Monday, May 21, 2012 3:32:08 PM
Another season of crazy travel has begun for me. Right now i am in Manchester Airport, England, ending my 7th of 10 hours waiting after i missed my connecting flight due to grand old United Airlines figuring out that they had maintenance issues with our plane after we all boarded, and sat there for 45 minutes. I would assume that airlines would check simple things like the seats, intercoms and such before the plane is boarded, apparently that is not the case with an airline who's CEO claims in the opening of the on flight safety briefing that, "we have spent half a million dollars upgrading our aircraft interiors". I almost interjected with, "And where would we find such upgrades?".
Anyway, i am here in Manchester on my way to Gothenburg, Sweden to create my 4th Ballet for the Svenska Ballet. I am re-staging a work i created for my own company earlier this year for the REVERB Dance Festival, of which i am a co-producer. I am using Mozart, i workshop the piece in Denmark last year, and finally it has emerged with the title, "Mein Schatz", inspired by my friend and college, Steffen Fuchs, the Artistic Director of Ballet Koblenz in Germany.
My next trip involves a 5 hour lay over in New york where i have to propel myself from Newark Airport in New Jersey, via home (To collect an entirely different wardrobe) to JFK Airport in Queens, New York to catch a flight to Brazil.
3 weeks in Brazil will be spent firstly teaching with the esteemed Lone Larson from the Martha Graham Company, and Maxine Steinman, a Limon teacher at various schools in New York. We have been invited for our second year to teach at the, Brazilian Modern Dance Congress in Rio.
I will also be performing a duet by Ms Steinman as well as a solo of mine which premiered in New York late last year.
The following 2 weeks will be spent creating a premier ballet for the newly founded, Compania Rio Dança 3. I think ill do a series of duets.
My own company will premier a new work of mine entitled, "She And Him", for the newly created Brooklyn Dance Festival, June 16th and 17th (I won't even see them perform). I have finally caved and created to Chopin's Raindrops Prelude ( a score that has overwhelmed me with its simplicity and fullness that i never knew how to start).
July brings a trip to Israel, my 4th now. I am working with the Blich Performing Arts School as well as company classes for Kamea Dance Company based in Batsheva. Apparently they are interested in my work. I recently created an all Male work for Ballet Austin in Texas. This ballet was inspired by the Jewish folklore concerning the 36 Just Men. Perhaps that will garnish some interest?
August and September includes 2 separate trips to Denmark. The first to teach in a summer program, the second to create a work in conjunction with an Alvin Ailey celebration in Tivoli Gardens in the heart of Copenhagen.
November and December i am invited to finally create a ballet on a company in South Africa as well as perform a solo i premiered earlier this year in Stuttgart, Germany for the Solo Tanz Theater Festival. This will mark the first time since High School that anyone, including my family has seen me dance- no pressure.
So the year of travel and creation has begun, looking forward to every minute!
Monday, May 23, 2011 8:01:15 AM
I recently had a commission for a work from a prestigious New york based school. The organization is constantly busy, with its students working day and night on all kinds of classes, projects and performances, so time was an obvious issue.
The work selected by the school was undoubtedly one of my more controversial works, originally created for the Reverb Festival in NYC, and then re-staged in Denmark in early 2010 and then again for the Dance Department at Long Island University in Brooklyn.
The theme for the work is the advancement, or perhaps lack thereof, of the human creature, referencing the pre-historic caveman and their simplicity and desire for only 3 things; food, sex and survival (not much has changed, it just looks prettier)
Granted, my music choice was Ravel's Bolero, a musical piece which lends itself to a more regal and prolific subject choice as in Maurice Bejart's, Bolero, or Johan Inger's, "Walking Mad". My dancers where wearing next to nothing, covered in stage blood, grunting and groping and scratching their parts.
Despite the fact that audiences relished in the dirtiness and immense physicality of the work- some faculty members said that it was inappropriate and reminded them of domestic violence. Interesting, therefore Ulysses Dove's, "Bad Blood" and "Episodes" must reminded them of Armageddon or perhaps World War 1? Or The Moors Pavan clearly must be a pre-quill to Chris Brown and Rhianna?
Art is their to inspire, educate, evoke, question but most importantly to entertain. Who decides what is appropriate and what should be said or how- these young dancers have to be prepared to tackle any subject, any style, and environment and all creative ideas, is this not the purpose of education?
If everyone looks the same, dances the same, choreographs the same style- what is left? THE SAME old Same old!
This work was not created to cause controversy, create a scandal or do anything to upset the preverbal apple cart- it is simply my imagination and comment on the whole 2012, end of the world , 5000 year Mayan calendar craze.
if you look at the title, see the work, appreciate the ridiculous oxymoronic use of Ravel's music, guess what, you're entertained,
I was very impressed with the growth of the young dancers through out the work. Its not easy both physically and emotionally.
