Tag Archives: Cal Performances

Cal Fall Free for All: Choreography on a massive scale

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 9.46.30 PM
Print Friendly

Cal Performances’ fourth annual Fall Free-For-All is choreography on a massive scale. The all-day arts sampler spins into action on Sunday, September 29 with vivid expressions of creativity accompanied by everything from Body Music to 13th-century French pop tunes to a Duke Ellington tribute to Beethoven and more.

Adding to the dexterity, people attending this year’s event will navigate new routes due to construction near Zellerbach Hall. Spiraling from the Sproul Plaza hub, a perfectly timed, event-filled day of dance (and music, puppets, theater) will have the community flowing from the Cal Band’s Opening Fanfare to the final cascade of Theatre of Yugen’s stylized, Japanese comedy.

The dance within the metadance provides something-for-everyone counterpoints and a terrific opportunity to celebrate the universality of bodies in motion. There is no society or culture on earth that does not at some time, dance. Allowed the grand ballroom of an open field, the vast stage of an empty gymnasium — or even the narrow hallway between a living room sofa and Barcalounger — no child can resist a pirouette or a ferocious sprint climaxed by a final cartwheel or leap. As adults, we learn to tame our wild bodies and exuberant physical impulses for decorum’s sake. And yet, who among us will not smile at the sight of young souls whose inner ballet/jookin/modern dancers know no such boundaries? … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Berkeley Alvin Ailey camp teaches more than dance

AA2
Print Friendly

Like characters in an ancient Roman frieze, eight young boys assume motionless poses, then spring to pumping, rolling, spinning life in front of the Zellerbach Playhouse on the University of California, Berkeley, campus.

It’s a rehearsal, but in light of the fierce pride and near-divine determination in their expression — and exploding from their agile bodies — it impresses as so much more. They are AileyCamp dancers, they are men-to-be, they are special.

AileyCamp, organized in Berkeley by Cal Performances every year, is a national program based on the principles of Alvin Ailey, an African American son of a single parent who made his way to the pinnacle of the dance world as a performer, choreographer and founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Along the way, he developed an ambitious philosophy: circumstances do not define the human spirit, and children are often the best place to look in order to learn life lessons. Expanding on his ideas, and using the Horton technique — the modern dance methodology behind the fearless, muscular physicality of the Ailey style — he focused AileyCamp on communication.

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Ojai North! in Berkeley serves a cocktail of sounds, sights

Photo: Peg Skorpinski
Print Friendly

What happens when you shake, stir and allow to mingle a music-savvy choreographer (Mark Morris), two earth-and-occasionally-ear-shattering composers (John Cowell, Igor Stravinsky), a marvelously matched foursome (American String Quartet) and a nimble jazz/pop/avant-garde trio (The Bad Plus)?

You get a mixed drink — and that’s exactly what Cal Performances’ Ojai North! 2013 festival served up on Wednesday night at Hertz Hall. Ojai North! continues through June 15.

The performance came amid a day saturated with sound and sights: a red fish blue fish concert in the campus’s faculty glade preceded; a screening of Salomé with live accompaniment followed. Poised on the first-day precipice of Northern California’s strong-arm extension of Southern California’s annual Ojai Valley music festival, much mention was made of Morris’s position as Music Director. The appointment pivots each year: Morris is the first choreographer to assume the role. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Eifman Ballet tackles the turbulent life of Rodin

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 5.56.56 PM
Print Friendly

Thirty-six years after Boris Eifman began honing his “dissident choreographer” chops as artistic director of Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, a three-show Bay Area premiere of Rodin at CAL Performances revealed that nothing has changed.

And yet, everything is different.

Eifman is no longer shocking his homeland’s ballet traditionalists; his dancers are complex, first-rate artistic tools; there’s even a government-supported “Dance Palace,” slated for completion in 2016 and portending the company’s bold, permanent future.

“My method, my philosophy of theater — I don’t change,” he said, in an interview prior to Saturday’s May 11 performance.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not tinkering with the steps. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Feed your soul, feast your eyes: Alvin Ailey is in town

AAADT_Revelations_05
Print Friendly

The almighty power of contemporary dance is alive and kicking in Berkeley through April 28, after which the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will pack up their four, richly textured programs and hoof it to the next tour stop.

Until then, it’s “get thee to the church of alpha men and women” in Zellerbach Hall. Feed your soul, feast your eyes and raise your inner flag (no matter how tattered) of patriotism. Artistic Director Robert Battle’s company sprang to life on American soil in 1958 and 55 hinge-bending, lateral-leaning, gravity-defying years later, the jubilee shows no signs of abating. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Vienna, Kronos, much more in Cal Performances season

Caption here
Print Friendly

Cal Performances 2013-14 season features a return residency for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the world premiere of Mark Morris’s Acis and Galatea (see video above), a celebration of Kronos Quartet’s 40 years, and an emphasis on Brahms, with performances by Yo Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Anne Sofie von Otter, as well as a host of dance, new music, theater, jazz and early music concerts.

“These are all my children,” said Director Matías Tarnopolsky, explaining why it was so difficult to choose which performances to highlight.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Dancemaker Trisha Brown retires her choreographic cap

TrishaBrownDanceCompany_LesYeux_03_Credit_StephanieBerger
Print Friendly

Can a single-artist dance company become an ever-evolving, interactive, mobile museum?

That is the question, and the premise, of the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s revolutionary plan as the iconic, 76-year-old dancemaker retires her choreographic cap and becomes the company’s Founding Artistic Director and Choreographer.

