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Kaohsiung Kids' Dance Annual Performance
By Ya-Ti Lin
�004 Dance to Kids�Dreams�lt;/b>
At the heart of the Waterfront Community (
河堤社區) in Kaohsiung, here comes the Kaohsiung Kids�Dance uprising energetically and vividly for kids to dance to their dreams.
It all began in October, 1999, the Director-in-Chief and the Artistic Director of the Kaohsiung Kids�Dance (KKD), Ya-Ti Lin and Hsiu-Ru Chang, were invited by the Waterfront Community Planning organizers as a part of the community project to create an artistic realm in the local humanistic environment. Therefore, the concept of the founding of KKD was to allow all the kids in Kaohsiung to “dance to their dreams!�lt;br>
On March 13, 2004, KKD will hold an annual performance of the �004 Dance to Kids�Dreams�Series by the combination of kids�songs, kids�movements, and kids�dreams to carry out a creative sky for the gifted kids in Kaohsiung. 

Learning how to utilize one’s torso, head, and limbs and amalgamating them with rhythm, sound, and especially his or her naďveness sets a breeding foundation for a child’s creativity and artisty. 5 years after the founding of KKD, its active participation in all ranges of art festivals and performances brings it a good reputation by its productive quality and children’s artistic immersion. The purposes of KKD are to provide kids in Kaohsiung an authentic dance training and to give kids opportunities to present their diligence and devotion in dance on stage to audiences.

Children’s dance production is definitely no less than that of adults� KKD puts a lot of effort to make its performances with high standard and quality. I hope that the �004 Dance to Kids�Dreams�will startup a model for other children’s dance theatres in Taiwan.
Performance Notes
  • What: 2004 Dance to Kids�Dreams
  • Who: Kaohsiung Kids�Dance
  • When & Where: 7:30pm, Saturday, March 13, 2004 at the Kaohsiung City Cultural Center, Chih-der Hall (高雄文化中心至德堂)
  • Ticket Prices: NT$200&300/person; NT$450&750/3 people
  • Kaohsiung Kids�Dance: (07) 3470010, http://www.kcb.org.tw
  • To Order by Phone:
    1. Acer Ticketing Network http://ticket.acer121.com
    (02)2784-1111, (04)2255-1975, & (07)238-3998
    2. Kaohsiung City Ballet http://www.kcb.org.tw
    (07)771-5483 Fax: (07)715-0460
Bolshoi won't reinstate ballerina
(Photo) The Russian press has denigrated Volochkova with headlines such as "Not even bears could hold her." 

MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russia's Bolshoi Theater said Tuesday it would not bow to pressure to reinstate a prima ballerina it sacked for being too heavy for partners to lift. 

The theater fired ice-cream loving Anastasia Volochkova, one of Russia's best-known ballet stars, three weeks ago after a feud over her contract and criticism of her height and weight. 

The labor ministry said the dismissal was illegal and she should be given her job back. 

"The Bolshoi Theater has not changed its decision with regard to Anastasia Volochkova," a theater spokeswoman said, adding the ministry made a recommendation rather than an order. 

Last week, Volochkova said her career was virtually in ruins and that charity performances could be all that was left for her because other partners could be afraid to dance with her. 

The dancer, who is 5 feet 6 inch tall, says her weight hovers around 100 pounds. 

Unlike many weight-watching ballerinas, Volochkova has admitted to a passion for ice cream. 
Pilates: How to Choose the Right Instructor
ArcaMax Health and Fitness: Courtesy ARA Content
(ARA) - The Pilates Method, developed in the 1920s by Joseph H. Pilates, is an exercise system focused on improving 
flexibility and strength for the total body. The Method consists of a series of controlled movements engaging the body and mind, performed on specifically designed exercise apparatus and supervised by extensively trained teachers.

Over the past few years, the Pilates Method, once used mainly by dancers, has been discovered by legions of devoted fans, from celebrities to soccer moms. With this growing popularity comes the issue of locating a reputable instructor. So many fitness centers and trainers have hopped on the Pilates bandwagon, it is more important than ever to make sure that the instructor you choose is comprehensively trained to teach the Pilates Method.

"Comprehensively, competently trained and knowledgeable instructors are the essential elements to realizing one's potential and enjoying the process of learning Pilates," says Kevin Bowen, president of the Pilates Method Alliance, a nonprofit alliance dedicated to advocating high educational standards for instructors.

Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits including increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, 
healthy breathing; strength and flexibility, especially of the abdomen and back muscles; and coordination, both muscular and mental. Posture, balance and strength are all enhanced. "Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of life," says Bowen. "It is really the only mind/body practice native to the United States," 
he adds.

While Joseph Pilates began developing his ideas in a WWI internment camp in England, it wasn't until after he and his wife Clara moved to New York following the war, that he opened the first Pilates studio. Pilates devoted his adult life to fine-tuning and proselytizing his method. With his emphasis on extensive training, Joseph Pilates would probably not be impressed by the influx of "quickie certifications" available for would-be instructors wanting to be trained in a weekend or two. He worked at length with his own instructors, allowing them to assist and then finally teach after sometimes as long as two or three years of training.

"While excellent training programs exist in the marketplace today, some are clearly condensed and homogenized, producing less than adequately qualified instructors," says Bowen. He offers the following guidelines for choosing a qualified Pilates instructor:

- How long have the instructors been teaching Pilates?

- Are the instructors trained through a comprehensive training program?

- Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?

- How many total hours were spent in the training program?

- Does the instructor have any other movement related teaching experience?

- What is the instructor's or studio's philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and 

- Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all pieces of apparatus?

The Pilates Method Alliance's Web site has a list of members, all of whom have completed rigorous training programs; you will also find information on the history of Pilates, and much more. Visit the Web site at www.pilatesmethodalliance.org. You can also reach the Alliance toll-free at (866) 573-4945.
Avoiding Leg Injuries from Working Out
ArcaMax Health and Fitness
When you are working hard to improve the tone and shape of your body, the last thing you want or need is to hurt yourself. If you perform an exercise incorrectly, injury can result - and does, all too often. Doing too much, too fast is hazardous. Not warming up and/or using improper form are the most common factors in exercise related injury.

If a specific part of your body hurts after any exercise for whatever reason, stop doing the movement and check with a trainer. If no trainer is available put ice on the injured area and if it is not better in 24 hours, call a doctor.

When working the legs, if you have no previous problems with your knees or your back and you use proper form, commonly performed leg exercises such as those following, may be done with no concern.

General Guidelines

When doing any exercises, make sure you hold your stomach in and keep our torso stable. When extending legs, make sure not to lock your knees.

- Lunges. When you bend downward, do not bend too far forward or backward. Use no back movement at all. You also want to make sure our front knee does not go over your tow. If you go over your toe, you can put a lot of pressure on your kneecap area.

- Leg Extensions. 
This is an exercise performed on an exercise machine. Extend your legs slowly without locking your knees. If you jerk your legs upward, you are just using momentum, not your muscles. You will not benefit from the exercise if done in that manner. Do not use too much weight on this machine, as it could be hard on the back.

- Leg Press. 
This is an exercise performed on a machine and is excellent for the legs. It is also less strenuous on the 
kneecap area than the leg extension if done properly. Keep your torso stable, start low on the weight and build up 

-Leg Curls.
When working the back of the legs, or the hamstrings, be sure you have the right piece of equipment. For example, one that is newer and keeps your back from arching. Also, be sure you are not trying to lift too much weight as this could put undue strain on your back. Keep your torso stable.

- Squats. 
You can perform squats with free weights or on a machine. A machine can help guide your back posture, relieving it of undue stress and assuring proper form. However, with proper form and free-weights, these are great for the entire leg and should not result in any discomfort. When doing squats with free-weights, be careful not to bend or flex your back too much. Keep it stable. The hip, knee and ankle should be all that moves. You need not - in fact, should not - go into a deep knee bend. Also, watch your knees to be sure they do not extend in front of your toes. Think of the squat as a sitting down motion; as if you were going to sit down in a chair but decided to get back up. Keep the back straight!

- Step-ups. 
When you begin doing step-ups, start with a low surface to step onto and no weights. If you decide to increase the height later, be sure you do not go so high that your knee is parallel to the ground. As in the squats, you do not want your knee to go over your toe. Always keep your back straight and upright and be sure your whole foot is on the surface onto which you are stepping. Step-ups are great for the legs at any height 4-inches or higher. If you are uncomfortable at a higher height, lower the stepping surface again. You will still gain; in addition, the when you incorporate weights you will challenge the muscles sufficiently.

Aerobic Equipment - General Guidelines
When you are using any kind of aerobic equipment, you must be sure you do not use any bars for support. Use bars only for balance, if needed. Keep your stomach held in and your chest up.

- Stair Climbing Machines. 
These pieces of equipment are good for leg muscles but they can be hard on the knees. If you were predisposed to knee problems, you would be better off avoiding a stair-climbing machine. Also note, you can develop a knee problem with over use of this machine.

- Biking. 
Biking is good for legs and good for the knees. It takes away the impact of many other exercises. While biking, be sure that when your leg is down at the bottom stroke you have a slight bend in your knee.

- Elliptical Machines. 
These are a good choice for working legs and are very easy on the body. They are non-impact machines yet works very well for cardiovascular benefits.
Computer Users, Carpal Tunnel Begins in Your Neck Not in Your Wrist
ArcaMax Women
By Pamela Adams D.C.
If Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes from typing on the computer all day, why didn't people who typed on typewriters get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Because there were no computer screens to draw their heads forward, chins tilted up, necks strained. Typewriters were placed lower than desks and typists tilted their heads down not forward.

The culprit in Carpal Tunnel pain, the Median nerve, exits the spinal cord from the lower part of your neck, travels through neck muscles under the collar bone to the front of your shoulder bone, then makes its way down your arm, past your elbow to your wrist where it passes through the Carpal Tunnel and into your hand.

That's a long way to go, and the nerve can be pinched anywhere along the route causing pain in your wrist and numbness in your hand and fingers. The very first and most common place it gets pinched is in your neck. You can wear a wrist brace, buy wrist rests, get an ergonomically correct keyboard, take painkillers, or have surgery and it won't help until you change the position of your head when you work at the computer.

Of course, it's not only computer workers who suffer from Carpal Tunnel symptoms. According to research from the 
Occupational Health Project at the University of Maryland, workers in the following occupations are most likely to develope the syndrome:

1. Assembler
2. Laborer--non-construction
3. Packaging-and-filling-machine operators
4. Janitors and cleaners
5. Butchers and meat cutters
6. Data entry keyers

What is the common-denominator among these occupations? Workers must hold their heads forward and down and reach outwards with one or both arms repeatedly.

Learn to keep your head on straight, whatever you do. If your head is supported by your spinal column and not the poor, overworked muscles of your neck and upper back; if you position yourself so that you don't have to reach with your arm, you'll go along way towards relieving and preventing symptoms.

Here are some suggestions for computer users:

1. The computer monitor must be placed directly in front of you. The top of the monitor should be no higher than eye level.
2. Keyboards should be placed low, so that arms can hang at your sides with foreams at right angles to upper arms and wrists straight.
3. Feet are flat on the floor; weight is on the sitting bones. There should be a slight arch in your low back.
4. Your breastbone should be lifted, creating a lengthened space between the navel and breastbone. This brings your head back to an aligned position.
5. Placement of the mouse should be as close to the body as possible so there's no reaching. It's better to use a ball, 
because fingers are designed for small, precise movements, shoulders are not.
6. A timer set to ring every fifteen minutes or half-hour is a good way to check on your posture.
7. Sleep on your back, not sides, until symptoms subside. Use a flat, thin pillow.

The following exercise is meant to be done once every hour during the day, and, lastly, in bed just before sleep: Lying on your back with hands clasped behind your head, elbows resting on the floor or bed, tuck your chin into your neck as if to make a double chin. Keeping the chin tucked in, gently press your head back into your hands. Hold for a count of ten. Then relax your chin and neck and take a couple of deep breaths. Do a total of three presses in a set. Do one set only every hour.

Improving the way you use your computer will alleviate and prevent pain, yes, but it will also greatly improve your 
productivity. Muscle tension is gone and fatigue with it; oxygen flows to your brain and fuels every bodily function; 
breathing is easier; energy is high. Simply put...work is less work.
(c)2003. Pamela Adams, chiropractor and yoga instructor, is the author of "Dr. Adams' Painless Guide to Computing; How to Use Your Computer Without Hurting Yourself." See the book, articles, and free newsletter at http://www.painlessguides.com
Fitness, Stretching & Exercise Selection For Women
ArcaMax Women
By Phil Beckett
In addition to stretching the muscles involved in cardiovascular exercise, you need to stretch each specific muscle you 
train in a fitness program.

When you stretch your muscles it helps to provide better physical performance, prevents injuries, and can help to improve your posture.

When muscles are stretched, the elasticity in them improves which will help to increase your range of motion and improve the quality of your movements.

Never stretch a cold muscle; meaning you should always make sure your muscles are warm before stretching. It's usually better to do a more extensive stretch at the very end of your fitness program, but light stretching between exercises is fine.

Stretching doesn't take a long time, and it shouldn't, but you do benefit tremendously from it.

Stretch only after the muscle has been properly warmed-up. Again, the best time for a complete stretch is when your exercise session has been completed.

By the time you have finished your specific weight lifting program, which will be about 35 - 45 minutes in length, your muscles will have warmed up as much as they can possibly get.

Remember any women's fitness program must always include a warm-up and proper stretching for maximum effectiveness and to prevent injury.

When you do this you will indeed experience the terrific benefits a good weight training program will give you.

Exercise Selection:

For you to succeed in your over-all women's fitness plan you need to select at least one exercise for each major muscle group in your body. This will help to promote well-balanced muscle development.

Another important part of your over-all fitness plan is the order your exercises are performed. When doing a range of 
weightlifting exercises, it's better to start with the larger muscle groups then perform exercises for the smaller muscle 

Performing your fitness program in this manner will allow you to be exercising at your best during the most demanding 
exercises when fatigue levels are the lowest and you feel fresh.

Another important area of exercise selection is the total number of sets per exercise and total number of sets per exercise session.

A "set" as it relates to women's fitness is the number of successive repetitions of a single exercise performed in 
succession without stopping.

Now the number of sets per exercise and per exercise session is really going to depend on exactly what your goals are.

Always treat your very first set for each muscle group as a warm-up, as was discussed in the warm-up section above.

Then the rest of your sets will be determined by whether or not you are using a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level women's fitness program and what your particular goals are.

To find out more about how to determine sets, exercises, etc. you can visit: www.women's-health-fitness.com/women's-fitness.html

Regardless of the number of sets performed, all sets and repetitions have to be done with proper exercise form and under complete control.

Exercise Form Or Technique:

One thing that always seems to be missing in most women's fitness programs, and the most common and critical training mistake is exercise form or "technique."

Too much weight usually results in poor form, which decreases your ability to get results and also increases the risk of 

Examples of poor form or technique include, but aren't limited too:
- Bouncing the bar off your chest when performing a chest press;
- Using your hips for momentum and over extending your back to initiate the bicep curls;
- Arching your back or bending backwards when performing a shoulder press during the resistance portion of your fitness session;
- Using momentum in any exercise;
- And training at a fast tempo.