I guess somethings don't change, but i refuse to be an artist who cannot see both the beauty and decline of man, and who is afraid to comment on them both.
Friday, January 21, 2011 9:01:20 AM
It is apparent that a genius like W.A Mozart must have possessed a wonderful sense of humor, how else is it possible to create such exhilarating and hysterically tragic symphonies?
I have decided that this time, while creating a new ballet in Denmark, I would grapple with two of his works: Symphony in D: K385 and Serenade # 13 in G: K525. While very exiting, it also appears that my work forged ahead at a very brisk pace- which posed quiet a challenge for the dancers. It also appears to have brought out some what of a hysterical comedic approach.
Having seen and loved Kylian's ,"Sext Tanze", i did not want to even attempt a bad clone, however the narcissistic, and overly dramatic personalities of the pre revolutionary french court kept creeping into my sub conscious.
So here i am throwing big hair, renaissance underwear and white painted faces into the picture- (Im leaving out the powdered wigs)
I think Mozart would appreciate the images his music evokes in other artists- especially in dance, one cannot help but smile when you listen to his madness playing itself out with a full orchestra.
My cast is also comprised of a group of misfits, who actually pull of the awkwardness quite nicely.
Im looking forward to the continued and literal blood, sweat and tears that "Running Mad" will bring.
The work premiers in Denmark in May, nowhere famous, but exiting and challenging non the less.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 2:18:39 PM
Apparently there is a law in the Scandinavian countries which is written that no one is allowed to state, or indicate that they are better or more proficient than another person. In other words- I am no better a dancer, artist, choreographer than you are. Seems reasonable when applying it to a social setting where being humble is just good form, but when observing the class or performance attitude, this unfortunately reads in the execution and in my opinion becomes quiet boring to watch.I'm not saying sell it like a stripper, but at least flirt with the idea a little.
I have just finished setting a new ballet on a company here and have caught glimpses of passion and hunger in the young dancers, however it seems to be tempered as quickly as it is realized.
It's not my first experience with this either, often the process feels more like pulling teeth than inspiring passion in the dancers, I guess I could see why Nordic dance companies don't hire many of there own, the dancers always complain that companies like Danish Dance Theater, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish, Cullberg Ballet etc. Comprise more foreign dancers than locals. Could this be because the directors have observed the same shyness and demure attack I have? Technically they are not the best, yet oddly, when they apply themselves, they excel in the dramatic side.
Perhaps in art there should be a little allowance for arrogance, like salt in culinary dish, it adds a little flavor, but too much can leave you with a bad taste. Everything in moderation.
Sunday, May 23, 2010 9:56:02 PM
So I am home, not NYC but Johannesburg, South Africa. The country is preparing for the World cup Soccer, and at the same time the Graham's town Festival, a plethora of Dance, Music and Drama entertained in 15 days. It is still disturbing to me how anything that is not your native design, is always better, or at least that has been my experience with the dance community in South Africa. Having been born, raised, trained and supported in my youth as a dance talent- it seems that since I have left to pursue and grow and proudly promote the abundance of talent in Africa, I have been snubbed by my own country. It appears that since I am "Proudly South African"- the community here is not interested in having me share whist I have learnt and experienced- does any other artist in the world have a similar story? I have gotten to the point of not wanting to even try anymore- not wanting to even offer my services for free because, "there is no money", how then can you afford to bring out an American, a Dane, a Brazilian, and everyone else but your own making.
It amazes me that I get invitations from Italy, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, UK, Cyprus and the US, but I am not appreciated in my own mother land. It is after all the country that gave me my foundation, my drive and my passion- do the up and coming have anyone to look up to, to emulate like I did with PACT, CAPAB, Freeflight and the rest. Would not it make sense to be able to show young artists by example, to say- even though you may come from very little- your talent, hard work and drive can take you anywhere. You don't have to look to outside, look at what we helped create- that could be you. Instead, sadly the mentality is, anything that is not home grown, must be better. How then do we cultivate the dreams and ambitions of the new generation?
I guess my success in other countries could be based in the same premise. Is it only a South African thing? Are the directors and dancers in my country afraid that they may have nothing more to learn or just convinced that they may not have gotten it right yet so what could ex-patriate possibly know?
It pains me that, perhaps it is too late. What makes South Africa so truly beautiful is that we all realized how important it was to share. How incredible it is to protect diversity and to realize the mistake we made before, of classifying and separating and ignoring what makes us different and unique. I am proudly South African- Whether the dance community in my home land appreciates or is proud of me, I remain proud of them- disillusioned and hurt, but remarkably I'll survive.