As of February 2011 and after a series of minor strokes, Brown concluded 50-plus-years as a master creator of elegant physical vocabulary unfurled in magnificent metaphors of time, tasks and space.

Naming Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas (long-time TBDC members since joining as dancers in the 1980’s) as Associate Artistic Directors, the company embarked in January on a three-year international “Proscenium Works, 1979-2011” tour. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

YMTC
Print Friendly

bccdposterCOLLEGE BOUND Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and others want to create a “college-going” culture in the city. To that end, the mayor’s office, in conjunction with the Berkeley Alliance and UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships is organizing the first city-wide College and Career Day on Friday. The idea is to help all students “visualize and prepare for a full range of post-secondary options through structural, motivational, and experiential college preparatory experiences.” More than 5,000 students will participate in city-wide events on College and Career Day. They will be encouraged to wear T-shirts with their favorite college logos, listen to their teachers describe their own paths to college, and various fun projects, such as a dorm room door decorating exercise. Mayor Bates will visit the King Child Development Center along with Oski the Bear, a school-wide assembly at Berkeley Technological Academy and a lunchtime rally at Berkeley High School. Details here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hubbard Street and LINES Ballet: A recipe for perfection

HubbardStreet&LINESBallet_02_AZIMUTH_KellieEpperheimer_Credit_MargoMoritz
Print Friendly

 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago stormed onto the stage of Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on Friday night and thundered its way through two beefy works of consequence and a collaborative world premiere with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet.

Compelling dances result from simple, rare ingredients: fantastic dancers with bone-deep training baring their souls, and choreographers with dangerous love in every pattern, pairing, and pirouette. Add earthshakingly beautiful lighting, audacious or adorable sound scores, and costumes springing organically from the choreographer’s greatest aspirations — and, well, you might have a masterpiece.

Two of the works on HSDC’s docket rose close to attaining such majesty: Alejandro Cerrudo’s stunning Little Mortal Jump and King’s ambitious Azimuth. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
Events

Joffrey Ballet provides ‘mesmerizing’ performances

Joffrey
Print Friendly

The return of the Joffrey Ballet to Berkeley was a joyful reunion as anticipation turned to renewed admiration for fans of the brilliant, 57-year-old, American dance company.

Until their January Cal Performances doubleheader at Zellerbach, Joffrey appearances on Bay Area stages had been far too rare; especially after the company’s 1995 move from New York City to Chicago and Artistic Director Ashley Wheater’s arrival in 2007.

Long a purveyor of supreme choreography and phenomenal dancers, vintage and avant-garde ballets have been — and, good news, still are — their mainstay. A change of leadership and hometown has left intact a dazzling 21st-century repertoire; immensely personal, singular dancers; and immaculately restaged classics.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Rich and satisfying: ‘The Hard Nut’ cracks the mold

Mark Morris Dance Group
Print Friendly

Exploding onto the main stage at Zellerbach Hall like the Fourth of July wrapped in black, white, red and green packaging, Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut made its triumphant return to Berkeley.

A three-year hiatus extended the production’s every-other-year tradition with Cal Performances. The last time Bay Area audiences boogied to Act I’s Gallop or swooned during the Nutcracker Ballet-inspired spoof-fest’s breathtaking duets and glorious ensemble machinations was 2009.

Although little has changed in the elaborate, 20-year old production created in 1991 during Morris’ stint in Brussels as Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, audiences have. Expectations increase, rather than fall, when the economy slumps and the advent — some say onslaught — of technology raises the bar every time a production is remounted. The show’s big numbers (48 crew members backstage, 32 dancers, 20 pounds of confetti used in the snow scene) prove only that Morris wasn’t kidding when he said the production was not created to tour or to make money for the company. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Mummenschanz reminds us of the miracle of the physical

Mummenschanz_07_Credit_GerryBorn
Print Friendly

One day after feasting, football and family time on Thanksgiving Day, Cal Performances presents Switzerland’s Mummenschanz, a most bendable contemporary physical theater company celebrating 40 years in operation with their first North American tour since 2010.

Hailed for their ability to fold, twist, arc and teeter the human body into amorphous, immensely adorable creatures, the performance promises to delight anyone over the age of six. Even the younger set, who pose the particular challenge of wowing kids accustomed to Hollywood animation and 3-D special effects, can be reminded of one, astounding truth: these are real people performing mysterious, physical miracles — there’s nothing virtual about them.

Making their debut in 1972, Mummenschanz’s three founders brought a honed, sculptural sensibility to non-verbal theater. Dressed mostly in black, barefooted and with no sets or elaborate backdrops, storytelling burst from their dancer-bodies and the clever use of masks and props. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

A long time coming: John Ettinger plays Berkeley

je thinks (3)
Print Friendly

Despite releasing three acclaimed CDs over the past decade featuring some of jazz’s most accomplished improvisers, John Ettinger is one of the East Bay’s best kept musical secrets. The El Cerrito violinist gained a good deal of attention in 2006 with “Kissinger In Space,” an album as strange, wondrous and amusing as its title. He’s mostly been out of sight since the release of his last CD, 2008’s beauteous “Inquatica” with Pete Forbes on drums, piano, and banjo, a multi-tracked improvisational duo session marked by his judicious use of space and a haunting version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.”

Ettinger presents a program of music drawn from his three albums for the first time Saturday at the Berkeley Art Festival space on University Avenue with a quintet featuring bassist Todd Sickafoose, drummer Lorca Hart, guitarist John Preuss and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. He never intended to keep his music on the down low, but with a day job at Ifshin Violins and a growing family, Ettinger put hustling gigs on the back burner. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,