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 Post subject: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 9:56 am 
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<img src="http://www.sadlers-wells.com/peacock/spring2003/images/side_raiford.jpg" alt="" />

A major new dance voice from Los Angeles.

RAIFORD ROGERS MODERN BALLET
Quote:
Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells in the West End
Portugal Street (off Kingsway), London WC2A 2HT
17 – 21 June 2003
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8222
Tickets: £10 - £30 (All tickets available online: www.sadlerswells.com)
Raiford Rogers has been a vibrant presence on the Los Angeles dance scene for two decades. Performing on home turf as the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, the company made its New York City debut last August as the Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet. With a repertoire dominated by Rogers’ choreography, Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet makes its British debut at the
Peacock Theatre 17 – 21 June 2003.

‘Rogers has come to prominence in a series of distinctive projects that caught the look, sound and energy of the local art scene with the immediacy that makes most other resident regional ballet companies look pathetically out of touch’ LA Times

Company members of the Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet are selected on a ‘recommendation only’ basis. Performing during the summer months affords Rogers the luxury of recruiting dancers from North America’s most prestigious companies including Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and San Francisco Ballet. With the company in place, Rogers extends his demonstrated knack for selecting talent to his collaborators. Spotting such individuals before they attract wider public attention prompted Buzz magazine to name him as one of the ‘100 coolest people’ in Los Angeles. Quite an accomplishment for a ballet choreographer in a city that cares more for tinsel than toe shoes.

‘What impresses is Raiford Rogers’ prevailing sense of sensitivity toward ballet as an expressive language, the musically and deeply intelligent performances of distinction and refinement.’ LA Times

Programme details………..

Programme details:

Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
Peacock Theatre
17 – 21 June 2003


Terry Riley’s influential 1964 minimalist masterpiece In C served as an inspiration not only to later minimalist composers including Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but also to more diverse musicians like John Cale and Brian Eno. Here in a world-music inflected orchestration, the piece serves to counterpoint the boundless vigour of Rogers’ choreography and dancers.

Ex Machina is a new collaboration between Rogers and acclaimed composer Carlos Rodriguez. Two dancers in business suits explore the animality beneath the veneer of modern materialism. Rodriguez’ electronic composition is here enhanced by the onstage participation of virtuoso cellist Matt Cooker.

Cabin Fever is a dance vehicle for LA satirist Sandra Tsing Loh’s darkly comic musings on the unsavoury neuroses lurking behind the Beverly Hills bathing beauties. Music by Sandra Tsing Loh and Amon Tobin – swimsuits by Chanel!

<small>[ 02 June 2003, 12:15 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 11:13 am 
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A preview based around the Peacock visit:

Sometimes, it takes fancy footwork
Securing commissions and working project to project, Raiford Rogers finds a way to sustain L.A. Chamber Ballet. By Victoria Looseleaf, Special to The LA Times

"Bella Lewitzky once told me that if you want to get more work in Los Angeles, you have to get recognition elsewhere," says Raiford Rogers, choreographer and artistic director of Raiford Rogers L.A. Chamber Ballet.

He's standing in a rehearsal room at the Dancers Studio on Pico Boulevard, where his 11 dancers have been working to a tape of hard-driving cello music. Rogers, who is pushing 50, works right along with them: one-armed lifts, muscular arabesques and deep lunges accompanied by a dissonant, canonic score.

They're finishing up a new work, "Ex Machina," which Rogers hopes will help him prove Lewitzky right. After unveiling "Ex" in a concert at Cal State's Luckman Theatre Saturday, Rogers and his troupe take off for London, where they've been invited to give six performances at Sadler's Wells 1,000-seat Peacock Theatre.

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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2003 2:59 pm 
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WE have some coverage of this Company in our "Ballet" forum and Jeff has given his detailed impressions of two programmes:

http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001611

<small>[ 08 June 2003, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 12:30 am 
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An article from The Independent.

Quote:
A vibrant presence on the LA dance scene for two decades, Raiford Rogers took over as choreographer and director of the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet in 1996, and has gone about making it as flamboyant and well-respected as himself. According to the LA Times, Rogers makes other resident regional ballet companies look "pathetically out of touch".

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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2003 11:48 pm 
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Just a reminder that Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet opens at The Peacock tomorrow.

Here is the link to full information about the visit.


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 9:13 am 
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The Los Angeles based Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet is appearing here in London (at the Peacock Theatre)for the first time and consequently I approached them without any preconceptions about the company or its style. First and foremost I have to say that this is a company that looks very good. The technical abilities of the individual dancers is very high indeed with all of them having impressive C.V.’s. On the choreographic side Mr Rogers produces attractive works that are involving though without breaking any new ground.

The first ballet of the evening Where are you My Love is inspired by film noir murder mysteries of the 1940’s according to the programme. It opens to a soundtrack of a woman’s footsteps hurrying along a pavement in the rain, but the theme of danger isn’t maintained and instead we seem to be transported to a film studio where the dancers follow one another with mobile lights and later encircle one another with torches. The music is wonderful: Charlie Haden and Quartet West producing some real smoochy late-night jazz that sounded fabulous behind the central sinuous pas de deux. Rather an oddity was a male solo where the dancer had as a prop a kind of space hopper affair in bight green. The ballet finishes as it stars with the sound of footsteps in the rain.