Be aware of these types of mistakes and remove them.

(c)Copyright Physique Concepts Inc.
About the Author: Phil Beckett is the author of The New Women's Guide To Successful Weight Loss & Fitness. He's helped thousands of women with their weight loss & fitness goals over the past 14 years. Visit www.women's-health-fitness.com
to contact Phil.
Minister: Bolshoi sacking illegal
September 29, 2003
(Photo) Volochkova fired amid contract dispute and claims that theater could not find partners for her.

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- The dismissal of an ice-cream-loving ballerina judged by Moscow's Bolshoi Theater to be too heavy and too tall was illegal, Russia's Labor Ministry is reported to have ruled. 

Labor Minister Alexander Pochinok said Anastasia Volochkova must now be given her old job back, Interfax news agency reported Monday. 

"The ministry's Federal Labor Inspectorate had considered the complaint of Ms. Volochkova, and said that she was dismissed in violation of Russian labor laws," Pochinok told the agency. 

"The Bolshoi Theatre personnel department has breached the law. The inspectorate said that Anastasia Volochkova should be restored to her position," he said 

Bolshoi Theatre Director General Anatoly Iksanov on September 16 ordered Volochkova dismissed after she refused to sign a six-month contract that would have expired at the end of this year instead of a one-year contract. 

At the time, he said the abbreviated contract length was linked to the 27-year-old dancer's "unacceptable physical condition" -- her 50-kilogram (109-pound) weight. 

Volochkova, who is 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall, told Russia's First Channel television: "I think that now when people try to add 10 or 20 cm (4-8 inches) to my height, and talk about my measurements and dimensions, they should remember that height is not what makes a ballerina great." 

Unlike most ballerinas, who are notorious for watching their weight, she has said she could not imagine life without ice cream. 
Fat equals lazy, say doctors
BBC Online News
Sep. 27, 2003
Obesity has many causes

Doctors are guilty of wrongly believing that obese people are simply lazy, research suggests.

Researchers at Yale University said the findings highlight the difficulty in tackling the stigma around obesity. 

Many obese people complain that others believe they are overweight simply because they eat too much or fail to exercise. 

This is despite the fact that obesity can be caused by a variety of other factors, such as genes and environment. 

Dr Marlene Schwartz and colleagues carried out psychological tests on 389 professionals who treat and study obese people. 

They found that younger professionals, in particular, were most likely to have unfavourable stereotypes of obese people. 

Workers who did not deal directly with obese patients were also inclined to see them in an unfavourable light. 

"On both implicit and explicit measures, health professionals associated the stereotypes lazy, stupid and worthless with 
obese people," said Dr Schwartz. 

"The stigma of obesity is so strong that even those most knowledgeable about the condition infer that obese people have 
blameworthy behavioural characteristics that contribute to their problem, i.e. being lazy," she said. 

"Furthermore, these biases extend to core characteristics of intelligence and personal worth." 

'Disappointing findings' 

Dr Ian Campbell of the UK's National Obesity Forum said he was not surprised by the findings and said they would probably be 
replicated if the test was carried out on British doctors. 

"It is disappointing but it is not surprising to see that health professionals have the same ingrained prejudice against 
obese people as the general public," he told BBC News Online. 

"It is becoming increasingly clear that as much as 80% of people who are obese are predisposed genetically. 

"Although it is very rare to find a case where obesity is purely genetic, there are many cases where it is not in the 
patient's control." 

He said it was unhelpful for doctors to be biased against obese patients. 

"If a doctor already has an attitude towards a patient, then they are unlikely to understand the difficulties they have in 
achieving even minor differences or becoming more active. 

"It is important for doctors and other health professionals to show understanding and enthusiasm for change. 

"If a doctor is biased against the patient's efforts, then it is unlikely to have a good outcome." 
Study finds mirrors hinder women's workouts
Associated Press
September 24, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mirrors are as common as paint on the walls of health clubs, but what is so inspiring about watching yourself gasping and drenched in sweat? 

For exercise novices, not much, according to one study, which found that women who exercised in front of a mirror felt worse than women who exercised without them. 

"Placing mirrors in exercise centers may need to be reconsidered, especially in centers that are trying to attract exercise initiates," said the study in the American Psychological Association journal Health Psychology. 

The researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, looked at 58 sedentary women with an average age of almost 21. The women first answered questions about how they felt their bodies looked, how confident they were in their ability to ride an exercise bike, and what their mood was -- whether, for instance, they felt "calm" or "worn-out." 

The women rode the exercise bike twice, at a moderate intensity, for 20 minutes, one week apart. In one ride, they were in a mirrored room; in the other, the mirrors were covered by curtains. 

After each ride, the women answered again the same sort of questions they had answered in the beginning. 

When women rode while they could watch themselves in the mirror, they wound up feeling worse than they did when they could not look at themselves, the study found. For example, the mirrored rides left women feeling less calm and more fatigued. 

This can't be simply a case in which women who watch themselves exercise come away with a worse opinion of their own bodies, said researcher Kathleen Martin Ginis, an associate professor of health and exercise psychology at McMaster. These women on average were not overweight, and even women with high body-image scores felt worse after exercising in front of a mirror, she said. 

Other studies had found that gazing into a mirror tends to make a person feel worse, Ginis said. 

It's not just the body, either. Even without exercise, periods of staring into a mirror make people start to think about 
their other flaws as well. "We tend to be quite critical," she said. 

The mirror effect Exercise, on the other hand, tends to make people leave feeling better about themselves, and the study was designed to see if the exercise effect outweighed the mirror effect. 

It did not, and the psychological tests picked that up. "This is the kind of thing where people come away thinking, 'I don't feel that great,'" she said. 

Women who hadn't exercised before typically have low expectations of how well they would be able to exercise, and the women in this study probably felt the mirrors proved them right, the researchers said. 

Although the study did not look at men, Ginis suspects men might have some of the same reactions, although less strongly, because men tend to be less self-critical than women. 

The findings indicate that health club operators should start changing their decor, the researchers said. "If a bout of 
exercise leaves a sedentary woman feeling worse than before she worked out, it will be difficult to persuade her to 
establish a regular exercise program," they said. 

This fits the experiences of Curves International, a fast-growing chain that focuses on women, especially those who are not competitive. Members don't want mirrors, said founder Gary Heavin. "When we didn't put them in, they could concentrate on having fun," he said. 

However, the bad experience with mirrors may not be true of more advanced exercisers, the study said. Other researchers have found that highly active women who exercised in front of a mirror felt better for it, possibly because they got to show themselves how good they did. 

And Ginis is not about to bring upon herself the amount of bad luck that would develop if every health club in North America trashed its mirrors on her say-so. Mirrors are necessary equipment that help people such as weight trainers confirm they are doing their moves properly, she said. She suggested that clubs create mirror-free zones for women who are getting started. 
Film Review: 'The Company'
By Kirk Honeycutt
Sep. 9, 2003
TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - "The Company" is Robert Altman's valentine to the challenging world of ballet and its world-class dancers. Eschewing the high drama of a dance film like "The Turning Point," Altman and his collaborators go for documentary-like realism, which scrutinizes company rehearsals, quick repairs to bruised and callused bodies, arguments over choreography and the performances themselves, all lovingly photographed by Andrew Dunn. 

Altman and screenwriter Barbara Turner impose little narration on the film. Instead, they let the drama emerge from the daily routines of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. 

After the rousing critical and boxoffice success of his previous film, "Gosford Park," "The Company" may strike some as a minor work from the iconoclastic director. This also may translate into a limited though highly appreciative audience for the Sony Pictures Classics release. Yet the glories of the Joffrey Ballet and Dunn's luminescent cinematography, shooting in high-definition video to give us views from outside the proscenium, in the wings and overhead, make "The Company" a wonderfully vivid and engaging theatrical experience. 

The genesis of the film lies with actress Neve Campbell (news), a fine dancer who studied with the National Ballet of Canada before embarking on an acting career. Campbell wrote the story with Turner and is the only actor in the film to participate with the Joffrey corps, doing all her own dances while playing the role of Ry, a company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer. Realizing this project not only represents the fulfillment of a longtime dream but also a smart move as an actress. This film should get Campbell out of the "Scream" business and into classier movies and roles. 

The other actor to command the screen is Malcolm McDowell (news), who plays Alberto Antonelli, the ballet's autocratic director. Alberto roams through rehearsal halls and company offices, wearing a series of dapper scarves and bringing the full weight of his demanding personality into every room he visits. He refers to the dancers as "my babies" and insists that they think beyond their own movements to the concept of the ballet itself. (Alberto is loosely based on Joffrey head Gerald Arpino.) It is indicative of Altman's determination to keep things real that an underling, summoning the boss to tend to 
another crisis elsewhere in the building, interrupts any moment involving Alberto that threatens to become dramatic. 

The movie has little plot. An injury creates an opportunity for Ry to perform a pas de deux in an outdoor theater during a thunderstorm. (This is perhaps the movie's most visually exciting sequence.) She is a great success, but Alberto's promise to create dances around her fades, much to the annoyance of her pushy mother (Marilyn Dodds Frank). 

Ry breaks up with a boyfriend in the company, then takes up with Josh (James Franco (news)), an affable sous chef. A veteran dancer snaps her Achilles tendon, a male dancer is replaced the week before a major ballet and threatens legal action, and dancers and choreographers occasionally clash over movements. That's about it for drama. 

The real drama evolves out of the daily lives of the company. Altman, Turner and Campbell prefer to let simple observation demonstrate the battle a dancer must wage to stay on top of his or her game. We are surprised to see Ry forced to work as a cocktail waitress to make ends meet. We witness how dancers' careers are always at the disposal of the company's determined director. We understand the role injuries play. 

Such is Altman's love for this brave world that he glides by its darker sides. The impact of AIDS (news - web sites) is 
mentioned only in passing, and nothing at all is said about dancers' constant battle to keep their weight down. 

The time period is not always clear, either. We sometimes go from rehearsal to performance in a single cut. One night Ry meets Josh in a saloon, and soon he has her apartment key. Are we experiencing a single season here or several years? Hard to say. 

But the film does sweep us up into the lives of ballet dancers in ways no other film ever has. Altman also takes the time to stage and film several individual ballets nearly completely. And the costumes, makeup and design both of the film and the dance performances are magnificent. 

Sony Pictures Classics 

Sony Pictures Classics presents in association with CP Medien and Capitol Films a Killer Films/John Wells production in 
association with First Snow Prods. and Sand Castle 5 Prods. 

Credits: Director: Robert Altman; Screenwriter: Barbara Turner; Based on a story by: Neve Campbell, Barbara Turner; 
Producers: David Levy, Joshua Astrachan, Neve Campbell, Christine Vachon, Robert Altman, Pamela Koffler; Executive producers: Jane Barclay, Sharon Harel, Hannah Leader, John Wells, Roland Pellegrino, Dieter Meyer; Director of photography: Andrew Dunn; Production designer: Gary Baugh; Music: Van Dyke Parks; Costume designer: Susan Kaufman; Editor: Geraldine Peroni. Cast: Ry: Neve Campbell; Alberto Antonelli: Malcolm McDowell; Josh: James Franco; Harriet: Barbara Robertson; Edouard: William Dick; Susie: Susie Cusack; Ry's mother: Marilyn Dodds Frank; Ry's father: John Lordan. 

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter 
Dancers Respond to AIDS in NYC Festival
Associated Press By Claudia La Rocco, AP Writer
Aug. 28, 2003
NEW YORK - The New York City Festival of Dance, a three-week event by Dancers Responding to AIDS, features performances and master classes at studios and performing spots throughout the city by such companies as Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham and Dance Theatre of Harlem. 

The program kicked off Wednesday, with a free midday show featuring the Martha Graham Dance Company and Pilobolus. 

As New Yorkers strolled and hurried by in the hazy heat, the Graham company's austere, angular female dancers moved across the stage in "Steps in the Street," originally performed in 1936. Typically garbed in long, simple shifts �black, of course �the company gave its only New York City performance of the year. 

The Graham company's modernist show was followed by "Shi Zen," a slow, arduous Pilobolus pas de deux. 

"Wow, I can't do that," a youngster whispered loudly to her mother, provoking titters from the crowd as Emily Kent clasped her legs around Matt Kent's midsection, their arms waving back and forth in unison to the spare, haunting music of bamboo flute master, Riley Lee. 

Hosted by Elizabeth Parkinson and Tony Award winner Scott Wise, stars of Twyla Tharp's musical, "Movin' Out," the event also featured performances by Elisa Monte Dance, Tiffany Mills & Company, Kevin Wynn Collection and Rhythm Dance Center, the DRA Studio of the Year 2003. 

The exuberant Rhythm Dance Center performers, based in Marietta, Ga., raised almost $20,000 for AIDS-related causes to win DRA's yearlong student fund-raising competition. 
On the Net: 
Dancers Responding to AIDS: www.dradance.org
A Homecoming for Balanchine
New York Times
August 5, 2003

(Photo)New York City Ballet dancers in Balanchine's "Serenade."
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Aug. 2 --- Crowds of Russian ballet lovers are abandoning their dachas this week and braving a heat wave to see the New York City Ballet perform at the Maryinsky Theater, home of the Kirov Ballet. Patrons of the company have flown in en masse from New York, arriving with a sense of history. For this is George Balanchine's hometown, and the visit is the first by the company -- Balanchine's company -- since 1972, when the choreographer himself made the trip.

Audiences and critics have responded enthusiastically, with packed halls, prolonged applause and curtain calls. The engagement began on Wednesday, featuring all-Balanchine and all-Jerome Robbins programs on alternating evenings, with a Balanchine matinee today.

"The Maryinsky has been dancing Balanchine since the beginning of the 1990's," Yulia Yakovleva, a critic for the newspaper Kommersant, wrote, using the familiar name for the Kirov Ballet here, "and never once could one have suspected that it can be like this."

The occasion was the opening-night performances of Balanchine's "Serenade" and "Symphony in C," both of them now part of the Kirov repertory. "That `Serenade' is incredibly erotic," Ms. Yakovleva wrote. "And `Symphony in C' is provocatively theatrical." The review concluded, "Not bad for a ballet company that many regarded as half dead up until now." 

When Balanchine, who died in 1983, visited St. Petersburg in 1962 and again in 1972, adherents of Soviet Socialist Realism were shocked by his plotless Neo-Classical ballets, which grew out of his training at the Imperial Ballet School and the freedom he found as an emigre. But devotees of the avant-garde underground were enthralled. Today City Ballet, founded by Balanchine with Lincoln Kirstein in 1948, has returned on something of a mission, said its artistic director, Peter Martins. "We want to show that his art is alive and well and thriving still," he told reporters here.

Some longtime fans of the Kirov, remaining true to their dancers, were less impressed. "I didn't feel any emotions," said Irina Daskovskaya, her tone that of a strict schoolteacher, as she stood in the theater's foyer after "Serenade." "They did their job, but it didn't stir up any enthusiasm. It was cold. Compared to the Maryinsky, they're worse."

