Sunday, July 03, 2005

(D) June 30, 2005 - (ADF) Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company

Assignment: Review Brenda Angiel in 450 words
Deadline: By 10am Saturday
Choreographer: Brenda Angiel (Aeriel Dance Company)(Argentina)
Titles: Air-condition (Air lines, Air Force, Air Part, and South, wall and after)
Venue: Page Auditorium, American Dance Festival
Date: 30 June 2005

Be careful to use the expression “when pigs fly”. They just might (fly). Who knows what else Brenda Angiel would take to flight in her next aerial experiment?

Airborne works to her credit, the Earth-based Argentinean choreographer and founder of Aerial Dance Company has been invited to the American Dance Festival for the seventh time. This year she offers a medley of new and old choreographies.

The program, titled Air-condition, comprised of four works. These included two world premieres, Air-lines and Air force; and, Air part (choreographed in 2000) and South, wall and after (a 1998 ADF-commission).

Air-lines had dancers suspended on the wall in a plastered manner. Their movements, due to the short leash that held them, constricted them within a 360-degree sphere. Within this sphere, the dancers drew imaginary vertical, horizontal and circular lines with their hands and legs. The lighting formed an aura of colour around each dancer and making a palette of the wall. Like a painter mixing colours to find new ones, Angiel explores limited space, the resulting movements, and sensitivity of lighting to movements.

In the four-part Air force, the “force” was weak in parts one and three and it simply appeared as introduction and conclusion to part two. In this choreography, we get to peep into some sort of machinery. Five dancers arranged themselves in a single, vertical file in this section. Harnessed on long, inflexible cords suspended from above the stage, the dancers swung in horizontal directions like clockwork at a near-ground level. The original score for these three parts (the program did not provide the titles) composed by Juan Pablo Arcangeli and Martin Ghersa complimented the industrial, mechanical feel of the dance.

A couple, in their aerial rendition of tango emerged in the final part of this choreography. The intertwining tango legwork was executed with the couple upright as well as when suspended upside down. As if understanding this motion, the harnessed bungee cords also intertwined to connect the turning couple. A scene to remember is when the lady, effortlessly climbed onto her partner’s shoulders and glided down his extended leg with her knees.

Air part’s Fourth Part is more impressionable than its sedate title. It featured three women on the “rebound”. The Trinity (female lead in The Matrix) part-time doubles, in this fast paced piece struck poses in mid-air, leapt and ran in the air; and did a fair amount of “flying”. Persistent to this piece were the moving forward and spring back motions.

South, wall and after opened with a mood-focused duet with south-bound shadows. It was a birds’ eye-view of a couples’ romantic evening walk. In contrast, parts two and three oozed with playful momentum.

As the dance language increasing takes precedence over “flying”, Angiel and her art form is certainly one to look out for. However, a smooth take-off could be marred by the lack of organisation in the program. And, her pieces could certainly make do with more creative titles.

(494 words)


The No-Mercy Peer Review

1st para - People here don't use 'take to flight'

2nd para - "medley" is not the right word to use. It means excerpts of full works and combined into a piece

3rd para - work these facts in the coming para

4th para - 'plastered against the hall'. No need to mention all the details to the reader (part 1, part 2, etc.). Too taxing for them.

5th para - the reader won't know one part to the other; Avoid mathematics - 'horizontal directions' = use left and right instead

6th para - don't use 'lady', use woman

7th para - no need to quote "flying". We already know it is an aerial performance.

8th para - 'oozed' can be replaced with a better word

Overall - Need to keep to word limit.


John Rockwell, the editor for the arts section of New York Times was guest speaker at IDC yesterday. I've putting his review of the same show here strictly for an academic comparative exercise.

In Summer, Modern Dance Rises to All Occasions (Watch Out, Ballet)

Published: July 2, 2005, The New York Times

DURHAM, N.C., July 1 - In recent decades, ballet has come to dominate the American public's perception of dance. It has the big companies, it plays in the big theaters, it attracts the big audiences.

But in the summer, modern dance reasserts itself as the preferred American dance form. That is because the two big American summer dance festivals, the American Dance Festival here at Duke University and Jacob's Pillow in the Massachusetts Berkshires, both offer modern dance in all its forms. They attract attention through the quality of their programs, their venerable history and their packaging of smaller modern-dance troupes to rival the impact of the larger ballet companies.

The American Dance Festival dates to 1934, when it was founded by a quartet of American modern dancers at Bennington College in Vermont. It moved to Duke in 1978, already 10 years after Charles L. Reinhart became its director, and he leads it to this day. In addition to public performances, the festival oversees a teeming array of instructional courses for choreographers, dancers, critics and editors, along with a dance-film series and worldwide programs during the rest of the year.

For visitors from New York, festivals like these two present a fair number of familiar troupes. But even they are encouraged to present premieres, and there are always a few unfamiliar companies. This week promised just that in Durham. From Monday to Wednesday there was the much-spoken-of Emanuel Gat Dance from Israel. And starting Thursday came the Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company from Argentina.

Canceled and delayed flights kept this critic pinned down at La Guardia Airport on Wednesday, forcing him to miss Mr. Gat. That left Ms. Angiel, but she was definitely worth the trip.

Ms. Angiel can almost be called a product of this festival. Now 39, she studied here and in New York from 1988 to 1991, when she returned to Buenos Aires. She founded her company in 1994, and was back in Durham in 1997, 1998 and 2002. She has toured the United States and the world, but for some reason her company has never been seen in New York.

Aerial dance, meaning dancers suspended by ropes or wires or harnesses or elasticized tethers (Ms. Angiel's method), is a genre by now. It harks back delightfully to the suspended and hence extended dancers of the Baroque, French Romanticism and beyond. For dance purists today, this can look like acrobatic gimmickry. For the more theatrically minded - or for those used to the spectacle of Cirque du Soleil and other new circus troupes, or to computerized trickery in films - rigging like this can transform ordinary dancers into gods or fairies or superheroes.

Ms. Angiel consistently skirts the charge of circus stunt work; she is the most choreographically inventive aerial dancer I have encountered. Even though her company members are skimming the floor or suspended against walls, they are always dancing.

Her inventiveness does not extend to titles. Her program is called "Air-Condition" and consists of four parts: "Air-Lines," "Air Part," "Air Force" and "South, Wall and After." The parts date from 1998 (a festival commission) to 2005 (two world premieres), but except for one pause for technical reasons and one intermission, it would have been one seamless piece.

Most of the music is percussive, by Juan Pablo Arcangeli and Martin Ghersa, although Astor Piazzolla and Chopin were used in 1998. For the most part, Ms. Angiel does not play on her Latin heritage, but when she does, as in a tango for Ana Armas and Pablo Carrizo, the results are spectacular: sensuous and breathtaking. I had never seen a tango in which the woman, with utter nonchalance, stepped up her partner's arm, over his shoulders and down his other arm.

Most of the wall work involves striking synchronized solo movements. Particularly impressive is her command of ensembles: earthbound men and flying women in one segment, five suspended dancers of varying sizes in another, mostly floor-based but indifferent to gravity, in lovely groupings.

All the dancers are fabulous, but a few, like Ms. Ana and Mr. Carrizo and Leonardo Haedo and Natacha Visconti and Cristina Tziouras, stand out. And the three riggers, deftly raising and lowering the dancers and the lighting, deserve equal credit. A truly festive experience.

The Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company will be at the Page Auditorium of Duke University in Durham, N.C., through tonight. The American Dance Festival continues through July 23.

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