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 Post subject: West Wave Dance Festival 2007
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:14 am 
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the first review from this year's festival. They've made some welcome changes to their programming this year. I hope it improves the festival and moves it forward artistically.

Quote:
Seiwert stands out in West Wave solo shows
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The standing ovation for Amy Seiwert's ballet troupe Im'ij-re had a movie-moment sense of triumph Sunday. More than a handful of noted choreographers and star dancers sat among the sold-out audience, fans who have become Seiwert believers during the six years since she started making strikingly of-the-moment, thrillingly inventive ballets in San Francisco.

She's fielded commissions for companies from Oakland to New Jersey, and found a regular outlet for her work with Smuin Ballet, the company in which she dances. But until Sunday, Seiwert had never presented an entire evening of her own ballets. That changed at Project Artaud Theater, in an urgently danced program boasting two world premieres. It was a major accomplishment.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:01 pm 
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Just to give readers some background, several Critical Dance writers gathered for a dance writing workshop during the West Wave Festival. The organizers were generous enough to provide us with access to two of the festival programs (Amy Seiwert and im'ij-re during the first week, and "Uni-Form: Ballet" in the second week) and the following are a few of the reviews produced. There will be more posted in coming days.

WHO: Amy Seiwert’s im’ij-re
WHAT: Westwave Dance Festival
WHERE: Project Artaud Theater
WHEN: July 22, 2007
MORE INFO: http://www.westavedancefestival.org

By Anne Berger

Amy Seiwert’s contemporary ballet company, im’ij-re appeared at Project Artaud Theater July 22nd as part of the West Wave Dance Festival’s 4 x 4 series. This unique series focuses each of its four nights on the works of an individual choreographer. Sunday evening the entire program was dedicated to showcasing Seiwert’s range of careful and exciting choreography.

The program’s five pieces demonstrated a broad scope of movement from pulling, gripping partnering to flowing, open group work. Seiwert’s use of popular and urban dance mixed well with traditional and contemporary ballet steps. Although awkward partnering plagued a few couples in “The Melting,” the amazing skill of dancers like Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, Erin Yarbrough, and Vanessa Thiessen brought the sold-out house down.

The program opened with the world premiere of “Carefully Assembled Normality”, which explored the concepts of association, conformity and androgyny. The dancers’ identical costumes of earth-toned tanks and shorts by Cassandra Carpenter along with their exact posing and repetitious sequences exemplified these themes. This piece was technically impressive and even conveyed a hint of tenderness despite the fast paced choreography.

The second world premiere of the evening was “Double Consciousness.” Brilliantly danced by Neshyba-Hodges, this piece captured the anxiety and conflict of seeing oneself through the eyes of others. Set to a poetic work inspired by W.E.B. Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folks” and narrated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, “Double Consciousness” used popular, urban, and gymnastic dance elements to explore the concept of perspective.

Two concise pieces, “Push” and “Monopoly” rounded out the middle of the evening’s program. “Push” employed minimal lighting and ethereal music by John Zeretsky to support the fluid, dream-like choreography. Dancer Phaedra Jarrett beautifully characterized a woman cautiously balancing every step only to fall into the arms of a man, danced by Carlos Venturo.

“Monopoly,” which American Repertory Ballet originally premiered in 2002, was a frank look at gender roles and convention. This piece conveyed notions of conformity and alienation through use of archetypical costuming and familiar gestures. Three men in power suits who literally wheel and deal illustrated a “members only” attitude. Erin Yarbrough, donning both a power suit and a stereotypical red dress during the performance portrayed a woman conflicted. In one moment she tries to break free from the men’s grasp and assert her individuality. While in another instance she contorts and molds her body, attempting to fit in with the suits. Ultimately, the men reject her in both scenarios.

Closing the program is “The Melting” which Smuin Ballet premiered in 2005. Eight dancers in simple blue biketards characterized the element of water. Guided by Evelyn Glennie’s Asian-influenced music the piece cycled through the different phases of water. The dancers were a manifestation of ice, flowing water and mist-- even breath. The solid choreography utilized complex turns, twists and lifts. Yet, at times inelegant partnering among a few of the couples proved distracting and awkward.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:16 pm 
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WHO: Amy Seiwert’s im’ij-re
WHAT: West Wave Dance Festival
WHERE: Project Artaud Theatre
WHEN: July 22, 2007
MORE INFO: http://www.westavedancefestival.org

by Mary Ellen Hunt

A hand-scribbled “SOLD OUT” sign and lines of disappointed dancergoers being turned away at the doors of SOMA’s Project Artaud on Sunday night were the first signs that Amy Seiwert and im’ij-re’s much-anticipated one-night-only program was not going to be your average show.