Larissa Abyzova, a critic who works at the Vaganova Academy, formerly the Imperial Ballet School, where Balanchine soaked up the influence of Marius Petipa and Michel Fokine, said she was surprised by City Ballet's emotional depth but tempered her praise. "Sometimes they didn't hold the line, or there was a stray elbow or wrist, but then again it shows that they're not a soulless machine," she said after a performance. "It turns out deep psychologism is accessible to American dancers."

In perhaps the ultimate compliment, she compared the performances of Maria Kowroski of City Ballet and Ulyana Lopatkina of the Kirov in the same role in "Symphony in C," saying, "They are both the best."

St. Petersburg audiences already embraced Ms. Kowroski for her performance as a guest with the Kirov in "Swan Lake" earlier this year. 

The City Ballet will be performing through Tuesday night. The tour is part of the Balanchine centennial celebration this season and next. He was born Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze in St. Petersburg in 1904. The City's Ballet visit is also the culmination of the conductor Valery Gergiev's annual Stars of the White Nights Festival, which has been especially grand this year in honor of the city's 300th anniversary. The Royal Ballet and the Hamburg Ballet, directed by John Neumeier, preceded the City Ballet. 

At the Maryinsky Theater, large banners advertising Nestle, a corporate sponsor of the festival, decorate the foyer. Howard Solomon, until recently the City Ballet's chairman, was instrumental in getting the company to Russia. He was visibly moved just before the first notes of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" sounded and the curtain went up on "Serenade," with City Ballet's Darci Kistler in the lead.

"Balanchine chose her to be prima ballerina when she was 16, just 16," Mr. Solomon said.

Inna Sklyarevskaya, a dance critic who did research on Balanchine, was also impressed by Ms. Kistler. "She revealed some facets to the piece that I hadn't seen before, with her serene smile accompanied by Tchaikovsky's dramatic music," she said. "This is a foundation of Balanchine. It's cinematic. Music manifests the essence."

Vadim Gayevsky, a leading dance historian and critic who came from Moscow to see the City Ballet, had witnessed both of Balanchine's visits to the Soviet Union. "We've gotten used to Balanchine," he said. 

As he watched the troupe rehearse Robbins's "Glass Pieces" set to Philip Glass's music on Friday, Mr. Gayevsky reminisced, recalling the Soviet audience's embrace of Allegra Kent, Diana Adams and Arthur Mitchell, particularly Mr. Mitchell, who perplexed them at first because they had never seen a black classical dancer. 

Today, he said, the male presence in City Ballet's corp de ballet is stronger than in the past. He also said that American critics are "very severe" in their criticism of City Ballet; these critics wish it danced as it did in the 1960's, he said.

"For the theater to continue existing for 20 years after its leader's death is a miracle," he said. "Mr. B. is gone. Things have to change."

In 1972 City Ballet's performances were relegated to the Lensoviet Palace of Culture, but Soviet authorities were unable to stifle the power of Ballanchine's dance. Balletomanes here seem to measure their life in ballet highlights, like Baryshnikov's leaps and Balanchine's visits.

"It was a feast for us when Balanchine came in 1972," Eva Tseitlina said after opening night. A tiny woman with a wizened face and twinkling eyes, she has attended the Kirov with religious fervor since the 1940's. "We didn't have this kind of ballet. Balanchine was so touching with his corps de ballet. He presented each of them with flowers."

On Friday Ms. Tseitlina stood near the stage door and stared lovingly at City Ballet dancers as they exited the theater.

Rosemary Dunleavy-Maslow, the company's main ballet mistress, and Sara Leland, another ballet mistress on the staff, are the only two people on the tour to have accompanied Balanchine on both his trips to St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad. The first tour coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The second lasted for weeks in 1972 and covered several Soviet cities.

Sitting in the elegant wood-paneled bar of the Hotel Astoria, they recalled a strict off-hours schedule, sinister secret police and dancers fainting backstage from a monotonous diet of cabbage and bread. This time company members have enjoyed fine meals with caviar, nights at the hotel casino and an impromptu disco cruise down the Neva River. 

"It's like Europe here now, like Paris, all the outdoor cafes," Ms. Leland said. But one thing hasn't changed, she said: many of the theater's toilets are still just holes in the floor.

The production stage manager Perry Silvey, who had worked in the Maryinsky Theater twice since 1991, described backstage "moments when you feel like you're in a Dilbert cartoon." 

Stage left and stage right mean opposite things to the theater's carpenters and electricians, who are typically at war. While some backstage equipment is state of the art, some dates to 1947. Maryinsky carpenters built two piano platforms to City Ballet specifications for John Adams's "Hallelujah Junction" choreographed by Mr. Martin. But when the company arrived the pianos were not ready. 

The performances themselves have had some unusual if not comic moments. During the matinee's intermission today the first flute disappeared, and the conductor, Andrea Quinn, could not begin because the flutist had taken his score as well. The musician turned up about 15 minutes late, delaying the beginning of the second ballet, Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements." On opening night Mr. Gergiev stretched an intermission to 45 minutes when he took the orchestra upstairs to rehearse.

St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary celebration was intended to restore this former imperial capital's luster, so revered by Balanchine. He left the Soviet Union in 1924, as Stalin ascended to power and set about crushing the remnants of artistic freedom and czarist splendor. (Balanchine eventually joined the Monte Carlo-based Ballets Russes and in 1933 accepted Kirstein's invitation to come to the United States). 

Now the Petersburg in Balanchine and the Balanchine in Petersburg are being rediscovered and reassessed.

"Just walking on the streets, I think imperial, diamonds, the huge building and streets," said Wendy Whelan, who performed with Jock Soto in the "Rubies" of the Maryinsky's production of Balanchine's "Jewels" in February. "Going into the churches here, I've seen how hands are held on icons and I realize that's how we hold our hands. I get a feeling of his spirituality here."

Mr. Soto added, "It all comes together."
Mirrors Tarnish Women's Image, Canada Study Shows
Aug 1, 2003
TORONTO (Reuters) - Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the ugliest of us all? 

Wall-to-wall mirrors in gyms and dance studios might stop women getting the exercise they need because women who work out in front of a mirror get discouraged and feel tired, Canadian researchers said on Friday. 

The study, published in the journal Health Psychology, focused on young women who exercised less than 15 minutes a week. It found that, regardless of how they viewed their bodies, women who worked out in front of a mirror felt worse, or no better, and less at peace after 20 minutes of activity. 

"The mirrors make women more self-aware, they think of their shortcomings. Things like: 'I look fat, I should be more active'," said Kathleen Martin Ginis, lead author of the study, and a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. 

"When women are more introspective, they might feel 'I'm not that great' unfortunately." 

The survey questioned 58 women with an average age of 22 -- young enough to be concerned about body image. 

Participants took turns on stationary bicycles, working out either in front of a mirror or with the mirror curtained over. 

And whether the participant felt comfortable about her body or not, the outcome was the same -- women who did not have to watch themselves exercise felt calmer, more positive and more revitalized at the end of their session. 

Still, Martin Ginis stressed that mirrors can be positive and functional. "I don't want to convey the idea that we should rip out gym mirrors," she said, noting that exercisers often needed to see their form, or assess if they are using the correct muscles groups during strength training. 

But things were different for beginners. "For beginner exercisers, mirrors can be daunting," she said. 

Martin Ginis suggested gyms provide areas without mirrors to encourage novice exercisers. And women could get fit without using a gym anyway. 

"Women don't need to exercise in a gym," she said. "Thirty minutes of walking, or hiking is good too. There are other ways to get your exercise." 
State grants to local art groups cut
Contra Costa Times
By Robert Taylor
Aug. 01, 2003
The California Arts Council survived state budget negotiations this week, but a cut in its funding, from $18.2 million to $1 million, means it will suspend all grants to community arts groups and artists, says the council's director.

During the last fiscal year, the council spent almost its entire budget on grants, including $426,000 to groups in Contra Costa County and $1.5 million to others in Alameda County.

Grants went to such organizations as Diablo Ballet, California Symphony, Richmond Art Center, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education. Much of the money supported classroom projects, student performances and community outreach.

One budget negotiations proposal would have abolished the council.

Barry Hessenius, the council's director, said Wednesday he was relieved that the agency would survive. But he said the budget cuts mean that half his staff, listed at 35 on the council's Web site, will be eliminated. It may be difficult to restore the agency and resume its work, he said.

"I fear too that hundreds of programs, groups and organizations will not survive," he said in a letter posted on the site.

The $1 million budget will allow the council to obtain the state's $960,000 share from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hessenius said. A foundation grant and income from the state's vanity license plate fund will increase the total agency budget to nearly $3 million.

However, mandates and other restrictions will leave "a scant $1 million in unrestricted funds" to support arts and culture in the state.

"As that amount is too small to support the agency's grant programs, and we would not have the personnel to process applications in any event, all the agency's grant programs will be suspended," he said.

Hessenius planned to meet with representatives of foundations and businesses to explore preserving some of the council's projects. The council also will study other funding sources for the future.
Baryshnikov Will Play Heartthrob in 'Sex and the City'
New York Times
July 30, 2003
(Photo) Sarah Jessica Parker persuaded Mikhail Baryshnikov to join her series. 

For better or worse, the tumultuous love life of Carrie Bradshaw, the signature single woman of HBO's hit comedy "Sex and the City," is coming to an end this season. Sarah Jessica Parker, the star who plays Carrie, says the plan has always been to go out with a romance bigger than Big.

"We had to make Big look like a high school sweetheart," Ms. Parker said, referring to Mr. Big, the character played by Chris Noth who has been a looming romantic presence in Carrie's life throughout the series, which began in 1998.

Whether the choice will ultimately prove to be Carrie's Mr. Right, no one is saying. But his star power is undeniable. After what Ms. Parker called "a long courtship," she was able to persuade Mikhail Baryshnikov, perhaps the most famous dancer in the world, to join the show as the man to lift Carrie off her feet.

"I seem to have a tendency to do things that people think I shouldn't do," Mr. Baryshnikov said in a telephone interview after a rehearsal with Ms. Parker. He added, in a reference to the show's celebrated sexual adventurousness, "I think it's about time to do something my children can't watch."

The concluding story line calls for Carrie to meet and fall for a man of overpowering presence, an artist of international reputation. "We thought he might be European," Ms. Parker said. Mr. Baryshnikov, who lives in New York, was born in Latvia to Russian parents. 

"He has such presence that Carrie gets bigger, too," Ms. Parker said. "The scale changes her."

She was speaking by telephone from location shooting for "Sex and the City" in Manhattan. The show's cast is winding up the 11th and 12th episodes in what is to be a 20-episode final season. Ms. Parker, who is also an executive producer on the series, said she had riffled through the names of various movie stars, trying to cast the part. None really seemed to measure up to the outsize expectations for a character who would, as Ms. Parker put it, "reveal to Carrie that there's a whole other life out there."

Then one morning in April, in the shower ("As a new mother it's the only place it ever really gets quiet in my head," she said), an idea flashed: Mikhail Baryshnikov. European. An international artist of enormous reputation. But would he even consider an offer to play a love interest on a television comedy?

Weeks later, after several phone calls and a few preliminary meetings, Ms. Parker had her answer. Misha, as she already calls him, was in.

Mr. Baryshnikov, who is more than a decade removed from a brief career acting in films, has signed on to play Alexander Petrovsky, an artist "of extreme importance," as Ms. Parker described him, for the final eight episodes of a show that has become a phenomenon, the most popular comedy in the history of cable television.

Not with Mr. Baryshnikov, however. When Ms. Parker called, he confessed, he had never seen the show, though of course as a New Yorker he had heard of it. So Ms. Parker sent over a batch of episodes on DVD.

He met with Ms. Parker and the show's chief creative talents, Michael Patrick King and John Melfi, also executive producers. Mr. Baryshnikov also spoke several times with Ms. Parker by phone, offering suggestions on what sort of character his artist might be. "I just tossed a few ideas around, because that's how they usually work, I understand," he said.

He acknowledged, "I haven't worked in front of the camera in many years." But he was intrigued by the idea. "It sounded like fun," he said. 

The plan for the final year's production of "Sex and the City" has been to divide the season, working first on 12 episodes, to be seen on HBO this summer and early fall, while saving the final 8 for a run that will begin in January. The cast will finish filming the first batch in early August and then take a six-week break before coming back in October to shoot the last episodes.

Mr. Baryshnikov's character will be introduced fleetingly in the episodes being finished in the next week or so. "I'm a little bit of a teaser," he said. "That's a television term. They have codes for all these subcultures."

Ms. Parker said she could not go too far in describing where the romance with Mr. Barysnikov's character was headed. "I have to keep the secrets," she said. "But this is a really important story line. This is not a short tenure."

A romantic connection involving a ballet dancer seems to mirror the life of Candace Bushnell, the real-life model for Carrie Bradshaw. Ms. Bushnell married a ballet dancer, Charles Askegard, last year. Ms. Parker said no such association with that event was intended. "Besides, Carrie has moved pretty far away from Candace by now," she said.

And as Mr. Baryshnikov pointed out: "I'm not playing a dancer. I'm a Russian artist who's big in Europe and also here. We have a culture clash, an experience clash and an age clash."

He was the only one who mentioned age. Mr. Baryshnikov is 55; Ms. Parker, 38. But she said the discrepancy was of no consequence to her.

"He is so lovely and so much fun," Ms. Parker said. "He brings passion and star quality and character and myth and legend and skill and talent. I'm over the moon about this."
[DANCE REVIEW:TWYLA THARP DANCE] From Giddy to Somber, All in Perpetual Motion
New York Times
July 30, 2003
(Photo)Matthew Dibble and Lynda Sing in Twyla Tharp's "Known by Heart Duet." 

Breathless. Twyla Tharp's choreography can leave some people breathless. But her dancers are not among them. 

Her profusions of speedy steps made everyone onstage appear to revel in kinetic excitement when Twyla Tharp Dance opened a two-week season at the Joyce Theater on Monday night. Nothing fazed this inexhaustible troupe. 

But the audience might well have been aesthetically breathless ?and exhilarated. There was so much to watch. Some serene choreographic phrases might have refreshed the eyes and helped prevent Ms. Tharp's dances from looking compulsively fidgety, as they can do. Yet these are undeniably brilliant fidgets. 

Among the program's features was a revival of "The Fugue," a dance from 1970 that helped bring Ms. Tharp's fidgets, jitters and twitches to national attention. Three dancers (Whitney Simler, Jason McDole and Dario Vaccaro, at this performance) in white shirts and gray slacks designed by William Ivey Long and Kermit Love perform variations on a phrase of contrapuntal movement. 

With its many starts and stops, the choreographic result looks more like a canon or round than an extended fugue. But let musicologists debate the work's musical structure. Ms. Tharp has devised her own choreographic music, and the only accompaniment is the sound of the dancers' heeled shoes stamping or tapping against the floor and their hands occasionally slapping their sides as they lunge and lope, stride and kick. 

