"...When I was still new to Austin, in 2008, I interviewed Ellen Bartel about the dance festival she directed, Big Range Austin. Austin was a choreographer's town, not a dancer's town, she told me..."
"...For a city crazy with festivals, our dance festival history is kind of shaky. For much of the past decade, we enjoyed Hot September Flurries and then Big Range Austin Dance Festival, thanks to Ellen Bartel's Spank Dance Company..."
"...Three years after pulling Austin's contemporary-dance scene out of the gutter with the Hot September Flurries festival, which was commended by both critics and the local dance community, Austin choreographer Ellen Bartel is stirring things up again. This year's festival has a strapping new name, a streamlined schedule, new venues, and a more sophisticated – but still indie – sensibility..."
"...Like most everyone, dance artists like to get out of town during the summer. This season sees some traveling farther than others, however, thanks to special invitations..."
"...When modern-dance pioneers like Mary Wigman and Martha Graham appropriated bits of indigenous movement and rhythm from Africa, Asia, and North America, they did so in a formal way, extracting the movements from their cultural contexts, curating, framing, and polishing them as acquisitions to a modern dance lexicon, where they were blended with ballet and anti-ballet to form new passages of expression. But for other choreographers, culture is stickier..."
"...Leave it to Kathy Dunn Hamrick, choreographer of resonant dances and developer of a solid audience base for her own 17-year-old company, to streamline the contemporary dance festival into a one-day, gem-studded event. Tickets are cheap for three carefully curated programs – just $40 for a day pass or $15-25 each – that balance emerging artists with established ones, from near with far...."
"...And it's the story of Stephen Mills. In 1987, Mills made his artistic home in a former firehouse on Guadalupe Street, the building housing the studios of Ballet Austin, and over the next nine years, did a significant amount of "growing up" there: first as a principal dancer, then as a dancemaker..."
"...The Big Small, a dance choreographed by Kathy Dunn Hamrick and performed by her company last month, might be understood as a performance of memories. Its vignettes seem to be the crystallized, mind-made recollections of experience..."
"...Choreographer Kathy Dunn Hamrick invited the Dallas-based Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, a youthful troupe that has appeared at Hamrick's Austin Dance Festival, to share the program for her company's winter show. For the first half of the performance, Hamrick's company presented her new The Four (3) Seasons, danced to a recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons as recomposed by Max Richter..."
"...That revving of jackhammers you hear is another cultural construction project kicking into high gear. This one is Ballet Austin's new Dance Education Center at Third and San Antonio..."
"...The focus of the evening is on the honorees, of course, but the ACA has ensured that there's a lot more to the festivities, including free food and drinks, as well as a host of impressive performances. Contributing their talents to the event will be: • John Pointer of Live Music Capital Foundation • Minor Mishap Marching Band • Amphion Youth Choir • Dance Waterloo • Austin Dance India • Puppet Improv Project and • Aytahn Benavi of Young Performing Artists..."
"...Toni Bravo is herself a fusion of different cultures, so why shouldn't the dances she creates be the same? "I am part Italian, French, Spanish, and Mexican-Indian," says the choreographer who directs Kinesis Dance Theatre Projects, "which gives me four ways to view the world. I have gone to India -- that is why I've been working with the Bharata Natyam dancer Anuradha Naimpally -- and in doing so, I have been able to get to the roots of the movement that better expresses why or how I feel the Latin world has developed..."
"...Here comes the Big Range Austin Dance Festival again, for the fourth annual time, but what difference does it make if I tell you that?..."
"...Or, say, a month. Because this town boasts enough dance makers to fill a page of the calendar with a different one for every doggone day...."
"...Kathy Dunn Hamrick was reading a dance review when a phrase caught her eye: "multiple cuppings of dipped heads." Huh? She had seen the show, too, but the reviewer's description left her baffled. What was a cupping? How many cuppings were there? And did she somehow miss them all? She stood up in her office and began dancing out whatever came to mind -- "funny, bizarre images" -- trying to re-enact the vivid and peculiar phrase..."
"...How do you finance art that often leaves no tangible record of its occurrence? How can digital technology augment practices that are as organic as rhythm itself? What responsibility do dancemakers and dance companies have to their societies and communities? And how can dance undo reputations of esotery and exclusivity to work toward inclusion and diversity?..."