Presented as part of the West Wave Dance Festival’s “4 x 4” series – four evenings showcasing a particularly promising choreographer’s body of work – im’ij-re’s program offered a tantalizing survey of the varied repertoire that Seiwert has gradually constructed as she’s emerged as a major young ballet choreographer in the San Francisco scene.

The evening started with a technical misstep, as Charlie Neshyba-Hodges flew across the stage in the premiere of Seiwert’s “Carefully Assembled Normality.” All the care in the world couldn’t have prepared him for the music failing to start on cue, but unperturbed, he sailed back to the corner, and launched himself again, with an equally accurate repeat of that first diagonal.

Also featuring Tricia Sundbeck, Robin Cornwell and Katherine Wells-- paired with and then scattered amongst Neshyba-Hodges, Michael Separovich and Kevin Yee-Chan— “Normality” explores tenuous relationships in formal almost court dances, as well as more freely intermixed partnering and solos, progressing from the cold blues of a dawn to the sunset hues of late evening, There’s an impression of souls bouncing and jostling up against each other that’s reflected in Kevin Volans’ minimalist string score.

Seiwert trades in the ballet idiom, but she often fragments and melts the classical lines into elongated poses, or quick shifts of position. Arms meet and shoot downward as if spearing something, staccato piques and surefooted jumps merge into folding and unfolding limbs thrown into relief by Cassandra Carpenter’s spare biketards in hues of olives splashed with rust

The breadth and scale of Seiwert’s work-- seen on Sunday for the first time in a single evening-- is pleasingly polished, if not entirely compelling. Another look at her 2002 “Monopoly” -- last seen in the Bay Area on Oakland Ballet-- reveals a still problematic investigation of chauvinism in Erin Yarbrough’s struggle to rise up a pseudo-corporate ladder despite the obstruction of Joseph Copley, Carlos Venturo and R. Colby Damon’s “old boy” network. Yarbrough’s technical grounding is more than secure, but the literality of the piece, set to music by Henrik Gorecki, seems overly simplistic and perhaps a little too moralizing. And her 2004 duet “Push”—an intriguing meditation to atmospheric wind and drum pulses by John Zeretsky – was hampered at this particular performance by a curious lack of depth and detail on Phaedra Jarrett and Venturo, who looked polite rather than alien.

More compelling was Neshyba-Hodges in the premiere of “Double Consciousness,” a brief yet acrobatic solo to a recorded text created and voiced by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Seiwert seemed to step far out of her comfort zone, and yet spoke with forthright and earnest bravado through both the body and voice of a man.

Seiwert’s dancers are an accomplished lot, drawn from all over the Bay Area – Smuin Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Sacramento Ballet. As a group, though, they’ve begun to absorb a detached “closed-off” facial expression that marks many contemporary companies. Nevertheless, the works that hit home are those in which a certain warmth pervades, notably Vanessa Thiessen in “The Melting,” the 2005 commission for Smuin Ballet which closed the program. There’s a tendency in this automatic age for contemporary choreography to take on an automatic look, and one hopes that for the future, im’ij-re will look to its most human side.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 2:41 pm 
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West Wave Dance Festival – 4x4 series – Amy Seiwert

Sunday, July 22, 2007- Project Artaud Theater, San Francisco


by Katie Rosenfeld

If Amy Seiwert harbored any secret fear that the all-Seiwert night at this year’s West Wave Dance Festival would play to an empty house, it was alleviated more than an hour before curtain Sunday night. By the time she arrived, all smiles in a summery dress, at Project Artaud Theater, the show was completely sold out, leaving some mainstays of the Bay Area dance family begging for tickets.

The performance lived up to the hype, and the proof was in the applause. The evening was well-constructed, with three shorter, more intimate pieces book-ended by ensemble works. Seiwert’s choreography manages to be both accessible and surprising. Her vocabulary is based in classical ballet, but the steps transcend the traditional to become astonishingly current.

Sunday evening’s offering included two world premieres. The earthy “Carefully Assembled Normality,” which featured the kind of how-did-they-do-that partnering that is signature Seiwert, drew us into the evening with lush, electric movement. It is especially exciting to see Kevin Yee-Chan blossoming among pros like Robin Cornwell, Katherine Wells, Charlie Neshyba-Hodges and Michael Separovich. A quiet moment between Yee-Chan and Wells brought tenderness to an otherwise unemotional, if lovely piece.

The world-premiere of “Double Consciousness,” a solo that Neshyba-Hodges danced with spine-tingling strength, is set to a spoken-word piece by Marc Bamuthi Joseph riffing off W.E.B DuBois’ famous social commentary, which addresses the duality of being black in America. This duality was deepened by the fact that both Neshyba-Hodges and Seiwert are white, as was 99% of the audience. `

With 200 years of history echoing in your ears it is hard to imagine one body managing to keep up emotionally, but here the movement and the man brought the power of the words out into full relief. Neshyba-Hodges punctuated Seiwert’s insightful movements with raw integrity, his powerful arms playing the roles of black and white while his head jerked back and forth, watching these two entities with something akin to cautious optimism.

