The Year in Austin Culture
Top Ten Dance Events of 19991. DANCEfest (Chris Valentine) Austin's first annual local dance festival featured the work of 18 diverse Austin dance groups, including ballet, modern, ethnic dance, and children's groups, over three nights. The celebration provided incredible exposure for Austin's best-kept secret: its large and varied dance community.
2. Nelken, by Pina Bausch (UT Performing Arts Center) Visually stunning work by the internationally renowned dance-theatre empress from Germany. Imagine the stage covered in thousands of pink carnations. So many images, so little space to write about them ....
3. Window of the Soul, by La Tania Flamenco Music and Dance (Dance Umbrella) I am certain that this was the best flamenco show I will ever see. Every element -- the vibrant artwork, the poetry by Garcia Lorca, the live music, and the masterful dancing by Andres Marin and La Tania -- intermingled to create an unforgettable experience.
4. Anything by Sally Jacques Jacques takes dance out of the confines of the theatre and beautifully synthesizes physicality, poetry, and meditation. Both the second installment of her scaffolding trilogy, Probe2 Trans/Form, and her World AIDS Day remembrance ceremony, Body Count, were lyrical and poignant.
5. So Close (Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance) This group is small, but powerful. The performance featured former Sharir dancer Kate Warren and thoughtful choreography by artistic director Hamrick. My favorite part was the tango duet by Hamrick and Marlo Harris.
6. A Midsummer's Night Dream (Ballet Austin) Ballet Austin's associate artistic director/choreographer Stephen Mills delighted audiences with a hilarious slapstick chase through the enchanted woods. I can't remember ever laughing out loud at the ballet before.
7. Breathe Normally, by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (UT Performing Arts Center) The nationally recognized, multi-disciplinary choreographer presented a well-crafted collaboration with Olympia Dukakis that focused on the fragmentary nature of memory. Her diverse group of dancers/actors blended text, movement, and imagery to convey a non-linear and stirring tragedy.
8. Dance History Lectures (Barbejoy Ponzio) The Chronicle dance writer and dance historian's inventive series of interactive dance lectures -- including "Politics and Dance" and "Jookin'" -- were so engaging that it seems a shame to call them lectures. For the true dance maniac, her collection of dance videos is to be envied.
9. Austin Dance Initiative (Lisa Fehrman) Stillpoint Dance Company artistic director and community dance activist Fehrman arranged for consultants Nello McDaniel and George Thorn of ARTS Action Research to visit Austin and help dance groups use their strengths as a structure for better organization and operation. The information and support received was priceless.
10. Solo (Ellen Bartel) In the intimate atmosphere of Movements Gallery, Austin's slowest dancer showed the audience that dance could be just a body moving in space. What a great way to stay visible and continue performing year-round.