Since the debut of "The Fugue," Ms. Tharp has let her productions grow as rich in musical sounds as they are in choreographic sights. Her "Westerly Round" of 2001, which received its New York premiere, was set to a recording of Mark O'Connor's "Call of the Mockingbird," which combines the lilt of folk tunes with the richness of symphonic orchestration. 

Ms. Tharp frequently uses folk-dance patterns in this romp for Emily Coates, Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, Mr. McDole and Mr. Vaccaro. But she also appears to be gently mocking certain types of balletic divertissements in which star dancers try to outdo one another. There were moments when the choreography threatened to stop being charming and turn coy instead. But most of the giddy spins and scrambles had a sunny playfulness. A spirit of play also dominated "Known by Heart Duet," to recorded selections from "Junk Music," in which the composer, Donald Knaack, makes cheerfully clattery music out of objects like hubcaps, pots and pans. 

The choreography, adapted in 2001 from a suite that Ms. Tharp created for American Ballet Theater in 1998, is a prankish reinvention of the traditional pas de deux. Lynda Sing rose on point. Matthew Dibble pulled her toward him and held her tight. Then she playfully bounced away. Both dancers skidded across the stage, giving the impression of children having fun sliding on a slippery floor. 

Rises into balletically vertical stances were occasionally interrupted by grotesque crumplings-up. Knees quivered. Bodies toppled and then popped back into place. And all the while, Ms. Sing and Mr. Dibble appeared to be goofy rivals. 

Ms. Tharp turned somber in "Surfer at the River Styx," to a taped accompaniment in which stormy music by Mr. Knaack gave way to a calm coda by David Kahne. Six frenzied dancers swiveled and leaped. The men in this company are remarkably assured, and Mr. Dibble and Mr. Neshyba-Hodges were especially impressive in the leading roles. Both seemed haunted by mysterious forces as they hurtled nonstop, and Mr. Dibble's pirouettes were astonishing. 

But the work would be even more gripping if Ms. Tharp had managed to suggest what agitated her characters. If it was easy to watch them with wonder, it was harder to generate emotional sympathy for them. Nevertheless, "Surfer" did come to an eerily quiet conclusion. 

The company continues through Aug. 9 at the Joyce, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea. 
Alvin Ailey Dance Intimate, Uneven
New York Times
July 28, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) -- Friends, family and supporters of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater crowded into the fourth floor of the Ailey Studios this weekend for "Expressions,'' an intimate, uneven program of 10 new works.

Choreographed and danced by past and present company members, the performances benefited the Ailey Dancers' Resource Fund, a nonprofit organization that offers financial assistance to dancers as they make the transition from dance to new careers.

The atmosphere was youthful and homey, the program notes full of the company's sketches, poems and quotes about dance. Instead of a raised stage, the dancers performed in the middle of the unadorned studio space, the audience seated flush with the make-do proscenium's edge.

Such proximity made it difficult to appreciate the full impact of the choreography, especially in works for multiple dancers. But it also provided a thrilling sense of immediacy, as when Jamar Roberts' jetes exploded with enough force to blow back audience members' hair, or several dancers' pirouettes sent a fine spray of perspiration into the crowd.

Roberts was a joy to watch, whether hamming it up in Dwight Rhoden's ``Shinning Star,'' a playful, sexy blend of ballet and urban dance set to the Earth, Wind and Fire hit tune, or with Cheryl Rowley-Gaskins in Matthew Rushing's somber duet, "Redeemed.''

Another highlight was Olivia Bowman's solo in Vernard J. Gilmore's ``Just Listen ... it's about me first.'' An austere dancer with exquisite control and quality of movement, Bowman seamlessly executed the idiomatic Ailey style. She is a fierce and focused dancer.

Anthony Burrell's aggressive "Temporary Space'' followed, with Burrell, Gilmore, Dion Wilson and Hope Boykin employing deep plies and high lifts in a battle of the sexes. The saucy Boykin held her own against the men, whether paramours or rivals.

In all, "Expressions'' offered tantalizing visions of what these young choreographers might someday produce -- a fitting sampler for a benefit to help Alvin Ailey dancers when they ready themselves to leave the nest.

On the Net: Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation: www.alvinailey.org
Where Dance Is Moving: Off the Stage
New York Times
July 27, 2003
(Photo) Richard Termine for The New York TimesThe choreographer Noemie Lafrance designed her piece "Descent" for the stairwell of the 12-story Clock Tower building in Lower Manhattan.

AFTER almost two years of renovation and anticipation, the Chelsea performance space Dance Theater Workshop unveiled its state-of-the-art home last fall. On paper, the transformation seemed lovely: the addition of two dance studios, a media lab and an artists' resource center. The expanded Bessie Schonberg Theater now houses 192 seats, nearly doubling in size.

Unfortunately, it did not take more than five minutes of the inaugural show (Ronald K. Brown's "Walking Out the Dark") for me to realize that the new theater had faults. With its steep, severe seats overlooking a cavernous stage, the design created an effect that was dizzying and flat; it was like sitting atop a cliff and watching a dance performance below.

Even if the designers had done a more graceful job, the theater has a basic problem: the proscenium stage is passe. 
Experimental choreographers are intent on creating dances that evoke a world, not just a showcase of steps within a frame. In today's movement, awkward angles and abrupt changes of direction have replaced stereotypically refined dance vocabulary. Often what is presented onstage is not pretty but coarse and rigorously repetitive, so that you see the dancers' struggle to get through it. The repeated motions highlight the smallest of details, idiosyncratically rendered, like delicate brush strokes on a painting. Despite its shiny new design, the renovated theater was essentially outdated before the first company unloaded its equipment.

Consider some of the captivating dances presented outside of Dance Theater Workshop over the past months. They were all quite different, except that few were presented on black-box stages; if they were, the choreographers remade the spaces into something surreal and wonderfully unrecognizable.

Most choreographers, for example, turn St. Mark's Church in the East Village (home of the Danspace Project) into a proscenium stage, placing the audience in front of the altar. But in "Dressed for Floating," DD Dorvillier shrank the performance space to an intimate and intense square. In neat symmetry, audience members surrounded the four performers along four edges. In "Shuffle," Yasuko Yokoshi converted the small theater at P.S. 122, another East 
Village space, into an otherworldly shipwreck. Sarah Michelson, in her remarkable two-part "Shadowmann," dramatically flipped the Kitchen in Chelsea around, so that the audience faced the street. Noemie Lafrance's "Descent" took place in a 12-story stairwell of the Clock Tower building in Lower Manhattan.

Aside from their innovation, such reconfigurations are brave. Touring is the only way choreographers make money, and it also factors into who is eligible for grants. But try taking any of these pieces on the road. Ms. Lafrance's "Descent" is purely site-specific. Ms. Michelson's powerful "Shadowmann" was one of a kind; even if she figures out a way to present it elsewhere (recently she scouted possibilities in Europe), it will become something different. Perhaps Ms. Dorvillier and Ms. Yokoshi could manage, with adjustments, to transport their dances.

Back at Dance Theater Workshop, only one choreographer showed signs of making the space work: the astute, visually oriented John Jasperse. In the stunning "Just Two Dancers" presented in May, Mr. Jasperse, who has won international acclaim for his cerebral, moody choreography, surpassed even himself. While some have considered his past work cold and impenetrable ?he is fond of updating the task-based movement of the revolutionary choreographers of the 
1960's ?Mr. Jasperse stripped his stark style to its basics, producing a dance both brutally honest and aggressive. For all its imaginative flair, the duet, for Juliette Mapp and himself, also addressed every flaw in Dance Theater Workshop's new design. As a quotation in the program by the architect Bernard Tschumi stated, "Sensuality has been known to overcome even the most rational of buildings."

Upon entering the theater, audience members were handed small mirrors, the type bought at a 99-cent store. Wooden platforms covered rows of seats in random fashion. While a few sections of the dance were performed onstage, most of it unfolded on the platforms. Depending on where the spectators sat, they either faced the dancers or they didn't. But instead of craning their necks (the movement was often behind them), they simply held up their mirrors. In embracing this clever technique, audience members also became artists. The mirrors served as lenses to 
focus on their own dances (or they could even watch another person watching). The title itself was a bewitching 
understatement: the mirrors and their potential for infinite reflection represented far more than "Just Two Dancers."

New York is once again in a cycle of producing the most distinctive and enthralling contemporary dance in the world. Making a dance a conceptual event by creating a specific atmosphere that overcomes a conventional space, or by making the site itself the starting point, is the overriding theme. The next enormous challenge will be to make the proscenium stage ?whether the flawed one at Dance Theater Workshop or the more welcoming one at the Joyce Theater ?fashionable again. Even the slick lobby area of Dance Theater Workshop, with its melodramatic photographic exhibitions and uninspired cafe, could overcome its conventional look through the work of artists who know how to metamorphose the most tired sites into places of enchantment. Clearly, a reinvention of the proscenium is not in the hands of curators, producers or critics. It will happen naturally through the imagination of individual artists ?perhaps starting with one smart choreographer playing tricks with mirrors. 

Gia Kourlas is the dance editor of Time Out New York
[DANCE REVIEW: JAZZDANCE] A 'Four Seasons' to Raise Vivaldi's Eyebrows
New York Times
July 26, 2003
Jazzdance, a regular visitor from Minneapolis and St. Paul to the Joyce Theater, is a refreshing company whose 
director, Danny Buraczeski, steers clear of definitions. 

Its newest pieces, running through tonight, showed Mr. Buraczeski reaching somewhat far afield. He has always fused various dance vocabularies. But "Las Cuatro Estaciones/The Four Seasons" could well be mistaken for a straight modern-dance work. Nor is its score, a recording by Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica of a gloss on Vivaldi's  "Four Seasons" by Astor Piazzolla, rooted in jazz, unless tango qualifies as such.

Happily the dance is a winner. A potential cliche about changing seasons becomes a dance suite of contrasting poetic moods. Mary Ann Bradley is the soloist, an earth mother whose passage and interaction with the four-couple ensemble move the imagery from summer to spring. 

Susan Weil's beautiful backdrop evokes a tapestry of leaves open to transformation, as Kris Brodersen's ingenious lighting changes the hues of the set and of Mary Hansmeyer's costumes. For winter the backdrop resembles blue lace. 

The opening is for an active ensemble, with weight-shifting plies and hip-jutting sharpness to match the music's jagged moments. Summer's exuberance yields to a more sober, torso-rotating passage for autumn. Ms. Bradley, elegant in her long, flowing line, dances in profile with expansive leg swings. An abrupt change in seasons is signaled when the men dive into the wings. 

Winter suggests maturity: the dancers form couples, and the music turns turbulent until spring breaks through with a beat, and Ms. Bradley rouses a dormant group into an elbow-jabbing finale. The polished cast included Joanne Horn, Katie Berthel, Jennifer Brackin, Ann-Marie Myhre, Mathew Janczewski, Jeffrey Peterson, Corey Mills and Eric Boone. 

Mr. Buraczeski pays tribute to Judy Garland in "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," in a solo performance excerpted from "Get Happy! The Judy Garland Project." It is a tour de force that through gesture fuses a fan's emotions with Garland's signature moves. 

"Beat," a premiere with music by Philip Hamilton and Peter Jones, offers an uncomfortable juxtaposition. Mr. Hamilton's strong rhythm and spirituals-style vocals are at odds with the busy encounters onstage. The music hints at a journey to the promised land, but the trip is bumpy.
[DANCE REVIEW:JACOB'S PILLOW] In Rituals of Soloists, a Global Heartbeat
New York Times
July 23, 2003
(Photo) Vincent Mantsoe performing in "Motswa Hole" at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass. 

ECKET, Mass., July 18 ?Ever since modern dance came into being in the early 20th century, many of its leading choreographers have been fascinated by the expressive power and immediacy of the solo. 

The continuing vitality of the solo form was affirmed on Thursday night at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival here when Kitt Johnson, a Danish choreographer, and Vincent Mantsoe, a South African choreographer, shared a program in the Doris Duke Studio Theater. Their unusual, vividly expressive solos were not only signs of their own creative talents but also of the great range of cultural resources upon which today's dancers can draw. 

Although Ms. Johnson directs a company called X-act, at the festival she presented the American premiere of "Stigma," a solo that showed the influence of both European Expressionist modern dance and the grotesque contemporary Japanese dance form known as Butoh. The 30-minute piece, to electronic music by Sture Ericson and Jacob Kirkegaard, could be interpreted as a tribute to the downtrodden. Tottering about in a drab cap and a baggy black coat that sometimes threatened to engulf her, Ms. Johnson resembled a poor shivering old woman. When she knelt, she was one of those forlorn and infinitely weary-looking women sometimes encountered praying in remote 
chapels of European cathedrals. 
Then she bunched her costume about her so that her long arms and legs were fully visible and crept across the floorlike some female counterpart of the luckless fellow who became a cockroach in Kafka's story "The Metamorphosis." Rising, she made her arms suggest the wings of a bird making awkward attempts at flight. 

At last, she stood nude from the waist up, looking simultaneously vulnerable and radiant as a powdery substance descended upon her from above. A festival spokesman later identified it as cornmeal. Whatever its meaning may have been, it seemed to transfigure the character Ms. Johnson played. 

Mr. Mantsoe also concerned himself with transformations in two solos in which he blended Western modern dance technique with African dance. And his recorded accompaniments ranged from traditional African music to a bit of French music by Erik Satie. 

In "Barena," Mr. Mantsoe's props incluced a staff which he used as both a scepter and a weapon, a bright piece of colored cloth that occasionally served as a regal cape and a stool that became a small throne. 

Mr. Mantsoe punched ferociously at the air as if battling invisible antagonists, and he desperately grasped the throne. The man he portrayed was certainly someone of authority. But there was anxiety as well as power in his movements, the solo ending with him crawling. 

"Is power drawn from symbols or is it inherent in the ruler?" his program note asked. "Barena" was a meditation on such ambiguities of power. 

The program defined "Motswa Hole" as meaning "person from far away," and a note by Mr. Mantsoe declared, "We are all here for a purpose," and spoke of the importance of seeking the guidance of ancestors. The solo was essentially a purification ceremony, yet far from solemn in tone. 

Mr. Mantsoe kept dipping his feet and hands into a large bowl of water, which he also used to bathe his face. He splashed water around the stage and stamped, sending drops flying. His evident delight made his actions a celebration of the restorative water of life. 

With enormous eagerness, he walked with the bowl up the theater's two aisles, gently sprinkling water on the audience in what was surely a ritual of renewal. His always expressive flashing eyes appeared to be laughing joyously with every step he took, and it was easy for theatergoers to share his joy. 
Mel Wong, 64, Dancer, Choreographer and Artist, Dies
New York Times
July 22, 2003
Mel Wong, a dancer, choreographer and visual artist, died on Thursday after collapsing at a swimming pool in Santa Cruz, Calif. He was 64 and lived in Santa Cruz.

The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Connie Kreemer. 

Mr. Wong performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1968 to 1972 and was in the original casts of "Canfield," "Tread," "Second Hand," "Signals" and other dances by Mr. Cunningham. A painter and sculptor whose work has been exhibited in galleries in New York and California, Mr. Wong integrated visual and dance arts in his own choreography, which he began to create in 1970 and which was performed by his company and by troupes throughout the world. 