In “Monopoly,” a slightly less obvious social commentary, Erin Yarbrough sizzled as a woman trying to break in to the male-dominated corporate world. Joseph Copley, Carlos Venturo and R. Colby Damon, dressed in suits and ties, were cold and calculating as they wheeled and dealed their way around the stage. Yarbrough started out in a matching suit and tie, a few sizes too big, her perfectly pointed feet just peeking out. Later, in a sassy red dress, she attempted to ensnare Copley, wrapping her legs around him with coy abandon. While “Double Consciousness” speaks of hope, “Monopoly” has an edge of despair to it that diminishes its enjoyment factor slightly.

Seiwert’s creative spirit seems to thrive most when dealing with the interactions between bodies. Breaking away from the flat presentation of basic partnering, she creates positions that are beautiful from all angles, and then shows them to us with the calm, floating energy of a child’s mobile. In “The Melting,” which closed the show, the motifs bubble to the surface and crystallize before flowing on to the next pair. Yarbrough and Copley in particular shone in the section “Into Gas.” In one gorgeous moment, she lay flat on her back, legs stretched to hyperextension, torso rigid. He straddled her, fed one hand under her knees and the other under her spine and lifted her straight up, so she was suspended totally parallel to the floor, dangling off the right angles of his wrists. Just as the improbability of her position registered she released, folding inwards and curving into the waiting warmth of his body.

The 10 dancers in “The Melting” were uniformly energized, every body stretched to its fullest. The duet “Push” contained some of the same shapes but did not reach the same level of cohesiveness. Phaedra Jarrett and Carlos Venturo never quite broke through the normal limits of their bodies, hitting the positions without infusing them with magic.

The West Wave Dance Festival provides choreographers and dancers with the opportunity to perform completed pieces and works-in-progress for a uniquely well-educated audience. This is the 16th year of West Wave’s association with the Project Artaud Theater. The combination of timing (summer can be rather barren for dance) and the participation of many local artists (Seiwert’s group im'ij-re boasts a roster of dancers connected to Smuin Ballet, ODC, LINES Contemporary Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, and that’s just the companies from the 415 area code) makes this event a priority for everyone in the Bay Area dance scene. Seiwert herself is a large presence in the local community, known both as an established dancer and emerging choreographer. It is no surprise, then, that Seiwert’s evening was the hottest ticket in town.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:26 pm 
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A review from the SF Bay Guardian.

Quote:
Ocean of motion
In its 16th year, the WestWave Dance Festival ebbs and flows
BY RITA FELCIANO
Wednesday August 8, 2007

What can one say about a producer who schedules four programs with a total of 20 world premieres and gives four evenings to choreographers, two of whom the audience most certainly has never heard of? At the very least, this shows guts and a willingness to trust the artists who've been engaged.


Joan Lazarus, the longtime force behind the WestWave Dance Festival, has always embraced risk. She has also shown a singular commitment to local dance, which has not always paid off. For the past few years, the event has struggled to find a new identity. But for this year's 16th annual fest, Lazarus hit pay dirt. It had been a long time since WestWave attracted such diverse, enthusiastic audiences. Some organizers complained about the paucity of local dancers in the audience. But isn't this exactly what you want in a festival: to reach beyond the usual crowd?



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:33 pm 
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I totally disagree with almost everything Felciano says, as usual.

Too bad about Joan Lazarus, but maybe this could be a good thing.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:03 am 
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West Wave Dance Festival
Uni-Form: Ballet

Thursday, July 26, 2007

by Katie Rosenfeld

It is unfortunate that the title for Thursday night’s performance at the West Wave Dance Festival was “Uni-form: Ballet,” as that led the audience to believe there would be some of the traditions of classical ballet on the program. But in none of the five world-premiere pieces presented at the Project Artaud Theater were there pointe shoes or pink tights. In fact, it seemed that the choreographers decided this was their opportunity to take ballet dancers and turn them into avant-garde dance theater artists.

Some pieces were more successful than others, with Les Stuck’s “Digression,” featuring students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, standing out as the most balletic of the evening. The six dancers (Chloe Felesina, Hallie Hunt, Megan Kurashige, Heather McCalden, Daisy Phillips and Miguele de Quandros) stayed on top of the challengingly discordant music admirably. Here were the promenades in attitude, arabesques and pirouettes that were missing from the rest of the evening.

