Saturday, January 22, 2011

NEXT: The new commissions (Part 3)

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Washington, DC

The creative process is endlessly, always startling. This time two weeks ago we were in New York at the Arts Presenters Conference, showcasing and building brand and identity. At this moment two weeks ago I was in the theater with Betsy watching "American Idiot" on Broadway.

Tonight there are two new dances in the books from the winners of the 2011 NEXT Commission. Those dances, by Greg Dolbashian and Loni Landon are remarkable in many ways. For both Greg and Loni I think the most intriguing thing is where the dancers with whom they worked took them. Greg's work pushed Rob and Jason in ways I've never seen for either of them, and we all kept watching Jason and thinking it was a totally unique way for him to move -- and we thought we'd seen everything from Jason. Rob embraced the challenge with an abandon that I think gave Greg room to move.

These dances will be with us a long time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

CityDance Ensemble in Algeria, December 2010

January 17, 2011
Washington, DC

Finally I had a chance to gather up the images from our trip to Algeria, and to get them online....VERY hard to believe we left the States for this just under a month ago....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

NEXT: The new commissions (Part 2)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

At the end of the first week of the new commissions from Loni Landon and Greg Dolbashian whats clear is that the Company is loving the work and that that work is coming fast and fascinating. Both Loni and Greg are pushing the Company in new and fresh directions, and that always brings out the best in CityDance -- and that isn't just in dancing.

Shannon Schwait is on a roll as well with her videography and micro-docs. The second, shot yesterday, arrives online here today.

For part two of the NEXT micro-docs Shannon talked to Jason and Rob (working with Greg) and Giselle and Kathryn (working with Loni), and followed them through the rehearsal day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

NEXT (part one)

Friday, December 14
Washington, DC

CityDance has been lucky to have a number of major initiatives come to be in these past 14 years (a number that, as the only person standing for the entire duration of those 14 scares even me). One of my favorites is the NEXT Commission. NEXT is an annual "competition" (hate that term) to find next generation choreographers whose work is still at least somewhat under-the-radar but whom I think will really make themselves known in the years to come. 

This year we received an enormous number of entries. I watched every one of them. Twice. And that was before making a cut. The work and effort that so often goes into these just makes that something we owe them. 

When it was all said and done, when I was down to about 10, I was sitting in a hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was July 4th and Liz and Jason and I had just gotten into Jerusalem before spending a month teaching in Ramallah. We were in the courtyard of the Gloria Hotel. The sounds, the air, the smells of the Old City were all around. An unusual place to be making a selection about the winner of NEXT.

We hoped to choose two. One, Gregory Dolbashian, had won the year before, but we'd run out of time and resources to honor the commission in 2009-2010. In that year, following Greg and his work, it was clear his voice was growing by great leaps. So we knew he was coming in. 

The second choice was Loni Landon, a Graduate of Juilliard and, like Greg, a native New Yorker. Both talented, with very different yet compatible visions. 

This week they began working on their commissions. Starting on Wednesday the 12th with time just getting to know their dancers. Both are doing duets. Loni is working with two of the Company's women. Greg with two of the men. 

We love to document the process, and to give people a look inside the studio, and inside the thoughts, of the artists with whom we work. Creative Director Shannon Schwait spent the day with Greg and Loni on Wednesday, and her first Inside Look segment is below. 

Its a great piece showcasing two inspired artists at work....