Several of Mr. Wong's best-known works were steeped in Americana, but at the time of his death he was touring in a program of solos called "Growing Up Asian-American in the 1950's," which explored discrimination with humor. He also performed with Silvia Martins in recent years in a program of solos.

Born in Oakland, Calif., Mr. Wong began training in dance as a high school gymnast. His teachers included Raoul Pause, Ann Halprin, Eugene Loring, Mia Slavenska and Carmelita Maracci, and in New York he studied at the New York City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet and at Mr. Cunningham's school. He received a master's degree in visual arts from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Mr. Wong taught dance at the State University of New York at Purchase, the University of Colorado and New York University and at the American Dance Festival. At his death he was a professor of theater arts at the University of California at Santa Cruz. 

A previous marriage to Betsy Erickson, a ballet dancer, ended in divorce. In addition to Ms. Kreemer, he is survived by three daughters, Anika, Kira and Suzanna, all of Santa Cruz; his mother, Louise, of Alameda, Calif.; and a brother, Maurice, of Oakland. 
Shen Wei Dance Arts Makes Its N.Y. Debut
Source: Associated Press
By CLAUDIA LA ROCCO, Associated Press Writer
July 24, 2003
NEW YORK - Shen Wei Dance Arts had a modest start with its version of "The Rite of Spring": Dancers walked slowly onto a 
giant, painted canvas holding their positions until the first strains of Stravinsky's music erupted. 

What followed was explosive and breathtaking, as Shen Wei had its New York debut Wednesday night at Lincoln Center Festival 

Just two years old, the New York-based company was founded by Chinese-born choreographer Shen Wei, a painter and sculptor who 
designed the costumes and sets for the evening's dances, two full-company works that also featured solos by the 34-year-old 

In "The Rite of Spring," the 13 dancers, covered in white body paint, wore gray and black leotards and filmy shifts streaked 
with chalky and ashy smears as they moved within the confines of the canvas. Full of shimmering silver swirls, the abstract 
painting's plush, velvetlike surface was bisected by white lines that formed various geometric shapes. Dancer Alexa 
Kershner's red-blond bob provided the only burst of color. 

The seamless dance was as abstract as its set, and thoroughly music-driven. Stravinsky's syncopated, rhythmic score, 
performed by Fazil Say, whipped the dancers to a frenzy then calmed them. 

Throughout, the company flowed across the stage like a school of fish, turning or reversing course on a knife's edge as the 
music accelerated or slowed. A dancer occasionally broke away to move in isolation or dictate a new pattern of movement. 

Early on in the 40-minute piece, the dancers melted onto the canvas as one unit. Dancers exploded in idiosyncratic movement ?amp;nbsp;
a balletic leap, an urgent, backward crawl, a break dancer's head spin ?only to fall back into motionless positions. 
Disjointed yet supple marionettes, they wore the expressionless faces of porcelain dolls. 

Though the dance does include several solos, including particularly striking passages by Shen and Vicki Skinner, the overall 
aesthetic was egalitarian. This is not surprising, considering Shen has yet to choreograph a work that isn't for the full 

Shen's solo forms a focal point of "Folding," a rumination that explored the basic movement of "folding" to a haunting mix of 
Tibetan Buddhist chants and John Taverna's music. The dancers glided, scurried, or were carried and dragged across the stage 
in waist-high, scarlet or black gowns with sweeping trains. Again covered in white paint, their heads were bound in conical 
white headdresses with glowing white streaks of paint running along their cheeks. 

Nine dancers inched their way across the stage, heads thrown back, right arms curved up to their chests. They formed a 
cluster, warm light pooling around them until Shen broke away, a cooler shaft of light finding him. David Ferri's lighting 
design, as in "The Rite of Spring," was subtle and evocative. 

Shen arched his back, bending deeply from the waist. The group emulated him, their movements not as defined and less sure. 

At the end of the work, the eight dancers walked to the back of the stage, ascending into darkness. Abandoned by his 
imitators, Shen crawled behind them, then lay still; a dancer in black moved on and off stage in a semicircle as the curtain 

Like "The Rite of Spring," "Folding" is distilled, abstract movement, devoid of plot or heroes. Yet, like the best abstract 
art, the dance encompasses an immense range of emotion. By stripping his dancers of individual personality, the choreographer 
finds ways to suggest a world of human possibility. 

Shen Wei Dance Arts performs July 25 and 26 at La Guardia Concert Hall. 

On the Net: 
Shen Wei Dance Arts: www.shenweidancearts.org 
Lincoln Center: www.lincolncenter.org
Electrical Muscle Stimulation Helps Knee Arthritis
SOURCE: Journal of Rheumatology, July 2003
July 24, 2003
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Home-based electrical stimulation of thigh muscles can improve strength and physical performance in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. 

Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear on the joints, rather than from an immune reaction that causes rheumatoid arthritis. 
Resistive and aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce pain, severity, and disability in adults with knee 
osteoarthritis. However, such exercise by usually sedentary adults may cause muscle damage, especially in women. So an alternative method of increasing muscle strength would be useful. 

As described in the Journal of Rheumatology, Dr. Laura Talbot from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore studied the use of a home-based neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) system as a way to improve quadriceps strength in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. 

The study involved 34 patients who were given standard arthritis education either with or without NMES. 

Patients assigned to NMES used a portable muscle stimulator 3 days a week for quadriceps training. Over a 12-week period, the intensity of the contractions was increased up to 30-40 percent of maximum. 

During the study, the strength of knee extensions increased in the NMES patients and decreased in the other patients. Both groups improved in how fast they could walk and in the time needed to get up from a chair. 

Joint pain was still similar in both groups. 

The research team concludes that NMES " appears to be a promising intervention" for maintaining muscle strength and increasing mobility, without making arthritis symptoms worse. 

They say such therapy may be particularly useful when medication, exercise, or surgery are not options. 
[LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL REVIEW: DANCE THEATER OF HARLEM] Reasserting the Classical With a Choreographic Pantheon
Source: New York Times
July 14, 2003
To see ballets by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Frederick Ashton and Robert Garland in a single dream program is reason enough for rejoicing. But Dance Theater of Harlem followed that newly cast performance on Friday at the New York State Theater with a lavishly theatrical new ballet production paired with a Balanchine signature work on Saturday afternoon, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

For all the variety, Dance Theater is firmly, graciously classical. The company affectingly reasserted its patrimony with its vital performance of Balanchine's "Serenade" ?with a strong cast led by Andrea Long, Leslie Anne Cardona, Tai Jimenez, Duncan Cooper and Raymond Thielen ?on Friday in this theater where Arthur Mitchell, the company's director, danced so prominently with New York City Ballet. 

Ms. Jimenez and Donald Williams embodied the typical Ashton mix of perfumed exoticism and simplicity in their performance of "Thais," despite a partnering stumble, inventively recovered from. Robbins's "Fancy Free" was as fresh as new paint with Antonio Douthit, Taurean Green and Mr. Cooper as extremely funny, decidedly nongeneric sailors. 

Their joyous dancing communicated the exuberance of shore leave, particularly in Mr. Douthit's avid appetite for movement and space in the first solo. Mr. Cooper turned this rhumba into polished serious dancing. Kellye A. Saunders brought a delicate sweetness to the sailors' second girl, in a lead cast completed by a slightly dogged Ms. Long and by Christiane Cristo-Ezewoko and Keith Saunders. 

Mr. Garland's "New Bach" is an authoritative and highly imaginative blend of classical vocabulary and funk, laid out in handsome formal patterns in a well-plotted ballet. Friday's new cast wittily juxtaposed the elements in a performance that starred a sensuous Ikolo Griffin partnering Paunika Jones as an adorably egregious little flirt who, with the Bach music, cues the men to lose their ballet manners. 

On Saturday Michael Smuin provided a breath of new air with "St. Louis Woman," a celebration of Harold Arlen's music. Mr. Smuin matches that music in the ballet's two heart-wrenching central duets. Set to "Come Rain or Come Shine," the luscious encounter for Akua Parker as the sexy Della and Mr. Cooper as Little Augie, the jockey, summons up love at its most sensual. Its sad counterpart is a broken-hearted duet, set to "I Had a True Love," for Ms. Saunders as the fragile Lila and Kip Sturm, outstanding as the world-weary gangster Bigelow Brown. 

The new lead cast, which more than held its own in the riot of color in Tony Walton's sets and Willa Kim's costumes, was completed by Amy Johnson (Butterfly) and Mr. Green (Barney). Mr. Douthit danced a beautifully nuanced Phlegmatic solo in Balanchine's "Four Temperaments." Leanne Codrington managed to make the Choleric solo both buoyant and ferocious, in a new lead cast that also included Mr. Thielen (Melancholic), Ms. Jones and Kevin Thomas (Sanguinic), along with Naimah Willoughby and Claudio Sandoval (First Theme), Ms. Cardona and Fidel Garcia (Second Theme) and Stacie Williams and Mark Burns (Third Theme). 
Source: NY Times
July 11, 2003
Dance Theater of Harlem's second program as part of Lincoln Center Festival 2003 was a slam-bang crash course in great ballet choreographers of the 20th century.

The company's novelty on Wednesday night at the New York State Theater was "Thais," one of Frederick Ashton's delicately perfumed duets. You don't have to know that this exquisitely performed dance poem is rooted in a story about a religious fanatic and a whore: its mystery seeps into the viewer's pores without effort. 

As usual, Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theater of Harlem's artistic director, made sure that the company enhanced the familiar 20th-century classics with its distinctive warmth. "Serenade," one of George Balanchine's signature pieces, had a special windswept passion, its ice-blue corps rushing toward a final image of loss and solace. 

"Fancy Free," the early Jerome Robbins masterpiece about three sailors on the town during World War II, came back to the company for the first time since the 1980's in great shape. The trick, difficult for the troupe in the past, is to avoid the inflected rhythms of young people today and to persuade the audience that the action takes place in Times Square during the 1940's. 

Like any survey, this mixed bill (repeated tonight) is selective. But it tells a fairly complete story of how the 350-year-old idiom of classical ballet was modernized and extended into very different aesthetics. 

All the more reason to round off this look at three ballet giants with "New Bach" by Robert Garland, a Balanchine disciple with a mind of his own. A former dancer in the company, he choreographs here in a highly polished neo-Classical style, coated with a witty disco touch. 

Dance Theater of Harlem is not a company normally associated with the sensibility of Ashton, Britain's Shakespeare of the dance. Its energy and bold silhouettes, with chest raised, come down directly from Balanchine, who cast Mr. Mitchell in experimental works at the New York City Ballet in the 1950's. 

Ashton's style is softer, more curved and less concerned with physical attack. His duets are the equivalent of love sonnets, and "Thais" is no exception. Originally a vehicle for Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley in the Royal Ballet in England, the choreography banked on their fabled unity as a partnership, their harmony of line. On Wednesday, the ruling image focused on contrast. Melissa Morrissey is small and fragile as she wafts in, her head covered by a veil. Duncan Cooper, in gold headband and gold-trimmed costume, radiates a broad-chested masculine power.

The music is the "Meditation" from Massenet's opera "Thais," during which the title character, a fourth-century Egyptian courtesan, meditates on the Christian salvation offered her by Athanael, a monk. Ashton spares us the ironic twist by which Thais becomes a saint, her soul saved by the monk who loses his by acknowledging his lust for her. 

In poetic terms Ashton's ballerina here nonetheless remains out of reach, floating out the way she came after a stylized but clearly erotic encounter with the man. (There was a long smooch.) The duet is a typical Ashton idyll, imbued with his lyricism, which Ms. Morrissey and Mr. Cooper enhanced with dramatic clarity. They captured the arching and spiraling shapes of Ashton's neo-orientalism, and Deborah Wong was the splendid violinist under Joseph E. Fields's baton. 

Mr. Fields and Ms. Wong performed similar duty in "New Bach," which Mr. Garland set to Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor. Tai Jimenez, dancing exceptionally well, and a gallant Kip Sturm were the couple in the ballet's second quiet section. Mr. Garland's tribute to "Concerto Barocco," Balanchine's great Bach ballet, is overt in their duet. Yet the elegiac tone in the section and the rotating shoulders and wiggles of Mr. Garland's disco touches in the first and third sections are original, discreetly absorbed into the choreography as a whole. 

In all, it is a ballet for young and old danced by an exciting young ensemble that included Mark Burns, Antonio Douthit, Preston Dugger, Claudio Sandoval, Paunika Jones, Akua Parker, Ebony Haswell and Amy Johnson. 

Balanchine's students were young too when he created "Serenade" for them in 1934, the first work he choreographed in the United States. Despite its cast of principals, it is essentially a ballet for the corps within whose patterns Balanchine embeds movement motifs that are developed or repeated throughout. 

Balanchine insisted there was no story, only dancing set to Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" (here conducted with vigor by Derrick Inouye). Yet Michel Fokine's use of the same music in Russia was familiar to him. The characters in the Fokine ballet "Eros" were a youth, a young woman, the god Eros and an angel. Balanchine kept the angel, who takes a man away from his beloved, leaving her in grief. 

This episode comes only at the end of "Serenade," but it gives the ballet a special poignancy. That quality came through the wonderful projection of Lenore Pavlakos as the bereaved, Leanne Codrington as the angel and James Washington as a lover taken by death. Ms. Pavlakos and Mr. Sturm led the waltz section. 

As for "Fancy Free" it has rarely gone wrong since Leonard Bernstein and Robbins, then both unknown, collaborated on it in 1944. On this occasion the three sailors were fine, if without the powerhouse technique that other companies now give the ballet. Ikolo Griffin was the dreamy sailor but added some welcome spunk to his precision. Mr. Dugger, more wiry than others in the role, had the right bravado for the second solo. Donald Williams and Caroline Rocher were fabulous in the ballroom duet, although Mr. Williams's rhumba solo needs more angularity. 

The period flavor was missing in the coaching for Kellye A. Saunders, dancing beautifully but too innocent and shocked for the usually brassy girl with the red bag. Ms. Codrington, in the cameo role, also seemed out of period. The copy of Oliver Smith's original set looked pale, but Robbins's insight into hormones and humanity among young people always came through. 
Chairman's Largess Buoys Ballet Theater
Source: NY Times
July 7, 2003
After years of financial struggle and a revolving door of executive directors, officials at American Ballet Theater say they feel lucky to have a chairman who has expanded the company's operations largely at his own expense. 

"I'm perplexed and amazed it is all going so well," said Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater's artistic director. "Coming from the war years, when we didn't have two nickels to rub together, along comes this guy."

"This guy" is Lewis S. Ranieri, who became chairman last August after pledging $2 million to the company. While chairmen typically contribute to a cultural institution's general operating fund, Mr. Ranieri has personally paid for specific expenditures, including increased marketing, dancers' housing, consultants' fees and bathroom renovations at the company's headquarters.

Chairmen usually do not work on the premises of their arts organizations, but Mr. Ranieri created an office for himself out of a dance studio at Ballet Theater's Manhattan headquarters ?he pays the rent for his space ?where he puts in time almost every day despite his job as lead director at Computer Associates on Long Island. 

