Top 10 Dance and Classical Music Events That Made 2006 a Year to Remember
1) Requiem (Blue Lapis Light) Using the Intel shell as the site for a dance could've been a one-note stunt, but Sally Jacques' choreographic vision, astounding lighting by Jason Amato, and jaw-dropping aerial dance work by a corps of daredevil performers created instead an epic exploration of impermanence and transcendence on the remains of a dead building.
2) The Souls of Our Feet (Tapestry Dance Company) In paying tribute to rhythm tap dancers of old through meticulously re-created routines from classic films and vaudeville the artists of Tapestry proved themselves the worthy heirs to tap's past masters, pushing themselves to a new level and radiating a new confidence and style that left us awestruck and delighted.
3) Wondrous Journey (Conspirare) As true a title as the year offered, this tour of song and the glories it offers was itself glorious, with the impeccable choral ensemble revealing in every number, from medieval chant to Britten's majestic "Hymn to St. Cecilia" to the Sesame Street standard "Sing," the elation and gratification its vocalists take in singing.
4) Gina Patterson and Eric Midgeley in Director's Choice: Evolution (Ballet Austin) In the first section of Stephen Mills' "Desire/Three Movements" and the jazzy "Insideout," choreographed by Patterson herself, these partners on- and offstage brought all their virtuosity and personal connection to bear, creating embraces and releases, couplings and separations, with a tension that was riveting.
5) Christmas at the Carillon (Conspirare) No mere rehash of yule faves, as its title suggests, but a deeply thoughtful, moving meditation on the season and our connections to one another, presented in a nearly seamless song cycle. Craig Hella Johnson's choice of material chant and Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen and carols was inspired and inspiring, as was soulful guest soloist John Boutte.
6) Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Austin Lyric Opera) Our yearlong citywide celebration of Dmitri Shostakovich got off to a steamy start with his opera of overheated desires and murder, and while ALO's staging was not without problems, Richard Buckley's vigorous reading of the turbulent score and soprano Brenda Harris' seething, sensual take on Katerina kept it blazing throughout.
7) Dialogues 2006 (American Repertory Ensemble) This company that aims to give equal weight to dance and music served up both masterfully in its debut, most pleasurably in the witty relationship dance "Group Therapy" and in moody solos by violinist Leigh Mahoney and pianist Michelle Schumann, made more atmospheric and memorable by their isolated placement onstage.
8) Sharon Marroquin in Oh Mother/Hot September Flurries/Suite Peggy Lee In diverse pockets of the dance scene, Sharon Marroquin continues to prove herself an original choreographic voice and a master of gesture. With sharply focused movements channeled through some deep personal connection to the subject, she made even a comical duet with a toaster elegant and tender.
9) We Are Normal, Cha Cha Chaaa (Yellow Tape Construction Co.) Five women in a whirl of motion running, rolling, racing almost nonstop for 45 minutes. Who knows where they got all that energy, but their youthful exuberance and fierce commitment to Amanda Butterfield's choreography suggestive of girls at play on a summer's day was deliriously infectious.
10) "Welcoming Swell," Oh Mother (Forklift Danceworks) Allison Orr truly made the most of her pregnancy through this sweet and witty dance, performed with fellow expectant moms Andrea Comola and Jennifer Tietz Gwin, in which the three inflated balloons to the size of their inflated bellies and bounced them playfully into the sky.