"...It was 60 years ago when Russell, now 82, flew to Europe to take a summer course with Wigman, the German expressionist dancer and choreographer who was one of the mothers of 20th century modern dance. Russell, having just earned her bachelor's degree from the Department of Women's Physical Education and Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was impressionable but confident, and Wigman (1886–1973) had a profound influence on her..."
"...The dancers were unhurried as they paced and pivoted, evoking the human machine of mass transit in Ellen Bartel's MFA thesis dance, "Watch the Gap," presented in March by the University of Texas. Awash in asphalt gray, accented with yellow and red, the stage setting merged with a looming video projection of a commuter rail station, multiplying the volume of the performance space..."
"...Initially, the beauty and grace of the garbage trucks and the routine motions of the sanitation workers were but a twinkle in the mind’s eye of this choreographer. Orr envisioned a dance piece, performed by the workers and their machines, a celebration of the interplay between humans and machines, and the rhythms, movements, physicality, and precision teamwork that go largely unnoticed..."
"...• Ballet Austin holds its annual day of free dance classes this Sunday, Sept. 12, 2-6pm..."
"...Most of the year, Austin's contemporary dancemakers are pretty far-flung, across the calendar and across the city: a midwinter show at the Off Center here, a late spring show at the Dougherty Arts Center there, a couple of autumn showcases at the Boyd Vance Theatre and Austin Community College, and so on. So if you were of a mind to take the pulse of the city's choreographic community, you'd pretty much have to devote a year to the task and count on touring a dozen different performance venues scattered around town...."
"...Martha Jones, 72, has been taking dance classes two or three times per week since her college days. But as a nonprofessional, she can count on one hand the number of times she's had the chance to perform..."
"...The origin of modern dance is usually attributed to the barefoot dance-makers who rebelled against ballet from the 1930s to the early 1960s. After that, the Judson Church movement (which included Austin's own Deborah Hay) ushered in the new avant-garde, further unraveling dance..."
"...He wanted to act, and he followed his instincts, which brought him to Austin and opened up an entirely new world. Within one year, he went from having minimal dance experience to choreographing musicals for St..."
"...Austin Ballroom Dancers play swing, Latin, rock, and ballroom classics weekly. Smoke- and alcohol-free..."
"...But the man himself is cool. He sits calm and poised as he talks about spending half his life in Austin, founding the Austin Festival of Dance, his impending move to New York City, his new job, his new life, and the cycles within life..."
"...Saturday, March 10 KASE/KVET stage, 11:30am: Fuse A Cappella KASE/KVET stage, 3pm: Carson McHone KASE/KVET stage, 5pm: The Powell Brothers KASE/KVET stage, 7pm: The Statesboro Revue Arena stage, 7pm: Josh Turner 100X Dance Hall, 10pm: Monte Good & the Honky-Tonk Heroes..."
"...Each one of these 2015 dances created a universe of its own. In chronological order:..."
"...Wearing richly colored, bejeweled garments handmade in India, she stamped her feet in intricate rhythms and shaped her hands in exquisite gestures, bells and bracelets jingling softly. I marveled at her physical beauty and the combination of delicate precision and strength required by Bharata Natyam, the style of classical Indian dance that Naimpally has performed, taught, and promoted under her organization, Austin Dance India, for two decades...."
"...4) MIDSUMMER OFFERINGS (Performa/Dance) Three choreographers working from different places, but all proving that whether it's warm and fluid, cool and abstract, or as tense as Hitchcock, new dance can compel...."
"...4) ONE STEP AT A TIME: A JOURNEY TOWARD PRESENT GRACE (Tapestry Dance Company) A necessary work in this election year, spotlighting the troupe's dancers – their diversity, histories, and hopes – in ways that gave their artful steps personal and political context, especially when embellished by Zell Miller III's urgent, trenchant spoken word...."
"...That irreverent riff on Chekhov earned the most love in the Table's 23rd presentation of honors for notable artistic achievements, but close behind were LOLA Austin's La Femme Bohème and Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance's Kiss Me, Kate with three awards each. Nine projects took home two prizes each: Ballet Austin's Belle Redux; Zach Theatre's Cenicienta; Half & Half Productions' Chicago; Hyde Park Theatre's The Christians; Theatre en Bloc's Cock; Physical Plant Theater's Everything Is Established; the Austin Classical Guitar/Conspirare/Texas Performing Arts collaboration How Little You Are; Performa/Dance's Ignite: Three Works; and Trouble Puppet Theatre's The Wars of Heaven, Part I..."