Mr. Ranieri's unorthodox approach raises questions, arts executives say. If and when Ballet Theater no longer has a chairman willing to dig into his own deep pockets, can the company sustain its new commitments? Will the troupe's faith in Mr. Ranieri prove to be a cautionary tale for other nonprofit arts groups? Or is this a heartening new chapter of fiscal health for Ballet Theater, which, along with New York City Ballet, is considered one of America's leading dance companies?

Mr. McKenzie said he was confident that the company could eventually "wean off" Mr. Ranieri. He said Mr. Ranieri wanted to move the company toward independence, quoting the chairman as saying, "Give me time, and I will prove to you that I will replace my money."

Mr. McKenzie added, "He's given me his word that we've got to expand the company before it becomes lean and mean."

Mr. Ranieri said the same: "We would not create an edifice that would fall if he or I or any other individual left."

But at least one departing board member says the company is relying too heavily on Mr. Ranieri. That board member, Lewis P. Geyser, said Mr. Ranieri had built a house of cards, promising to pay large new costs of his own choosing without guaranteeing such infusions in enforceable pledges, making timely payments or providing for the company's viability after he is gone. 

"The total current budget expenses of the company are so much in excess of the contributions of everyone other than Ranieri that if Ranieri were to go tomorrow, the company will have a deficit," Mr. Geyser said in an interview. "This company's budget has grown astronomically, it's grown geometrically, with no guarantees that it's going to be covered."

Information on how much the expense budget has grown will not be available until the end of the fiscal year on July 31, Ballet Theater said. Last year's total operating expenses were about $30 million.

Several prominent philanthropists have delayed or defaulted on their contributions to other arts organizations lately, which clearly fuels Mr. Geyser's concerns. According to board minutes, even Mr. Ranieri at the June 11 meeting of the executive committee "led a lengthy discussion of the need for tighter budgeting and controls."

After months of questioning the company's management and accountability, Mr. Geyser was forced off the board last month. In five years of service he donated more than $300,000 and attended almost every performance at his own expense.

Gedalio Grinberg, who preceded Mr. Ranieri as chairman, said Mr. Geyser's ouster led him to resign in June after 18 years on the board. 

"I was very uncomfortable with the lack of the right of dissent," Mr. Grinberg said. "That is a very precious freedom."

Mr. Ranieri's strong role in daily decision making appears to have given the search for an executive director less urgency. Last month Elizabeth Harpel Kehler resigned after only 10 months in the job, the third person to move through the position in three years. Her predecessor, Wallace Chappell, left after less than a year. Before him Louis G. Spisto was forced to resign in 2001 amid accusations of mismanagement and sex and age discrimination.

Ballet Theater said it had established a search committee to fill the post. But trustees seem to be comfortable without an executive director because of Mr. Ranieri. "A year ago we could not have existed without an executive director," said Nancy F. Havens-Hasty, chairwoman of the company's finance committee. "I don't feel that way right now. Lew is very active."

Mr. McKenzie added, "When we no longer have the cushion in one man, then we'll have to ask, What do we do to build the sustainability?"

While acting essentially as executive director, however, Mr. Ranieri has no experience in nonprofit arts management. Nor did Ms. Kehler, who declined to discuss her reasons for stepping down. Mr. Ranieri conceded that he and his colleagues were new to running a ballet company. "It was on-the-job training for all of us," he said.

The Brooklyn-born Mr. Ranieri, 56, helped develop the American market for mortgage-backed securities at Salomon Brothers in the 1980's and later built his own investment firm, Hyperion Partners. He grew up going to Ballet Theater, he said, and joined the board two years ago.

Some of the company's 55 board members say Mr. Ranieri gets results. The company expects to raise more than $15 million in contributions by the end of its fiscal year, up from about $13 million last year. The number of contributors has increased to 7,000 from 4,000, trustees say, in part by fund-raising through the troupe's Web site, www.abt.org.

"His facility at bringing in money is truly incredible," said Ms. Havens-Hasty, a hedge fund manager. In her 10 years on the board, "I haven't seen anything like it," she said.

But for now the company seems very much dependent on Mr. Ranieri's largesse. He agreed to lend Ballet Theater up to $1 million to cover a typically difficult stretch between spending on its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House and ticket revenue, board minutes show. He also agreed to contribute up to $500,000 if the company should have a deficit.

Company documents show that the chairman personally paid $850,000 in marketing costs in excess of the more than $1 million budgeted for the company's season at the Met. Mr. Ranieri and Robin Neustein, the board president and a senior director at Goldman Sachs, are paying Zaccardi & Partners, an advertising agency, $13,000 a month.

"All marketing is cumulative," Mr. Ranieri said. "It more than paid for itself." 

Despite this marketing increase, ticket sales for the eight-week Met season, which ended on June 28, were up only slightly, to $9,566,864, from $9,502,112 last year and more than $50,000 below the $10,096,030 projected for the season. The company loses money during its two-week fall season at City Center.

Mr. Ranieri also made it possible for the company to add two additional weeks of rehearsal for the dancers at a cost of $325,000, which Mr. McKenzie said made "a marked difference" in the artistic caliber of the season at the Met. 

The company has added several high-paying positions, including a director of human resources at $100,000, a part-time general counsel at $100,000 and an adviser's job for the former star dancer Susan Jaffe, at $125,000. 

Mr. Ranieri shares Ms. Jaffe's salary with Ms. Neustein, documents show. The two executives also split $10,000 a month for Paul Wilmot, a publicist. 

Mr. Ranieri is paying $79,200 a year to house members of Ballet Theater's junior company. He also purchased new accounting software and contributed most of the $107,000 to renovate bathrooms and lockers. Trustees said these were investments in the future of the company.

"Lew has really taken this on in a big way, and I think we are fortunate indeed that he has done so," said John L. Warden, the chairman of the company's audit committee. 

Mr. Ranieri described the board's annual meeting last month as "a lovefest," and said the budget would not only be balanced but could show a small surplus. "Financially we're doing very well," he said. "We all think we just had the best year ever." He also said he was up to date with his payments. Of the $2 million he pledged before becoming chairman, Mr. Ranieri said that he had paid $1 million and that the remaining $1 million was not due until next year. But in his pledge letter of July 22, 2002, Mr. Ranieri said he would pay $500,000 by the end of the last fiscal year and the remaining $1.5 million by the end of this one. 

Even with Mr. Ranieri's generosity and a rise in other contributions, however, the company continues to live on the edge in terms of cash, in part because some gifts earmarked for the endowment or education cannot be used for operating expenses. 

As recently as last month the company was predicting a deficit of about $570,000 before the start of the Met season, documents show, though Mr. Ranieri said Ballet Theater would end the year without a shortfall.

Upon becoming chairman Mr. Ranieri vowed to help raise $30 million for the endowment over the next three years. One year into this three-year plan, the endowment is at $6.9 million, considerably less than the $7.9 million the company was projecting at the end of the last fiscal year.

Mr. Ranieri said he was in the "quiet phase" of the endowment drive, approaching board members and others for leadership gifts of $250,000 or more. These would be contributions above each board member's standard annual gift of $50,000, company documents show.

"I've been doing what was needed," Mr. Ranieri said. "I don't honestly know what other chairmen do and don't do."
'St. Louis Woman' Struts Back Into Town
Source: NY Times
July 6, 2003
"ST. LOUIS WOMAN" opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theater on March 30, 1946, and closed a mere 113 performances later. Its legend has been that of a tantalizing failure, revived most notably and successfully in the City Center Encores! series in 1998. Now Dance Theater of Harlem is taking a chance on the show, a musical about black saloon society in 1898, and recreating it as an hourlong "blues ballet" that opens on Tuesday at the New York State Theater as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. The Broadway designers Tony Walton, Willa Kim, Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer have created the sets, costumes and lighting for this $1 million ballet production.

Why revisit a problematical show like "St. Louis Woman"? The answer is the music, composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer in a bittersweet, sly score that included future classics like "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home."

That was the selling point Jack Wrangler, a board member of the Johnny Mercer Foundation, used when he approached Arthur Mitchell, the artistic director of Dance Theater, with the idea. Mr. Mitchell had performed in a later Arlen musical, "House of Flowers," and did not need to be sold. "I know how beautiful his music can be," he said in a recent conversation.

He got in touch with Michael Smuin, a choreographer whose credits include "Sophisticated Ladies" (the Duke Ellington musical) and the movie "Cotton Club." Mr. Smuin was even more enthusiastic. "The music screams to be danced to," he said. "Like Gershwin, all Arlen can be danced."

Mr. Mitchell and his collaborators were drawn to the project in part by the way "St. Louis Woman" lent itself to a mix of styles. Mr. Mitchell describes Dance Theater as a classically American ballet company. Mr. Smuin's choreography incorporates not only Broadway show dance and ballet but also a competition scene that includes a tap duet, a tango and, as in the original, a cakewalk, the gracious formal group dance devised by slaves in 19th-century America.

Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Smuin began work more than a year ago. They studied later versions of the 1946 score, including a 30-minute orchestral interpretation. They have added songs created for other shows, with other lyricists, along with original music by Joe Fields, Dance Theater's music director. Mr. Mitchell also consulted Mr. Walton, who once owned the rights to the show and had done research for a possible revival in the late 1970's, though no actual designs were made at the time.

The 1946 original starred the Nicholas Brothers, the hugely popular film and stage tap dancers. It made a star of Pearl Bailey, for whom two of its songs, "Legalize My Name" and "A Woman's Prerogative," became signature hits. It was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who had also directed "Porgy and Bess."

Both shows focused on the sins and pleasures of the flesh. But "Porgy and Bess" came down decisively on the side of art. "St. Louis Woman," Lewis Nichols wrote in his opening night review for The New York Times, had not made up its mind whether it was a folk play or a musical comedy. "The flesh is willing," Nichols noted wryly, "but the spirit is weak."

The story, written by Arna Bontemps and the poet Countee Cullen, is based on the 1931 Bontemps novel "God Sends Sunday." Both authors were participants in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's, but in today's more delicate times, Bontemps's tale of loose women, gamblers and horse racing could easily seem racially insensitive.

The ballet version of "St. Louis Woman," which has a cast of three singers and 40 dancers who also sing, is loosely modeled on the concept of "The Seven Deadly Sins," a 1933 ballet by George Balanchine with music by Kurt Weill, a text by Bertolt Brecht and a cast that included the singer Lotte Lenya. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Smuin moved the period of "St. Louis Woman" to the 1940's, when the music was written.

One consideration was the costumes. The long, fussy dresses of the late 19th century seemed an obstacle to the choreography. "It is essential to see the line of the body in dance, and of course then not to obstruct the legs," Ms. Kim said.

Ms. Kim decided to have fun with the hats in the 60 or so costumes she has designed for "St. Louis Woman." "I love the hats of that period," she said. She wove in the African bandanna, which worked its way north from slave plantations to the World War II work force and its Rosie the riveters, an inspiration, Ms. Kim said, for fashion designers of the time.

The ballet's eclecticism has liberated Mr. Fisher and Ms. Eisenhauer. "So many different styles are incorporated that it has the feel of popular entertainment," Ms. Eisenhauer said. "It's fun in the sense that we're not bound totally in the world of dance. This kind of pushes the form in all directions. A tap number can coexist with a classically based pas de deux in the same evening. It's fun to try to stitch these together." 

Mr. Walton described his approach to this new "St. Louis Woman" as feeling his way into the blend that is Dance Theater of Harlem. "Its classical roots, an almost Diaghilevian background and its obvious Harlem spirit and appearance," he said. "I started thinking of painters in the world of dance and music who came closest to echoing this mix. I ended with Romare Bearden, whose work I love. He was tremendously influenced by blues and jazz and even became a songwriter."

Mr. Walton's inspirations were the collages of Bearden and Matisse and paintings by Marsden Hartley. "All of these are very strong colorists," he said. He laughed. "When I started to see chunks of the ballet," he added, "I realized, to put it mildly, that it was quite hot."

The ballet has three environments, as Mr. Walton put it: the Rocking Horse Saloon, a translucent painted backdrop of newspaper headlines and a racetrack. "And there are little elements of design that hopefully suggest games of chance," he said.

Almost accidentally, it seems, Mr. Smuin arrived at a way to make the story work in a new era. Rehearsing the dancers, he asked each to write a page about his character and the relationships among the characters. What these young performers saw, as citizens of the very different world of the early 21st century, influenced his vision of the work and his choreography, Mr. Smuin said.

Mr. Mitchell is returning to his own deepest dance roots in Dance Theater's first appearance in the Lincoln Center Festival. It was at Lincoln Center that he performed with the New York City Ballet in the 1950's and 60's as one of the company's most popular soloists. Balanchine's ballets were the core of the Dance Theater repertory at its start in the late 1960's. 

The "St. Louis Woman" program ?a second program includes ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins and Robert Garland ?opens with "Four Temperaments," a stringent Balanchine classic. "No sets, no costumes, just beautiful dance," Mr. Mitchell said. "And then you go into this lush piece." 

Caroline Rocher and Ikolo Griffin of Dance Theater of Harlem rehearsing "St. Louis Woman: A Blues Ballet," based on Harold Arlen's 1946 musical "St. Louis Woman." (NY Times Photo)
'Cirque' Dreams Big
By Steve Friess
July 14, 2003
A sandpaper-throated drag queen steps gingerly through the metal bars into a mammoth steel cage. She raises her arms and thunders, "Welcome to Sex Station 69, a stress-release center for the curious!"

AROUND HER, bare-chested men and women, clad only in skimpy black bikini underwear, writhe in a fleshy mass, until two men begin circling each other like tigers about to pounce. The pair draw closer in a mesmerizing spiral, embrace, then kiss. In a later scene, two women frolic suggestively in a life-size fishbowl. 

For nearly 20 years, Cirque du Soleil has been tripping out audiences of all ages with gee-whiz acrobatics and rainbow-colored whimsy. But when Cirque's newest show opens in Las Vegas this summer (NEWSWEEK got an exclusive peep ... ah, peek), you'd best leave the kids at home. This is Cirque du Risque. But the hot, sweaty scenes of "Zumanity'' are the least of it. Cirque's real risk is overexposure of a different kind. The production at the New York-New York Hotel Casino will be the third permanent Cirque show on the Vegas Strip--with a fourth scheduled to open next year at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino across the street. By then Cirque will have, in addition to four fixed shows in Vegas and one at Disney in Orlando, Fla., five touring productions, an IMAX movie and a new, one-hour weekly variety show on the Bravo cable network. And that's not all, folks. Cirque du Soleil is currently in talks with the MGM Mirage about a possible Cirque-themed hotel-casino at the heart of the Strip. As if that wasn't enough, characters from the Cirque can be seen in new ads for IBM. 