IN C is a completely abstract work that seems totally to reflect the music of Terry Riley’s minimalist score. There are a lot of fast entrances and exits with different combinations of dancers and along with the next ballet Ex Machina I felt that both were exercises to display the outstanding abilities of the dancers to their fullest extent. Ex Machina though was accompanied by an electric cello. I had never heard one of these before and wasn’t at all keen.

The final work of the evening rejoiced in the title of Cabin Fever (Part 2) and is inspired by the dark side of “Beverley Hills bathing Beauties”. Certainly the entire cast is dressed for the beach with the men in their swimming trunks and the ladies in some wonderfully chic costumes by Chanel. In fact they look rather like an up market version of Bay watch without implants. Although the entire company of twelve is on stage for this, the highlight for me was a pas de deux in which the woman is lifted while curled up in a ball and then draped, totally limp, across her partners left shoulder, later with arms and legs outstretched she is manipulated like a giant star fish. Not sure what the choreographer was saying there, but it was fascinating to watch.

To sum up, this is a company that stresses the virtuosity of its dancers with choreography at times more classical than you would expect from a group of this sort. Beautiful supported penchee arabesques and fast multi directional chainee turns surprise in their context, but above all the company looks good and dances even better.


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:07 pm 
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Raiford Rogers
by Donald Hutera for The Times


THE tagline on the posters touts the American choreographer Raiford Rogers, whose eponymous company is making its London debut, as “a major new dance voice from Los Angeles”. The word obviously hadn’t spread, given the sparse attendance midweek. Yet having sat through four of Rogers’s often etiolated, evaporatory dances, I’m not convinced that a full house would have given the evening the shot in the arm it needed, nor am I about the hype.
Rogers has made his name via a hybrid, music-driven style that exploits classical line without resorting to pointe shoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:15 pm 
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I saw Raiford Rogers on June 18th at the Peacock London, and I have to admit on the whole I was somewhat disappointed.

The choreography was too repetitive for my liking, given that the repetition too often doesn't seem to lead anywhere - no crescendo, and not enough variation in pace.
The lines and groupings became all too predictable, and much of the work was in unison - either as a company or in pairs, which was fine to start with, but - as it continued - felt more and more like choreography-by-numbers.

Occasionally, there was a movement that was really original, and said something about the relationship between the dancers - I was struck particularly by a repeated movement in which the man supports the female dancer as she leans forwards towards the floor - until, body straight, her nose is only a foot away from the stage - then to guide her backwards, her feet taking fast, tiny, tiny steps to keep up with him. This movement seemed to capture both the domination and dependency of a dance partnership, as well as parodying the sense of frantic paddling beneath a calm surface that dancers are almost always required to employ.

However, moments such as this were vastly outnumbered by a vast aray of stock arabesques, lifts and turns - and, most disappointingly - many steps seemed to be repeated freely across pieces - More choreography by numbers...

The few pieces i did really enjoy were cut painfully short. I felt that Cabin Fever was cut off just as it got going - incidentally, I would agree with the praise I have read on this site of the movement involving the female dancer manipulated, carried and cartwheeled by her (far taller, broader) male partner. It really spoke to me about the contrasting strength and fragility in the dancer's body, and the personal connection between the two dancers was painfully close - a piece of emotional participation from the performers that I would have loved to have seen more of elsewhere.

Turning to the performance itself, I will admit that the flexibility and extension of the dancers' bodies was awesome, and as individuals, several were incredible to watch. It was often the ensemble parts that let it down. A lot of the work was choreographed in fairly plain unison, which is only really impressive if the timing is bang on, and the lines identical. in this case, the timing was embarassingly ragged, and the lines often very different. At times, I had to wonder whether variations (in both or either line or timing) were choreographed or mistaken. I was given the impression that the turn of the shoulders, or angle of the wrist, had just not been discussed. After formation after formation in unison, this became rather exhausting to watch.

I read part of an interview today, in which RR himself referred rather dismissively to ballet 'bun-heads'. Rather ironic, as - watching the performance last night - I couldn't help but wonder what a more clasically poised dancer - Guillem, for instance - would have made of RR's more demainding, painfully extended moves (in particular, a develope a cote that started half extended, hung there for an instant, before full extension over the dancer's head - an amazing feat of control). Too often, I felt my attention was focussed on willing the dancers to get through their (incredibly demanding) move undefeated, rather than on the beauty or meaning of the piece.

One last point - I really felt the strength of the male dancers in the company, but was very disappointed by how much of their input was as a crutch for their female partners, or as fillers in while the girls took their breath before the next movement. I would have loved to have seen more of them as a group, working off each other rather than (metaphorically) standing - albeit grandly - in the back row.

Overall, an evening enjoyed for the short bursts of inspiration and real energy and joy that broke through a somewhat monotonous collection of pieces.


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2003 11:33 pm 
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Thanks a lot AliceW and especially for carefully explaining the reasons why aspects of the performances didn't work for you.

Hope to see more postings from you over the coming months.

<small>[ 20 June 2003, 01:33 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:39 pm 
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Thanks for your review Cassandra - I took a lot from that.


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 Post subject: Re: Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 2:11 am 
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There is a review of Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet in the Financial Times by Clement Crisp, but the language used is so grossly discourteous to the dance artists involved, we will not be posting the link here.


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