"...Twin Sisters Dance Hall, outside of Blanco, could be the oldest dance hall in Texas, depending on how you make the assessment. Considering it was built eight years before Gruene Hall, which claims the title of oldest, Twin Sisters ought to at least be an asterisk on the bragging rights chart...."
"...4) 'THE BIG SMALL'/'THE UNDOING OF NONET' (Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company) Separated by months but related in mood, these works were an argument for season-based funding...."
"...You might think Lorn MacDougal is crazy for taking on the duties of artistic director of Galaxy Dance Studios, a position that six other competent professionals have left in the organization's four-year history. You might think she's even crazier for doing it for free...."
"...Each time the dancer Erick Hawkins saw the new moon, he was reminded of the closing lines of an e.e. cummings poem:..."
"...1) Sharon Marroquin The nuance and precision of this dancer-choreographer's movement and thinking left most of the audience in tears following the cathartic "Crandall Canyon Mine," based on the 2007 Utah mine collapse. On the flip side, she had Marcel Marceau charm in her clownish "Garden."..."
"...An era in Austin dance is ending...."
"...Revolve Austin, an event presented by NunaMaana Immersive Dance Theatre and Verge Dance Company, gathered nine dance groups at the 19th-century Charles Johnson House, near Austin High. Advertised as a "party," the event began with pre-show mingling – lubricated by a signature cocktail, the grapefruit-and-vodka greyhound, or "Sparklehound" in this context, ladled out with red plastic cups – in the expansive front yard of the house..."
"...A gaggle of queers are about to descend on the Capitol. A year after bringing their dance party protest to Gov..."
"...1) 'MOZART DANCES' (Mark Morris Dance Group/Texas Performing Arts) Startlingly virtuosic dance, so spectacularly in sync with both the notes and playful spirit of the Austrian composer's scores that it felt as if music and movement flared from the same creative spark...."
"...1) 'SOLO SYMPHONY' (Forklift Danceworks) A revelation – of the dance at the heart of an orchestral conductor's movements, of Peter Bay's love for his work and courage as an artist, and, through his artistry and that of choreographer Allison Orr, of the Creator as a dancer and musicmaker...."
"...Performa/Dance: 4x3: Four Works by Three Choreographers June 10 & 11, Fri. & Sat., 8pm..."
"...That the vitality of Austin's cultural scene is owed to its leaders – those artists, educators, patrons, and arts advocates who made the work and founded the institutions and provided the support that allowed theatre, dance, classical music, and the visual arts to take root and flourish here – may go without saying, but leadership takes many forms. At times, it looks like Shakespeare's Henry V, vigorous and magnetic, rallying the troops with words of inspiration..."
"...In a Saturday rehearsal, choreographer Lorn MacDougal is pondering a dance-music problem. Dancers Ann Berman and Theresa Hardy are in a tangle with dancer/choreographer/composer Alain Le Razer, who plays an aqua-finish ESP Telecaster guitar..."
"...Now you’re ready to go dancing. The national dance of Texas is two-steppin’ and there’s two essential spots to learn and enjoy the art..."
"...Twelve guitars, embodying nature in all its beauty and cruelty, and scores of singers representing settlers of the American West – awestruck, grief-stricken, and lonesome past description – forged a riveting tension in this haunting premiere by composer Nico Muhly. 6) The Trees Of Govalle (Forklift Danceworks)..."
"...There is this tension – it's not just talking back and forth. It's making a choice within the parameters of space and people, " says Mari Akita, one of the six dancers taking part in Big Range Austin dance festival's Program C, a 45-minute session of movement and music improvisation..."
"...It's about using those taps as instruments, the way a percussionist uses mallets or sticks to sound out complicated cadences, invigorating pulses, heart-quickening beats – in short, to make music. In recent shows, nationally acclaimed Tapestry Dance Company has been making rhythm even more explicit in its tap work, encouraging its dancers to play off jazz, improvising steps and sounds like soloists in a combo...."
"...Quite a lot, as it happens. Tapestry Dance Company's current – and most timely – production speaks to the fraught condition of our country and we the people in it, and it does so in ways both forthright and forceful, addressing head-on issues polarizing Americans: undocumented workers, climate change, racial identity, LGBT rights..."