Christopher Burns’ mind-blowing solo “Beneath Your Sheltering Hand” was the least balletic and the most powerful piece of the evening. A robot voice parodied ads for hair removal systems, ergonomic memory foam and other infomercial products while a video of vacation spots and fancy homes rippled across the back scrim. Burns, barefoot and soberly dressed, explored movements that made sense with the soundtrack, at once jerky and computerized but full of anguish. The robot monologue gave way to a gravelly, sinister voice, as intimate as the robot’s was impersonal. While the language was describing a relationship between two people – the controlled and the controller – it could also have been about the world of ballet itself, about the complete devotion required to make it as a dancer, and the impossibility of fully escaping, for better or for worse. These concepts played out in every inch of Burns’ body, as he threw his arms and legs away from his core only to have them rebound back to him.

Viktor Kabaniaev’s “Fragments Of…” showcases Irene Liu’s amazingly flexible body in an angst-ridden solo. As frustration leads her to bang first her fists, then her head, on an invisible door, its lack of response sends her arching backward until her head nearly reaches the ground. While some of the sounds interwoven into the audio landscape, assembled by Nicolas Van Krijdt, jolted the attention away from Liu at times, she performed admirably and filled the space sufficiently.

“Rogue,” choreographed by Martt Lawrence, establishes the singular loneliness of one woman, especially when surrounded by other dancers. Norma Fong was believably removed from the other dancers, even in her duet with Ken Scott. She scrambled over his much larger frame as though scaling a mountain summit. In

Mark Foehringer’s “In Fugue” promised more than it ultimately delivered, although the touches of humor and human emotion were a pleasant change from the overly-abstract rest of the evening. When the seven dancers sauntered to the front of the stage, each in outfits that were more street than studio, there was the promise of personality development that didn’t quite pan out. Part of the problem was the costuming choices, which included leather pants and a tight denim miniskirt. While the outfits added character, they also proved overly constricting, holding the dancers back from being able to dance full-out. Only Katherine Wells’ flowing dress allowed her to show off lovely extensions and classical-esque lines.

While West Wave deserves praise for creating more structured evenings, perhaps next year the groupings can be better communicated to the choreographers, avoiding potential disappointment over what isn’t and allowing otherwise enjoyable pieces to thrive without forced categorization.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:06 am 
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Westwave Dance Festival, Uni-Form: Ballet
Project Artaud Theater
Thursday July 26, 2007
http://www.westwavedancefestival.org

By Anne Berger

Viktor Kabaniaev’s writhing and mysterious “Fragments of…” and Christian Burns’ multimedia “Beneath your Sheltering Hand” opened Westwave Dance Festival’s Uni-Form: Ballet series Thursday night at Project Artaud Theater. Although the series title caused some confusion as to the dance roots of the program, the five world premieres were inspired by post-modern and theatrical dance rather than ballet, the evening started and finished strong. Mark Foehringer’s well-received “In Fugue” closed the program on a jazzy Broadway influenced note. The middle of the program featuring Matt Lawrence’s “Rogue” and Les Stuck’s “Digression” was a bit cumbersome and rambling at points, but showcased some promising dancing by the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance students.

Solo dancer, Irene Liu’s impressive flexibility and solid technique in “Fragments Of…” captivated the audience. Liu’s constant contact with the floor and demonstrative movements, coupled with Nicolas Van Krijdt’s music truly conveyed the concept of one being confronted with the chaos of overwhelming urbanism. The music created from an urban soundtrack of sirens and construction sounds, weighed down upon Liu finally driving her to scream and beat her fist against an imaginary door. At times the post-modern influenced choreography appeared improvisational, in particular when Liu somersaulted across the stage.

“Beneath Your Sheltering Hand”, choreographed and performed by Christian Burns played to the audience’s sense of the ridiculous. A robotic voice-over recited advertisements for nose hair trimmers and toothbrush sanitizers while island vacation imagery was projected on a video backdrop. In the foreground Burns executed staccato movement and capoeira-like dancing effortlessly. At one point in the piece Burns channeled a Vanna White type character, showcasing furniture sets and model kitchens that appeared on the video screen. Bursts of laughter from the audience were silenced by Burns’ intense dramatic moments where he tried to pull himself upright, struggling and fighting, self conflicted and trapped.

“In Fugue”, with live accompaniment by Jack Perla and Sam Bass, performed almost like a Broadway show. Seven dancers in what appeared to be street cloths playfully engaged the audience with their gritty characterizations of urbanites. Jazz and tango inspired pas de deuxs were infused with dramatic poses and undulating segments. If by the climactic end of the piece the dancers broke into song it would not have been surprising.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:56 am 
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I actually will dissent with Katie and say that I was relieved that the Ballet program had very little ballet in it. I was required to be there (had costumes on stage) and was dreading seeing a bunch of mediocre contemporary ballet schlock. There was none, and hubby and I were very pleased. It was obvious that all of the chreographers had an very strong grounding in ballet, but used it as a jumping off point. I was quite pleased.


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