thing called Hijinks, supposedly inspired by slap stick sitcoms. It was goofy, ballet-less (which was nice), had some nice partnering, and was fun. Overall, great show, I continue to love the creativity they cram into this.
MOMIX Botanica – This show was SO COOL. It was kind of more show show than dance show, but the dancers certainly had to perform. There was a lot of visual effects, people looking like flowers or animals. Cool stuff with glow in the dark hands and feet dancing around making shapes. Some really beautiful visuals – a woman laying on a mirror so you could see her and her reflection as she moved, a woman in a ginormous spinny dress that looked like a flower when she spun. Really really creative, really really cool, really beautiful. And supported by some fantastically powerful dancers. Really awesome all around, maybe my favorite dance show this year.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields – These are a famous classical group, I guess. They are very good, though. I think they might be my favorite classical performance I’ve ever seen. I’ve waited too long to write this, so I forgot what they played. I think the first section was a Cello thing with some fancy cello lady, pretty cool. Then I think it was some Haydn piano-featuring piece, which I thought was very very boring. Then some Bach, then some more Haydn, both of which were very good. The end in particular was very cute – the artists all walked off the stage individually or in pairs, until just two violinists remained. In addition to being cute, it allowed you to hear the music be deconstructed as the parts left, it was cool.
Kathleen Battle – This was very not good. The idea is a famous (I guess) opera singer comes and sings spirituals. Sounds like a cool idea, right? Well, maybe not, but it at least had a shot. But hooboy did it not work. I cannot imagine a style more inappropriately suited to spirituals than opera. The most ornate, aristocratic form of music western art has to offer, paired with honest, painful, joyful, burdened music born of the realest suffering and faith. The fanciness of operatic singing, with its runs and high notes and showing off, is unbelievable out of place with the content of the music. It was such a mismatch, it was borderline offensive. Now, granted, I have no right or position to be offended. I have zero connection to gospel music, and zero connection to its history. But jeez did this all seemed misplaced. I can imagine how upset people would be if a white opera singer lady co-opted this music for some crazy fusion. I’m sure it came out of good intensions, but someone should have seen that it was a horrible choice immediately and stopped it.
Limon Dance Company – These guys were pretty good. Probably my least favorite of the dance shows we’ve seen, but not bad or anything. The first section I didn’t like very much. It used some Chopin music, I guess, Hungarian dances type stuff. I though the choreography was super boring. The dancers were just okay. Really wasn’t into it. The second one was better. I don’t remember the name of the type of dance/music, but it was basically a court dance from some 16th century king’s castle. I felt very much like I was watching an extended sequence of The Tudors. This was (kind of) playing off of Othello, I guess. A moor, his wife, his lying friend, and another lady. Murder, betrayal, all that good stuff. The outfits were very ornate, cool, but the women’s dance form was often lost in their dress. Nothing was spectacular about it, but it was neat. The third act was the best – a latin inspired mishmash of activity. The best music and the best choreography by far, and some very good execution. Overall, good show, but way down on my list.