Is this any way to run an avant-garde circus? Guy Laliberte, Cirque's founder, and his ragtag group of stilt-walking, juggling and fire-breathing pals started out performing for fun and meal money at street fairs in Montreal. Laliberte, 43 and a fire-eater by trade, once lived on a bench in London. Today he is sole proprietor of one of the biggest brands in entertainment since Disney. Cirque has 2,500 employees, offices in Montreal, Amsterdam and Singapore, and executives told NEWSWEEK it made $500 million in revenue last year. (A European business magazine wrote that the company's profit margins varied between 20 and 40 percent, depending on the show, and Cirque said those figures were accurate.) Last year about 7 million people visited its touring programs and its fixed shows, "O" and "Mystere" in Vegas, and "La Nouba" at Disney World. They pay anywhere from $50 to $195 a seat for a postmodern circus that feels more like a gymnastics show performed to haunting live music. It's all done with a slick style that makes stupid human tricks--including Chinese contortionists twisting while tiptoeing on light bulbs--look like interpretive dance. 

Cirque's new, aggressive expansion is a high-wire act itself, especially its plans for Vegas. The success of the $35 million "Mystere" show at the Treasure Island resort, which debuted in 1993, won Cirque a huge boost when it immediately displaced Siegfried & Roy as the Strip's top sensation. The $91 million "O" at the Bellagio resort, which launched in 1998, proved that two Cirques could coexist in Vegas and be seen as distinct. Now comes the hypererotic, $50 million "Zumanity," which sets itself apart by dropping the trapeze acts and a lot of clothing (a big debate at Cirque has been whether to use prosthetic genitals to give the illusion of frontal male nudity). 

Some people on the Strip think visitors will burn out on Cirque as it grows to a fourth show and possibly its own themed resort. "Cirque du Soleil has a great track record, but it's a question of how many this market can absorb," says Tom Crangle, Vegas marketer for "Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance." "The visitors' choices of kinds of entertainment will be limited. You will be able to choose Cirque A, B, C, D or E." 


That may be sour grapes: "Lord of the Dance" was evicted from New York-New York last year to make way for "Zumanity." But Ira David Sternberg, former publicist for the Tropicana Hotel and a Vegas entertainment-radio-show host agrees, "At first watch, it [Cirque's creative takeover] looks like an oligarchy." 

MGM Mirage CEO Terry Lanni, whose resorts are home to all the Cirque shows in Vegas, isn't worried. The 10-year-old "Mystere" still fills more than 95 percent of its 1,550 seats 10 times a week, and "O" consistently sells out its 1,800 seats. "O," in fact, brings in more than $750,000 in profit each week. "If it comes to a point where they all begin to look like one another, that will be a problem, but there's enough individual artistic capabilities at Cirque to avoid that," Lanni says. "Nobody complains that there are too many Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals on Broadway." 

Laliberte says his aim is longevity--and 10 percent revenue growth a year. The potential casino-resort project for MGM Mirage fits neatly into Laliberte's aims of establishing a chain of five-star Cirque-inspired hotels where, perhaps, trapeze artists would practice in the lobby and meals would be spoon-fed to guests by contortionist waiters. He sees them someday in Montreal, London and Tokyo, too. 

Despite the Cirque explosion in Vegas, Laliberte says he's careful not to overreach. After a Cirque appearance on the 2002 Academy Awards telecast brought a flurry of new requests for permanent shows in cities around the world, Laliberte and his top executives decided to ignore the demand and create only one new show a year for the next five years. "We could do more, we could create all of these shows right now, but the quality would suffer and it would be too much too fast," says Cirque president Daniel Lamarre. 

Laliberte insists that despite the Cirque boom, he is strictly following a business policy of slightly undersatisfying the public's appetite. "When Enzo Ferrari was putting out a new car model, he would ask how many cars he could sell," Laliberte explains. "If it came to, say, 250, he'd say, 'OK, we'll do 249.' At every performance, I want there to be at least one person who hits his nose on the closed door of the theater because it's sold out." Who said running a circus was about keeping the kids smiling? 
Source: New York Times
July 2, 2003
George Balanchine first read Shakespeare in Russian. Perhaps that is why his ballet "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for the New York City Ballet has less of an English literary tone than a musical sensibility derived from its Mendelssohn score. Yet Balanchine's knowledge of Shakespeare's play was deep.

He often cited the parallel between a vision of the divine in the New Testament and Bottom's mangled gloss on that passage. This vision was the heart of the play for Balanchine, and it explains why after telling his tale, he distilled the play's theme of love and reconciliation into a pure-dance divertissement and exquisite duet in Act II: an abstraction beyond words.

For all the comic moments derived from the play, Balanchine's "Dream" has an elevated tone, and the dancers who do best in it are those who rise to that level.

This was obvious when Kyra Nichols and Benjamin Millepied, as Titania and Oberon, led the ballet in one of two performances on Saturday at the New York State Theater. Both performances included newcomers to many roles. Ms. Nichols glared nicely and Mr. Millepied was temperamental during the fairy monarchs' initial spat at the matinee, but both projected an authority as classical dancers that distanced them properly from the others.

Mr. Millepied's big solo was full of extreme splits in the air, extraordinary speed and clarity. Every beat he added to the step known as sissonne was precise, and every fillip, like the double assembl?turn at the end that not all dancers do, had its effect. The dynamism of his aerial creature was complemented by Ms. Nichols's lyrical playfulness. James Fayette, as her anonymous cavalier, was a fine partner, and Adam Hendrickson's Puck, extremely well danced, was on the adorable side.

Newcomers to their roles were the young Teresa Reichlen, perfect in long-legged technique with power still to come as Hippolyta, and Janie Taylor, expressive as a despairing Helena. Henry Seth was a new and affecting Bottom and Jonathan Stafford was rightly good-humored as a new Lysander. Pascale van Kipnis was a thrillingly strong Hermia pursued by Arch Higgins. Carrie Lee Riggins, head butterfly, added to the liveliness. In the divertissement of Act II, Miranda Weese and Philip Neal conveyed the poetry of the pas de deux.

Robert Tewsley and Jenifer Ringer missed its mystery Saturday night. Each danced well but independently. Mr. Tewsley was in noble form, arms held elegantly and toes beautifully pointed. 

Tom Gold cared less about pointing his feet as Oberon in an energetic performance opposite Darci Kistler, seen also earlier in the week as Titania.

There was a sensational new Puck in Daniel Ulbricht, whose extra-high spring and faunlike glee offered a fresh interpretation. Megan Fairchild was a new, sweet butterfly. The quartet of mortals, except Jennifer Tinsley, could have been better, with Dena Abergel, Jason Fowler (a new Demetrius) and Stephen Hanna (a new Lysander). Ask la Cour, a new Theseus, offered a witty touch when he first pondered and then proposed to Jennie Somogyi as the wonderwoman Hippolyta, who had whipped off triple fouett
in the preceding act.

(Photo) Daniel Ulbricht, left, and Teresa Reichlen, above, in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." 
East Meets West as Partners or Duelists
Source: New York Times
H. T. Chen and Dancers, LaMaMa E.T.C.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
H. T. Chen and Dancers celebrated its 25th anniversary on Thursday night at LaMaMa E.T.C. with a new movie, a new dance and a revival of an old one.
The movie was "13 Sounds, 25 Years," a documentary directed and produced by Don Quinn Kelley that traced the company's growth. The dancers were glimpsed performing onstage and conducting community workshops.
The cast of the new "Fifth Wall" often carried cloth panels, tilting them as they moved to a commissioned score by Ushio Torikai that combined taped sounds with live percussion music. At times Erin Lesser wandered serenely across the stage playing the flute.
But the choreography was seldom serene. When performers divided into pairs, it was sometimes hard to tell if they represented dancing partners or duelists. Such scenes recalled Asian martial arts and showed how Mr. Chen, who was born in Shanghai, likes to mix traditional Chinese movements with Western modern-dance steps.
Groups rapidly formed and dissolved. Dancers standing on top of one another became human towers. Melissa Caywood scurried nervously through a solo. Hsin-Ya Hou looked awed in another solo. Nevertheless she tried to struggle onward. But in the dramatically ambiguous conclusion, panels dropped on Ms. Caywood, burying her.
Mr. Chen sometimes fills dances with actions that appear to be private choreographic symbolism. Yet as "Fifth Wall" demonstrated, contrasts between tension and relaxation, and activity and repose, make these actions vivid even when they are not literally comprehensible.
The evening's revival was "Opening the Gate," which dates from 1993. Its score by Bradley Kaus, blended electronic sounds with drumming by the dancers.
Several scenes were solemnly ceremonial. Dancers also surged forward like warriors or eager explorers. Because retreats gave way to fresh surges, "Opening the Gate" seemed to celebrate struggles: in this case, creative ones.
Baryshnikov Focuses, Naturally, on Baryshnikov
Source: New York Times
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Mikhail Baryshnikov in Eliot Feld's "Mr. XYZ."

Mikhail Baryshnikov in Tere O'Connor's
"Indoor Man."

Mikhail Baryshnikov in Ruth Davidson Hahn's
"Upon a Whim."
PRINCETON, N.J., June 6---At 55, Mikhail Baryshnikov has found his true center. Appearing as a solo dancer in a fine new touring program he calls "Solos With Piano or Not...an Evening of Music and Dance," he places the emphasis where it belongs: on himself.
Gone is the fiction that audiences flocked primarily to see other dancers in the White Oak Dance Project, the company he headed and has, at least for now, disbanded. The new chapter is a breakthrough in his career, an acknowledgment of the commercial appeal of his name. The focus can now shift to his special qualities.
Four of the six choreographers represented tonight at the McCarter Theater Center here were commissioned by Mr. Baryshnikov. In this respect Lucinda Childs's contribution is nothing short of stunning with "Opus One," a hypnotic dreamlike dance for a bare-chested Mr. Baryshnikov in red shorts: a middle-aged Adonis who looks remarkably boyish and trim.
The hit of the evening, however, was "Mr. XYZ," the solo that Eliot Feld created for Mr. Baryshnikov's guest appearance with Mr. Feld's Ballet Tech company at the Joyce Theater in March. Here again an infectious mix of Leon Redbone's witty jazz recordings with Mr. Feld's understanding of Mr. Baryshnikov's gifts for mimicry as well as pure style make a dance with a cane and an office chair a dramatic portrait, not a gimmick.
Few choreographers have understood Mr. Baryshnikov as well as Mr. Feld. In "Tongue and Groove" (1995), Mr. Feld used the same mimetic talent and mobile face that Mr. Baryshnikov had shown shortly after his defection from the Kirov Ballet in 1974 in "Vestris," a solo by the Soviet choreographer Leonid Yakobson.
On the surface such solos rely heavily on grimaces. But they work only because Mr. Baryshnikov, as a dance-actor, never isolates a facial expression from whatever other energy is or is not coursing through his body.
This kind of integrated portrait was also visible in "Indoor Man," the new solo commissioned from the experimental choreographer Tere O'Connor, which began with the dancer wearing half a box on his back. Its interior was wallpapered and outfitted with candelabra that he turned on with a light switch.
The other commissioned solos were "In a Landscape" by Cesc Gelabert, a Spanish choreographer once resident in New York, and "Rattle Your Jewelry" by Michael Clark, a British choreographer trained at the Royal Ballet school who was known for his punk-style works in the 1980's. The sixth solo is "Upon a Whim," by Ruth Davidson Hahn, formerly a leading dancer in Mark Morris's company.
As was true in White Oak, Mr. Baryshnikov is not discriminating in his choices and gives equal opportunity to novices and masters. Unlike the traditional modern dancer, he has no loyalty to a single aesthetic or idiom.
Shopping around for choreographers, he has settled wisely on those who see him as a classical dancer in the widest sense. These would include Ms. Childs and other post-Cunningham choreographers like Trisha Brown and Dana Reitz. It is in their works and those by choreographers who work in ballet companies like Mr. Feld, Mr. Morris and Twyla Tharp that he has looked best.
Ms. Childs, known for her minimalist style, also choreographs for ballet troupes and often adapts ballet steps to her purpose. Arms may look loose and natural in her cool post-modern dances, but unsurprisingly she fills "Opus One" with ballet's chaine turns.
The music, played by the pianist Pedja Muzijevic, is Alban Berg's Sonata, Opus 1, and its 20th-century lyricism is perfect for a solo that is not romantic, but enhanced by space-age solitude.
Mr. Baryshnikov, in soft jazz shoes, faces the rear on a diagonal. Deanna Berg's bright red shorts for him suggest a bathing suit. From the start, Ms. Childs sets out the movements that he will repeat at several intervals. Traveling on a diagonal, he extends one leg to the side and gives a pendulum swing to an arm; he kicks his legs back in a jump close to ballet's temps de fleche. He pirouettes in two directions and then spins in chaine turns before bringing two legs together.
Suddenly a cloth disk descends and Mr. Baryshnikov's Olympic athlete plays with it, throws it down, races around the stage and returns to his diagonal dance before walking out, arms to his sides. Stan Pressner's lighting adds to the solo's luminosity.
Mr. Muzijevic's refined piano solos introduce the first three works with selections from Domenico Scarlatti, Morton Feldman, Schoenberg, Richard Strauss and Leopold Godowsky. He was also the accompanist for the solos. Ms. Hahn used three pieces from Schumann's Fantasy Pieces (Op. 12), for "Upon a Whim." Mr. Baryshnikov, in Isaac Mizrahi's silky outfit, made a decent solo more interesting than its experiments with body isolations really were. There is some jogging and violent arm-swinging as well as a silent laugh.
Mr. O'Connor uses David Jaggard's "Elastic Tango" and Conlon Nancarrow's "Tango?" as music for "Indoor Man." On the outside of the box that Mr. Baryshnikov initially wears are reproductions from Vermeer and van Gogh. Inside the box, he is a man emerging from sleep, all grimace and gesture. Once freed of the box, he prances in a collage of unrelated steps that ends in a manic torso swing: a penetrating comment on adapting to freedom.
Mr. Gelabert's "In a Landscape," set to John Cage's score of the same name, is nondescript in its bland movement. Mr. Clark's "Rattle Your Jewelry" is a minor fun piece with the Beatles singing "Back in the U.S.S.R.," which Mr. Baryshnikov is not. Instead, he looks happy running around the stage and reaching for a trapeze and some misplaced irony.
Making Brush Strokes With the Body
Source: New York Times
Monday, June 9, 2003

Flowing ink:
Chou Chang-Ning of the
Cloud Gate Dance Theater
in "Cursive," at the
American Dance Festival
in Durham, N.C.
DURHAM, N.C., June 8 ?Dancers' bodies resembled calligraphy in motion, and calligraphic patterns looked ready to dance when the Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan presented Lin Hwai-Min's "Cursive" on Saturday night in the Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke University here.
The production was the opening attraction of this summer's annual American Dance Festival, and the festivities could not have gotten off to a lovelier start.
Since Mr. Lin founded Cloud Gate in 1973, his troupe from Taipei has been known for its ability to synthesize art forms, including Western modern and Asian dance.
In a statement to the press Mr. Lin said that "Cursive" was inspired by Chinese calligraphy, and that in choreographing it he had his dancers contemplate calligraphic designs and then improvise steps suggested by their shapes.
Out of these experiments came this imaginative 70-minute production with set designs by Lin Keh-Hua, lighting by Chang Tsan-Tao, costumes by Lin Jing-Ru and a taped score by Qu Xiao-Song that featured a solo cello and percussion instruments. The results were theatrical magic.
Just as skilled calligraphers can make their brushes seem to dance on a page, so the stage became a page for the dancers. The production demonstrated that both dance and calligraphy abound with energy. As dancers traced designs in space, projections of calligraphic images floated across screens. Much of the time the dancers moved within rectangles of light on the floor. Watching them was like turning pages or unrolling a scroll.
At one point the entire stage became a gigantic scroll. Multitudes of calligraphic signs flooded the floor, the stage walls and even the proscenium arch. Calligraphic designs also flashed on the dancers' bodies as they moved. Dancing and calligraphy merged here into a single art of motion.
But "Cursive" was more than a display of technological wizardry. The dance steps were varied and impressive. There were slow meditative bendings and stretching as well as moments when arms seemed to be writing words in the air with jagged or flowing gestures. Dancers also heartily ran and tumbled. At other times they skimmed with the utmost lightness and delicacy. Throughout "Cursive" the dancers gave the impression that they were luxuriating in the sheer joy of movement.
The choreography sometimes made dancers who were standing far apart and performing separate steps suggest that their actions were nevertheless in total harmony. Blunt, forceful gestures gradually melted into soft ones. But slow twistings also gave way to the rapid flinging of limbs.
Chou Chang-Ning danced a solo in a black costume with long, dangling sleeves. The flutterings and swayings of the sleeves as she moved were like squiggles of wispy ink drawn on the air.
Near the end of the piece seven strong men kicked their legs as if in a martial-arts exercise. They were replaced by seven women whose careful poses were akin to those of finely sculptured statues. At the conclusion 19 dancers assembled in monumental formations.
Dance and calligraphy proclaimed messages throughout the work. Yet a knowledge of foreign languages was not necessary to understand them. "Cursive" affirmed the glory of beauty itself.
Classical Style Applied to Folk Formations
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
George Balanchine had choreographic fun playing stylistic games in two works offered by the New York City Ballet on May 28 at the New York State Theater.
"Square Dance" is set to Baroque concertos by Vivaldi and Corelli. Its steps derive from classical technique as developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. But the group patterns occasionally recall American square dancing.
"Square Dance" received an admirably clear and precise performance, conducted by Maurice Kaplow. The ballet gained a special radiance from the elegance of Abi Stafford and Nikolaj Hubbe in the leading roles.
Mr. Hubbe was unusually eloquent. He moved with unfailing dignity and partnered Ms. Stafford with loving care. When the choreography required him to dance a few steps, after which other men in the cast imitated him, he could have been the most benign of ballet masters.
His quiet intensity in an introspective solo made him resemble a poet who had temporarily withdrawn from a convivial gathering to contemplate a sonnet. Thanks to Mr. Hubbe, this "Square Dance" became a party at which Apollo was a guest.
Balanchine evoked old Broadway shows in "Who Cares?," set to Hershy Kay orchestrations of Gershwin songs, which Andrea Quinn conducted, with Nancy McDill as piano soloist. The strutting chorus-line routines of the ballet's first section were enthusiastically danced.
But the work's choreographic treasures are some solos and duets for three women and a man, on this occasion Jennie Somogyi, Janie Taylor, Miranda Weese and Philip Neal. Whereas the dancers in the ensembles appear to be characters in a musical comedy, Balanchine makes the soloists resemble real people. Ms. Weese and Mr. Neal were simultaneously sophisticated and tender in their duet. Mr. Neal's duets with Ms. Somogyi and Ms. Taylor had the smoothness of suave ballroom dancing. And the solos were carefree.
Illness forced Christopher Wheeldon's "Morphoses," which was originally scheduled, to be replaced by Peter Martins's "Halleluljah Junction," to music by John Adams for two pianos, played by Cameron Grant and Richard Moredock. The choreography is lively, yet often relentless and sometimes monotonous. Fortunately, it was confidently danced by a cast headed by Ms. Taylor, Sebastien Marcovici and Benjamin Millepied.
Janet Collins, Ballerina Who Was First Black Artist at Met Opera, Dies at 86
Source: New York Times
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Janet Collins, prima ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1950's and one of a very few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died on Wednesday in Fort Worth. She was 86 and lived there.
Ms. Collins taught dance, choreographed, performed on Broadway and in film and appeared frequently on television. But she was best known as the exquisitely beautiful dancer who was the first black artist to perform at the Metropolitan, four years before Marian Anderson sang there.
"She was a great inspiration to me as a child in Trinidad," the dancer and painter Geoffrey Holder said. "What she did by dancing the way she did --- to be prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House --- gave everybody hope."
Ms. Collins made her New York debut in 1949, dancing in her own choreography on a shared program at the 92nd Street Y. John Martin, dance critic of The New York Times, described her as "the most exciting young dancer who has flashed across the current scene in a long time," calling her style an eclectic mix of modern dance and ballet.
"There is a wonderful sense of aliveness in the dancer's presence and in her moving," Martin wrote. "She is not self-absorbed, but is dancing completely and wholesouledly for an audience. On the other hand, there is no air of showing off about it, no coyness or coquetry, but only an apparent desire to establish and maintain a communicative contact." He praised her for the sharp, clean precision, "the piquant tang, the arresting mental vigor" of her dancing and choreography.
Ms. Collins's next triumph came the following year on Broadway in the Cole Porter musical "Out of This World." Playing the role of Night, she danced an airborne solo created for her by Hanya Holm. She went from there to the Metropolitan, where she appeared as a principal dancer.
She performed lead roles in "Aida," "Carmen," the Dance of the Hours in "La Gioconda" and the Bacchanale in "Samson and Delilah."
It was not until two decades after she left the Met, however, that she was to receive major attention again in New York when, in 1974, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater paid homage to her and Pearl Primus as pioneering black women in dance.
Born in New Orleans, Ms. Collins moved with her family to Los Angeles at age 4.
She received her first dance training at a Catholic community center and went on to study primarily with Carmelita Maracci, one of the few ballet teachers who accepted black students, and with Lester Horton and Adolph Bolm.
She auditioned in Los Angeles for the Ballet Russe but said she had been told that she would either have to have special roles created for her or dance in white face.
"I said no," she told Anna Kisselgoff in a 1974 interview in The Times. "I sat on the steps and I cried and cried." But the rejection spurred her, she said, to work even harder, hard enough to be an exception.
Ms. Collins danced with Katherine Dunham and performed with the Dunham company in the 1943 film musical "Stormy Weather."
She also danced a solo choreographed by Jack Cole in the 1946 film "The Thrill of Brazil," and worked with the filmmaker Maya Deren.
She toured with Talley Beatty in a nightclub act that was sometimes billed as Rea and Rico De Gard to prevent speculation about the two light-skinned dancers' race.
Ms. Collins was most active during the 1950's, when she toured with her own dance group throughout the United States and Canada and taught at academies including the School of American Ballet, affiliated with the New York City Ballet; Harkness House; and the San Francisco Ballet School.
Ms. Collins is survived by a brother, Earnest, of Fort Worth, and a sister, Betty Wilkerson of Pasadena, Calif.
Traversing the Underworld in Toe Shoes
May 17, 2003 New York Times
Peter Martins's "Guide to Strange Places," a premiere for the New York City Ballet that is part of Lincoln Center's two-month celebration of the music of John Adams, is a jarringly turbulent piece, channeling its energy into shifts of clashing colors, both visual and emotive.
The choreography's changing textures are obviously impelled by the score, which received its first New York performances at the New York State Theater when Mr. Adams conducted the ballet's premiere on Thursday night and at a preview on Wednesday.
Named after its score, "Guide" is a major event of the music and dance season and Mr. Martins's eighth ballet to Mr. Adams's music. Emotionally, it is situated between landmark Martins-Adams works: the propulsive space-age "Fearful Symmetries" (1990) and the cosmic allegory "Harmonielehre" (2000).
Mr. Adams borrowed the title "Guide to Strange Places" from a French guidebook. Indeed, the ballet takes off in new directions. He has called the score "a descent into an imagined unexpected underworld," and the contrast of growling brass and kettledrums with light percussion and the initial buzzing are part of a musical adventure stuffed with surprises.
Mr. Martins, unusually, uses 10 principal dancers (no corps or soloists) and propels them into a vivid outpouring of activity against a visual landscape whose color changes are emotionally coded. The top of Julius Lumsden's backdrop suggests a blur of clouds that Mark Stanley, the lighting designer, transforms with different hues. The men are in brown-gray tights but the cloud colors match the women's dresses, by Catherine Barinas.
The dancers repeatedly materialize from the blackness below the clouds and disappear into the same void. Jock Soto enters first, followed by the men, his partner Darci Kistler and the other women. The clouds turn turquoise and the ripples of a marimba introduce an exultant passage for five couples.
Jennie Somogyi, in yellow, and Nilas Martins have the first duet. She is placed on the floor three times before being turned upside down. Miranda Weese, in blue, and Philip Neal execute variations on swoons in a series of lateral lifts and are followed by a double duet: Alexandra Ansanelli, in green, with Benjamin Millepied, and Janie Taylor, in chartreuse, with Sastien Marcovici.
Ms. Kistler and Mr. Soto are unexpectedly joined in a circle dance to chimes by Ms. Weese and Ms. Somogyi. Mr. Soto places the three women on the floor and each bends an arm to her brow. This image recurs toward the end before all disappear. A startling moment comes later, each time that the music pauses and Mr. Martins inserts a dramatic pose for the dancers in the space between the notes.
It is this gestural punctuation (raised crossed wrists) and the decidedly unromantic partnering that sets up the unease for the descent into Mr. Adams's underworld.
The couples are individualized by dancers of exhilarating speed and precision. Suddenly a quiet duet for Ms. Kistler and Mr. Soto becomes a bizarre mating rite. He wraps her orange skirt around her neck and she pli on toe before they lock into an acrobatic embrace. A whirlwind for all celebrates this putative propagation of the race. The clangor in the pit is wonderful and the clouds turn technicolor. A rite for our time.
On Thursday, "Guide" was paired with "Hallelujah Junction," an elegant Martins-Adams work accompanied by two onstage pianists. The Balanchine-Stravinsky "Symphony in Three Movements" completed the program.
The three works summed up the City Ballet aesthetic: music is the springboard, and movement, as couched in an advanced neo-Classical style, is a formal value sufficient unto itself.
Bertram Ross, a Dancer With Martha Graham Troupe, Dies at 82
Source: New York Times
Picture to the right: Bertram Ross as Martha Graham's partner in her "Alcestis," in 1960.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
ertram Ross, a leading member of the Martha Graham Dance Company for two decades and Graham's longtime dance partner, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.
He had been suffering from Parkinson's syndrome for some years, but the immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said John Wallowitch, his partner of 34 years.
Mr. Ross was considered one of America's most distinguished dancers. He was probably best known as the craggily handsome originator of roles in most of Graham's major works in the 1950's and 60's, among them St. Michael in "Seraphic Dialogue," Agamemnon and Orestes in "Clytemnestra," and Adam in "Embattled Garden." He danced in the premieres of "Canticle for Innocent Comedians" and "Acrobats of God."
He was often praised for his power, dignity and a theatrical expressiveness that never overwhelmed his characters. His aim as a performer, he once told Helen McGehee, a fellow Graham dancer, was simply to break everyone's heart.
Mr. Ross was also a wickedly funny mimic, and his sly humor surfaced in comic, poignant solos he created for himself in the 1980's and that used words and movement to portray characters like Uncle Vanya, Stephen Foster and Raymond Duncan, Isadora Duncan's eccentric brother. He also had notable careers as a teacher, choreographer and cabaret singer.
Mr. Ross was born in Brooklyn and first studied painting at the Art Students League. But he said that seeing performances by the Graham company made him dream of dancing. His father disapproved, and it took psychoanalysis to give him the courage to enroll, albeit nervously, in the Graham school.
He joined the company in 1949 and first partnered Graham in 1953, playing Oedipus in "Night Journey." He was named co-director of the company in 1966, serving first with Robert Cohan and later with Mary Hinkson, who were also both veteran dancers. Mr. Ross and Ms. Hinkson are widely credited with keeping the company and school going when Graham was seriously ill. But they resigned after Graham returned with a new young director, Ronald Protas, who soon became involved in artistic decisions. Mr. Ross left the company in 1973.
Mr. Ross made his debut as a singer in 1975. He and Mr. Wallowitch, a prolific songwriter, pianist and popular cabaret performer, began a well-received act together in 1984 at the Ballroom in New York. The two performed in London and other American cities, and appeared at Danny's Skylight Room in Manhattan as recently as November.
Mr. Ross choreographed for his own and other modern-dance companies. He also taught for many years at the Graham Center, the Mary Anthony Studio, Juilliard and New York University. He reconstructed several Graham dances in 1968 and coached the company for a one-night gala at City Center last year.
He also created the dances for Gary Bonasorte's 1989 Broadway play, "The Aunt," and played several lead roles in Amy Greenfield's 1990 film, "Antigone." He and Mr. Wallowitch are the subjects of "This Moment," a 1998 film documentary, and they performed together recently in a CD called "Wallowitch & Ross."
In addition to Mr. Wallowitch, Mr. Ross is survived by a brother, David Prensky, of Palm Beach, Fla.
Strong Thigh Muscle May Hasten Knee Arthritis
SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine 2003;138:613-619,678-679.
April 14, 2003
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Strengthening the thigh muscle is generally thought to help arthritic knees, but a new study suggests that strong thigh muscles may hasten arthritis in those with certain joint or leg characteristics.

The results do not mean that exercise is harmful for those with arthritis, but does suggest more research is needed on whether or not special exercise programs need to be tailored for patients, according to the report, released Monday. 

An estimated 12 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have osteoarthritis of the knee, and experts often recommend strengthening of the quadriceps muscle in the thigh as a treatment. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions joints breaks down, often leading to pain, swelling and loss of mobility. 

In an 18-month study, Dr. Leena Sharma of Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois and colleagues, evaluated 171 men and women with an average age of 64 who had knee arthritis. 

Patients with the strongest thighs at the beginning of the study who had leg bones that did not line up correctly or had a "loose" knee joint, were more likely to show signs of disease progression compared to those with weaker quadriceps. 

The study did not specifically look at patients who performed exercises to strengthen their leg muscles. However, the findings could indicate that such exercises may not help everyone, according to the report. 

"Our results raise questions about the use of quadriceps strengthening," the authors write in Tuesday's issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. 
The results are "interesting" and "hypothesis generating" but are not solid evidence that the standard leg-strengthening exercises are detrimental for some patients, according to an editorial by Dr. Kenneth D. Brandt of Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis. 

Brandt adds that more research will be needed before a definite conclusion can be drawn. 

The researchers only looked at the thinning of knee cartilage on an x-ray and did not ask patients about their pain or knee function, he notes. Patients with stronger thigh muscles may have less pain and better function, but more study is needed to determine this. 

Of the 328 knees evaluated in the study, 78 were considered to be misaligned, meaning the two bones that meet in the knee joint were not perfectly in line according to x-rays. Overall, 110 of 328 knees were considered to be more lax or "loose" than other knee joints. 

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